Buhari, Atiku others urge love, goodwill at Christmas
• My word is my bond on credible elections, says president
• What 2019 promises for Nigeria, by Obasanjo
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday tasked Nigerians especially Christians to be guided by the principles of love as they celebrate Christmas.He gave the admonition yesterday in a message to mark this year’s Christian anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. In a signed statement, Buhari told celebrants that as they “exchange gifts, pray and visit loved ones,” they should also remember “many others who cannot be with their families at this time.”
According to him, “Our brave Armed Forces, and other security men and women who make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe, the aged, the sick, physically challenged persons, all deserve our goodwill in this season of love and sharing.”He said: “Together, we can show generosity to our neighbours and demonstrate the diversity that makes Nigeria unique – a land with a beautiful climate and vegetation, beaming with an energetic and creative youth population.”
Buhari said he believes the season is a fresh opportunity “to reflect on the imagery of the humble, symbolic and divine birth of a young child thousands of years ago in Bethlehem, Judea, and the message of hope, compassion, salvation, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace that Jesus Christ embodies and conveys.”
He noted that the outgoing year was a blend of positives and negatives. “On the pleasant side, our economy has made significant progress since coming out from recession and our faithful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“Agricultural revolution has seen a vastly improved local production to the detriment of importation, while we have achieved surplus in our trade balance. Similarly, infrastructural deficit has been greatly reduced with significant improvements in roads, railways, aviation and power. In addition, we have not relented in the fight against corruption while the business environment has been improved through institutional reforms.”
On the unpleasant side, the president admitted: “We have seen so many unnecessary deaths caused by violent clashes between neighbours, who ordinarily should complement and support one another.
“We cannot bring back the lives lost to floods, unfortunate fire disasters, road accidents, farmers/herders clashes and insurgency. But we can put back smiles on the faces of the grieving, the displaced and the troubled, if we show a little love and recommit ourselves to building relationships with those outside our ethnic, religious and socio-political divides.”He however stressed: “We must not forget that what lies ahead of us as a nation is better than whatever we must have experienced in the past.”
The president further broached the upcoming elections, promising he has “charged our security and law enforcement agencies to secure the sanctity of the ballot box and ensure that the outcome of the polls reflects the will of the Nigerian people.
“My avowed commitment to free, fair, credible and violence-free polls is not a ruse or yet another vain political promise. My word is my bond. It is a sworn declaration on the advancement of Nigeria, the future and safety of our young and unborn generations. Let us tell the world that indeed ‘something good’ can come out from Nigeria. And it will happen, as we all team up to make it happen.”
Other prominent Nigerians also delivered goodwill messages. The presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, urged people to use the Christmas season to reconcile with one another and show love.He said: “Seeing that the essence of Christmas is that Christ came to earth to reconcile us to God, should we not, as beneficiaries of such divine reconciliation, reciprocate it by being reconciled with each other during this Yuletide period and beyond?
“There are too many divisions in our nation today and it is up to each and everyone of us to inject the healing and unifying serum of love for our neighbour into the nation’s consciousness this Christmas.
“We may be Muslim, Christian or traditional religion adherents, but we are all creatures of God deserving of the love of God and of our neighbours. Let that be the attitude we embrace this Christmas and beyond.”
He further admonished Nigerians to remember military and security forces at the frontlines. “When next you see a soldier, boost his or her morale by acknowledging their sacrifices and thanking them. Nigeria owes so much to the gallant officers and the men and women of our armed forces. They epitomise the spirit of Christmas, which is sacrificial giving,” he said.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on his part, encouraged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of the season, which is the love of God for humanity.According to him, the solution to humanity’s problems can be found in love. The virtue, he said, would put a stop to wanton killings, ethnic and religious clashes, and other evils that retard the growth and development of the country.
In a statement, Senate President Bukola Saraki, wished Nigerians a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. He called on Christians in particular to “emulate the virtues of Christ, who through self-sacrifice brought salvation to humanity.” He added: “This is a time for us to be our brother’s keeper, extend our generosity to one another and ensure that the less privileged among us are not left out of the ensuing merriment.”
This was as former President Olusegun Obasanjo appealed to Nigerians not to abort the peace the country is currently enjoying. He said it would be unfair of any person or group to breach the peace and thereafter call it an act of God.
At a carol service organised by Chapel of Christ the Glorious King, a church he built, Obasanjo said: “The situation is getting worrisome by the day. I was in Kaduna and I thought that the story would be different. The people there said insecurity, kidnapping and killings are happening. If peace eludes us, it is not an act of God but our making. This is the appropriate time to talk about peace. This is the season of peace.”
The former president added that 2019 would be “a year of blessings for every one, and particularly for Nigeria. When people come to me and say they are giving up on the country, I tell them no. Next year is a year of blessings for all. With right statements, right actions, people will be trooping back into the country. We had it before, there is no reason not to have it again.”