President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said the lack of unity amongst Nigerians, makes it difficult to overcome the current insurgency which has claimed several innocent lives and destroyed properties worth billions in the country.
The President stated this while speaking at the interdenominational church service to mark the 54th independence anniversary of the country which held at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, with the theme the celebration is “Be Still”.
The President referring to politicians and highly placed individuals noted that it was usual to struggle for political space but such actions should be done with caution bearing in mind that the country would need to remain strong and as a united nation for the good of all citizens.
“When I listen to some comments by some highly place individuals, I feel sorry for this country. There are some of us who while struggling to get what we desire, we have even forgotten that we can not get that if we destroy our country.” Jonathan stressed.
He added that “So, if we come together, while pursuing whatever achievement we want, I believe that we don’t have any other country than Nigeria, I am sure we will overcome Boko Haram.”
“We were able to defeat Ebola because all Nigerians agreed together in waging a war against the disease. That is the strength of unity.”
President Jonathan further stated that “some of the challenges we are having whether kidnapping or the greatest problem we are having which is terror, it is because all of us have not united to fight these challenges.”
He commended the Armed forces who he said have done quite well, but needed more encouragement from Nigerians to do better.
“Lets commend the security services because if some of you know what the pass through, the sabotage and all have you, you will appreciate the little they have done.”
The President reminded the citizens that what makes Nigeria great was not the its oil and abundant natural resources but the strength and resilience of its people.
“Nigeria is a poor country if you look at the resources and the population. What makes us great is the strength and resilience of our people.” The President noted.
President Jonathan and his wife Dame Patience, his Mother Eunice and other top government functionary joined the procession for the commencement of the Church Service at about 2.58 pm.
In his sermon, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Pastor Ayo Oritsejefor prayed for God to use the occasion of the independence day celebration to bring back peace and unity to the country.
The CAN president explained that all the problems Nigeria was facing as a nation were self inflicting, including corruption and terrorism, perpetrated by the Islamic Boko Haram sect.
He said corruption in Nigeria was caused by poverty mentality as a result of people not being satisfied with what they have. According to him, the country’s woes were also caused by those who are desperate to take power.
Pastor Orisejefor who noted that Nigeria is being troubled by Nigerians said “Troublers of Nigeria, get ready for judgement. It doesn’t matter what level you are, the judgement of God will find those who are troubling Nigeria.”
He however disagreed on insinuations that the level of terrorism in the country was as a result of poverty. “Terrorism is not fuelled by terrorism but poverty can create an environment where more people can be recruited.”
Quoting from the book of Acts chapter 5, the CAN president also warned Nigerian women/wives to desist from shielding their bad husbands who are guilty of perpetrating crime against the country.
Pastor Orisejefor who called on the need for deliberate steps to be taken to de-radicalised those who are radicalised because of extremist religious beliefs also said Nigerians should rally behind the military.
The first reading was read from the book of 1 Sam 30: 1-19 by Justice Walter Onoghen while Senate President David Mark took the second reading from the book of Mark 4:35-41.
A Special prayer which was sent in from the Catholic Pontiff, Benedict Pope Francis XVI was read at the service.
Other dignitaries who attended the event include deputy senate President Ike Ekweremadu, deputy speaker Emeka Ihedioha, former head of state General Yakubu Gowon, former head of interim national government Ernest Shonekan, Secretary to the government of the federation Ayim Pius Ayim, Head of Service of the Federation, Ambassadors of Israel, Greece, the service chiefs, and Ash Bishop Nicholas Oko-Primate of the Anglican Communion among others.