Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said while the lives of those lost to floods, fire disasters, road accidents, farmers/herders clashes and insurgency cannot be brought back, smiles can be put on the faces of the grieving families.
While describing it as a downside of 2018, he noted that Nigerians in the outgoing year “have seen so many unnecessary deaths caused by violent clashes between neighbours, who ordinarily should complement and support one another.”
President Buhari, who said this in his 2018 Christmas message to Nigerians, which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, urged Nigerians to exchange gifts, pray and visit loved ones, and remember many others who cannot be with their families at this time.
According to him, “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.
“As we celebrate Christmas, exchange gifts, pray and visit loved ones, let us remember many others who cannot be with their families this time.”
He maintained that the 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.
President Buhari noted that in 2018, Nigerians have had mixed blessings, typical of human beings.
According to him, “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.
“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.”
President Buhari also commended the bravery of military personnel and other security agencies who have sacrificed to keep the nation save and United.
He said, “Our brave Armed Forces, and other security men and women who make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe, the aged, the sick, physically challenged persons, all deserve our goodwill 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.
With general elections around the corner and heightened political activities across the country, I have charged our 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 Nigerian people.”
He President reiterated his commitment to free and fair elections next year.
Buhari said, “My avowed commitment to free, fair, credible and violence-free polls is not a ruse or yet another vain political promise. My word is my bond.
“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.