Jonathan hails General Abubakar at 70

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Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has felicitated with former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

In a congratulatory message, Jonathan prayed God to continue to grant Abubakar good health and many more years of fruitful service to the country.

“On the occasion of your landmark 70th birthday anniversary, I write on behalf of my family, the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and on my own behalf, to extend warm felicitations to you.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that over the past 70 years, you have lived a richly productive and fulfilled life,’’ he said.

The president said that Abubakar’s uncommon diligence, gallantry, loyalty, patriotism, and enduring sense of committed service saw him rise to the pinnacle of his chosen military career.

He said the same qualities also saw “the onerous duty of the political leadership of our nation thrust upon your shoulders at a critical period in Nigeria’s developmental history’’.

The President hailed Abubakar’s courage in the delivery of the country’s transition to democratic governance in May 1999 and for giving himself to the service of the nation and conflict resolution across the African continent.

Abubakar, a former chief of defence staff, had succeeded Nigeria’s tyrannical ruler, Sani Abacha in June 1998. And he promptly initiated a process to return Nigeria to democratic rule in May 1999.

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At a press conference in Minna to mark his birthday, Abubakar expressed his willingness to assist in efforts to resolve the current security problems.
Hoping that Nigeria would overcome its present security challenges soon, he recalled his efforts in March when he convened a Northern Elders’ forum at his Maizube Farms to discuss the situation.

He promised to use his experience in conflict resolution to offer suggestions on how to deal with the situation.

Abubakar said the resolutions of the 65 Northern Elders meeting were forwarded to President Goodluck Jonathan during his meeting with the 19 Northern governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Abubakar said Nigeria was not the only country going through such challenges.

He called on politicians to play the game of politics according to the rule and without bitterness.

“I know in the last election we were not perfect but it is always my hope that people should give peace a chance so that we will be on the path of having an election that will be accepted by all,“ he said.

He said that ordinarily, he never celebrated birthdays, but that members of his family decided to organise and celebrate his 70th birthday by organising lectures on the virtues of humility and service to humanity.