Polls: Jonathan insists on heavy security
President Goodluck Jonathan insisted yesterday on continuous heavy deployment of soldiers for elections, despite the heavy criticism of the strategy, which is widely believed to be in favour of the opposition.
The President also promised that the 2015 elections would not divide the country, saying it will remain stronger.
He spoke yesterday during Inter-faith Conference in Abuja theme: “The imperative of interfaith understanding and cooperation for responsible politics.”
At the event, House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja and John Cardinal Onaiyekan.
Others are former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Uwais, Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Mustapha El-Kanemi, Inspector General of Police Suleiman Abba and National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki.
The President urged Nigerians to disregard the reports in many quarters that there will be trouble next year and that Nigerians cannot live together.
He said: “Our challenges in the present must not be allowed to inhibit our progress. Despite the fact that we have survived the civil war and continued to evolve as one nation with one destiny, we have among ourselves those who continue to define us and put it that we as Nigerians cannot live together.
“As the 2015 elections draw near, the doomday sayers are out and predicting how Nigeria is going to catch fire next year. In the opinion of some so-called experts, our ethnic and religious differences are bound to boil over. They portray us doomed to fail.
“But I can say categorically that Nigeria will not disintegrate; we will not fail. We will surely get over our challenges and become even a stronger nation.”
Jonathan blamed the Internet and the social media for aggravating the fear of many Nigerians towards 2015, saying: “You will be attempted to think along the same line. In a country of over 170 million people, the opinion of very few is now being elevated above that of over 100 million Nigerians.
“I once again assure Nigerians and the international community that the 2015 elections will come and go and Nigeria will stand stronger. The Nigerians I know and interact with every day are only asking for one thing in the election, transparency, free and fair elections – and I have promised them.”
He added: “They want to vote and want their vote to count; they don’t want to be molested, they don’t want ballot boxes to be hijacked by criminals. If they are convinced that the process is free, fair and credible, they have no reason to be angry. Nobody can fight against one man one vote, one woman one vote and one youth one vote.
“And government will make sure that Nigerians are not killed during and after elections. I’m surprised that some political parties are agitating that government should withdraw security during and after elections. What surprise me most is that even some labour leaders are agitating that government should not secure people during elections. And I wonder how short human memories are.
“We’ve just finished 2011 elections and we are talking about three years ago or quite close to four years ago and we know what happened in Bauchi, about 10 youth corpers were slaughtered in that election. We know what happened in Kano; properties worth millions of naira were destroyed, some of the people have not gotten back their houses.”
Jonathan went on: “We know what happened in Akwa Ibom where some criminals even had to severe the genitals of some men in the name of politics. Demons who want to hold political office. In that kind of situation, how would a person who called himself a labour leader come out publicly to say government should not secure people. I don’t agree with them. My promise of free and fair elections is clear.
“All governorship elections that had been conducted so far, you will agree with me have been free and fair. I am from the PDP, the ruling party but I don’t use that strength to make sure that PDP must win always. The PDP has lost election in Edo State, we lost election in Anambra State, we lost election in Ondo State and, of course, only two days back, we have lost election in Osun State.”
Jonathan added: “But we have said that this country must change. The kind of elections that we had in the 60s that led to the crisis in the West that threatened the sovereignty of this country cannot come up again. The kind of elections we had during the Second Republic that some people won elections as governors and ran away from the state that they claimed elected them, cannot come up again. Nigerians must vote and our vote must count.”
He said if he was interested in manipulating elections, his party, the PDP would not lose governorship election in any state.
He said: “All what we want is credible election. I always tell politicians that none our own ambition is worth the blood of any one Nigerian. If anybody wants to be a president, governor, a senator or anything, know that your ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.”
“How many of us can line up our children and kill them just because we want to be president. Can we use our children for sacrifice because we want to be governors? Why do we want other people’s children to die? Do we politicians think that we are created differently by the Almighty God? “
“I think we are just privileged to hold the offices we are holding and we must know that, we must make sure that this incessant killings must stop.
“Responsible politics is the politics of service. Anything short of these attributes makes politics a bad thing and destructive. We must continue to preach this message for people. Politics is all about serving people and if people don’t want you to serve go and stay in your house.
“Our states are not our private estates. This country is not owned by any individual. If you are called to serve, you serve. If it is not your turn, you leave; whenever it is your time, people will say come and serve at all levels.”
On the conference, he said: “It is heartwarming that there are people of diverse religious in this conference today. This is for our good; it is a clear demonstration of deep religious tolerance and understanding that have permeated minds of Nigerians out to embrace one another, having realised the need for mutual tolerance and understanding.”
“The interfaith initiative, as I understand it, is conceived to be a unifier, it is an avenue for all and sundry to engage with one another constructively, to understand one another, to respect one another and to care for one another.”
The President praised the organisers for the foresight in convening such a conference on a topical issue that seems to encourage political understanding among religious adherents.
He pointed out that there are many countries with one religion and still at war with one another.
“We have seen countries with one single cultural heritage go to war because of minor reason. We are a people created by God and we enjoy the creation. Our country was also possible by Him the Almighty and I am confident that working together we can make our country even a better place for ourselves and our children,” Jonathan said.
“I will rather that we focus on the mechanism that we have developed by ourselves as we evolved into a viral nation.”
“Having said this, I do not run away from the fact that we have challenges, just like any other country. I do not deny the fact that there is a reason for people to express fears about our future.
“Some politicians have been making reckless and irresponsible statements that are capable of stoking tention and inciting people to take laws into their hands and destablise the country. But we have to understand that these statements are not borne out of the genuine reason of mood and temperament of Nigerians. Rather, these enemies of peace are only trying to spoil the mood and create tempetous temperature, but they will fail.”
“Unfortunately these statement are coming from very senior people. Our elders are making the whole country to boil. From my interactions with so many young Nigerians, just a few days back, I addressed a group of young professionals, the young generation want to live together. They want a better country where they will have the infrastructure – power, good health services, good educational facilities, roads etc. They are not interested in breaking the nation. But those of us who are old mainly from my age and above will continue to breach peace in this country. We are not helping our children at all.”
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