By JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
• President urges Islamic clerics to preach peace, not hatred
• To launch Victims Support Fund Thursday
President Goodluck Jonathan has given thanks to God for not allowing Boko Haram attackers, whom he described as sons of the devil, to succeed in killing former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and popular Islamic scholar, Sheik Dahiru Bauchi last week.
He said that the country would have been in turmoil by now if the insurgents had succeeded.
The president said he shuddered to imagine what would have happened if both men with millions of followers had died in the attack.
Buhari was said to be on his way to Daura, his hometown in Katsina State, to celebrate the Sallah, when his convoy ran into the bomb blast on Kawo Road in Kaduna. Bauchi was attacked after preaching at the Murtala Square, the venue of the Tafsir, where he was said to have hammered on the need for peaceful co-existence among the people, saying: “Your good deed should not end with Ramadan but the beginning of doing more good.”
Jonathan, at the Eid-el-Fitri Sallah homage led by Vice President, Namadi Sambo, to his residence at the Presidential Villa, described the attacks on Kaduna and Kano as dastardly, reiterating that efforts were being made to strengthen the security apparatus in the country in order to bring terror attacks and other criminal offences to an end.
He urged Muslim clerics to preach peace and not hatred, saying the development of the country would only be possible in an atmosphere of peace and unity. The President also announced that the Victims Support Fund would be launched on on Thursday this week. The funds, which is expected to be raised from Nigerians and private sector, would be used to rehabilitate those affected by terrorist attacks, rebuild churches and mosques destroyed in the attacks as well as assist orphans, widows and the injured in the various attacks.
Jonathan said: “Let me plead with my brothers especially the clerics, to preach peace and unity not the gospel of hatred when sending their messages to their followers. Because without peace and unity, we cannot develop this country.
In a conflict situation, people move away from such zones and we cannot develop our communities, our local governments, states and our country in a conflict situation. “Not too long ago we had this dastardly attacks in Kano and Kaduna.
“We stand to condemn these acts of terror on our people. And we extend our condolence and sympathy to the bereaved and those who might have been injured.
“The recent attacks in Kaduna, especially where Sheik Dahiru Bauchi was a target and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was also a target; you can imagine if these two people had died in those attacks. Sheik Bauchi is one of our top Islamic preachers, he has millions of followers. Buhari, former Head of State, a leading political figure, has massive supporters.
“On the same day, people wanted to kill them. Those who planned the attacks are clearly sons of the devil because if they had killed these two people we wouldn’t have been here today. This country would have been in tumoil, we couldn’t have gathered here to celebrate.
“We thank Allah for saving their lives and preventing a major calamity that would have befallen our country. “I use this opportunity to call on all Nigerians to work with government to see that collectively, we bring to an end, the excesses of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. We are doing everything humanly possible to end it. Government is looking on how to raise funds.
“In fact, we are launching the fund on Thursday, to help widows, orphans and those whose business premises have been vandalised and even our worship places, mosques and churches that have been destroyed will be rebuilt. Government alone cannot do it because we will need huge sums of money, the Nigerian private sector are vibrant and willing if they see sincerity in government.
In his Eid-el-Fitri Sallah homage, Vice President Sambo commended the President for fasting alongside the Muslims during the Ramadan and prayed to God to answer all their supplications.