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At Christmas, Buhari seeks help for citizens in distress



Christmas decorations at Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

• President vows to recover all looted funds, stop terrorism
• Leaders want Christians to uphold justice, honesty

FOR Nigerian Christians who are celebrating Christmas today, and privileged persons, there is the need to use the occasion to spare a thought for those in distress, especially victims of terrorism . And Christians are to guard against losing the true essence of the occasion which is the cultivation of the virtues Jesus Christ epitomised .

This advice was contained in the messages of eminent Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to Christians in the country yesterday . They urged them to rededicate themselves to peace, love, honesty, justice, equity, piety, humility and service to others as they joined their counterparts across the world to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

In his Christmas message to Nigerians, Buhari said that upholding these virtues was the only way the country could record the desired progress. He said there could be no doubt that a greater manifestation of these virtues in the lives of Nigerians would immensely help the country to become a more united, peaceful, secure and progressive nation.

Buhari reiterated the determination of his administration to recover all looted funds, stressing that such was the only way Nigeria and Nigerians could get the best out of the nation’s commonwealth. He appealed to privileged individuals to reach out in love and compassion to fellow Nigerians who are in distress at this period, especially victims of terrorism and insurgency, who are spread in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the country.

According to him, the Federal Government would continue to collaborate with state governments and other stakeholders to ease the harsh conditions in the IDPs camps, while the ultimate objective remains to quickly put an end to insurgency and return the IDPs to their homes.

His words: “We must never again allow any group to hold the nation to ransom under whatever guise. Let us also not allow current socio-economic and security challenges to dampen our expectations for a better Nigeria.”

Buhari noted that his administration had taken a number of measures to restore hope to our people. “The 2016 Budget defines our commitment to giving Nigeria a new lease of life. Our change slogan is not a campaign gimmick but a promise that must be kept. We are determined to bring about tangible changes in the lives of our people.”

Saraki, in his goodwill message signed by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the virtues were crucial to the developmental drive of the current administration and to ensure that the country’s taking of her rightful place as a proud member of the international community. He noted that the economic challenges facing the nation as a result of dwindling revenue inflow into the Federation Account is a passing phase which will surely give way to a better future.
“Our President has just presented to the National Assembly the proposed estimates of 2016 budget of hope. We in the National Assembly have resolved to throw our weight behind the administration of President Buhari and to collaborate with him in the execution of his policies of change aimed at enhancing the living standard of our people and for a brighter prospect for our dear nation,” Saraki said.

Others who admonished Nigerians to be united, tolerant of fellow citizens and to exhibit practical commitment to the development of the country are the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sulaimon Lasun.

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, enjoined Nigerians, irrespective of religious inclination, to reflect deeply on the virtues of love, tolerance, godliness, honesty, fairness, selflessness and peaceful co-existence amongst one another.
Odigie-Oyegun,‎ in a goodwill message, urged Nigerians to offer special prayers for peace, unity and development in the country.Enjoining Nigerians to shun hatred, divisiveness and promote national unity, he also urged the people to pray for the military and other security agents fighting to overcome terrorism and violent extremism as well as prayers for victims and displaced persons in the insurgency-ravaged North East.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) charged Nigerians to use this year’s Christmas to offer special prayers for the unity and stability of the nation as well as recommit their individual and collective security and economic welfare into the hands of God.
The PDP said that “the special prayers have become essential as the nation is now, more than ever before in dire need of divine intervention, especially as citizens cope with the sudden hardship occasioned by poor management of the nation’s economy in the last seven months.”

The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the two important celebrations, Eid El-Maulud and Christmas, coming at this trying time, offer the citizens an opportunity to put aside every political, religious and ethnic differences and unite against their prevailing common challenges.
“Nigerians across board have in the last few weeks been recalling the campaign promises made by President Buhari and the APC, particularly, their December 24, 2014 Christmas message wherein they promised several reforms and welfare programmes that will, in their own words, ‘begin to positively impact on the citizenry within its (APC) first few months at the helm, to such an extent that Nigerians will have a better Christmas celebration in 2015’.

Whilst we understand the indignation, frustration and disappointments occasioned by the long list of unfulfilled promises and dashed expectations under the current regime (and justifiably so), we urge that Nigerians should not have recourse to hauling insults on the president as such would not bring the succour they seek.”

According to PDP, “the challenges we face today as a nation should not make us lose our dignity … as a people. They should not make us miss the essence and meanings of Eid-El-Maulud and Christmas and the divine succour they bring, especially the assurance that there is always an end to every negative situation.”

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