Nigeria’s president has called on his nation’s people to unite despite their differences to avoid a repeat of the sectarian fighting seen in Syria.
In a speech on the 53rd anniversary of the country’s independence, Goodluck Jonathan said the Nigerian people maybe be “divided in many ways – ethically, religiously, politically and materially” but they must put aside their differences and instead “put Nigeria first”.
The 55-year-old said there are lessons to be learned from the Syrian conflict and extremism remains a threat to all democracies throughout the world.
“Syria was once a peaceful, thriving, multi-cultural nation which played host to a mosaic of religions and ethnicities,” Mr Jonathan said.
“But that once idyllic nation has today become a theatre of human misery of unimaginable proportions as a result of the activities of extremist forces.”
Mr Jonathan’s speech came after militants from the Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram stormed a college campus in the early hours of the morning and killed at least 40 students in the town of Gujba in Yobe state.
The president condemned the act as barbaric and called it an example of the “extent to which evil forces will go to destabilise our nation”.
Boko Haram has been blamed for hundreds of killings throughout the country and in May 2013, Mr Jonathan declared a state of emergency in a number of states and ordered Nigerian armed forces to combat the group’s increasing level of violence.
“Our administration will not rest until every Nigerian is free from the oppression of terrorism,” he said.
“I reassure you that no cost will be spared, no idea will be ignored and no resource will be left untapped … to enable our people [to] live without fear.”
As part of an effort to encourage discussion among the country’s 170 million inhabitants, Mr Jonathan announced plans to set up a committee tasked with establishing a national dialogue.
Census statistics suggest roughly half the country is Muslim and the other half Christian, with the north largely occupied by people of Muslim faith.
Drawing influence from 19th century theologian, James Freeman-Clarke, the Nigerian president said: “Whether we are Muslims or Christians; rich or poor; from the north or the south; east or west; regardless of our political affiliations.”
“This is a time to pull together,” he added.
Hmmmm…. Abeg abeg abeg.. When we go enjoy this country Naija.. Na 53 years we be ooh..
Its Parker baby