As the 2015 elections draw near, President Goodluck Jonathan has assured Nigerians that despite the security challenges the country is presently facing, they will not stop the conduct of the elections.
The president, who spoke at the 2014 Democracy Day interdenominational church service in Abuja, yesterday added that next year' celebrations of Democracy Day would witness a new government.
"After today, the next democracy day will witness a new government. I remember when I was in my village this morning to collect my permanent voters' card, and a reporter asked me whether there will be elections in Nigeria, I told him there would be elections in this country. "This country will continue to move forward in spite of some of the setbacks we are witnessing," he promised.
According to him, the insecurity in the country occasioned by the violent activities of the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, is designed to bring the government of Nigeria to its knees, but promised that it would not happen.
He thanked the congregation for coming and for their prayers, stating that without their prayers Nigeria would have suffered more of its share of the global terrorism.
Jonathan told the congregation that two forces are operating in the country, which according to him, are forces of development and forces of retrogression.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria would overcome all dark forces in the country.
"Without your prayers, it would have been worse. With your prayers, our girls will be found by our security men. All these distractions are planned to bring this government down. Since they failed, terrorism will also fail.
"The forces of darkness will never prevail over light. I call on all Nigerians to continue to pray and with God on our side, we shall overcome," Jonathan said.
He said God in his infinite mercy had given the country 15 years of unbroken democracy, adding that democracy had provided opportunities for state governors to compare notes which was not possible under military rule.
While adding that his administration's transformation policies were not mere campaign promises, Jonathan stressed that his administration had recorded great achievements in various sectors in the past three years. The sectors he listed included rail, roads, airports, agriculture, petroleum, power, industry and housing.
In his message, Pastor Goodheart Ekwueme called on all Nigerians to be prepared to sacrifice in the midwifery process that would result in the birth of a new great Nigeria.
Intercessory prayers were said for the nation, security, peace and development, as well as victims and families of the recent bomb blasts. Prayers were also said for the successful search and rescue of the Chibok schoolgirls.
Dignitaries at the church service included the First Lady Patience Jonathan, the president's mother, Eunice, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha.
But as the president and other congregants prayed for the return of peace to ssthe country, it emerged that Boko Haram insurgents continued their rampage in the North-east over the weekend, resulting in the death of 43 persons in Borno and Adamawa States.
According to eyewitness accounts, 20 persons were killed in Kamuyya village in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State yesterday afternoon, while another 23 were killed in two villages in Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State on Saturday night.
The attack yesterday, according to residents of Kamuyya, was executed by over a dozen terrorists who invaded the village with assault rifles and explosives.
The attack was said to have lasted for over two hours, at the end of which 20 persons were left dead by the insurgents who fled back into the bushes.
Residents who spoke to journalists in Maiduguri on the phone said some insurgents had visited the town about two months ago and asked the village head to mobilise his subjects to contribute the sum of N250,000 for them in order to execute "God's work".
However, the villagers, who were stricken with fear could only raise N70,000 since they are mostly peasant farmers and petty traders with no other source of income.
Though the insurgents were said to have been given the money the community raised and left with it, they left a message that they would return for the balance.
The gunmen threatened the villagers to either make the balance available at a stipulated time or they should be ready to face death.
According to one of the villagers, Bukar Umar, who spoke to THISDAY, he said the threat was taken with levity as many of them thought they were joking as the villages were incapable of raising such a huge amount.
He said: "Actually when they issued the threat, we all took it lightly and nobody bothered to make any extra effort to contribute the balance of the amount that they had requested. May be that was what ignited this bloody attack because we were unable to meet their demand."
Umar said the attackers took them unawares as over 20 insurgents, who must have emerged from the bush stormed the Kamuyya weekly market when traders were in the market and opened fire on the crowd before setting shops and vehicles on fire.
According to him, the hoodlums were well armed with sophisticated weapons, and after raiding the area, they proceeded to the major market where they continued with their indiscriminate shooting into the crowd, killing 20 persons on the spot and burnt most of the shops in the market.
Umar, who expressed dismay that innocent people were killed without mercy, wondered why there was no intervention from the security forces throughout the attack even though the villagers had specially requested military presence in the community.
"Immediately after the attack of last week in Kimba village, also in our local government, where scores of people were murdered, we urged the security agents to deploy their personnel but our appeals fell on deaf ears," he alleged.
He said: "It is a pity that there was no single security personnel to confront the invaders who had a field day wreaking havoc. The invaders snatched several vehicles and loaded them with bags of assorted food before fleeing the area.
"They destroyed everything we have, carted away our food and burnt down the remaining ones. The most painful thing is that they did not spare even the fleeing traders as they trailed and killed anybody who attempted to escape."
Another resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, claimed that over 100 houses were burnt, after the attackers had killed 20 people and left several others wounded.
Several residents, who escaped the onslaught, are now taking refuge in the bush for fear of the unknown.
"We hope government will come to our rescue because we have lost everything," he lamented.
In another incident, two villages in Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State continue to mourn the loss of 23 persons after the bloody attack by Boko Haram members on Saturday night.
The attack also led to several persons sustaining injuries and the destruction of houses in the community.
An eyewitness said the attackers stormed Gubla and Waga villages on Saturday night and the onslaught lasted till the early hours of yesterday. He confirmed that the attack left 23 persons dead.
One of the villagers, Mallam Musa, said the gunmen used explosives, which killed several people, adding that he personally saw at least 18 corpses, while five others died at hospital yesterday.
Another source said some of those injured included soldiers who tried to repel the attack, just as two members of the suspected gunmen were said to have been arrested by the military.
Another resident said some of the villagers were taken hostage by the insurgents. "I saw some people crying, saying their relations had been taken away as hostages by the gunmen," a resident who craved anonymity said.
The insurgents had on Saturday night also attacked a military base at Gubla in Adamawa State and later burnt down an armoured tank, though some of the attackers were said to have been nabbed by the military.
Efforts to get to the security forces to confirm both incidents proved abortive, but officials of Madagali Local Government Area confirmed both attacks.
The local government borders Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State, which has experienced incessant insurgent attacks.