President Muhammadu Buhari has again pledged to ensure the 2019 elections are credible and violence-free, saying his commitment is not yet “another vain political promise”.
He said this Monday in his Christmas message to the nation:
I felicitate with all Nigerians, particularly our Christian brothers and sisters, on the joyous occasion of this year’s Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
Like I have done in the last three Christmas messages to my fellow compatriots as a serving President, I believe this season is another opportunity to reflect on the imagery of the humble, symbolic and divine birth of a young child thousands of years ago in Bethlehem, Judea, and the message of hope, compassion, salvation, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace that Jesus Christ embodies and conveys.
In 2018, Nigerians have had mixed blessings, typical of human beings.
On the pleasant side, our economy has made significant progress since coming out from recession and our faithful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Agricultural revolution has seen a vastly improved local production to the detriment of importation, while we have achieved surplus in our trade balance. Similarly, infrastructural deficit has been greatly reduced with significant improvements in roads, railways, aviation and power.
In addition, we have not relented in the fight against corruption while the business environment has been improved through institutional reforms.
On the downside, we have seen so many unnecessary deaths caused by violent clashes between neighbours, who ordinarily should complement and support one another.
We cannot bring back the lives lost to floods, unfortunate fire disasters, road accidents, farmers/herders clashes and insurgency.
But we can put back smiles on the faces of the grieving, the displaced and the troubled, if we show a little love and recommit ourselves to building relationships with those outside our ethnic, religious and socio-political divides.
As we celebrate Christmas, exchange gifts, pray and visit loved ones, let us remember many others who cannot be with their families this time.
Our brave Armed Forces, and other security men and women who make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe, the aged, the sick, physically challenged persons, all deserve our goodwill in this season of love and sharing.
Together we can show generosity to our neighbours and demonstrate the diversity that makes Nigeria unique – a land with a beautiful climate and vegetation, beaming with an energetic and creative youth population.
We must not also forget that what lies ahead of us as a nation is better than whatever we must have experienced in the past.
With general elections around the corner and heightened political activities across the country, I have charged our security and law enforcement agencies to secure the sanctity of the ballot box and ensure that the outcome of the polls reflects the will of the Nigerian people.
My avowed commitment to free, fair, credible and violence-free polls is not a ruse or yet another vain political promise. My word is my bond.
It is a sworn declaration on the advancement of Nigeria, the future and safety of our young and unborn generations.
Let us tell the world that, indeed, ‘‘something good’’ can come out from Nigeria. And it will happen, as we all team up to make it happen.
December 24, 2018