President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday extended the olive branch to members of the Boko Haram sect that have killed about 13,000 Nigerians since they started their campaign of violence in parts of the country.
He said his administration was ready to listen to those who have genuine grievances with a view to restoring peace to the country.
Jonathan made the Federal Government’s position known in his 54th Independence Day broadcast to the nation.
He said, “This administration is committed to making Nigeria safe for all Nigerians, irrespective of our places of birth, how we worship God and our political persuasion.
“To all those waging war against our country, I ask that you lay down your arms and embrace peace.
“To those who have genuine grievances, I affirm that Nigeria will listen to you, if you bring your grievances to the table of dialogue.
“To the good people of Nigeria, let me restate that our task of building a better and greater country must not waver.”
The President regretted that despite the many accomplishments of his administration, Nigeria is still in a sober moment.
He attributed the mood of the nation to the activities of members of the sect who he said had done the unimaginable to challenge the nation’s unity.
“In my address to the nation last year, I did emphasize that we were in a sober moment in our country. We are still in that mood in spite of the many accomplishments of our administration.
“Our sombreness has to do with the crises of nationhood occasioned by the activities of terrorist elements who have done the unimaginable to challenge our unity as a people,” the President said.
He insisted that despite the war members of the sect are unleashing on the nation, they would not succeed.
Jonathan said activities of the sect had further made it clear to anyone who was ever in doubt that terrorists do not mean well for anyone, of whatever religion or dispensation.
He described their persistent choice of the weakest and most vulnerable in society for gruesome attack as an insight into their abnormal mind-set.
The President urged all Nigerians to put aside political, sectional or other parochial considerations, and support the efforts of the government and the military,in checking insurgency.
Jonathan again promised to implement the report of the 2014 National Conference which he described as the greatest centenary gift to the country that must be cherished and sustained.
While admitting that the nation’s 54 year-journey had not been easy, he said the Nigerian spirit and the unflagging resilience of Nigerians people have seen the nation through.
“We will continue to march forward to greater heights,” he promised.
He took time to highlights some of the feat achieved by his administration in the past years and promised to redouble his efforts aimed at nation building.
Ahead of the 2015 general elections, Jonathan urged politicians to know that the contest for power should not translate to the destruction of the polity.
He said, “The contest for the leadership of our country must yield good governance, and not ungovernable spaces. The love of country should rank higher than our individual ambitions.
“We must remain committed to a united and indivisible Nigeria within democratic parameters. The protection of individual rights, liberty, equality before the law, freedom of thought, and a progressive pursuit of a sound economy must be our goal.”
Jonathan said he saw he brighter future ahead of Nigeria and its citizens.
He concluded, “As we look forward to another year in our national life, I am more than confident that our tomorrow will be better than our yesterday and today. Nigeria has got the human and material resources to excel and we shall lead the way in that journey to our manifest destiny.
“Fellow countrymen, brothers and sisters, in all our plans, and in all our words and our actions, we must stand together in love and unity, as one people under God.
“We are one people from the womb of one Nigeria. We are brothers and sisters. We are one family. We are Nigerians.”