President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday gave reasons why some Nigerians think his government was handling issues of governance at a snail pace, saying it was because he prefers thinking thoroughly about issues before acting, as rushing things could lead to costly mistakes.
"By human thinking, our administration is slow, I won't say we are slow, but we need to think through things properly if we are to make lasting impact. If we rush, we will make mistakes and sometimes it is more difficult to correct those mistakes," he stated.
But the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has faulted the president on his initiatives, saying Nigerians are more impoverished under his government.
Jonathan, who made the comment at Christmas Day service held at the Cathedral Church of the Advent Life Camp, Anglican Communion, Gwarinpa, Abuja, promised, however, that with the solid foundation laid in critical sectors like agriculture, power, transportation and roads, the country's infrastructure would be sustained.
He said, "I want to assure Nigerians that any step we take, whether little or giant, we won't go back. And where we need to act fast, we will do so; that we demonstrated with the flood disaster, because it required immediate response.
He pointed to his administration's electoral reform as one of its achievements.
"Democracy must be dictated by ballot papers, and I think we have achieved that with electoral reform. We will not go back but will continue to improve.
"For our transformation to be sustained, we Nigerians must be reformed. We must not see our country as where we make money only and build walls and live as prisoners because of the criminal activities of few," he said.
Jonathan challenged the church to contribute its quota to remaking the country, saying it, too, has a great role to play if the transformation agenda must succeed.
He condemned criminals who vandalise government properties, saying they were sabotaging government's effort to provide stable power and other critical infrastructure. According to him, there can be no transformation without reformation, a task that should be the job of the church.
Expressing excitement that the reforms in the agriculture, power and transportation sectors had been noticed by even the primate, the president gave assurance that his administration would fulfill its promises to the people.
He said, "The sermon today brought a number of things to limelight, our transformation in agriculture and others. When we were planning for our campaign, we spent a whole day debating on what should be our theme and we settled for transformation. At the time it sounded strange and many people even asked what are we transforming but I'm glad that, today, people are beginning to see the transformation.
"The church has a great role to play if the transformation must succeed because you can't transform without reformation, and it is the role of the church to do so. I urge the church to come up with various programmes to talk about how we Nigerians can be reformed. I want to reassure Nigerians that we are committed and will keep faith with our promises."
On his part, the Anglican Primate, Abuja Diocese, Most Rev Nicholas Okoh challenged the federal government to free Nigerians from the terror unleashed by the Boko Haram, from armed robbery, kidnapping, political wickedness and such vices that have kept Nigerians in constant fear.
The cleric lamented that the terror attacks by that sect had scared off some worshippers from going to church and pleaded with the president to do everything within his power to end the menace posed by the sect so that people will no longer entertaining fear for their safety.
In his sermon, entitled "The Message of the Messiah Present in our Midst", Okoh lamented that the country had degenerated to a level where kidnappers were now holding Nigerians to ransom to the extent that people were afraid to travel home to celebrate the yuletide season with family and friends. He argued that unemployment cannot be blamed for the preponderance of such crime.
"We cannot justify them (kidnappers) by looking at the issue of unemployment. A kidnapper is looking for big money and not a job. There is no place of employment that can pay you N50 million or more for one job done. There is something wrong with our psyche if kidnappers have settled for that as a source of livelihood," he said.
He then explained that the birth of Jesus signaled a global transformation for mankind.
According to him, "The Lord came with the gospel of transformation and power that has transformed us from darkness to light. If you want to know God and his workings, then look at Jesus: he has given us moral light to shun what is wrong and do the right thing."
He further called on Nigerians to live peaceably with their countrymen.
"We need to embrace peace in this country. We have of late been praying to have peace between man and man in our country. The Christian faith does not encourage tit for tat for the frequent killings, because Christians are peace bearers. Irrespective of provocations, we must promote peace," he said.
The bishop advised all leaders to put the interests of their subjects first before and above all parochial interests.
"We need to thank God for what the government is trying to do that we will no longer be slave to massive rice producers like Thailand. Is difficult to understand why it took us so long to realise that if we produce our rice, that we can eat and generate jobs for our people. Also we have started producing bread with local content and it is good news to the poor. It will be political miracles if we have constant power supply and it will be good news to the poor," he said, noting that "following the story of incarnation, the government can continue to come down to the poor because God is interested in the affairs of the poor".
First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan took the Old Testament lesson while President Jonathan read the Epistle.
Those who followed Jonathan to the church included his family members, some cabinet ministers and personal aides.
President's message, hollow ritual - CPC
The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has described the president's Christmas message as a hollow ritual and not based on well thought-out planning for a better future.
In a statement signed by the party's national publicity secretary, Engr Rotimi Fashakin, and made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja, the party noted that the same national existential conditions that brought untold anguish and miserable environment in the past one year had not changed.
President Goodluck Jonathan, in his season's message to Nigerians, was quoted to have called on Nigerians not to doubt that his government had the political will and determination to deliver on its promise of positive changes in the living conditions of the people in the shortest possible time.
He had gone further to say that the efforts already undertaken in critical sectors of the nation's life would soon begin to come to fruition in the coming years "and make the results of the diligent project planning and execution being done under this administration more apparent to all Nigerians."
However, taking a swipe at the season's message, the CPC said it was doubtful if the president truly believed that Nigerians could trust him on after many broken promises in the past one year and sheer unwillingness to assuage the cruelty unleashed on them by his administration's lethargy and incompetence.
Fashakin said Jonathan and his forebears in the ruling party had collectively mismanaged the hopes of Nigerians in the last 13 years and impoverished the nation through unprecedented corruption and profligacy.
Parts of the statement read: "An administration that continually carries on with nauseous impunity, whilst the people's rights to good living are continually being trampled upon, cannot be trusted; an administration that is incapable of prioritising the nation's need as against the avaricious comfort of its principals and minions, cannot be trusted; an administration that, through its character and body language, continually plays up the ethno-religious fault lines of the nation's geo-politics, cannot be trusted; an administration that continually deals in deliberate mendacity and employs obscurantist policy as its philosophy, cannot be trusted."
According to him, the year which started with the steep increase of petrol pump price by an insensitive regime, eventually unveiled the most bizarre theft of the commonweal in the over five decades' existence of the Nigerian state.
He said, "With N2.67 trillion and N1.05 trillion said to have been spent on fuel subsidy in 2011 and 2012 respectively, this administration has unwittingly created a bleeding pipe in which the scarce resources of state are siphoned into private pockets of cronies and acolytes of the regime. The conundrum that this administration has brought the nation is that any increase in world crude oil price would not translate into the prosperity of the Nigeria and her citizens. The administration of the fuel subsidy, under the regime, has become a phenomenon in legendary opacity and monstrous corrupt tendencies."
On national security, the Fashakin accused the Jonathan administration of incompetence in tackling the myriad of security challenges that assailed the nation in the outgoing year.
"After each deadly bomb blast- with attendant fatalities, it had become a regular template of presidential response to listen to assurances of investigation and security cover for all under the national space. This is why, as a party, we believe president's season's message is a damp squib," he said.
While congratulating Nigerians for stoically wading through a 'horrendous' year, the party stated that an administration that continually carried on with nauseous impunity while the people's rights to good living were continually being trampled upon could not be trusted.