President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that the country's problems were not within his power as a leader to solve alone, but that he needed the support of all Nigerians.
According to him, the many Nehemiahs in the National Assembly, the Federal Executive Council, judiciary, educational and private sectors would have to assist him in rebuilding the nation just like God used Prophet Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
"Leadership at all levels is collective. One person cannot change a nation. Agreed, the leader matters but he cannot change things alone. All of us Nigerians must work together to rebuild our nation. Our men and women will change things in this country. There are so many Nehemiahs in the National Assembly, the Federal Executive Council, our judiciary, our teachers, businessmen and women and I believe God will use these Nehemiahs to rebuild the country. I can say again that Nigeria will succeed. With your cooperation we shall succeed," the president stated.
Jonathan, who spoke at the 52nd independence anniversary Interdenominational church service with the theme "The weapons of our warfare are not canal", said with the manner in which his administration had sanitised the electoral process, corruption would soon be a thing of the past in the country.
He said, "On corruption, Transparency International that has never spared Nigeria admitted in its latest rating that Nigeria is second to America in commitment to fight against corruption. God willing, we shall overcome it.
"On economic environment, at least 249 new companies, according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), have entered the market. We shall continue to work hard to create jobs for our people. I want to assure Nigerians we will not sleep until we stabilise power in this country."
The president also flagged off the one-year prayer project, saying prayer helped America determine the direction of their country and can do same for Nigeria.
He expressed appreciation for Christians and religious leaders who are praying in the remote areas for his government to succeed, saying they know if it succeeds their children will succeed.
Jonathan assured that the challenges facing the country were temporary and that Nigeria shall overcome them all.
Also speaking, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Pastor Ayo Oritisejafor declared at the event that Boko Haram was a terrorist organisation being funded by those who want to create political space for themselves and those who want to see Nigeria divided.
He said, "Boko Haram is a terrorist organisation. The activities of Boko Haram are not fuelled by poverty but by a religious fundamentalist ideology. Boko Haram is being funded from within by people who desire to use them to create political space for themselves and funded from without by those who want to see Nigeria divided along religious-ethnic lines.
"Boko Haram is also sustained by media apologists who feed the unsuspecting public with politically incorrect half-truths. As a nation, as a people, if we are serious about getting answers to our national prayers, we must, as a matter of urgency, turn from our wicked ways. Let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end."
In his message entitled "God still answers prayers" and taken from 2 Chronicles 7:14, Pastor Ortisejafor said the question that had bogged his mind for sometime is, "Does God hear our prayers or has He abandoned us?"
"It is wickedness that Nigeria, as stated by the Centre for Management Development, spends N1.6 trillion on generators annually, while a good number of Nigerians only see electricity cables without having electricity," he lamented.
He added that it was also wickedness that "beautiful homes dot the landscape of our major cities while many Nigerians don't have a place to lay their heads; for people to be surrounded by so much water and yet not have clean pipe-borne water to drink; for men to make incantations and satanic pronouncements over the nation in shrines and strange altars, all because some of them desire positions at all cost".
It is wickedness, Oritisejafor added, "for people to continue to play politics of religion and ethnicity, while a group of men continue to swell the numbers of widows and orphans on a daily basis".
Convener of Nigeria Prays and former head of state General Yakubu Gowon called for intercession prayer for Nigeria's transformation, saying the times call for sober reflection, greater volume of prayer and supplication.
Gowon noted that the special independence prayers is the gathering of builders and watchmen of our nation to seek the face of God for the difficulties facing the country and to set the tone for transformation.
He said, "Together we can rescue our nation from its present difficulties." Pope Benedict the 16th also sent a message praying for peace and hope for Nigeria.
Senate president David Mark took the first Bible reading which was taken from the book of 1 Samuel 17:38-47. The second reading, from 2 Corinthians 10:1-5, was taken by President Jonathan.
Prayers were said for the president and other leaders of the Nigerian nation, and against moral decadence, indiscipline and corruption, poverty, unemployment and natural disaster, insecurity, terrorism, conflicts and unrest.
Our destiny is in our hands - Mark
Senator Mark said, in a statement to mark the anniversary: "In spite of the economic and socio - political challenges facing the nation, only the resolve and willingness of Nigerians to confront the issues headlong would get us out of the woods.
"Nobody is coming from the moon or space to solve our problems for us.
"The challenge is that we must put behind us such mundane issues as ethnic or religious differences and come together as one people to tackle our problems."
Mark stated that Nigerians have the capacity to solve their problems. He catalogued the myriads challenges of nation-building since independence and submitted: "If we look inwards and do the right things in conformity with our laws and customs, we can adequately find solutions to our problems. God has blessed the nation with enough human and material resources; we have all it takes to truly attain our giant status economically and politically. All we need do is to harness our resources and potential for good."
Nigerians should be optimistic - Tambuwal
For his part, speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has urged Nigerians to look to the future with optimism as the country celebrates its 52nd independence anniversary.
In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said all Nigerians must work assiduously to promote peace, unity and democracy.
The speaker urged the people to isolate and expose those obstacles that hamper the attainment of peace, development and progress of the nation.
According to him, the last few years have been challenging to the people of the country but admonished all citizens to do away with those attitudes, language, and dispositions that have prevented the country from attaining its full potential.
We must break away from the past- Atiku
Former vice president AtikuAbubakar urged Nigerians to avoid obsession with the past, which might make them lose hope in today and the future.
In a goodwill message to Nigerians to mark the nation's 52nd independence anniversary released by his media office in Abuja, the former VP noted with concern that a sense of nostalgia was leading Nigerians to give up about the present and the future.
Reviewing Nigeria's democratic journey in the past 13 years, Atiku noted that it was understandable for people to be impatient for change because of their harsh experiences.
He, however, noted that the democratic process takes some time to get rooted and, in the process, mistakes are bound to occur.
According to him, the beauty of democracy lies in the power to replace leaders who have failed to deliver the goods.
Tinubu tasks Nigerians on patriotism, unity, national devt
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), has called on Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the 52nd independence anniversary to refocus on patriotism, unity and national development. In a special release to mark the event, the former governor of Lagos State said: "Nigeria, our dear country, could be passing through a very difficult time now. But these are not problems we cannot collectively solve, if we all put our minds to them."
Tinubu said one of the burning challenges was that of a constitution to make Nigeria a true federation and correct all the structural imbalances that have resulted in mutual distrust and slowed down economic growth and prosperity. He called for the strengthening of the nation's various institutions to serve the interests of the citizenry and not personal political interests, saying: "The sustenance of our democracy is important. The can-do spirit of Nigerians must be harnessed. Parochial sectional interests must be dislodged. And we must work collectively for peace and stability of the nation."
The statement noted that, at the age of 50, a person was expected to have matured and developed into a greater being, adding that a country as a continuum should have made concrete and critical steps towards the progress and happiness of its citizenry and not just be contented with business as usual which had left a vast majority of the people in a state of hopelessness. Tinubu stated: "As a nation, we must re-focus, be determined and dedicated to nation-building. Governance should not just be about leadership and benefits for the elite and a select few, but must be for the concrete welfare of the nation. Nigeria is a promising nation to which we must all re-dedicate ourselves and uphold those ideals that make us strong. Only a sincere constitutional review for institutional strengthening will lead us into the path of greatness." Congratulating Nigerians on 52 years of independence, Tinubu said much as Nigerians liked to criticise themselves, the country had made some progress, even if there were always room for improvement.
Jonathan's government worse than Obasanjo's - Northern Elders' Forum
After a critical analysis of Nigeria's leadership from independence to date, The Northern Elders' Forum yesterday said that there was nothing to celebrate in view of bad leaders that have ruled the country over the years. The forum said that the administration of President Jonathan is even worse than the Obasanjo and Yar'Adua regimes.
While accusing the governors of the north of undermining the development of the region, the forum also concluded that "the northern governors have been substantial failures to the extent that more than 50 percent of the crises facing the north can be attributed to poor governance in the northern states."
The forum, while assessing the performances of past and present presidents of the country, said: "We thought the Obasanjo's regime recorded the worst government in the history of this country; fortunately for Obasanjo it is now being recorded that Jonathan's government is so far worse than the Obasanjo's administration."
Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, the spokesman of the forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, argued that after "Obasanjo's eight years, Umaru and Jonathan's four years were even worse. Things have deteriorated to the extent that this country is becoming way down".
"There is nothing to celebrate because not much has been achieved. The country's resources have been wasted to the extent that, despite all the claims of oil, this country is poor; our foreign reserves are not in existence.
The former vice-chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello Univerisity (ABU), Zaria, and the current chairman of the Governing Council of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, added that successive governments have recorded negative achievements right from 1979 to date.
"People were very hopeful that from 1999 when the civilian regime came back, things would be better. But it is now on record that people are suffering."