President Goodluck Jonathan has described the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914 as an act of God.
The president, who made this known at the Apostolic Faith Church regional headquarters, Jabi in Abuja, where he joined the congregation in worship during the last Sunday service of the year, however, identified lack of unity and love as the bane of Nigeria.
Jonathan likened the nation’s challenges to those of the Israelites when they were about leave Egypt for the Promised Land.
The President said, “As a nation, we have our challenges. Anytime I look at the history of Nigeria and the challenges we face, I remember a part of the old testament in the Bible that talks about the Israelites when they decided to move out of Egypt to the Promised Land. We have something quite similar.
“As you are getting closer to the Promised Land, you meet more obstacles and thank God for the sermon we have heard here today (Sunday). Even the songs showed that the greatest problems we have are lack of unity and love.
“Nigeria was amalgamated by our colonial masters in 1914. By January 1 next year, Nigeria will be 100 years. I totally agree with the minister that it was not by chance that we are one as a nation, it was ordained by God.
“If God didn’t will it that way and at that point, the North and South would not have come together. The details of the North and South coming together make Nigeria a very great country.
“I used to say that Nigeria is great not because of its oil. We have countries that produce more oil than Nigeria but nobody talks about them.
“We have countries that have multi-billion dollars in their reserves and nobody talks about them but here we are, just talking about $40bn in our reserves, yet the biggest and smallest countries talk about Nigeria. Why? It is Because of the diversity from the North to the South, the human and natural resources, the potential and the population that we have.
“So, Nigeria is a country that has a special blessing from God. It is therefore left to us to appreciate God and continue to pray for his intervention for this country to continue to be great”.
The president used the opportunity to reiterate his administration’s resolve to bequeath a different Nigeria to the next generation.
He stated that his administration was committed to working hard to overcome barriers that had to do with religious or ethnic differences, adding that it is only when such obstacles are overcome that Nigerian children would also enjoy a brighter future.
He said, “I promise our children that we are totally committed to making sure that they meet a different Nigeria. We will collectively work hard to overcome our barriers.
“Immediately we cross the barriers and we begin to believe that we are all Nigerians and we are committed to the development of this country, our children will surely meet a better Nigeria. We will try our best but this is not the time to reel out what we are not doing, otherwise people will think I am here to campaign.
“But I assure this congregation, and indeed all Nigerians, that by the grace of God and your support, I am where I am today from nowhere. Any Nigerian child can also be where I am.
“I come from the smallest state in this country and even in my state (Bayelsa), my community is one of the smallest. Within my community in the state, mine is one of the smallest, but I am here today as President by the grace of God.
“That is the type of Nigeria we want to create; a Nigeria where you can get what you want if you work hard, not a Nigeria where you know somebody that knows somebody that will take you to somebody.
“We will work with you to help you to get to wherever you want to go”.
The President also said he was now wary of what he says in public because of the fear of being misinterpreted in the press.
He said, “Because for those of us in politics, these days are not the best days to make speeches because any statement we make, people look at how to paint it. The next day when you read the newspapers, you start doubting if that is what you said.
“So any statement we make is always used against us but I am quite pleased to be here with you today (Sunday) to worship with you.
Earlier in the service, the President took the Bible Reading from the Book of Lamentations, Chapter 3, verses 22 to 26.
In his sermon titled “Living worthy of great mercies, great faithfulness of God”, Rev. Bayo Adeniran said Nigeria would be great again if its citizens learnt to forsake their evil ways and returned to God just like the people of Nineveh in the Bible did.
He said, “If Nigeria believes in God like the people of Nineveh, God will heal Nigeria. The swiftness of God shall visit this country. We are so bothered about external corruption, but there is so much corruption in the heart.
“The nation starts with the individual and the family. Return to God and God will answer your prayers. Nigeria shall not die; it will live if we return to God”.
The Sunday service was attended by the First Family and top government functionaries including the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (rtd).