It’s Christmas again. Everyone is happy and celebrating the birth of
Jesus who came into the world to save mankind from sin and destruction.
Leaders across the world are sending messages of hope.
For leaders from various political leanings and religious divides, it is an opportunity to reflect on the polity, particularly next year’s elections.
In their Christmas messages, they urged Nigerians to use the season in praying for successful elections in February, next year.
President Muhammadu Buhari reaffirmed his promise to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
Other leaders who echoed the President included Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, governors, lawmakers and clerics, among others.
According to Buhari, his repeated pledge should not be taken as a vain political promise, as everything would be done to create a level playing field for all. The sanctity of the wishes and aspirations of the electorate will be respected, he said.
“My word is my bond,’’ the President told Nigerians yesterday in his Christmas message.
The President said that his commitment to free, fair, credible and violence-free polls is neither a ruse nor yet another vain political promise.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity Femi Adesina, President Buhari said he had already charged the security and law enforcement agencies to secure the sanctity of the ballot box and ensure that “the outcome of the polls reflects the will of the people’’.
The statement reads: “It is a sworn declaration on the advancement of Nigeria, the future and safety of our young and unborn generations.
“Let us tell the world that, indeed, ‘something good’ can come out from Nigeria. And it will happen, as we all team up to make it happen.’’
Buhari, who felicitated with all Nigerians, particularly Christians, on the joyous occasion of this year’s Christmas, noted that “in 2018, Nigerians have had mixed blessings, typical of human beings’’.
He said: “On the pleasant side, our economy has made significant progress since coming out from recession and our faithful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“Agricultural revolution has seen a vastly improved local production to the detriment of importation while we have achieved surplus in our trade balance.
“Similarly, infrastructural deficit has been greatly reduced with significant improvements in roads, railways, aviation and power. In addition, we have not relented in the fight against corruption while the business environment has been improved through institutional reforms.’’
The President, however, observed that on the downside, the nation had witnessed so many unnecessary deaths caused by violent clashes between neighbours, who ordinarily should complement and support one another.
He said: “We cannot bring back the lives lost to floods, unfortunate fire disasters, road accidents, farmers/herders clashes and insurgency. But we can put back smiles on the faces of the grieving, the displaced and the troubled, if we show a little love and recommit ourselves to building relationships with those outside our ethnic, religious and socio-political divides.’’
According to him, “this season is another opportunity to reflect on the imagery of the humble, symbolic and divine birth of a young child thousands of years ago in Bethlehem, Judea, and the message of hope, compassion, salvation, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace that Jesus Christ embodies and conveys.
“As we celebrate Christmas, exchange gifts, pray and visit loved ones, let us remember many others who cannot be with their families this time.”
President Buhari also enjoined Nigerians to always remember the nation’s Armed Forces, and other security men and women who had made incredible sacrifices to keep the country safe.
He said that the aged, the sick, physically challenged persons, all deserve the attention and goodwill of the well-meaning citizens in this season of love and sharing.
“Together we can show generosity to our neighbours and demonstrate the diversity that makes Nigeria unique – a land with a beautiful climate and vegetation, beaming with an energetic and creative youth population.
“We must not also forget that what lies ahead of us as a nation is better than whatever we must have experienced in the past.’’