President Goodluck Jonathan, at a Christmas service on Wednesday, slammed politicians with a knack for criticisng his administration and its policies, insisting that Nigeria did not belong to them.
In a veiled reference to former President Olusegun Obasanjo who recently wrote him an 18-page letter and other politicians who have criticised his style of governance and policies, Mr. Jonathan said the politicians were writing letters and making unnecessary statements because of the 2015 general election.
He reminded them that the country did not belong to them, but to clergymen and statesmen whom he urged to pray for the country.
The president spoke at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Lifecamp, Gwarimpa, Abuja.
In his December 2 letter titled "Before it is too late" to Mr. Jonathan, Mr. Obasanjo accused the president of failure to deliver on his electoral promises, promote national unity, arrest corruption and strnghten national unity.
He also alleged that Mr. Jonathan was about to renege on his plan to spend just a term in office and of also training a killer squad to eliminate political opponents ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The president, in his reply dated December 20, dismissed all the allegations and challenged the former president to substantiate them with facts.
"We politicians that think we own this country and are already thinking about next elections, we are doing what we ought not to do; making statement we ought not to make and writing letters we are supposed not to write," Mr. Jonathan said.
"This country belongs to our statesmen, traditional rulers, religious leaders, our men, our women, our youths. Nigeria does not belong to any politician or group of politicians. So, we will continue to urge the clergymen to pray for this country."
Although he thanked God that Nigeria had reduced incidences of terrorist attacks to a reasonable level, Mr. Jonathan said the country was still far from getting over it.
The president, who was responding to some issues the primate of the church, Nicholas Okoh, raised, reminded the clergyman that countries, which had been infested with terrorism, hardly overcome the scourge.
He said, "The primate mentioned a number of issues that deal with a number of nations that deal with crisis. For those who know about terrorism, countries that are infested with terror will hardly get out of it. If you look at country like Pakistan, we even go to Pakistan to train our soldiers, in some parts of Pakistan as we are talking now there appears to be no government. So this country could have been worse."
"Look at the incidences in Abuja, even the police headquarters was bombed, the UN building right here in the seat of government, may be the next target would have been State House. So we have to thank God that we have been able to bring it to a reasonable level, though we are far from getting over. There are a lot of challenges but we have to thank God."
"Primate said if it were to be like Syria, what would we have done? Look at South Sudan they were part of Sudan and they felt that they were being dominated, they have resources, there is oil in part of South Sudan, they carried arms against the state. Finally the whole world, through the UN, liberated them. In fact within this week we will be going for a Security Council meeting under the AU.
"My envoy just came back on Sunday from where he had conversation with them on how we can stop this madness.
"So we have to thank God even though we still have this security challenges in our country at least we are reasonably better."
The president said even though there was no crisis in Nigeria, its neighbours were not comfortable accommodating Nigerians living in those countries. According to him, but for political and diplomatic reasons, they would have asked Nigerians to leave.
He then asked, "Then assuming we have crisis, what would be the state, where will you go? Is it the Atlantic Ocean? So I urge you to continue to pray."
He thanked the country's religious leaders for praying for the country, adding "I believe God has been hearing our prayers. We will do our best within the period that God has asked us to occupy the positions we are occupying."
The president stated that the world over, the expectations of the society could hardly be met by their leaders.
He recalled that when Jesus Christ was born, the Jews were told that God was giving them a king and a saviour, adding "Today, because we are used to reading the Bible, immediately you hear of the word 'saviour,' you will think about Christ and his attributes.
"The Jews were being dominated by the Romans, it was like when we were under the colonial masters. The Jews thought they were getting somebody who will lead them to a war and chase away the Romans for them to be free. But the war they expected was not Christ's own style.
"I think it is only in one place that Christ was quoted as carrying the cane and flogging people in the synagogue for trading and doing other things they were not to do in the House of God.
"So today, we have similar situation. The expectations of the society are hardly met by leaders."
Mr. Okoh, had earlier in his sermon, asked Nigerians to ensure that peace reigned in the country because Nigerians had nowhere to seek refuge in crisis situation.
"As we celebrate Christmas, we call you to pray for peace not just for yourself or the nation but also for the world," he said.
"We should pray for agents of war, bloodletting and hostilities. Let us pray that God will restrain the powers of evil.
"How many Nigerians can Togo, Dahomey, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia absorb as refugees? It is important for Nigerians to ensure peace reigns here because we have nowhere to go. God has given us the best of places; it is in our interest to maintain it.
"I charge you to work for peace. We must be grateful to God by living responsibly, not conducting ourselves as if nothing can happen.
"Do not join anybody to cause trouble or confusion because you may be the recipient and there is nowhere to go. Some of you don't even have passports. But those who are instigating you have bank accounts and houses abroad. They will run there and come back when things have settled down. You may not be alive then.
"Do not join evil-doers; it is not part of Christmas. Refugees are not the best set of people. Don't make yourself a refugee."