President Muhammadu Buhari believes that Nigerians have experienced a year of mixed blessings in 2018.

In a Christmas message signed by the president on Monday, December 24, he said the Christmas season should be another opportunity for Nigerians to reflect on the message of hope, compassion, salvation, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace that Jesus Christ embodies and conveys.

Noting that Nigerians have had a mixed year, he cited "so many unnecessary deaths caused by violent clashes between neighbours" as one the the nation's unpleasant experiences in 2018.

"We cannot bring back the lives lost to floods, unfortunate fire disasters, road accidents, farmers/herders clashes and insurgency," he said.

However, the president also noted that the nation's economy has made significant progress in the same time period. He said his administration's 'agricultural revolution' has improved local production and reduced importation.

He also cited "significant improvements in roads, railways, aviation and power" as well as the relentless fight against corruption as one of the nation's pleasant experiences.

The president assured that despite the nation's mixed fortunes in 2018, Nigerians can "put back smiles on the faces of the grieving, the displaced and the troubled, if we show a little love and recommit ourselves to building relationships with those outside our ethnic, religious and socio-political divides".

He said, "As we celebrate Christmas, exchange gifts, pray and visit loved ones, let us remember many others who cannot be with their families this time.

"Our brave Armed Forces, and other security men and women who make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe, the aged, the sick, physically challenged persons, all deserve our goodwill in this season of love and sharing.

"Together we can show generosity to our neighbours and demonstrate the diversity that makes Nigeria unique - a land with a beautiful climate and vegetation, beaming with an energetic and creative youth population."

He noted that Nigerians must not forget that what lies ahead of the nation is "better than whatever we must have experienced in the past".

Buhari promises free and fair elections

The president further recommitted to his vow to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2019.

He said, "With general elections around the corner and heightened political activities across the country, I have charged our security and law enforcement agencies to secure the sanctity of the ballot box and ensure that the outcome of the polls reflects the will of the Nigerian people.

"My avowed commitment to free, fair, credible and violence-free polls is not a ruse or yet another vain political promise. My word is my bond.

"It is a sworn declaration on the advancement of Nigeria, the future and safety of our young and unborn generations."

He charged Nigerians to unite and show the world that something good can come out from the country.