President Goodluck Jonathan who doubles as Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Presidential candidate of the main opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari have felicitated with all Christians in the country as they begin the observance of Lent for the year 2015.
In a separate messages, the two leaders appealed to Christians to use the period to meditate and pray to God for peace and the rebuilding of the nation.
President Jonathan reminded Christians that as they undergo the rites of the 40-day Lenten season which runs from today to Easter Sunday, they should be constant in prayers, penitence, fasting and self-denial.
The President further asked Christians to pray fervently for peaceful, violence-free and successful general elections in the country on March 28 and April 11, 2015.
He called on all political leaders in the country, Christians and non-Christians alike, to rededicate themselves to the commitment they have made to peaceful, non-violent campaigns and elections, and do their utmost best to ensure that their supporters across the country uphold that commitment.
President Jonathan further asked all those seeking political office in the coming elections to eschew hate speech, incitement to violence, divisiveness and the malicious denigration of opponents, adding that all political parties in the country should join the federal government in giving the fullest possible support and cooperation to INEC to ensure that it delivers free, fair and credible elections.
The President appealed to Christian community to reflect more on all the ideals of human existence taught by Jesus Christ during his ministry on earth even as he also called on Christians to make those ideals, including piety, love for others, tolerance, humility, selfless service to others, honesty, fairness, justice and equity more manifest in their daily lives.
General Buhari also asked Christians to let the 40 days Lent period be for “a greater opportunity to change our ways and our hearts so that God can heal our land; which is in dire need of leaders and citizens who will show love and care for the poor and the rejected in our midst, for whom, Jesus Christ also sacrificed and died for.
“Let us abhor discriminations in our country on the grounds of ethnicity, religion, gender and political orientation and work for a united, peaceful and progressive Nigeria where few men and women will no longer have the pleasure and privilege to deprive the majority of our common wealth.
“As you observe this very important spiritual exercise, I will also join you in prayers to God for the strength you need to go through this season and for the forgiveness of the sins we all have committed against God and humanity.” [myad]