President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that Nigeria has the potentials to lead Africa if public office holders, politicians and indeed, the citizenry, stop being selfish.
The President recalled his encounter with United States President Barack Obama when the latter revealed that about 25, 000 medical consultants work in the U.S., the number which the US leader said, was crucial to the American economy.
Jonathan said that Nigeria has what it takes to lead the African continent, considering the country’s human and natural resources.
The President spoke at the New Year service held at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Catholic Church in Area 3, Abuja. The service was attended by dignitaries including Senate President David Mark.
He challenged politicians to plan for the next generation instead of wasting all energies on their own personal interests, adding that there was no need for anyone to heat up the polity in the struggle for political offices as the Constitution does not back life tenure for president and governors except members of the National Assembly.
Jonathan said Nigeria has great potentials to lead Africa as was observed by world leaders including President Obama, assuring that he was convinced that this year would be better than 2013.
“All what we need to do is to make sure that we continue to do things rightly. That is why I always plead with my fellow politicians that yes, we must play the politics, but let us take the interest of the country more than our own individual interest. And as we continue to play the politics in that direction, leaders will come and go, but the country will stay.
“Luckily, we have a Constitution that says that nobody will be a governor or president forever. It is only in the parliament that you can be there till you die. As long as we consider the interest of our country, children, grandchildren and we begin to plan for the next generation instead of wasting all our energies to think about ourselves, before we get to the next 100 years, the country will be better. Nigeria can even change in the next few years and things will be better for everybody.”
On security, he again said Nigeria is not an isolated case, assuring that the country will certainly overcome the challenges. “Just like Senate President David Mark mentioned, the world as a whole is facing a lot of challenges within this period. If you switch on your television and if you flip through the newspapers, there are always breaking news and the breaking news are not positive news. Whenever I see breaking news, you know there is one crisis somewhere in the world.
“We are reading about crises everywhere. And our country too, unfortunately, we also have our own fair share of crises. There is the issue of Boko Haram and the excesses of the militia groups, kidnapping in southern Nigeria. Boko Haram terrorist activities in the northern part of the country, but government is committed to bring this to an end”, he said.
On the economy, the President said: “As we enter the New Year, we will surely get our economy to continue to move in the right direction and in the direction we want it to move. We shall continue to work hard to make sure that not just that the economy will be growing based on economic parameters and indices, but that jobs are available for our young men and women and that food is cheap in our markets for ordinary people to buy and eat. That is the commitment of government”.
To deliver more dividends of democracy and good governance, he promised to work hard with the National Assembly, his cabinet and other officers of government.
“Despite our challenges, all what we continue to request from you is your continuous prayers because we believe and luckily we are in a Christian congregation, we believe that no matter what an individual think he is, if God doesn’t want you to succeed in achieving anything, you will not. You will get so close to it but at the end of the day, you will not get it.
“I remember the second time I met President Obama after 2011 elections, he said that Nigeria has the potentials to lead Africa and Nigeria has the potential to be a great country. He said in America, we have over 25,000 Nigerian medical consultants working in the health system, not just people with MBBS but consultants, over 25,000. And that today, if all these Nigerians leave, they will have a lot of challenges in the health system of America. And that is the President of the number one country now. He believes that Nigeria has a lot of potentials.”
On Nigeria’s centenary celebration, he said: “Surely, the country will get to where it wants to get to. Today is a special day, very special. January 1, 2014 because we have been informing you that the amalgamation of our country to what we now call Nigeria happened on the 1st of January, 1914. Today, modern Nigeria is one hundred years old.”
“The formal ceremony will take place by late February, the programme will soon be advertised for all Nigerians to see and know the areas they will participate because it is a programme for all of us. All the religious houses will be involved in one form of prayer or the other.”
“So, today, we are not just celebrating the new year but we are also celebrating a special new year. A new year that Nigeria, modern Nigeria is 100 years. And we use this period to begin to think what will be Nigeria in the next 100 years”, Jonathan said.