Jonathan, Buhari, others sue for peace at Xmas

By Abdullahi M. Gulloma,  Innocent Odoh and Bode Olagoke , Abuja

Prominent Nigerians, including President Goodluck Ebele jonathan, APC presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, in separate Christmas messages, enjoined Nigerians to live in peace and harmony for the development and interest of the country
President  Jonathan assured Nigerians that the federal government would put all resources and measures in place to make sure the 2015 elections were peaceful, free, fair and acceptable to all.
The president also called on politicians to respect the rules and conduct issue-based campaigns in the pursuit of their ambitions.
He said: “We are also celebrating this Christmas against the background of preparations for next year’s general elections. I seize this opportunity to reassure the nation that my administration will give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) all necessary support to ensure that it delivers very free, fair, credible and acceptable elections in 2015.
“National security agencies will also be given all necessary support to enhance their ability to ensure that the elections which should strengthen democracy in our country are peaceful and violence-free.
“I urge our political class to be law-abiding and place the greater interests of our nation above all personal or sectional interests in the countdown to the elections. Let us all be more statesman-like, conduct issue-based campaigns, and eschew the promotion of falsehood, division and hatred of others as we seek the votes of our countrymen in what should be a peaceful competition among contending points of view for the progress and development of our dear nation.”
He also called for prayers for members of the Nigerian Army who are fighting to protect the country’s territorial integrity in the North-east.
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, in his message, said: “Once again, we find ourselves at the end of another year that has seen all kinds of difficult situations, important questions and challenges, but also signs of hope, both in the Church and in our society are not lost.
“It has indeed been a year of mixed fortunes – for individuals, for the Christian family, other faithful and the entire society. We have seen the extremes of fundamentalism and terrorism, natural disasters, disease epidemics and other forms of societal challenges, all in the course of the year.”
He praised the dogged spirit of Nigerians, which he said made them sail through the trying times to the very moment Nigerians found themselves today.
He said: “The greatest news in the midst of these challenges is that of hope and the promise of better times ahead of us, which is the message of Christmas. The great joy with which families all over the world, including Nigeria, welcome the season of Christmas should be allowed to permeate through the fabrics of the society.
“As we celebrate the solemnity of Christ’s birth, I urge all faithful to reflect on the happenings of the year, especially those moments that threatened the foundation and existence of our nation and work towards inspiring a positive change in our world.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, urged Nigerians to use the occasion of this year’s Christmas to pray for the successful conduct of the 2015 general election.
In a message to commemorate this year’s Christmas season issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal equally enjoined Nigerians to seek God’s intervention for the end of the current security challenges confronting the nation.
“The coming elections provide an opportunity for our country to start afresh. I am confident we will get it right,” the Speaker added.
While wishing all Nigerians, especially those of the Christian faith, a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, Tambuwal prayed for  hitch-free celebrations and holidays.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari also elicitated with Christians and  expressed displeasure over security challenges in the country and the poor state of Nigerian roads.
In his goodwill message signed by the Director of Communications, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr. Dele Alake, the 2015 presidential hopeful condemned increasing wave of poverty in the country and said: “In a nation where a few individuals could raise N21bn because they want to make their friend president, millions of citizens, who truly own the resources being accumulated by a few, are left to suffer in sorrow, tears and blood.
“Christmas is a season when we all embark on journeys to join our brothers and sisters in our native towns, to hold town hall meetings, commission community projects and exercise our cultural rights.
“This year’s celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ symbolises peace, love and togetherness to mankind. It reminds us, once again, of the exemplary life of Jesus Christ and the ordinary yet spectacular circumstances of his birth.
“His life enjoins all of us to follow his path by offering to sacrifice our selfish desires for the good of our country and mankind in general. This event, however, is taking place at a period of serious security challenges across the length and breadth of our dear country.”

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