President Goodluck Jonathan
By Constance Ikokwu, Ahamefula Ogbu, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan Sunday said he had delivered on his promise of free and fair polls in the ongoing elections and assured Nigerians of what he called perfect election results in 2015.
Jonathan said this at the Gwagwalada General Hospital, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, where he went to visit victims of last Saturday’s bomb blast at the Suleja office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said the country had made reasonable progress in conducting elections that the people had adjudged as free and fair.
Jonathan while commiserating with the survivors of the bomb blast assured them that the Federal Government would offset the bills incurred by the injured while it would compensate families of the deceased.
According to him, those who sacrifice their lives to serve their country would always be rewarded no matter their circumstances.
Accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), Jonathan was received by the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Peter Alabi, and offered his condolence to the victims of the blast. He assured them that the nation was behind them in their travails.
“For the injured, the government will take care of all their medical bills and by the time they are okay; we would look at their conditions, the ones that are having pressure to take care of themselves. With what I have seen, government will definitely assist,” Jonathan said.
The president conceded that there were grey areas in the National Assembly polls, but observed that there would be improvement as the days go by so that by 2015, “we would have perfected the art of conducting free and fair elections in the country”.
“As regards the elections, we all are happy that despite some setbacks that were witnessed generally, Nigerians are happy that at least, they can decide who will represent them at the National Assembly or who will govern them in the presidential, governorship and state house of assembly elections that are still ahead. That has given us hope. And of course we have even improved.
“I believe that by 2015 when elections are conducted in this country, some of the hiccups we witnessed on Saturday would have fizzled out. I also believe that any subsequent election like the one coming up this Saturday and upper Saturday will definitely improve on this. So for that, I'm quite happy,” he said.
Commenting further, Jonathan said: “But having inspected the hospital wards, and I have seen young people who are serving their nation just caught up in these dastardly acts by some anti-social elements, I feel sad. These are young people in the prime of their lives. The hope and future of Nigeria, anybody targeting the youth are targeting the country. They don't mean well for the nation.”
He however noted that every society has such deviants and promised that his administration would ensure that the perpetrators were fished out and brought to book.
In a renewed display of faith in Nigeria, the United States of America has commended Nigerians and INEC for last Saturday’s National Assembly elections, saying “it got off to a good start”.
The US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, State Department, Ambassador Johnie Carson, told journalists in Abuja Sunday, that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) whose services were employed during the exercise had done well. Carson monitored the election in Nasarawa, Kaduna and Abuja.
Although there were hitches in some states, sporadic cases of violence and failures which was technical nature, indications are that the elections were considerably fair, he stated.
“It is off to a good start. We have to acknowledge the good work of Jega and the work of Nigerian youth corps members. Nigeria should be extraordinarily proud of these young men and women who managed this process in a fair way,” he declared.
He said INEC had more work to do, given that the presidential and governorship polls were yet to take place.
“Moving forward, the intensity of these elections will rise. What one wants to see is an improvement….but this is a good start baseline.
“It’s a good process that allowed people to vote losers and winners. This represents an advance of the 2007 elections. The credibility of these elections is better and what is more important is that Nigerians accept that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, has described the outcome of the election as the reflection of the wishes of the people in “our national quest to enshrine an enduring democracy in our nation”.
According to him, “their action after the initial hiccups demonstrates an abiding faith in democracy as an acceptable and veritable path for the development of our nation. I congratulate all the winners in the parliamentary election for their victory.” He noted that losers should take their losses in good faith as in any such exercise, there must be winners and losers.
He added that, “for me, the race was not a life and death duel. Of more importance is building, maintaining and developing our democratic institution and processes as a means towards true national development and greatness.”
In a related development, former governor of Osun State and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun Central Senatorial district in last Saturday’s election, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has congratulated the winner, Prof. Sola Adeyeye of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Oyinlola in a congratulatory letter said: “Last Saturday’s Senatorial elections results have shown that for me, the battle has been well fought and lost. I give all the glory to God for seeing us this far. I have made it clear to the winner that his election was the wish of the people which I respect. I also urged him to use the mandate of the people for the upliftment of the people of Osun Central whose voice he would be in the Senate in the next four years. May God Almighty help him to carry the load.”
Also, Project 2011 Swift Count, a joint initiative of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) and Justice Development and Peace/Caritas Nigeria (JPDC), has scored last Saturday’s elections 96 per cent in credibility index.
The organisation, which presented its interim report to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, said it would deploy 8,000 election observers in the country to monitor next Saturday’s presidential poll.
While commending INEC for rising up to the occasion by improving on its previous outings in various election processes, the body said the commission needed to do more to improve on its performance in the next stages of the general election.