by Reuben Daba
An interdenominational church service was held in Abuja yesterday to commemorate the nation’s 52nd Independence Anniversary celebration.
Notable dignitaries present at the service include former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Senate President David Mark, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ikedioha, ministers, Secretary to Government of the Federation Anyim Pius Anyim, service chiefs, top government officials, top politicians, and members of the diplomatic corps.
At the event, the president pleaded with Nigerians for support, saying he alone cannot solve Nigeria’s problems, but he expressed confidence that the country would eventually overcome, as our problems are temporary.
The theme of the service was: “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal”.
According to reports:
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President Ayo Oritsejafor delivered the sermon.
Vice President Namadi Sambo and other top government officials, who are Muslims, attended an Islamic prayer session for Nigeria at 52 last Friday.
The president will today watch a ceremonial change of guards by the Nigerian Army Brigade of Guards at the State House in Abuja.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Chief Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, former heads of state and members of the Diplomatic Corps are expected to join him.
The anniversary celebration will be low key – for the second year running.
The last time the country celebrated her independence anniversary with fanfare was in 2010, when she turned 50. But it was marred by a twin bomb blasts that rocked Abuja. The blast went off a few metres from the Eagle Square, venue of the ceremony. Many people died.
President Jonathan said the low key celebration was to allow for an elaborate celebration of the centenary anniversary of Nigeria’s amalgamation in 2014.
Dr. Jonathan is optimistic that with all hands on deck, Nigeria, like the old Jerusalem, will be rebuilt as it was the case in the days of Nehemiah, who rebuilt the gate of Jerusalem with support.
He said the nation possesses many Nehemiahs in the National Assembly, the Federal Executive Council, the judiciary, the educational and private sectors, who God can use to rebuild the country.
“Leadership at all levels is collective. One person cannot change a nation. Agreed the leader matters, but he cannot change things alone. All of us Nigerians must work together to rebuild our nation. Our men and women will change things in this country. There are so many Nehemiahs in the National Assembly, the Federal Executive Council, our judiciary, our teachers, businessmen and women and I believe God will use these Nehemiahs to rebuild the country.
“I can say again that Nigeria will succeed. With your cooperation, we shall succeed.”
The president noted (for the umpteenth time) that his administration has sanitised the electoral process, adding that corruption will soon be gone for good.
On corruption, he said the Transparency International – the global monitor – admitted in its latest rating that Nigeria is second to America in commitment to fighting corruption.
Taking solace in the ranking, which he admitted was different from the usual rating, the President said: “God willing, we shall overcome it”.
On the economic environment, he said at least 249 new companies according to the Manufacturers of Nigeria, have been set up. We shall continue to work hard to create jobs for our people,” Jonathan said.
The president also spoke on the efforts towards a stable power supply and vowed not to rest until electricity is stabilised.
“I want to assure Nigerians we will not sleep until we stablise power in this country,” he said.
While also flagging off the one year prayer project, the president said prayer helped Americans to determine the direction of their country and can do same for Nigeria.
In his sermon entitled: “God still answers prayers,” Pastor Oritsejafor called on those in the position of authority to turn from their wicked ways.
He said: “Boko Haram is a terrorist organisation. The activities of Boko Haram are not fuelled by poverty, but by a religious fundamentalist ideology. Boko Haram is being funded from within by people who desire to use them to create political space for themselves and funded from without by those who want to see Nigeria divided along religious-ethnic lines.
“Boko Haram is also sustained by media apologist who feed the unsuspecting public with politically incorrect half-truths.”
He noted that as a nation, as a people, “if we are serious about getting answers to our national prayers, we must, as a matter of urgency, turn from our wicked ways.” “Let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,” he said.
Pastor Ortisejafor described as wickedness that Nigeria, according to the Centre for Management Development, spends N1.6 trillion on generators annually while a good number of Nigerians only see electricity cables without having electricity.
He also noted that lots of beautiful homes dot the landscape of our major cities while many Nigerians do not have a place to lay their heads; adding that lots of people are surrounded by so much water and yet have no clean pipe borne, water to drink.
The fiery pastor also added that for men to make incantations and satanic pronouncements over the nation in shrines and strange altars, all because some of them desire positions at all cost, is wickedness.
He condemned people who play “politics of religion and ethnicity”, even as “a group of men continues to swell the number of widows and orphans.”
Quoting copiously from the book of 2 Chronicles 7:14, Pastor Ortisejafor said the question that has bogged his mind for some time is: “Does God hear our prayers or has he abandoned us?”
He went on: “We cannot judge God’s ability to perform on what we see, but what we know about God.
“In the scripture we read, God expects the church to fast and pray for Nigeria, but so our church not become a ritual. He gives two very important conditions to answer prayer.
“One, God says we must humble ourselves. He said he will not forget the cries of the humble. He resists the proud and gives grace to humble.
“God hates pride and pride can hinder prayers. If we are genuinely serious about getting answers to national prayers, we must deal with pride.
“The fact that I’m President of CAN does not make me God. Many of our politicians today, especially those elected, are so disconnected from the people and it can be put down to one thing – pride!
“When you are disconnected from the people, you become the master and they your servants. Pride can hinder prayers and humility brings God’s hand on the people.
“The second condition for answered prayer is, we must turn from our wicked ways. The word of God says, shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
“Is it not wickedness that Nigeria, according to the Centre for Management Development, spends N1.6 trillion on generators annually while a good number of Nigerians only see electricity cables without having electricity? Is it not wickedness for beautiful homes to dot the landscape of our major cities while many Nigerians don’t have a place to lay their heads? Is it not wickedness for people to be surrounded by so much water and yet not have clean pipe borne water to drink? Is it not wickedness for men to make incantations and satanic pronouncements over this nation in shrines and strange altars, all because some of them desire positions at all cost? Is it not wickedness to continue to play politics of religion and ethnicity while a group of men continue to swell the numbers of widows and orphans on a daily basis?
“We can have a Nigeria we desire, where no one is oppressed, not judge by religion or tribe but by their content. We can have the Nigeria that we desire.”
Also quoting from 1 Kings 18:41, Pastor Ortisejafor said, “I speak as a prophet of this nation. It is true that I cannot see the rain but I hear the sound of abundant of rain. The rain of joy, peace, love, security, unity, prosperity.”