President Goodluck Jonathan has again hit back at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying he and his like do not own Nigeria, reiterating that Nigeria does not belong to any politician or group of politicians.
In his remarks at Christmas Day service held at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp, Abuja, the president, who was obviously unhappy over Obasanjo’s 18-page letter accusing his administration of corruption, promoting ethnicity and engaging in anti-party activity among others, said those beating the drums of war should take a look at crisis bedeviling countries like Syria, Egypt, South Sudan, DR Congo, Pakistan and the like and see the effect of war and terrorism.
While thanking the clergy men for their constant prayers, which, he said, has so far helped to save Nigeria from plunging into war, urged them not to relent. He stated that despite the numerous challenges his administration was forging ahead and striving to deliver what Nigerians duly deserve.
Re-echoing the message of Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nicolas Okoh, Jonathan said even in time of peace, neigbouring countries surrounding Nigeria were already uncomfortable with the number of Nigerians in their territory, saying that if not for diplomacy, a lot of them would have sent them packing.
He therefore, called on Nigerians to cherish the peace they are currently enjoying and not to do anything to rock the boat.
President Jonathan said: “For us at this time, especially we the politicians that think we own this country, we begin to think about next elections and doing what we ought not to do, making statement we ought not to make, writing letters we are supposed not to write.
“I call on clergymen and statesmen, who really own this country because this country belongs to our statesmen, traditional rulers, religious leaders, our men, our women, our youth. Nigeria does not belong to any politician or group of politicians. So we continue to urge to pray for this country.
“The primate mentioned a number of nations that deals with crisis. For those who know about terrorism, countries that are infested with terror will hardly get out of it. If you look at a country like Pakistan, we even go to Pakistan to train our soldiers. In some parts of Pakistan, as we are talking now, there appears to be no government. So this country could have been worst.
“Look at the incidences in Abuja, even the police headquarters was boomed, the UN building right here, in the seat of government, was boomed, maybe the next target would have been the State House.
“So we have to thank God that we have been able to bring it to a reasonable level, though we are far from getting there. There are a lot of challenges but we have to thank God.
“The primate asked if it were to be a country like Syria, what would we have done? Look at South Sudan; they were part of Sudan and they felt that they were being dominated; they have resources there, oil in part of South Sudan; they carried arms against the state. Finally, the whole world, through the UN, liberated them. In fact, within this week we will be going for Security Council meeting under the AU. My envoy just came back on Sunday from where he had conversation with them on how do we stop this madness.
“So we have to thank God, even though we still have this security challenges in our country at least we are reasonably better.
“The Primate was mentioning that Ghana, Sierra Leone can accommodate us if Nigeria was to have crisis. I was just laughing because even now with the number of Nigerians in these countries, the people are not even comfortable. We don’t have crisis but from Cameroon to Senegal, Nigerians are everywhere, that the countries, if not for political and diplomatic reasons, would have even asked some of them to leave. Then assuming we have crisis, what would be the state? Where will you go? Is it the Atlantic Ocean? So I urge you to continue to pray.
“I also thank the religious leaders of this country; they have been praying and I believe God has been hearing our prayers. We will do our best within the period that God has asked us to occupy the positions we are occupying we will continue to work hard.”
The Anglican Primate, in his sermon, had stressed that those who don’t have peace cannot share with others. He said that God’s peace was not based on things that cannot endure, adding that one could only find peace in Jesus Christ.
Okoh reiterated that peacemakers are children of God, adding that one cannot draw a logical line from God to destruction and killings that the nation has witnessed in recent times, as God is the source of peace.
“We need to draw God’s peace to the church, the family, the community and the world,” he stated.
While admitting that Nigeria was facing a lot of challenges, the primate said just as the people in Syria, DR Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Egypt, Indonesia, and Ukraine cannot understand the message of peace and joy at this time, there was need for us as a country to do everything within our power not to be at the same level.
He warned ordinary Nigerians not to allow themselves to be used because, according to him, unlike the politicians, many people do not have international passports and foreign bank accounts to fall back on should crisis breaks, adding that they would bear the brunt at the end of the day.
Okoh said: “War frustrates peace. Most economies tagged the best in the world are violent economies; they produce weapon of mass destruction to kill people and themselves. How many Nigerians can go to Togo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cameroon accept as refugees? So it is in our interest to keep peace because we have no where to go in case of war. God has given us the best in the land. I charge you to maintain peace.
“In some places, they live in extreme conditions, extreme cold, extreme heat. But that is not our case, we have the mangrove; we have good weather condition, we are blessed with all sorts of natural resources; we ought to be grateful to God and not the way we behave at times. We ought to live responsibly.
“We ought to pray for the peace of Nigeria; do not join anybody to cause trouble, confusion because you might bear the brunt. Some of you do not have international passports, but those asking you to cause trouble have passports, bank accounts and can vamoose at any time. Stay here and maintain peace because Nigeria will blossom. Whatever you get from the devil you will pay dearly. Refugees are not the happiest of people; don’t make yourself a refugee.”
Prayers were later offered for President Jonathan, his family, his cabinet, the National Assembly, the judiciary and security agencies for them to be agents of transformation.
Also prayers were offered for the trade union, for industrial peace and for Nigeria, asking that the expectations of those who pray for the country to crash will be futile and that there may be no more bloodshed in Nigeria again.
Prayers were also offered for the economic and education sectors and that Nigeria will become the preferred destination for pilgrimage.
Some dignitaries present were the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, President Jonathan’s mother, some members of National Assembly, ministers and some presidential aides.
From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja