President Goodluck Jonathan (middle) with the Leaders of Apostolic Faith Church during the last Sunday service of the Year 2013 at the Apostolic Faith Church Regional Headquarters in Abuja (photo credit: Akin Oladokun)
This Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan spoke before the congregation at the Sunday church service in Apostolic Faith Church in Jabi, Abuja.
Among other things, he recalled how he rose from a tiny community in Bayelsa State to become President of Nigeria by the grace of God and thanks to support of the people.
He also noted that lack of love and unity has been the greatest problem facing Nigeria today.
"We will try our best, but this is not the time to reel out what we are doing or what we are not doing, otherwise they will think I am here to campaign," the President said. "But I assure you, this congregation, and, indeed all Nigerians, that by the will of God and your support, I am here today from nowhere.
"Any child of Nigeria can be where I am. I come from the smallest state in this country, even within the state, one of the smallest communities in Bayelsa state. Even within the community, one of the smallest families, but I am here today 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, it is not because you know somebody who knows somebody that will talk to somebody. A Nigeria that our children, if they work hard, will get whatever they want just like in other free societies like America and so on. We will work with you to help you to get to wherever you want to go.
"I don't have a formal address. 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 to worship with you. I love the children and your programme. I love the choir ministration. Probably, this is the first time I am worshiping with you since I came to Abuja in 2007. Probably, you would have seen me more than ten times if we [didn't] have a chapel in the villa, so we worship there every Sunday.
"But during the Christmas and New Year period, I like to go round and interact with other brethren. The reason is actually to thank all of you for what you have been doing for this country, for your prayers. I always say and I will continue to say it that but for your prayers, probably it would have been worse than this.
"As a nation, we have our challenges, no doubt about that and anytime I look at the history of Nigeria and the challenges we face and when I read parts of the old statement about when the Israelites decided to move out of Egypt to the promised land, we have something quite similar.
"As you are getting closer, you meet more obstacles and thank God for the sermon we heard and of course the songs showed that the greatest problem we have is love and unity. Yes, Nigeria was amalgamated by our colonial masters in 1914. By 1st January next year, Nigeria as a state will be 100 years old.
"But I totally agree with our man of God that it was not by chance, it was ordained by God. If God didn't will it 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 use to say that Nigeria is great not because of oil, we have countries that produce more oil than Nigeria but nobody talks about them.
"We have countries that have multi million dollars in reserve because of their wealth and nobody talks about them but here we are just talking about 40,000 dollars. But the biggest to the smallest country talks about Nigeria. Why? Because of the diversity from the north to the south, the human and natural resources, the potentials and the population that we have.
"So, Nigeria is a country that has a special blessing from God. It is left for us to appreciate God and continue to pray for God’s intervention and this country will continue to be great.”“I promise our children that we are totally committed to make sure that they meet a different Nigeria. We will collectively work hard to overcome these barriers, these feelings of oh that I am Christian, I am a Muslim, I am Hausa, I am Ijaw. Immediately we cross that barrier 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."Earlier in the service, the President took the Bible Reading from the Book of Lamentations, Chapter 3, Verses 22 to 26.
Delivering the sermon titled 'Living worthy of great mercies, great faithfulness of God,' Rev. Bayo Adeniran said that Nigeria will be very great if it returns from its evil ways, repent and follow God like the people of Nineveh in the Bible in Jonah 3: 5 to 8.
A number of top government officials attended the service with the President.