The President also urged Nigerians to condemn all acts of violence and those who preach disintegration of the country.
He added that the size and the diversity of the Nigerian people rather than the oil is what makes the country great.
Speaking during the inter-denominational church service to mark the 2013 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration at the National Christian Centre in Abuja, the president said:
“Let me welcome you all to this special day that we are remembering those who worked for us, served us and paid the capital prize. They died for us to live. ‘We are here to remember the Armed Forces who serve within and in various parts of the world to bring peace to the world and in that process lost their lives.
“Let me appreciate the church for what you have been doing over the period, for what you have been doing persistently for peace to reign in our land and the nation to develop. “Let me especially appreciate the leaders of the Christians who have on a daily basis organise various prayers for us.
“Let me especially thank the armed forces because today is their day and also the police and other services, we sleep because they stay awake. “In some cases where things happen people blamed profusely but for those of us who get reports on daily happenings about such challenges, we know that these men and women have been doing very well. “I thank them for their gallantry, dedication to service, for the work they have been doing for us and we pray that God will see them through. “I use this unique opportunity to encourage them to continue to do what they have been doing and we believe this country will get through her various challenges.
“As we remember the work the Armed Forces and other security outfits have been doing, I think the best gift we can give to them as a people, is to pray for them and in our daily activities to preach peace, love and unity. Because if we love ourselves and we live in peace and emphasis more on the unity of this country, some of our challenges we are having we probably may not have. “But if our leaders at whatever level, whether political, community or religious, talk more about those things that divide us instead of those things that bring us together, then we will be encouraging the younger ones who know little or nothing about the history of this country to do things differently and sometimes conduct themselves in a way that is clearly anti social.
“Some of the best gifts we can give to the Armed Forces and the sister organisation is for us in our various activities to emphasize the need for us to live in peace, love ourselves and unite. “Some people talk about disintegration of Nigeria, now even at political levels some people take it as weapon when they want to discuss politics. But my conviction and I believe, that most people here and those listening to us is that Nigeria will continue to remain a united nation. “Nigeria will not disintegrate. Anybody who is doing research on sociology, psychology or political science, I know Nigeria will remain one.
“In 2014, we will celebrate our centenary, 100 years in existence. It will only take two mad people to stay in marriage for 100 years and say that is the time you will divorce and we are not mad. If there are issues that have been brewing over the period and we have been managing, we will continue to manage. “We will not think about separation. I always say some nations have their own history; people question the unity of this country, especially when they talk about the amalgamation of the North and South in 1914. Some big countries have very ugly pasts. But it is not for us to begin to make history, it is for us who are alive today to shift our focus and begin to talk about those things that will bring unity, development.
“I always say that Nigeria is great not because of our oil, because we have people that produce more oil than us but we are appreciated and still reckon with because of our size and diversity both for human beings and environment. These are areas we should exploit for unity and development. “So please let us all stand up and condemn those who say otherwise about our unity, those who call for our disintegration or who make similar statements should be condemned by all Nigerians. “As a country, made up of great citizens, when we work together, when government play her role and the citizens also play their roles, surely we will get to where we want to go.
If only the government or only the people are working, and others are not playing the required role and provide the enabling environment, of course we will not go anywhere. “But when we work together, our children and our children yet unborn will be happy. God’s willing with your prayers and commitment, Nigeria will get to where she wants to go,” he said. In his message entitled: Embracing the legacies of a worthy officer, Rev. Supo Ayokunle, president Nigerian Baptist Convention, reading from the book of Luke 7:1-10, said one thing was to be given opportunity to serve but another thing was to serve very well.
He added that while some people would serve in a place for short time and left indelible mark, others, despite long service, their impact would not be felt. He said the example of the Roman centurion, an ambassador in the land of Israel, should be emulated by Armed Forces and other security services. “Though you have the power of the gun you do not have all the power, power belongs to God.”
He urged them to emulate the legacies of the Roman soldier. “One of his legacy was that he was a caring boss that took those serving under him as sons.” He charged the Nigerian officers to treat the soldiers with cares because only then will they command their respect. “Don’t abuse those under you or those in your community, you are suppose to serve them, not bully them.”