By Ben Agande, Henry Umoru, Wole Mosadomi
President Goodluck Jonathan declared, yesterday, that those who predicted that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015 will be disappointed even as former heads of state, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida(rtd.) and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar(rtd.) and other prominent Nigerians, have called for peaceful co-existence among different ethnic groups for the country to develop.
They spoke, yesterday, at the celebration of Eid-el-Fitri, marking the end of Ramadan fasting.
Speaking after the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, led other Muslim faithful on a Sallah homage to him, President Jonathan noted that some of the problems the country was experiencing were temporary and largely fueled by some selfish elite.
The President said: “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters and we must live together. For those who are predicting that this country will disintegrate in 2015 based on the fault lines at the time of the amalgamation, will know that this prediction will not be of any consequence. Nigeria will continue to remain one indivisible country.”
He said that Nigeria’s uniqueness is borne out of its position as a deeply religious people and that it was the country’s unique advantage.
He said: “For us, we cannot imagine a Nigeria without Muslims and Christians. It is a blessing that this is one country that you have significant population of Muslims and Christians and this religious diversity will enhance our development because we can get across the whole world and wherever we go we are accepted.
“It helps us in so many ways. We are not even exploiting our diversity because of the myopic views of the elite about our situations.”
While congratulating all Muslims for a successful fasting, which he described as a “tempting period,” President Jonathan reiterated the commitment of his administration to reposition the country for better.
He called for more prayers, not just for peace in the country, but in the world, saying that there can be no development without peace.
Jonathan said: “Today is a unique day. I urge our Muslim brothers and sisters that they should continue to pray for peace, not just in Nigeria, but all over the world. If you watch television these days, more than 60 percent of the time is spent on showing crises all over the world.
“For the world to move ahead and for Nigeria to move ahead, for us to develop first and foremost, there must be peace and security. Nobody will come and invest in an environment where you are not sure of the safety of your workers and investment.
“As a nation, for our children to get where we want them to be, we must create a very peaceful environment for them so they can develop mentally and be focused and use their brains in a manner that will bring economic changes to us.
“In Nigeria, we are a very religious people and we believe in one Almighty God and as we continue to pray, God will see us through. Yes, we have some few challenges, but surely Allah will see us through.”
Thank you Mr. President — Sambo
Earlier in his remarks, Vice President Namadi Sambo, thanked President Jonathan for providing the required leadership in the country.
He said: “We are here to pay homage and to thank you for what you have been doing for Nigeria. The month of Ramadan is a holy month.
“The imam, during the sermon, reminded us that God will forgive the sins of whoever fasted throughout that period, and accept all our prayers.
“We prayed for peace, for God to grant you good health and wisdom and the grace to transform Nigeria to a better country.”
IBB, Abubakar preach peace
Meanwhile, as Muslims across the world celebrate Eid-el-Fitri, former leaders and other prominent Nigerians have called for peaceful co-existence among different ethnic groups for the country to develop.
Former Head of State, Abubakar, in his message, called on all Nigerians to imbibe the lessons of the Ramadan fasting by living peacefully with one another for the progress of the country.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the prayers in Minna, yesterday, he enjoined Nigerians to join hands with government at all levels, pointing out that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of chaos and crisis.
Speaking in the same vein, former Military President, Babangida, called on Nigerians to co-exist and respect the religion and culture of one another, adding that it would make peace to reign in the country.
Ado Bayero, too
Similarly, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, called on the people of the state to continue to pray for the sustenance of peace and stability in the state and the country.
Bayero told Muslims faithful at his palace after the Eid-el-Fitri prayer at the Central Mosque, Kano, that no society could achieve any meaningful development in an atmosphere of rancour and uncertainty.
Represented by Wamban Kano, Alhaji Abbas Sanusi, the Emir warned the people, particularly Kano residents, to desist from indiscriminate building of structures on water ways to avoid flood disaster.
Sultan of Sokoto tasks clergy
In his Sallah message, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, called on Islamic and Christian clergy to preach with the absolute fear of God in the country.
Abubakar said the clergy should fear Allah and live above their own selfish interests, while preaching to their followers.
He said: “They should avoid provocative statements that could lead to the breach of peace and lead to violence in the country.
“They should also know that staying attuned to the religious teachings is the only way that bring mutual respect and love, which eventually lead to the desired peace in the nation.”
The monarch also said that it was not right for a non-Muslim to interfere in the affairs of Muslims and Islam or to impose his views on the religion he did not profess.
On security c’ttee
Abubakar then commended Federal Government for constituting the committee on the security challenges in the north.
He said that those calling for the scrapping of the committee were enemies of peace and were “unpatriotic,” and charged Nigerians to give the committee the necessary support to accomplish its job.
The Sultan said: “It is a known fact that no peace could be achieved except through constructive dialogue.
“On our part, we are satisfied with the work of this committee and we are ready to give it all necessary support.”
The Sultan also called on leaders at all levels to fear Allah by accomplishing the trust placed on them in leading their subjects.
He said: “The precarious situation of the nation is only due to bad governance and neglect of divine injunctions.
“Most of the leaders are busy amassing wealth and forgetting their subjects they are meant to serve.”