President Goodluck Jonathan has restated the commitment of his administration to speedily grow the nation's economy, create jobs, as well as ensuring cheap food in the markets. He equally rued the future of the next generation in 100 years time, expressing optimism of a great future. The president spoke at the Catholic Church, Area 3 in Abuja, during the service in commemoration of the New Year and Centenary celebration. Jonathan, who said he was confident that Nigeria with get to the biblical promised land, urged all Nigerians to work together for that purpose.
Jonathan also disclosed that the Centenary celebration would come up February this year. He advised politicians to play politics, but at the same time ensure that the interest of the country overides their personal interest. "Surely, the country will get to where it wants to get to. Today is a special day, very special. 1st January, 2014 because we have been informing you that the amalgamation of our country to what we now call Nigeria happened on the 1st of January, 1914. Today, modern Nigeria is one hundred years old. The formal ceremony will take place by late February, the programme will soon be advertised for all Nigerians to see and know the areas they will participate because it is a programme for all of us. All the religious houses will be involved in one form of prayer or the other.
"So, today, we are not just celebrating the new year but we are also celebrating a special new year. A new year that Nigeria, modern Nigeria is 100 years. And we use this period to begin to think what will be Nigeria in the next 100 years. Not just to celebrate 100 years of the amalgamation of northern protectorates and southern protectorates to make the modern Nigeria, but what will be the future of our children, our grandchildren in the next 100 years. That is what occupies our mind. That is what we must all focus our attention on.
"Just like the Senate President mentioned, the world as a whole is facing a lot of challenges within this period. If you put on your television and if you turn the newspapers, there are always breaking news and the breaking news are not positive news whenever I see breaking news, you know there is one crisis somewhere in the world. We are reading about crises everywhere. And our country too unfortunately, we also have our own fair share of crises. The issue of Boko Haram and the excesses of the militia groups, kidnapping in southern Nigeria. Boko Haram terrorist activities in the northern part of the country but government is committed," the president said. While noting that some of the security challenges facing the country came at a point the security architecture was not properly designed for that, the president said there was great improvement.
"We have our challenges but there is significant progress. Let us seize this opportunity to assure our country men and women that we will continue to work hard to make sure that we bring these crises to an end," he stressed. According to him, with commitment and prayers, "we will surely get to where we want to go. As we enter this New Year, we will surely get our economy to continue to move in the right direction and in the direction we want it to move.
"We shall continue to work hard to make sure that not just that the economy will be growing based on economic parameters and indices, but that jobs are available for our young men and women and that food is cheap in our markets for ordinary people to buy and eat. That is the commitment of government."
He assured that he would work hard with the National Assembly, his cabinet and other officers of government to ensure good governance and give the much needed democracy dividends to Nigerians. The president, who said electricity would be stable by the middle of this year, also assured that 2014 would be better than 2013. Jonathan appealed to Nigerians that in spite the challenges, they should pray fervently as there was no alternative to the potency of prayers.
"We believe that no matter what an individual think he is, if God doesn't want you to succeed in achieving anything, you will not. You will get so close to it but at the end of the day, you will not get it. And I believe God is with us, I believe God blessed this country," he said.
Continuing, Jonathan told the congregation that "you go to some countries, some of our brothers and sisters because of their desperation tend to do things that are anti-social. Some are even in prisons and so on. But still, there is enormous respect for this country. People believe that Nigeria is a country that can continue to lead the continent of Africa.
"We have countries that are ahead of us in terms of the economy, in terms of technology but they still believe that Nigeria is the country that will lead this continent because they have seen the potentials in our country. I remember the second time I met President Obama after 2011 elections and he said that Nigeria has the potential to lead Africa and Nigeria has the potential to be a great country.
"He said in America, we have over 25,000 Nigeria medical consultants working in the health system, not just people with MBBS but consultants, over 25,000. And that today if all these Nigerians leave, we will have a lot f challenges in the health system of America. And that is the president of the number one country now. He believes that Nigeria has a lot f potentials. All what we need to do is to make sure that we continue to do things rightly.
"That is why I always plead with my fellow politicians that yes we must play the politics but let us take the interest of the country more than our own individual interest and as we continue to play the politics in that direction, leaders will come and go but the country will stay. Luckily, we have a constitution that nobody will be a governor or president forever. It is only in the parliament that you can be there till you die.
"As long as we consider the interest of our country, children, grand children and we begin to plan for the next generation instead of wasting all our energies to think about ourselves, before we get to the next 100 years, the country will be better. Nigeria can even change in the next few years and things will be better for everybody."
The president noted with confidence that the country would better in 2014, adding: "Even in the power sector that people always make reference to, since we have been able to do be first phase of privatisation and generation and distribution have been handed over to the private sector, we believe that even before the middle of this year, power will be reasonably stable and that will stimulate the economy. I believe and I am convinced that 2014 will be a better year than 2013."
Earlier, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, had said the challenges facing the nation was not peculiar to it. "My brothers and sisters, these problems are not only in our nation. You only need to read the Pope's letter to realise that all over the world, we have problems of corruption, human trafficking, drug abuse not to talk of wars and fratricidal killings. We ask you Lord to come to our aid and defend our nation," he said..