This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Jonathan - I'll Pay Any Price to Make Nigeria Work

President Goodluck Jonathan Sunday said he was prepared "to pay any price" to ensure that things work well in the country.

He also said would do everything possible to implement all his ongoing reforms in the critical sectors of the country.

The presidential assurance was contained in the goodwill message he sent to the opening ceremony of their second plenary session of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the Mater Dei Cathedral, Umuahia.

Presidential Jonathan's message, which was delivered by the minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, was full of assurances that everything was on course to pull the nation out of the present malaise.

It was also a vague warning to anti-reform elements as the President insisted that there was no going back on the privatisation of the power sector, adding that "the transformation agenda has reached the point where everybody would be proud that reform has taken place."

Jonathan, who said he was delighted to have been invited by CBCN to come and "share with them thoughts and vision that guide our nation in the search for development," said his administration was putting in place superstructures upon which Nigeria would attain greater heights.

He said he was not unmindful of the enormous problems facing the nation, noting that he has been confronting the challenges headlong, citing the youth employment programmes to keep the youths out of crime, the ongoing power sector reforms as well as efforts to tackle the infrastructure deficit across the nation.

Recalling the security challenges facing Nigeria and the rest of world today, Mr. President concluded that "human society today is far from attaining the City of God status as propounded by St Augustine of Hippo.

But he called on the Catholic Bishops to continue in their prayers so that the nation can overcome the critical challenges threatening the peaceful co-existence of citizens, adding that his administration was on its own committed to the building of an egalitarian society.

"This administration will always stand for the truth, peace and justice," the President said. He quoted some passages from the Holy Bible as he urged Nigerians to learn to love one another and live in harmony in the pluralistic society.

Earlier in his address, the president of CBCN and Catholic Bishop of Jos Diocese, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, called for a lasting solution to the senseless killings of Christians and other innocent citizens in the northern parts of the country, saying that patience was being overstretched.

"The patience of Christians, especially in the North has been tried and tested for too long now. We ask that the reckless attacks on them and other innocent Nigerians be brought to a halt, through the proper use of security intelligence/expertise available to government and security agencies both within and beyond Nigeria," he said.

He lamented the ease with which people acquire dangerous weapons due largely to the country's porous borders hence the bomb explosions and gun attacks that have remained unabated.

"The explosive devices have become like toys used at will and local and sophisticated arms escape our sea ports, land borders and find their way into the hands of criminals and hoodlums; it is a cause of very great concern," the CBCN President said.

According to him, the apparently unchecked flow of arms and ammunition and the attendant killings have made "most Nigerians wonder whether we are on top of the situation as usually claimed" by government and security agencies.

However, Bishop Kaigama assured that the Catholic Bishops and the faithful were committed to a united and peaceful Nigeria despite the blood lettings of Christians and would continue to pray for the men of violence to change their ways and learn to love.

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