President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday urged members of the Federal Executive Council to redouble their efforts in praying for a better and peaceful Nigeria.
The President, who spoke at the breaking-of-fast dinner for members of FEC at the Presidential Banquet Hall, Abuja, said the Month of Ramadan was a special time when “God listens and answers prayers from the faithful”.
According to Buhari, the Ramadan period provides leaders the opportunity to be more conscious of their responsibilities to the people they are leading.
He said: “It strengthens our resolve to build our country to make it stronger and to make sure that the generations coming are sufficiently motivated to be patriotic.
“It is no news that we are the biggest country in Africa and that we are the economic engine of Africa, which are true by the way.
“But we must always be patriotic in our dealings with others.
“In this (Ramadan) month of prayers and service to God, let us keep on praying all the times, believing that God in His infinite mercy will listen to our prayers, give us peace, security and better the economy once more, so that we can quickly rebuild and even do more for our country.
“Let me assure you that the time of Ramadan is making us more conscious of what leaders at every level ought to do.
“Leading the people is not a joke; it means accepting responsibilities for good or wrong.
“We need a lot of prayers, certainly, with the nation’s economy going down.
“We haven’t developed our agriculture.
“We are still trying to talk to those who will come and develop our solid minerals for us.”
Buhari reiterated that Nigeria needed a lot of prayers in view of the economic and security challenges facing the nation.
He particularly cited the activities of the militants and those agitating for the state of Biafra, reminding such people and their sponsors of the calamities that befell the country during similar agitations between 1967 and 1970, when about two million lives were lost.
He said: “We need to reflect very seriously on what happened between 1967 and 1970 when over two millions Nigerians lost their lives.
“At that time, as young military officers, you hardly heard of anything about petroleum or whatever money you got from it.
“Look at what General (Yakubu) Gowon said: ‘To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done’ and every soldier, whether he had been to school or not, knew what the General meant.
“But we were quarreling with our brothers, we were not fighting an enemy and now, somebody is saying that once again, he wants Biafra.
“I think this is because he was not born when there was Biafra.
“We have to reflect on the historical antecedents to appreciate what is before us now and what we intend to leave for our children and our grandchildren.”
Buhari thanked the ministers and other members of the cabinet for accepting to serve and identify with the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke on behalf of members of the FEC, thanked Buhari for inviting them for the breaking-of-fast dinner.