The presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, Rivers State governor Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and the party’s vice presidential candidate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, were amongst eminent dignitaries that stormed Lagos State yesterday for the 2015 annual thanksgiving service.
Speaking at the interdenominational thanksgiving service hosted by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and his wife, Abimbola at the Lagos House , Alausa, Ikeja, Buhari said he believes every Nigerian should be free and secured to practice their different religion.
Buhari, in the service that was presided over the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye and other exalted clergy said, “I am honoured to participate in this annual thanksgiving service. This year thanksgiving service brings together all Nigerians from all states, Christians, Muslims and all religion in Lagos to thank the almighty God.
“Religion must never be used as an excuse to divide us, oppress others or gain unfair advantage. All my life I have expressed the belief that all Nigerians must worship God according to their wish.”
Buhari dressed in dark Kaftan added that, “The duty of government is not religion, security for all Nigerians regardless of tribe or religion is our commitment on this day of thanksgiving. We shall all seat together like this, rejoice and thank God together for the Almighty God to give us the country of our dream.”
Fashola had earlier lampooned certain individuals predicting doom for the country and the state in guise of religion, saying the predictions were heating up the polity.
He said the state government deemed it fit to hold thanksgiving service for sparing the lives of the people amid calamities rocking the country.
Fashola said,”Today, 364 days after, when girls have disappeared without trace, bombs have exploded in mindless orgies of violence.
“Nigerian towns and villages have been sacked. Our brothers and sisters have been displaced from their homes. Young children have died in stampedes while looking for jobs.
“Some of our brothers and sisters in the military have lost their lives while trying to defend you and I and the fatherland.
“I ask you all what else we can do than to give thanks, express our gratitude and praise God for surviving.”
He said it is important for people to know that they are alive not because they are better,but because of grace and mercy which should never take it for granted.
“Our appreciation must be reflected in our attitude of gratitude. In some parts of West Africa today, government has been forced to declare a lock down of people and restrict movement in this season of festivity because an infectious disease caused by the Ebola virus is yet to be brought under control.
“These countries are smaller than Lagos, Lagos is in fact bigger than many of them combined. Yet the same virus afflicted us, we sadly lost 13 lives, but today we are not under lock down.
“We can sit side-by-side, we can shake hands and we can move freely. Again there was grace, there was a coming together across ethnic, religious and government levels to address a common problem.”
He said it was high time the people focused their common humanity, and those things that they share together and focus less on those things that are different about them.
According to him, “Our languages, our religion, our ethnic origins are accidents of our birth and not the essential content of our humanity. If our creator wanted us to be the same it is not difficult for him to do so.
“Your faith is not better than mine, and if you think it is, I cannot quarrel with your opinion. You must respect my right to practice mine. That is why we gather today in the Centre of Excellence to thank and praise God together, Christians of different denominations, Moslems with different affiliations and traditionalists, because we are all grateful. That is the Spirit of Lagos.”
He used the opportunity to solicit support for APC candidates , saying “I hope you will choose wisely, I hope you will choose experience. I hope you will not experiment.”