President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said those behind the violence in the country were planning to bring down his government.
Jonathan, at the 2014 Democracy Day Interdenominational Church Service with the theme “Love The Lord…and your Neighbour” in Abuja, described them as evil forces.
Terror attacks by Boko Haram in some parts of the North, especially the North-East, have led to the death of thousands of people. On April 14, 2014, the sect abducted more than 200 girls from a government college in Chibok, Borno State, a development that brought global attention to the terrorist activities in the country.
In Benue State, there have been clashes between the Tiv and Fulani cattle rustlers that have led to bloodshed. Six days ago, suicide bombers struck in Jos, Plateau State, killing over 15o people and on Saturday night another bomber visited mayhem on football fans in the city.
During the service, Jonathan, who touched on several national issues, said despite the security challenges, Nigeria would continue to move forward.
He said, “You can imagine if this government had not been facing these distractions within this period, definitely, we would have moved farther than this.
“All these distractions are planned to bring this government down and since they failed, terror will also fail.
“We have been witnessing terror attacks for two years plus, but the Chibok incident has added a major dent on the security of the country. There is nothing God cannot do. With your prayers, our girls will be seen by our security personnel, “he said.
“Terror will not stop this country from progressing. We know that these terrorists are human and they are evil men. Definitely, they are among those we categorise as evil forces.
“Forces of evil will never prevail. Forces of darkness will never prevail. I call on all Nigerians, Christians and non-Christians who pray, to continue to pray and I believe that God is on our side. Forces of evil and darkness will never prevail.”
Jonathan admitted that the April 14 abduction of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State was a major dent on the nation’s security.
The President also assured Nigerians that despite the security challenges, elections would hold next year as scheduled.
He explained that one of the beauties of democracy which the nation has been practising for 15 years was that every public office holder knows the terminal date of his administration.
Jonathan said despite the problems associated with democracy, it remained the best form of government.
He however posited that four or even 10 years were not enough to develop a nation because nation-building is a continuous process.
The President also said that the revamping of the rail sector, the privatisation of the power sector, the housing sector, industrial development, the remodeling of the airports and the reforms in the agricultural sector among others were clear signs that his transformation promises were not mere political promises.
While pointing to the successful hosting of the World Economic Forum for Africa, Jonathan said Nigeria under his leadership would have gone farther but for the challenges his government was facing.
He recalled that some forces wanted to frustrate the WEFA by detonating bombs in Nyanya, a satellite town near Abuja.
Jonathan reiterated his position that if not for prayers by Nigerians, the security challenges in the country would have been worse.
He said, “After today, the next Democracy Day will witness a new government.
“I remember when I was in my village to collect my permanent voter card , a pressman asked me if there would be elections in Nigeria and I told him ‘yes.’
“This country will continue to move on in spite of some of the setbacks we are witnessing. “
Quoting from the Holy Bible, the President said nothing could separate Nigerians from the love of God because forces of retrogression had always remained part of human history.
He added, “In human history, either individuals or societies, they are always confronted with two forces- the forces of development and forces of retrogression. They call the later evil forces.
“Our country is facing the challenges of some of these forces, the evil forces. I really do not want to celebrate them because surely,we will get over them.
“You will agree with me that within these three years of this government, our agenda for transformation is coming out.
“We have not reached where we want to go but there are certain signs that people will use to know whether government is committed or is deceiving.”
On national development, he said, “Definitely, we cannot build a nation in three years. This government is three years old. By May 29 next year, we would have completed our four years.
“Four years, even 10 years are not enough. Nation building is a continuous process. The most important thing is to start very well and continue to do things very well.”
Pastor Goodheart Ekwueme in his sermon taken from Esther 4:13-17 assured Nigerians that a new nation beckons.
Ekwueme likened the violence in some parts of the county and other social ills to birth pains that a woman undergoes before giving birth to a child.
He said, “The present situation in the country is just an indication of birth pains, we will go through the storms and a new Nigeria of our dreams and aspiration will soon be born.
“A Nigeria where there will be justice and equity will evolve. A new Nigeria where corruption will become exemption rather than the rule will evolve; a county where every citizen will have a sense of belonging will evolve.
“When a child is born, the mother forgets the birth pains. So shall it be in Nigeria soon.
“Such a new Nigeria is about to emerge. It will emerge in spite of the chaos and violence that is presently ravaging our streets, in spite of the naked image of the nation at the global stage, I believe the new Nigeria will emerge.
“The noise will come to an end. Let the new Nigeria evolve.”
Ekwueme said although this was a defining moment in the history of the nation, it could also be a period of great opportunity if perceived right.
He said Nigerians must be ready to rise beyond their ashes and move to the glory prepared for them by God.
He said corruption, among other social ills, must no longer be accepted as the rule but an exemption to the rule in the country.
The first reading for the service was taken by a representative of the judiciary from Genesis 11:1-6 while the President of the Senate, David Mark took the second reading from Luke 10:25-37.
At the well-attended service, special prayers were rendered for the successful search and release of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls by three pupils selected from three schools in Abuja.
Prayers were also offered for the victims and families of recent bomb blasts by Boko Haram, the nation’s security, peace and development, for the President and his family, the three arms of government as well as the church.
The service also featured praise and worship sessions as well as special songs rendered by the Christian Association of Nigeria Mass Choir, the National Security and Civil Defence Corps Band and pupils of some selected schools in Abuja.
It was attended by the President’s wife, Patience; his mother, Eunice; the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; and former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State.