President Goodluck Jonathan
By Muhammad Bello
President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday said he was able to overcome the quest by a section of Nigerians to oust him from office through the fuel subsidy protest because the majority, who voted him into office, resisted such move.
Jonathan, who spoke in Freetown, the Sierra Leonean capital when he met with the Chairman of the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), Madam Christina Thorpe, as well as chairmen and some presidential candidates of political parties contesting the general elections, said the overwhelming support and goodwill he enjoyed from a cross-section of Nigerians saved his job when the fuel subsidy protests raged in the country in January.
While advising them on the need to conduct a credible election in the next round of elections coming up on November 17 this year, the President said taking such steps was critical and a recipe for political stability.
According to him, the wave of protests that took the country by storm would have swept him out of office if not for the groundswell of opinions emanating from those in the majority, who popularly voted for him and wanted to see stability and progress.
“In Nigeria, I remember the fuel subsidy crisis all over the country. I could have been removed but I was confident of my mandate. When some people started talking of regime change, majority of the people who voted for me insisted that they elected me and what they are asking for is change of policy, not regime change; and that calmed down the situation.
“Credible elections give you the mandate of the people and confidence too. It is difficult to calm people down when elections are manipulated,” Jonathan said.
He added that: “If we had manipulated elections in Nigeria, I would not have had the courage to come and confront you. If I had manipulated myself into office, there is no way I would come and sell to you what I do not have.”
He spoke in Freetown, Sierra Leone when he met with chairman of the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), Madam Christina Thorpe, as well as chairmen and some presidential candidates of political parties contesting Sierra Leone’s general elections coming up on.
While appreciating a donation of 25 operational vehicles and $1 million to Sierra Leone; including the training of some of the country’s electoral officials in Nigeria towards the conduct of the polls, many of the political parties’ chieftains requested for more assistance from Nigeria, including providing subventions to the parties to enable them withstand the financial might of the bigger parties.
Jonathan pledged to oblige their request but asked Sierra Leone’s ruling party, the All Peoples Congress (APC) to allow for a healthy competition during the election in order to reap immensely in terms of credibility from such action.
Jonathan was also bestowed with that country’s highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone (GCRSL) awarded to him during Sierra Leone’s 51st Independence Anniversary in April.
The award, according to President Bai Koroma, was given to Jonathan in recognition of his and Nigeria’s invaluable support for and timely intervention during difficult times in Sierra Leone.
“We as a nation are very grateful. This is the crowning of our bilateral relations and your personal assistance to Sierra Leone,” Koroma said.