President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday described the Boko Haram insurgency in some Northern states as a temporary challenge.
Jonathan, who vowed that his administration would work hard to ensure that nobody or group held Nigeria to ransom, assured again that Boko Haram would soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.
He spoke at the first Sunday service of the year he attended at the Church of Christ in Nations, Garki, Abuja.
The President said, “Boko Haram insurgency is a temporary challenge. Boko Haram will surely go. We will do all our best to ensure it becomes a thing of the past very soon. A number of countries have faced similar challenges and they have been able to overcome them. We will surely overcome Boko Haram.
“Life in the North must change. Development must go to all parts of this country and nobody or group can hold this country to ransom.
“We will collectively liberate this country from the hands of any evil person that is trying to set us backward. We will do our best and build a country that our children and our grandchildren will be proud of.”
He also promised to work hard to improve the standard of living of Nigerians during his tenure.
Jonathan, who said he was wary of making a long speech for the fear of being misquoted, however, told the congregation that promises made by his administration would not be achieved overnight.
He likened nation building to the planting of crops or the process of building a house which, according to him, takes a period of time to materialise.
The President said, “Let me reassure you that we will continue to work harder and harder to improve the quality of lives of Nigerians. But you must know that this cannot be achieved overnight. I always say that and sometimes I am always misquoted when I say we cannot achieve this overnight.
“Even if you go and plant a crop, it takes a period of time before you start seeing the fruits. I always tell people that if you have all the money in this world today to erect even a simple two-storey building, it must take some time .
“In fact, we are building one small mini/private banquet hall for the President in the State House because we don’t have that kind of small place to entertain 50 to 100 people. This is the only President that does not have that kind of facility.
“We called a company like Julius Berger, I thought that they could build it in six months but they gave me two years.
“So that is development for you but we are committed. We know we have our challenges, especially in some parts of the North. I am quite pleased with the message we got from the outgoing President of this church and the incoming President about Boko Haram. We express our sympathy with the widows of those whose husbands were caught up in the bush.”
Jonathan said the recent upheavals being experienced in the country because of politics were not limited to Nigeria.
Despite all the perceived confusion, however, the President assured Nigerians that only the will of God would prevail in the country.
He said, “There were some coincidences with the topic of the sermon delivered here today. When I woke up this morning, the first information I got from a friend, I won’t tell you what he said, but I will just tell you my reply.
“ I assured my friend that God’s will will be done and here, the cleric talked about knowing the will of God. What a coincidence.
“Political environment is usually noisy all over the world. There is nowhere where you don’t hear so much noise. Even a great country like United States, not long ago, it was almost shut down. Many wondered that a country that has practised democracy for so many years could get to that point of almost being shut down. But that is politics for you.”
While apologising to the church members for the inconveniences they experienced because of his presence, he urged them to continue to pray for him so that the country’s challenges would be a thing of the past.
The church’s outgoing President, Rev. Soja Bewarang, in a message read on his behalf by the President -elect, Rev. Dachollom Datiri, assured Jonathan that the storms gathering over the nation would soon fade off.
Bewarang said the nation’s troubling political issues and terrorism would give way to peace.
He also expressed the belief that the planned national conference would bring true reconciliation to the country.
The cleric said, “There are political challenges that seem to threaten the nation. No storm, no matter its force, lasts forever. The storms will soon be over. These threats are man-made. No human manipulation with evil intention will prevail. Seemingly troubling political issues and Boko Haram will soon give way to peace. National dialogue will bring reconciliation.”
While regretting the activities of the violence sect in the North, Bewarang said COCIN’s clinics in Bama and Bada had been closed down because of Boko Haram.
He said the church’s branches in Yobe and Borno States had also suffered greatly in the hands of terrorists.
He said Goza had been sacked by the terrorists with indigenes relocating to Abuja. He urged the President to listen to some of the victims at his own convenient time.
The clergyman commended Jonathan for declaring a state of emergency in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states, saying the Joint Task Force was working hard to restore peace in the affected areas.
“We welcome the declaration of state of emergency in the three states. We also appreciate the efforts of the JTF towards peace restoration. If not for these, we would have folded our hands on our heads and weep,” he added.
Datiri, in his sermon, prayed that Jonathan would make good choices everyday in order to be a useful instrument in God’s hands for the country.
He asked the President to continue to pursue righteousness and conform with the will of God, adding that there were things that God would do for Nigeria through him.
He also prayed for courage for the President to fight corruption which he said had become endemic in the country.
He said he felt sorry for those engaging in terrorism because their acts revealed their hearts were terrorised and traumatised.
Special prayers were said for the President, the church and the country during the service that was held under tight security.
Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah. Ochekpe, read the first lesson from 2nd Timothy 2:14-26.
The President was accompanied to the service by his mother, Eunice, some members of the National Assembly, some members of the Federal Executive Council and his aides .