by Deji Abiodun
President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday maintained that he was in cage from one government to the other in the past 16 years as he thanked Nigerians for giving him the opportunity to serve the country.
Speaking when the Christian community in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) paid him Easter homage at the new Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, he said that he will ever be grateful to Nigerians.
He said that he is one of the luckiest Nigerians having occupied public office from the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State to the governor of the state to Vice President and President of the country.
Stressing that it doesn’t really matter who leads the country, but that Nigerians must sacrifice for the country to move forward.
He said: “I thank you for coming to encourage us. This easter period coincide with when I’m leaving but I always say I’m one of the luckiest Nigerian. From 1999 I have been in the hands of government. I am yet to see somebody luckier than me. I was in the hands of governments for 16 years, not in government as a parliamentarian, because if you are in the national assembly or state house of assembly, you take care of yourself in your house I was in a cage being taken care of by the government. But I think it is enough and I am happy, help me to thank God for that.
“I will continue to thank Nigerians for giving me that privilege. I became deputy governor because Baylesans voted for me and governor then. I became VP because Nigerians voted for me and Yar’Adua. And Nigerians for me and Sambo, we have to thank all Nigerians. Wherever I will be I have to thank all Nigerians. Today is a glorious day for me,” he added
He noted that the key lessons of the Easter celebration is sacrifice.
He said: “Thank you for this easter homage, it is a period to reflect on the essence of our believe. Because we believe without the resurrection there wouldn’t have been Christianity.
“Whenever we talk about this period, the key lessons there is sacrifice. Somebody sacrifice for our own salvation. So as a people, as a government what I always believe we should ask what sacrifice are you making.
“Now it is not about supporting Jonathan or government. Now Buhari is coming on board, it is not about supporting Burhari or government but what sacrifice as individual are you willing to make for government and for the nation.
“If you are a businessman and you say you are supporting government but you don’t pay tax how do you expect that government to survive? That government will not survive, ” he stated
Continuing, he said, “While in Bayelsa State as a deputy governor, people use to come to me to say I’m loyal. Don’t tell me you are loyal, tell me I’m patriotic to the country and that you believe in Bayelsa state.
“To me whenever I travel to different countries and see things work, those things didn’t fall down as mana, people made sacrifice, therefore in Nigeria people must also be ready to make the required sacrifice.
“Whoever becomes president is immaterial so long as the citizens are happy. Our children go to school, when we are sick they go to good hospital and of course the economy blossom.
“But for that to take place people must make the required sacrifice. In ECOWAS sub-region for example, Nigeria has the lowest VAT 5 per cent (value added tax) payment, other countries pay up to 12 per cent.”
“If for instance Buhari decided to increase VAT from 5 to 10 per cent will Nigerians support him? That is sacrifice and we must make sacrifice.
“Nation building depends on the sacrifice of individuals and the patriotism of the citizens. These are two key elements. We must be ready to sacrifice for our nation. We are talking about Boko Haram or terror, soldiers are dying for us to live, police are dying for us to live that is sacrifice. As individuals you don’t need to die but there are various roles you need to play you must make sacrifice.
“The economy of China was threatened but they locked up themselves for a period of time but by the time they opened their doors they become even a threat to the biggest economy. Are we ready for that kind of sacrifice for the government? Whenever we talk of easter these are the key lessons of sacrifice.” he stated