‘Prayers can’t be too much for Nigeria’

AHEAD of the forthcoming general elections, President Goodluck Jonathan has once more reassured the nation of the safety and security of all Nigerians, irrespective of where they may reside. But he has asked leaders not to relent in their prayers for the county. 

 Jonathan spoke Wednesday, last week while receiving the report of the 2014 Hajj from the Sultan of Sokoto, and permanent Federal Government leader of Hajj Matters, Dr. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III at the Council Chambers Presidential Villa. The President also charged the religious leaders to continue to pray for the country, particularly on the security situation in the country.

 Also on the delegation were the 2014 Amirul-Hajj and oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, former deputy governor of Adamawa State and now a Senator, Bello Tukur, Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON), Alhaji Muhammad Bello, other members as well as management staff of the Commission.

 Jonathan said, “I charge you as religious leaders to continue to pray for the country, the excess of criminality in the north, we have issues of terror, in the South we have issues of kidnapping, these are issues being pushed by negative forces, no person who is really religious in any of the religions can willingly go”

   “We continue to pray for the peace of the country, especially as we face the general elections this year, anytime you open the papers, it is as if the country wants to burn, but Nigeria will surely be safe, Nigeria will surely be united and we will prosecute the election in the end 

 “This country will surely be a peaceful country and we will all collectively work hard to transform our economy, but you should pray for the peaceful conduct of the general elections and peaceful transition” he added. Jonathan urged religious leaders to continue to pray for the peace of the country, especially as the general elections inch closer

    According to him, “Anytime you open the pages of papers, it is as if the country wants to burn, but Nigeria will surely be safe, Nigeria will surely be united and we will prosecute the election in the end and this country will surely be a peaceful country and we will all collectively work hard to transform our economy, but you should pray for the peaceful conduct of the general elections and peaceful transition

    While commending the President for supporting Hajj operations in the country, the Sultan called for the setting up of small technical committee comprising religious leaders of both Christians and Muslims to see how they could be self sustaining and independent, how the various statutes that put together the two commissions could be amended to enable them source for funds.

 Calling for prayers as the elections, he assured of a peaceful election and a safe country that will not burn. He said though newspapers reports often presented a nation on the verge of burning, but noted that the country will remain safe

 The Sultan noted that pilgrims to the Holy Land of Mecca in 2014 prayed for a peaceful election this year. He said the Muslims would not relent in their prayers for the continued peace and stability of the country.

   “I thank you for your leadership and I thank you for making sure that the number of people you carry to hajj is mammoth and without good management there could have been a lot of crisis. We thank Allah that He has seen us through. If there were minor incidences, I think there were extremely manageable” Jonathan said.

    Earlier the Sultan had thanked Jonathan for supporting Hajj operations in the country, adding that tremendous achievements and progress had been achieved since the Hajj operations started under national Hajj Commission of Nigeria. 

    He canvassed the establishment of a small technical committee comprising religious leaders of both Christians and Muslims to see how they can be self sustaining and independent, how the various statutes that put together the two commissions could be amended to enable them source for funds. 

    This had been interpreted to mean a total hands off of in the management of pilgrimage matters among the two religions Islam and Christianity

   The royal father told Jonathan that during the Hajj operations in the Holy Land, the leadership of the team, the Oba of Lagos and the Muslim clerics from all over the country came together and organised special prayers for peace stability and progress of the country and most importantly for the peaceful conduct of the elections. 

“You will recall that in August you approved the composition of the 23 member federal government team to lead Nigerian pilgrims and his majesty the Oba of Lagos was delegated to team on behalf of Nigerian Muslims, we want to report to you here that the operations went smoothly and was very successful, despite the earlier challenges of the Ebola scare which delayed our airlift by over a week to ten days.

   “Despite that, due to the multi-sectoral approach the President used, the Ebola scare was contained and visas were issued to our pilgrims. We want to thank you for the dynamic leadership in containing the Ebola problem, which would have been a very big stumbling block in making our pilgrims to perform hajj. 

    “The hajj exercise was conducted peacefully without any hitches and it is also noteworthy to inform the President that during the hajj operations there the leadership of the team, the Oba of Lagos and the Muslim clerics from all over the country came together and organised special prayers for peace stability and progress of our country and most importantly for the peaceful conduct of the elections. 

   “As in the previous reports being presented to you, we encountered some challenges which were dully enumerated in the report we are submitting to you. But a few of such problems could be taken to be the clamour for the self sustenance of Hajj operations in Nigeria which will make federal government to spend virtually less or nothing in our quest to have an independent Hajj operations in Nigeria.

    “In my 2011 report I brought this issue to your attention not knowing that in 2014 such an issue will be brought back again. Where we mentioned the Central Bank of Nigeria and the NDIC should be encouraged to fast track production of necessary guidelines and framework for the establishment of Hajj savings scheme, that is yet to be taken off very seriously and we believe if that is done we might have a hajj commission that is self sustaining” the Sultan said.

 On behalf of the delegation, he thanked the president for the payment of the outstanding claims, which was presented to him last year, for the airlines that did an extra work in airlifting pilgrims back when there was hijab issue with the Saudi Arabia authorities. 

“We want to report to you that the payment has been done and we thank you for that. The report has been put together by a very team led by the Oba of Lagos, and I want to assure you that we have done our best and to the pride of many Nigerians the hajj operations is deemed to be more successful in recent times” the Sultan said.



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