2015 - Embassy of Nigeria to the Holy See

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The Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have given their position on the institution of marriage and the family, reiterating their opposition to same-sex marriage saying, "Marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman for the begetting and care of children".

The Bishops’ statement was officially released on 8 July and was signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and Bishop William Avenya, Bishop of Gboko who is Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference.

(CANAA)

Below is the full statement of the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria.

Our Stand On Marriage, family and human society

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria would like to once again reiterate the perspective of the Church on more recent developments concerning the sanctity and dignity of human life and the institutions of marriage and the family all across the world.  The recent rise in Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender activism, the popular vote in the Republic of Ireland and the Supreme Court decision in the United States of America will tend to provoke a notable and rapid shift in public opinion about the nature and meaning of marriage and family as it has been known for millennia. This, in many countries, has inevitably led to powerful legislative and judicial maneuvers to redefine marriage in order to include "same-sex marriage". We wish to state that this is a sad, unjust and lamentable situation based largely upon a distorted perception of natural law, the will of God and human nature.

Canada, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Ireland and most recently, the United States of America are some of the countries that have gone down this path. They are nations who undeniably have cultural, social and economic influence upon many African nations including Nigeria. Mozambique has not yet accepted same-sex marriage but they have struck down their legal ban on sodomy, thereby opening the door to the festering of the homosexual culture/subculture within their society. Our people daily interact with these and other nations at different levels. These countries also generate a lot of the media content consumed in our country and continent as well as much of the educational materials used in our schools.  They also give generous humanitarian aid to various establishments and projects in our country and continent. In these ways, their views, thoughts and trends are easily embedded into the heart of our society and influence many people especially the impressionable young ones.

As Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, we are grateful for these interactions and support. We are however also concerned for the influence which some of these trends could have on morality and values.  We therefore hereby express our concern with regard to the persistent and continuous propagation and globalization of the homosexual lifestyle and the effort to redefine marriage which is a distorted view of human sexuality, coming especially from the Western world.

We call on our leaders to be circumspect.  Accepting this western trend by officially endorsing homosexual unions or "same-sex marriage" will be devastating and detrimental to our nation, Nigeria as it will lead to the inevitable deconstruction of the family and the society at large with other serious but negative implications.

On our part we hereby re-emphasize that Marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman for the begetting and care of children. It forms the core of the family which is the bedrock and foundational cell of our civilization and as such it is sanctioned by God, upheld by our culture, celebrated in our society and protected by our government.  The family deserves the protection from all civilized institutions as it predates society and is not subject to it. So our role is to promote it, protect it and preserve it at a time like this when many countries have unfortunately chosen a different path.

We call upon President Muhammadu Buhari and all our esteemed leaders, legislators and judges to shun all pressures and protect all Nigerians from the growing but dangerous influence of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender propaganda.  We appeal to professionals in the domains of media, music, entertainment, teaching, medicine, marketing and business to become faithful gatekeepers by protecting the public from the infiltration of this propaganda which is often spread through various media and forums. We encourage parents to educate their children on the immutable meaning of marriage so as to strengthen them to stand fearless by the indelible truth in a rapidly changing world. We urge young people to learn and hold firmly unto sound religious and cultural values that celebrate the beauty and blessings of marriage as the lifelong union between one man and one woman.

Finally we pray that God will grant us all the courage, integrity and perseverance needed at this time to uphold the unchangeable truth about the dignity of human sexuality and the sanctity of the institution of marriage.

(Source: Vatican Radio)

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"A lot of our people are back, but they look sick, hungry and traumatised"

"For us the big story is that most of our people are coming back to their communities, though such communities are not generally safe.  Residents have to begin their lives anew. Many towns, homes, schools, hospitals, bridges have been razed down by the bombs of Boko Haram. Generally life and movement in this part of Nigeria is very difficult".  These are the words of Fr. Gideon Obasogie, the social communications director of the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria. He said this to Vatican Radio’s English Service for Africa recently.

Although the Nigerian military, buoyed by Chadian and Cameroonian forces, has made significant gains on Boko Haram, in recent months and rescued more than 1,000 kidnapped persons, the danger from Boko Haram is far from over in the northeast of Nigeria. As if to underscore this, in the last two weeks alone, Boko Haram went on rampage killing more than 300 persons in a wave of bomb attacks in several towns and villages.

Notwithstanding the dangers, Fr. Obasogie says people are returning to their villages and towns due to the slight improvement in the security of the area.

"A lot of our people are back, but they look sick, hungry and traumatised", Fr. Gideon Obasogie said. With no recourse to counselling, these communities need support.  The Bishop of Maiduguri, Oliver Dashe Doeme, has taken the unusual step of sending priests to exactly these same communities where security is far from certain. He wants the priests to accompany the people as they try to rebuild their lives.

"One of the main pastoral activities of the Bishop of Maiduguri is to strengthen the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Bishop Dashe has sent priests back to these communities to pastorally assist the returnees", said Fr. Obasogie.

Asked about the new Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, who vowed in his first post-election pronouncement, "to spare no effort in tackling (the Boko Haram) insurgency", Fr. Obasogie said, "The Buhari administration is doing its best to end the insurgency. The military is advancing and recapturing those communities that were under the terrorists' control". Fr. Obasogie was however quick to add that, "A lot of people are still afraid of the presence of suicide bombers around the city and villages", he said.

According to Fr. Obasogie, the returnees who are coming back as IDPs or as refugees "are dissatisfied with the Nigerian situation of long term promises. They are finding life really hard. A good number of them are still waiting with little hope on the new (Buhari) administration", he underlined. He says the returnees would like to see their ruined homes and lives rebuilt.  Many look up to the Church for assistance. "Bishop Dashe has therefore focused on supporting the people.  The people have to reconstruct their lives.  But, before reconstructing our burnt structures, there is need to feed, clothe, give medical care and trauma counseling to sections of our heavily traumatised people", pointed out Fr. Obasogie.

Amidst fears of suicide bombers in crowded places such as Churches, the Diocese of Maiduguri recently witnessed an ordination ceremony in one of the communities that was previously bombed and ransacked by Boko Haram.  Three priests were ordained.  Priests and the faithful from far distant dioceses cast aside their fears and joined Maiduguri Diocese at the ordination Mass.  

"This was a strong sign of solidarity and our people rejoiced greatly upon seeing such unity in faith", said an overwhelmed Fr. Obasogie.  At the same ceremony, Bishop Dashe took the opportunity to encourage the people of Maiduguri and beyond to remain faithful to the Gospel. He also said, "The Rosary prayer for Mary's intercession is the only live line we have got…forgiveness is of paramount importance", Fr. Obasogie added.

Fr. Obasogie says that against all odds, "The faith of the Church in this part of the country is truly growing.  We appreciate all people of good will who have demonstrated their love and care towards the suffering Church of Maiduguri Diocese. Our people have come to experience greater faith than ever before.  They hold on to their faith in their plight and difficulties. God is all we have now", he emphasised.

Maiduguri in the northeast of Nigeria has been the scene of great ‘religious’ violence since 2009 when an Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram began its rebel activities.  In 2013, desperately trying to contain the situation, former President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northeast of Nigeria.

As of April 2015, Nigeria was said to have more than a million and a half Internally displaced persons (IDPs) most of them due to the insurgency in the northeast of the country. In October 2014, then President, Goodluck Jonathan said that more than 13 000 people had been killed in the Boko Haram insurgency. Many innocent civilians have been injured in the brutal campaign by the Islamist group while hundreds have been abducted by the militants.

The death toll of 13 000 given by Goodluck Jonathan has been broadly accepted as fairly accurate by the international community and by africacheck.org.  Others such as the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project run by the Africa programme of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has given higher estimates because according to them, the number of casualties is usually three to five times what is actually reported. Therefore they estimate that the death toll due to the Boko Haram insurgency stands at over 17,500. This figure is for the period May 2011 to August 2014.

The Boko Haram insurgency has since spread to Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Monday this week, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari reorganised the whole military top brass. He appointed new defence chiefs after firing the heads of the army, navy and air force inherited from the former president.
(Source: Vatican Radio, by Fr. Paul Samasumo)

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I am immensely grateful to God Who Has preserved us to witness this day and this occasion. Today marks a triumph for Nigeria and an occasion to celebrate her freedom and cherish her democracy. Nigerians have shown their commitment to democracy and are determined to entrench its culture. Our journey has not been easy but thanks to the determination of our people and strong support from friends abroad we have today a truly democratically elected government in place.

I would like to thank President Goodluck Jonathan for his display of statesmanship in setting a precedent for us that has now made our people proud to be Nigerians wherever they are. With the support and cooperation he has given to the transition process, he has made it possible for us to show the world that despite the perceived tension in the land we can be a united people capable of doing what is right for our nation. Together we co-operated to surprise the world that had come to expect only the worst from Nigeria. I hope this act of graciously accepting defeat by the outgoing President will become the standard of political conduct in the country.

I would like to thank the millions of our supporters who believed in us even when the cause seemed hopeless. I salute their resolve in waiting long hours in rain and hot sunshine to register and cast their votes and stay all night if necessary to protect and ensure their votes count and were counted.  I thank those who tirelessly carried the campaign on the social media. At the same time, I thank our other countrymen and women who did not vote for us but contributed to make our democratic culture truly competitive, strong and definitive.

I thank all of you.

Having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians.

I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.

A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue.

Our neighbours in the Sub-region and our African brethenen should rest assured that Nigeria under our administration will be ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it. Here I would like to thank the governments and people of Cameroon, Chad and Niger for committing their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria.

I also wish to assure the wider international community of our readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.

At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.

In recent times Nigerian leaders appear to have misread our mission. Our founding fathers, Mr Herbert Macauley, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief J.S. Tarka, Mr Eyo Ita, Chief Denis Osadeby, Chief Ladoke Akintola and their colleagues worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house.

Furthermore, we as Nigerians must remind ourselves that we are heirs to great civilizations: Shehu Othman Dan fodio’s caliphate, the Kanem Borno Empire, the Oyo Empire, the Benin Empire and King Jaja’s formidable domain. The blood of those great ancestors flow in our veins. What is now required is to build on these legacies, to modernize and uplift Nigeria.

Daunting as the task may be it is by no means insurmountable. There is now a national consensus that our chosen route to national development is democracy. To achieve our objectives we must consciously work the democratic system. The Federal Executive under my watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. The law enforcing authorities will be charged to operate within the Constitution. We shall rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and more serviceable. We shall charge them to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system.

For their part the legislative arm must keep to their brief of making laws, carrying out over-sight functions and doing so expeditiously. The judicial system needs reform to cleanse itself from its immediate past. The country now expects the judiciary to act with dispatch on all cases especially on corruption, serious financial crimes or abuse of office. It is only when the three arms act constitutionally that government will be enabled to serve the country optimally and avoid the confusion all too often bedeviling governance today.

Elsewhere relations between Abuja and the States have to be clarified if we are to serve the country better. Constitutionally there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments. Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. While the Federal Government can not interfere in the details of its operations it will ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked. As far as the constitution allows me I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch.

However, no matter how well organized the governments of the federation are they can not succeed without the support, understanding and cooperation of labour unions, organized private sector, the press and civil society organizations. I appeal to employers and workers alike to unite in raising productivity so that everybody will have the opportunity to share in increased prosperity. The Nigerian press is the most vibrant in Africa. My appeal to the media today – and this includes the social media – is to exercise its considerable powers with responsibility and patriotism.

My appeal for unity is predicated on the seriousness of the legacy we are getting into. With depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts the Nigerian economy is in deep trouble and will require careful management to bring it round and to tackle the immediate challenges confronting us, namely; Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power shortages and unemployment especially among young people. For the longer term we have to improve the standards of our education. We have to look at the whole field of medicare. We have to upgrade our dilapidated physical infrastructure.

The most immediate is Boko Haram’s insurgency. Progress has been made in recent weeks by our security forces but victory can not be achieved by basing the Command and Control Centre in Abuja. The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued. But we can not claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.

This government will do all it can to rescue them alive. Boko Haram is a typical example of small fires causing large fires. An eccentric and unorthodox preacher with a tiny following was given posthumous fame and following by his extra judicial murder at the hands of the police. Since then through official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory.

Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of. At the end of the hostilities when the group is subdued the Government intends to commission a sociological study to determine its origins, remote and immediate causes of the movement, its sponsors, the international connexions to ensure that measures are taken to prevent a reccurrence of this evil. For now the Armed Forces will be fully charged with prosecuting the fight against Boko haram. We shall overhaul the rules of engagement to avoid human rights violations in operations. We shall improve operational and legal mechanisms so that disciplinary steps are taken against proven human right violations by the Armed Forces.
Boko Haram is not only the security issue bedeviling our country. The spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in our land. We are going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people – friendly and well – compensated security forces within an over – all security architecture.

The amnesty programme in the Niger Delta is due to end in December, but the Government intends to invest heavily in the projects, and programmes currently in place. I call on the leadership and people in these areas to cooperate with the State and Federal Government in the rehabilitation programmes which will be streamlined and made more effective. As ever, I am ready to listen to grievances of my fellow Nigerians. I extend my hand of fellowship to them so that we can bring peace and build prosperity for our people.

No single cause can be identified to explain Nigerian’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation. It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000MW, and distributes even less. Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close on $20b expanded since 1999 have only brought darkness, frustration, misery, and resignation among Nigerians. We will not allow this to go on. Careful studies are under way during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.

Unemployment, notably youth un-employment features strongly in our Party’s Manifesto. We intend to attack the problem frontally through revival of agriculture, solid minerals mining as well as credits to small and medium size businesses to kick – start these enterprises. We shall quickly examine the best way to revive major industries and accelerate the revival and development of our railways, roads and general infrastructure.

Your Excellencies, My fellow Nigerians I can not recall when Nigeria enjoyed so much goodwill abroad as now. The messages I received from East and West, from powerful and small countries are indicative of international expectations on us. At home the newly elected government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations. Nigeria therefore has a window of opportunity to fulfill our long – standing potential of pulling ourselves together and realizing our mission as a great nation.

Our situation somehow reminds one of a passage in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar
There is a tide in the affairs of men which,
taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life,
Is bound in shallows and miseries.

We have an opportunity. Let us take it.

Thank you
Muhammadu Buhari
President Federal Republic of NIGERIA
and
Commander in-chief-of the Armed forces


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 The entire board of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission including the State Chairmen and Secretaries of the Christian Welfare boards paid a courtesy call on the Nigerian Ambassador to the Holy See, Dr. Francis Okeke on the 16 th May 2015.
 Leading the delegation was the Executive Secretary Dr. John Kennedy Opara (OFR), who informed Ambassador Okeke, they were in Rome to assess the state of readiness of facilities and interview ground-handlers that cater for pilgrims visiting Italy.
 The Ambassador commended them for the important work they do in ensuring the spiritual development of our people as well as thanking the Chairman and Executive Secretary NCPC for opening the modern Leadership Centre of CAN in Abuja at considerable cost.
 His Excellency Dr. Okeke also noted the giant strides made by the NCPC board and staff in the previous 5 years not only in infrastructure but also in organization of hitch-free pilgrimage to Israel, Greece and Rome.
 He cautioned them to work harder to attract more fee paying pilgrims to Rome, and Vatican City in particular since Italy was steeped in over 2000 years of Christian history and tradition.
 The delegation returned to Nigeria within 48 hours of their visit and presented the ambassador with the first edition of the Nigerian Pilgrim magazine, a quarterly of the NCPC.
 Also in the month of May, the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Europe paid a courtesy call through their Italian arm to the Embassy. During their visit, they showed appreciation for the support given them at their annual board of Trustees meeting held November 2014 by the Embassy of Nigeria to the Holy See.
Ambassador Okeke commended them for the various projects earmarked for Nigeria and reminded of the need to give total support to the new government in Nigeria.
He also noted the unqualified success of the March 28 th and April 13 th elections in Nigeria and praised Nigerians for a job well done as the nation’s positive democratic credentials continue to draw the attention of the world and our continent.

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To the Bishops of Nigeria

Dear Brother Bishops,
           While we walk this Lenten journey towards the Resurrection of the Lord united with the whole Church, I wish to extend to you, dear Archbishops and Bishops of Nigeria, a fraternal greeting, which I extend to the beloved Christian communities entrusted to your pastoral care.  I would also like to share some thoughts with you on the current situation in your country.
             Nigeria, known as the "African giant", with its more than 160 million inhabitants, is set to play a primary role, not only in Africa but in the world at large.  In recent years, it has experienced robust growth in the economic sphere and has again reasserted itself on the world stage as an attractive market, on account of its natural resources as well as its commercial potential.  It is now considered officially the single largest African economy.  It has also distinguished itself as a political player widely committed to the resolution of crisis situations in the continent.
           At the same time, your nation has had to confront considerable problems, among them new and violent forms of extremism and fundamentalism on ethnic, social and religious grounds.  Many Nigerians have been killed, wounded or mutilated, kidnapped and deprived of everything: their loved ones, their land, their means of subsistence, their dignity and their rights.  Many have not been able to return to their homes.  Believers, both Christian and Muslim, have experienced a common tragic outcome, at the hands of people who claim to be religious, but who instead abuse religion, to make of it an ideology for their own distorted interests of exploitation and murder.
              I would like to assure you and all who suffer of my closeness.  Every day I remember you in my prayers and I repeat here, for your encouragement and comfort, the consoling words of the Lord Jesus, which must always resound in our hearts: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (Jn 14:27).
           Peace – as you know so well – is not only the absence of conflict or the result of political compromise or fatalistic resignation.  Peace is for us a gift which comes from on high; it is Jesus Christ himself, the Prince of Peace, who has made of two peoples one (cf. Eph 2:14).  And only the man or woman who treasures the peace of Christ as a guiding light and way of life can become a peacemaker (cf. Mt 5:9).
           At the same time, peace is a daily endeavour, a courageous and authentic effort to favour reconciliation, to promote experiences of sharing, to extend bridges of dialogue, to serve the weakest and the excluded.  In a word, peace consists in building up a "culture of encounter".
           And so I wish here to express my heartfelt thanks to you, because in the midst of so many trials and sufferings the Church in Nigeria does not cease to witness to hospitality, mercy and forgiveness.  How can we fail to remember the priests, religious men and women, missionaries and catechists who, despite untold sacrifices, never abandoned their flock, but remained at their service as good and faithful heralds of the Gospel?  To them, most particularly, I would like to express my solidarity, and to say: do not grow tired of doing what is right!
        We give thanks to the Lord for them, as for so many men and women of every social, cultural and religious background, who with great willingness stand up in concrete ways to every form of violence, and whose efforts are directed at favouring a more secure and just future for all.  They offer us moving testimonies, which, as Pope Benedict XVI recalled at the end of the Synod for Africa, show "the power of the Spirit to transform the hearts of victims and their persecutors and thus to re-establish fraternity" (Africae Munus, 20).
         Dear Brother Bishops, in perseverance and without becoming discouraged, go forward on the way of peace (cf. Lk 1:79).  Accompany the victims!  Come to the aid of the poor!  Teach the youth!  Become promoters of a more just and fraternal society!
         I gladly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing, which I ask you to extend to priests, religious, missionaries, catechists, lay faithful and above all to those suffering members of the Body of Christ.
       May the Resurrection of the Lord bring conversion, reconciliation and peace to all the people of Nigeria!  I commend you to Mary, Queen of Africa, and I ask you also to pray for me.

FRANCISCUS PP.

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The Federal Government and the Catholic Church in Nigeria have initiated a collaboration to take care of thousands of displaced Nigerians living in Refugee Camps in some parts of Cameroun. This fact was disclosed by the Catholic Archbishop of Jos and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama while addressing the faithful at the closing Mass of the first 2015 CBCN Plenary, held at the church of the Holy Trinity, Maitama, Abuja.
The collaboration was as a result of the call for assistance by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Cameroun to the Nigerian Conference; to enable them to continue to take care of displaced Nigerians living in different camps in the country.
It will be recalled that, at the opening Mass of the Plenary, the CBCN President informed of the plight of displaced Nigerians living in Cameroun and sought the assistance of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who was at the ceremony and the Government to facilitate the efforts of the two Bishops’ Conferences at taking care of the affected people. In response to the request, President Jonathan called for more information and promised that the government will come to the rescue of the displaced Nigerians through the Church.
Archbishop Kaigama, at the closing Mass further informed the congregation that; in response to the request of the CBCN, the Presidency has released the sum of 50Million Naira to the Conference to enable the body collaborate with their Cameroonian counterparts to take care of the displaced Nigerians in camps in Cameroun. He added that the members of the CBCN have contributed the sum of Ten Million Naira, to bring the total sum of money for the collaborative effort to Sixty Million Naira.
It is estimated that there may be about 36,000 Nigerians displaced to the Cameroon as the result of the insurgency in the Northeast. With the recent improvement in security in the 3 affected States, several have begun their return to Nigeria. The Nigerian Embassy and Consulates in the Republic of Cameroon are also assisting our displaced citizens.
The Metropolitan of Jos also expressed the hope that a representative of the Federal Government will be in the team that will visit Cameroun for on the spot assessment and discussion with the Bishops’ Conference of Cameroun.
The Metropolitan of Jos also reminded the faithful of their obligation to support displaced Nigerians who have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency by being actively involved in the relief programmes of the Church being organized by various dioceses and the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN). He also urged them not to relent in their support for the Veritas University of Nigeria, by donating generously and sending their children and wards to the university; which is noted for quality education and formation of students.

(source: http://www.cbcn-ng.org/)


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Dear Great People of our nation,

1. I greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the New Year today. As we mark the beginning of this New Year, 2015, a new nation is being born. A new nation is being born because of the foundations we have all laid, working together for the good and progress of our dear fatherland.

2. I join you all in thanking God Almighty who has brought us this far, for continually bestowing His Grace upon us and for guiding our great nation safely through all the challenges of the past year.

3.This year, as in the year past, I reaffirm my commitment to work to ensure a secure future for our dear country and the generations yet unborn.

4. Last year, we celebrated our hundredth year of nation hood. The year brought us further progress, challenges and fresh opportunities.

5.We have contended with the normal challenges of nation-building and the unusual challenges of terrorism.

6.But we have continued to vigorously confront those who seek to destroy the bonds of unity that hold us together.

7. On this first day of the New Year, I want to pay special tribute to the gallant officers, men and women of our Armed Forces and other security agencies who have been in the forefront of the war against terrorism and violent extremism in our country and sub-region.

8. I also commend all Nigerians who have remained vigilant and cooperative with our security agencies in the fight against the common enemy.

9.We are re-equipping and re-positioning our armed forces to enhance their capacity to win the ongoing war against terror and insurgency.

10. Regrettably, terrorists have unleashed much pain and agony on our land. They have made widows of our mothers and sisters and orphans of our children. They have shutdown businesses, desecrated places of worship and brought untold hardship to both men and women. They have violated the culture and peaceful way of life in our country, which took generations to build.

11. They have destroyed countless schools and displaced people from their communities, driving them into exile.

12. I want to assure you that the terrorists will not getaway with their atrocities: they will not win; they will be routed. As President, I feel the pain of all affected communities and families. I hear their cries and share their sorrow and pain.

13. We will not forget; we will not look the other way. We have done a lot of painstaking planning and work to resolve the current security challenge. We will bring justice to the savage terrorists known as Boko Haram. They will be defeated.
14.That is the solemn commitment I make today as President of the Federal Republic, and Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces.

15. By the Special Grace of God, the Federal Government, under my leadership, has continued, in the past four years to lead our country forward, even under the most trying circumstances.

16.The progress we have made in priority areas bears us testimony.

17. Amongst other achievements, we have rehabilitated and expanded our rail transportation network, successfully privatized power generation and distribution, significantly reformed and increased local participation in our oil and gas industry, and improved nationwide access to potable water from 57% in 2010, to 70% at present.

18. We have also made significant progress in improving access to primary, secondary and tertiary education by building and equipping more schools, including special Almajiri schools, and establishing additional universities to ensure that each state of the nation now has at least one Federal University.

19. Our national economy maintained a steady growth rate of close to seven per cent in the past four years and millions of fresh employment opportunities were created for our people as a direct consequence.

20. Recently, we launched the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) and the $100 million dollars Government and Donor Fund for Agriculture Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) to fast-track the positive transformation of our agricultural sector.

21.The Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) targets 750, 000 market-oriented young agricultural producers while the $100 million dollars Fund is to provide affordable long-term financing to support the development of small and medium agribusinesses in the country.

22. This is in addition to a N50 billion Farm Mechanization Support Fund set up by the Central Bank to establish 1,200 agricultural equipment-hiring enterprises.

23. Both funds will become fully operational this year. Policies and programmes such as these to boost agricultural production remain topmost on the agenda of this administration.

24. Being very conscious of the inherent perils of our over-reliance on income from crude oil exports for national development, we have focused on accelerating the diversification four economy.

25. The non-oil sector, which has grown by an average of 8% in the last few years, is now a major driver of growth in our economy.

26. The 2015 national budget, which is now before the National Assembly, is targeted at deepening our efforts at becoming a non-oil economy.

27. The budget also includes measures to ensure that the downturn in the price of oil does not affect our development plans and our national economy too adversely. We are adjusting our financial processes to safeguard our economy. We are also taking steps to ensure that the poor and the low and medium income earners do not bear the brunt.

28. In 2015, this administration will continue to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy that attracts significant Foreign Direct Investment and promotes policies that ensure economic stability.

29. We will ensure stability in the value of the Naira by striving to take away speculative behaviours that cause market exchange pressures.

30. We will continue to build and maintain a healthy external reserves position and strengthen fiscal buffers. We will ensure the Naira remains strong, and gives foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need, to guide future investment decisions.

31. We will continue to improve our payment systems and strengthen risk-based supervision mechanism for Nigerian banks to ensure overall health and stability of the banking system.
32. We are introducing abroad spectrum of financial instruments to boost sector-specific enterprise areas in agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), manufacturing, and oil and gas to enhance our aggregate supply capacity, reduce poverty, promote job creation and increase the general well-being of our people.

33.These efforts and other measures being spearheaded by relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, are geared to ensure a secure future for Nigeria and create a much more prosperous country, where people live more peaceful and fulfilled lives. Fellow countrymen and women.

34. As we enter an election year, I assure you that our administration will remain fully focused on providing good governance and the delivery of better public services to our people.

35. The coming campaigns and elections will not distract us from our ongoing work to significantly improve the living conditions of our people. And I urge all tiers of government not to be distracted as well.

36. The elections are very important for us as a country. Their successful conclusion will further strengthen our democratic institutions and place our beloved country even more firmly in the comity of truly democratic nations.

37. Given the challenges that have characterized some previous electoral contests in our country, the eyes of the world will certainly be on the conduct and outcome of our fifth post-military rule general elections.

38. I reassure all Nigerians and the international community of our firm commitment to free, fair and credible elections. My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote remains unwavering.

39. Our administration has worked hard in previous elections to prepare all key
stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the electorate optimally, to ensure a progressively improved electoral process in the country under my watch.  We will continue to do so for the coming elections.

40. We will continue to provide adequate funding to INEC and maintain the Commission’s independence and isolate it from any form of interference or meddling in its day-to-day affairs. This shall continue to guarantee its impartiality and ability to conduct more credible and acceptable elections.

41. National security agencies will also be given all necessary support to enhance their ability to ensure that the elections are peaceful and violence-free. The Nigeria Police has already established an Elections Security Planning and Monitoring Unit.

42. I am optimistic that with the cooperation of all law-abiding citizens of the country, our commitment to have a peaceful and violence-free election will be actualized.

43. I will like to say this, once again, to my fellow politicians and political leaders.
None of our political ambitions is worth the blood of any of our countrymen, women and children. The improvement of their lives and living conditions ought to be our primary motive and the driving force of our quest for political power and leadership positions.

44. Let us not promote sectionalism, disunity, intolerance, hate, falsehood or the malicious abuse of political opponents. Whatever we feel or seek, we must have a nation and a people before we can dream of political ambitions. Let us put the nation and the people first.

45. Let us all conduct our electoral campaigns with the highest possible decorum and civility towards political opponents. Let us give INEC the fullest possible support and cooperation it requires to conduct credible and violence-free elections in 2015.

46. After the 2011 general elections, some unpatriotic elements embarked on an orgy of violence, resulting in the destruction of lives and property. That will not be allowed to happen this time around. This government will act decisively against anyone who disrupts the public peace, before, during or after the 2015 general elections.

47. All Nigerians, of voting age, are free to vote based on their convictions. It is our duty to defend and protect that basic right, and let no one be in doubt, we will.

48. Fellow Nigerians, I urge all of you to enter the New Year with renewed zeal and patriotism, to serve our fatherland with love, honesty, faithfulness and hope for a greater tomorrow.

49. As I have always maintained, none of the challenges before us is insurmountable. We must come together as a people and work with single-minded unity of purpose to overcome them.

50. Nigeria is a key country in Africa. We must work together to maintain our strategic position and collaborate with others to move the continent forward. I call for peace in Africa and an end to all conflicts in our continent. I urge all Africans to promote democracy in their respective countries to ensure faster development of the continent and faster economic and political integration.

51. We will continue to pray and offer hands of fellowship and assistance to our fellow Africans suffering from the Ebola Virus Disease. I urge all Nigerians to show compassion and contribute in whatever way we can to help our African brothers and sisters.

52. As we go into this New Year, I salute the indomitable and resilient spirit of our people in Nigeria and wherever they are in the world. Our spirit of enterprise and the doggedness to succeed amongst all odds has been our strength.

53. With our collective prayers and efforts, we will grow our economy and our people will become wealthier. Government will continue with programmes deliberately designed to create more jobs for our youth, to enable them contribute more to the growth and development of our nation.  

54. Let us continue our march to the future, towards the attainment of our collective vision of a strong, united, prosperous and harmonious nation "a secure nation for us and for ourcoming generations.

55. I wish you all a happy and fulfilling 2015.

56. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

57. Happy New Year, Nigeria!

58. I thank you all.


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