POLITICAL leaders in Nigeria including President Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President, Senator David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole and several state governors have all recognised the need to pray for a peaceful conduct of next year’s elections as they conveyed their best wishes for peace, joy and prosperity to Nigerians as the nation celebrates Christmas.
The President, in a Christmas message, urged Nigerians to rededicate themselves to the enabling ideals and virtues of faith in God, love for others, selflessness, honesty, peaceful co_existence, tolerance and dedication to duty which Jesus Christ preached and which his life on earth exemplified.
Dr. Jonathan said that if more Nigerians imbibed these ideals and virtues, and made them more evident in their daily lives.
Let us fellowship with one another—Atiku
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in his message urged Nigerians to stretch their hands of fellowship to one another. The PDP Presidential aspirant also saluted the doggedness of the people in building a functional democratic society and “their indomitable courage in the face of so many social, economic and political challenges.
“As we march into 2011, a year that will define our democracy and nation, probably as never before, let us stretch the hand of fellowship to one another, and see the future of our country as one of shared experiences and our common destiny.
“As we celebrate, it is important that we re_dedicate ourselves to the vision of our founding fathers. Christmas is as much a time for celebration as it is for stock_taking and sober reflection.
Let’s renew faith in our nation—Senator Mark
The Senate President, Senator David Mark charged Christian faithful to exhibit the attribute of Jesus Christ which symbolizes piety, love and forgiveness in this season and beyond. He said the Senate would strive always to reflect the true wishes and aspirations of Nigerians and called on all politicians and political office seekers to put Nigeria first before personal or group considerations.
Pray for peaceful polls—Speaker Bankole
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole also urged Nigerians to use the occasion to pray for peaceful election in Nigeria.
In his message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Bakare, Bankole said Christmas symbolises birth of a new dawn, especially for the Christian faithful and should therefore not be used for just merry_making, adding that it is another opportunity for fervent prayers for peaceful and prosperous nation.
He said Nigeria has had her own share of ups and downs in her quest for growth and development, adding that Nigerians must therefore be committed to peaceful electioneering conduct as the nation moves to a general election.
Pray for president—FCT Minister
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Senator Bala Mohammed urged Nigerian Christians to use the period to pray for President Goodluck Jonathan and the country. He also called on them to take advantage of the celebration to pray for a smooth and peaceful elections in the country.
Fashola enjoins Nigerians to ensure violence-free polls
Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola urged Nigerians to pray for a violence_free electioneering and a peaceful expression of choices through the ballot.
In his Christmas message, the governor said that the 2010 Christmas celebration is particularly significant in the history of Nigeria, as the country is once again at the threshold of a democratic rejuvenation.
Nigerians should shun tribalism—Gov. Chime
The Enugu State Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime has called on Nigerians to jettison the parochial interests of ethnicity, tribalism and religion as we go into the 2011 general elections.
He made the call in a Christmas message signed by his Special Adviser (Media), stressing that by doing so, the best candidates will emerge and the elections will satisfy the yearnings of millions of Nigerians.
Chime said every hand must be on deck not only to build a Nigerian state but to build a true nation where all citizens irrespective of tribe or tongue will have a sense of belonging and not feel oppressed.
The governor reminded Nigerians of the unprecedented virtue of sacrifice which the birth of Jesus Christ signifies and urged all and sundry to use this solemn period to reflect on the challenges facing the nation and pray for God’s guidance and blessing on the nation.
While using the occasion to welcome all sons and daughters of Enugu State returning home for Christmas, Chime hoped the holiday will offer them an opportunity to appreciate the determined efforts of the government at infrastructural development of the state and offer suggestions where necessary.
Peter Obi sue for peaceful co-existence
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State urged Nigerians to use the occasion of the Christmas to reflect on the mystery of salvation and focus attention on spiritual revival.
His message reads: “On this happy occasion of Christmas, we Christians are called upon to reflect on the mystery of our salvation, which started with the birth of Jesus Christ who paved a new way for us to attain eternity.
“This period calls for celebration, but, more importantly, it offers us the opportunity to live the ideals of charity, love, peace and harmonious co_existence, which Christ preached.
“Let us all reach out and touch somebody else in a positive way. Let us give a hand to the less fortunate, that they may rise and walk with us. Yet, even as we celebrate, we must bear in mind the challenges that face our dear state in the coming year and prepare adequately to confront and master them.
“I wish Ndi Anambra, all those who live in our state, as well as all Nigerians a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year,” he added.
Imbibe Christ’s teachings—Saraki
Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki charged Christians to reflect the virtues, teachings of Jesus Christ in their lives so that Nigeria and indeed the world could be a better place to live.
He also enjoined them to promote peace, love and unity and exhibit the spirit of tolerance in the accomplishment of our vision of building a new Nigeria, urging Nigerians to always portray the positive sides of the country and de_emphasize her negative sides.
The governor, therefore, admonished Nigerian Christians to emulate Jesus Christ in words and deeds and imbibe the core lessons of love, tolerance, sacrifice, generosity and peaceful co_existence which Christ stood for.
Saraki praised Christian religious leaders in the state for conducting themselves peacefully in their religious activities and for joining government in promoting religious harmony in the state. He urged the Christian community not to relent in their prayers for a smooth transition especially as the nation’s general election was fast approaching.
Pray for Nigeria—Oshiomhole
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State in his Christmas message, urged Christians to spare some time to pray for the nation this Christmas.
His message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Peter Okhiria, said: “Christmas is a time to celebrate the love of God and to rekindle our faith in the Lord. It is a special season of charity, making peace and the celebration of the love of God for us.
“However, as we celebrate the season, we should spare some time to reflect and offer prayers for the peace and stability of the nation as we approach another election year.
“Nigerians need not despair on the failure of political leaders in the past as they have another opportunity, in next year’s general elections, to vote in people of their choice. At this season, we spare a thought for the sick and the less_privileged and pray that the God of all flesh will remember and touch them.
“I wish peace and grace to all the people of Edo State and Nigeria as we celebrate and may the good Lord grant us the good health and life to celebrate many more seasons, Merry Christmas.”
Emulate Jesus Christ, Gov Amaechi tells Christians
Rivers State governor, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi urged Christians to use the occasion of Christmas to promote the virtues of love and forgiveness. He said they should use the period to make peace with their neighbours.
“As we celebrate Christmas, let it also serve as a signal for us to mend fences by making peace with our immediate neighbours whom we may have had issues within the past, and work towards living a friendlier communal life, and building a stronger society.
He emphasized that as “Christ’s birth brought salvation to the world, we, working together as a state can make our families and communities become friendlier, happier and more habitable, when we make peace with one another always”.
In his words: “Christ taught the world to love, he loved his flock endlessly” adding, “let us celebrate him by sharing love, and do away with anything that would not add value to our family, home and state”.
He called for tolerance of one another’s opinions and views, particularly as we approach the coming elections in Nigeria, adding it is important that the atmosphere remains calm and peaceful which according to him can be achieved if we work together as good neighbours.
Ohakim sues for sober reflection
Imo State governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, called on Nigerians, especially Imo people, to use the Christmas period as a time for sober reflection. The governor opined that although Christmas, as the birth of Christ Jesus, serves as a period for celebration, but it must also serve as a time for sober reflection.
“I urge all citizens to remember the meaning of the name of our savior who we celebrate this season. Christmas is not for eating and drinking alone or for material satisfaction. It is also a period of sober reflection,” the governor said.
He maintained that although there are challenges facing citizens, but with faith in God, and hard work, the future is well assured.
He assured all Imo citizens returning home of adequate security throughout the Christmas period, adding that Government had provided luxurious buses to convey Imo citizens living in various places of Nigeria back home for the celebrations.
Yakowa also urges prayers
Kaduna state governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, in his message, urged Christians to use the occasion to pray for the smooth conduct of the 2011 elections. A press statement signed by the Special Adviser (Media and Public Affairs), Reuben Buhari, Yakowa also asked the people to come out en mass to register during the forthcoming voters’ registration exercise as a way of ensuring the emergence of credible leaders in the country.
The governor notes that Christmas is not only a time for celebration, but a period for sober reflections and stock taking of God’s manifold blessings, stressing that one of the areas we must reflect on is our relationship with God and with our fellow humans.
He therefore called on all Christians and the entire people of Kaduna State to be committed to religious harmony, peaceful living and understanding of one another.
“Gov. Yakowa also appeals to all Christians to shun tribal, ethnic and religious teachings that are not in consonance with those of Jesus Christ, who came as an embodiment of peace and love.
Senatorial aspirant, Yusuf Abubakar sues for peace
In his message, a PDP Senatorial aspirant, Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar, said that, “as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, let us always put to practice his message of love, peace and joy. As a nation, the challenges before us are enormous, but not insurmountable. We, however, need to rededicate ourselves to building a united and prosperous country.
“In 2011, the immediate challenge is to conduct credible and peaceful elections and it is critical we get it right and every one of us has a role to play in this regard,” he stated.
ACF too felicitates
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on its part, said in a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Anthony Sani, that Nigerians should not to lose sight of the import of the event which is a new dawn for humanity.
According to the statement, “Nigeria is no doubt passing through difficult times. But with positive attitude and resolve, hard times or adversity can be cathartic and constructive. This is to day bring about national grandeur, engender purposeful and also the best in everyone. It is instructive to note that if Moses laws advocated an eye for an eye, Jesus Christ taught us to go and sin no more.
“To that end, Nigerians should embark on the needed reconciliation and forgiveness among the ethno religious and fissiparous tendencies and come together for the express purpose of living up collective challenges for common good.
“The time is now and may God make it possible for this generation of Nigerians to experience many more decades of Christmas and prosperous New Year.”