President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday sent warm greetings to Nigerians, particularly Christians, as they celebrated Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ.

But he quickly acknowledged that 2018 was a mixed year of mindless bloodletting and the recovery of the country’s economy from recession, among other challenges.

He wrote, “I felicitate with all Nigerians, particularly our Christian brothers and sisters, on the joyous occasion of this year’s Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.

“Like I have done in the last three Christmas messages to my fellow compatriots as a serving President, I believe this season is another opportunity to reflect on the imagery of the humble, symbolic and divine birth of a young child thousands of years ago in Bethlehem, Judea, and the message of hope, compassion, salvation, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace that Jesus Christ embodies and conveys.”

The President further stated that 2018 would go down as a year of mixed blessings for Nigerians.

He explained, “In 2018, Nigerians have had mixed blessings, typical of human beings. On the pleasant side, our economy has made significant progress since coming out from recession and our faithful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

“Agricultural revolution has seen a vastly improved local production to the detriment of importation, while we have achieved surplus in our trade balance. Similarly, infrastructural deficit has been greatly reduced with significant improvements in roads, railways, aviation and power.

“In addition, we have not relented in the fight against corruption while the business environment has been improved through institutional reforms.

“On the downside, we have seen so many unnecessary deaths caused by violent clashes between neighbours, who ordinarily should complement and support one another.”

Buhari added that many other lives were lost to floods, unfortunate fire disasters, road accidents, farmers/herders’ clashes and insurgency,” which he said, could no longer be brought back.

He stated, “But, we can put back smiles on the faces of the grieving, the displaced and the troubled, if we show a little love and re-commit ourselves to building relationships with those outside our ethnic, religious and socio-political divides.”

In the spirit of Christmas, the President urged Nigerians to remember those who could not afford food by providing for their needs and pray for them.

He made a similar call to remember the Armed Forces and others facing grave situations to keep the country one.

Buhari added, “Our brave Armed Forces, and other security men and women who make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe, the aged, the sick, physically challenged persons, all deserve our goodwill in this season of love and sharing.

“Together we can show generosity to our neighbours and demonstrate the diversity that makes Nigeria unique – a land with a beautiful climate and vegetation, beaming with an energetic and creative youth population.

“We must not also forget that what lies ahead of us as a nation is better than whatever we must have experienced in the past.”

This is your last Christmas as President, PDP tells Buhari

However, the Peoples Democratic Party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, painted a gloomy picture of the state of the nation. He said 2018 Christmas celebration would be the last time Nigerians would celebrate under what it called oppressive government of Buhari.

Ologbondiyan, who is also Director, Media and Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, appealed to Nigerians to use this year’s Christmas to pray for Nigeria.

The opposition party said the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour, signified the triumph of light over darkness.

He stated that Christmas offered Nigerians the new hope and spiritual impetus in their shared quest for a brighter future for the nation under a new administration.

The PDP spokesman stated, “This year’s Christmas celebration is unique, in that it marks the last time Nigerians will be under an oppressive and insensitive administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his dysfunctional All Progressives Congress, which relish in inflicting hunger, suffering and pains on the people.

“The PPCO laments the ugly situation in which Nigerians cannot celebrate a wholesome Christmas as they used to do prior to the emergence of the Buhari presidency in 2015.

“PPCO, however, charges Nigerians not to despair as the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has already perfected templates to revamp our economy and ease suffering in our nation.”

He said Atiku’s policy document showed his commitment to entrench greater participation of the citizens in economic activities in various sectors.

This, according to him, is against the alleged Buhari exclusionist system, where Nigerians’ collective patrimony is only accessed by a cabal in the Presidency and alleged corrupt APC leaders.

Ologbondiyan stated that in the same vein, the Atiku policy document showed practical intervention in infrastructure and policy drive, in such a manner that would guarantee rapid inflow of investments.

According to him, this will in turn, revamp the ailing productive sectors, create jobs, boost the value of the naira and increase the purchasing power of Nigerians from what he regarded as abysmally low level under President Buhari, to one of the most competitive in the world.

He said, “Nigerians should, therefore, celebrate this year’s Christmas, focusing on the brighter future that awaits our nation under Atiku Abubakar as the next President and not on the pessimism and promise of more suffering by President Buhari.”

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