Abubakar spoke shortly after prayers to mark his 70th birthday anniversary at his hill top mansion in Minna, Niger State. He spoke against the backdrop of incessant bombings by an Islamist sect with the aim of Islamising the country under Sharia law.
He said: “Yes, I believe there is poverty in Nigeria. But Nigeria is not the only country suffering from poverty and this should not be an excuse for what is happening.
He, however, expressed optimism that Nigeria would overcome its present security challenges soon.
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 expressed gratitude to Almighty God for his achievement in life, adding that he had lived a fulfilled life.
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.
We can’t give up
“Certainly, challenges are there all over the world not only in Nigeria. The whole world is full of challenges. I know in Nigeria you will say we have the Boko Haram and kidnappers.
“It is true there are all these things but we should keep on trying and make sure that those misguided elements are eliminated to give peace a chance.
He gave an assurance that the country would remain one indivisible entity and 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.
“I will remind politicians and Nigerians that politics is a matter of give and take. I will always refer to one of our elder statesmen who was always preaching politics without bitterness. A contestant cannot win all the time. So whoever is elected and wins should be given the fullest support so as to build this nation together.”
Abubakar further said the challenges confronting the country were surmountable and that many other developed countries in the world had also passed through similar challenges.
Speaking on his various peace keeping missions in Africa, he said the fact that some African countries are also engulfed in crises does not mean that his peace mission failed.
Abubakar said: ‘’I will not say our peace missions have failed. You know that always, there is time of turmoil in one way or the other but hopefully, things are getting a little bit normal. Although it is very difficult and slow, the peace will come.”
“I thank God. God has lifted me to the highest level somebody can expect in this country. So what regret do I have?
“I am married with children and grandchildren and they are the people who have organised this reception for me. I am proud of them. Certainly, I do not have any regrets.
“This country has also shown me love and I pray as usual that this country remains one indivisible country so that we can live together to be each others’ keepers.”
His predecessor, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida(rtd), and other prominent Nigerians attended the prayer session.