President Goodluck Jonathan Sunday called on Nigerians to ensure that they collectively work hard and break ethnic and religious barriers for a better tomorrow.
The president, speaking at a church service at Apostolic Faith Church, Jabi, Abuja, while acknowledging the challenges facing the nation, expressed the hope of light at the end of tunnel.
He said: "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."
Jonathan, who noted that one of the problems facing the country was lack of love and unity, also said the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates was ordained by God.
He told the congregation that he has no formal address to them, saying "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 worshipping with you since I came to Abuja in 2007. Probably, you would have seen me more than 10 times if we don't have a chapel in the villa, so we worship there every Sunday but during the Christmas period and New Year, we 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 and I always say that I will continue to say it but for our prayers probably it would have been worse than this.
"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 January 1 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," he added.
According to him, Nigeria is popular worldwide because of its diversity, the human and natural resources, the potential of the nation and its population.
He stressed that the country had a special blessing from God, adding that it was left for Nigerians to appreciate God and continue to pray for His intervention in the country.
"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. 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.
"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," the president said.