The First Lady, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan, on Saturday night charged the political class, public servants and Nigerians in general to rededicate themselves towards the pursuit of unity and peace in the country.
The Wife of the President and President of the African First Ladies’ Peace Mission, gave this advice at the lighting of the First Nigerian National Christmas Tree in Abuja, which was organised by the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
The Christmas Tree, which is 21 metres high, is strategically located at the Unity Fountain Park, besides the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and adorned in the national colours of green, white and green.
The event was witnessed by the Minister of State for the FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide; the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence, Cardinal John Onaiyekan; members of the National Assembly; wives of some ministers; heads of ministries, departments and agencies of government; heads of secretariats, departments and agencies of the FCT Administration; diplomatic corps; and the media.
Jonathan urged Nigerians to live in peace and harmony as she noted that Christmas was a season for peace, reconciliation and love.
She also advised the citizens to support the present Administration to realise its transformational agenda for the nation.
She said, “The significance of this ceremony will best be appreciated when we take into account that the Christmas season is a season of peace, goodwill and hope.
“As we light up this Christmas Tree, it is a symbol that peace is possible. We will leave here this evening with a message across the nation that peace is possible. Indeed, we can transform our weapons of destruction into instruments of nation-building to make our nation great again.”
Earlier in her welcome address, Akinjide stated that the lighting of the Christmas Tree had come to be recognised across the world as an opportunity to express and share the message of love, peace and goodwill to all men and women.
She said: “The Christmas time is traditionally recognized and celebrated as a season of peace, goodwill and hope across national boundaries. It also offers us a unique opportunity to reinforce this same message of love, unity, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
“It is consequently our anticipation that an annual lighting of the Nigerian National Christmas Tree will play a similar unifying role for our people.”
Cardinal Onaiyekan, who delivered the homily, urged Nigerians to banish all fears and put their trust in God.
Christmas trees displayed publicly and illuminated with electric lights became popular in the early 20th century.
By the mid-20th century, it became customary to display strings of electric lights as Christmas decoration detached from the Christmas tree itself, along streets and buildings.
By the late 20th century, the custom had also been adopted in non-western countries, notably in Japan.