Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be fully prepared to conduct the rescheduled elections to be adjudged as seamless and efficient.
Gowon made the call yesterday in Abuja at a news conference on the state of the nation with the theme: “The Burden of the Elders at the Dawn of 2109 general election.’’
“Our first counsel to the nation as it approaches this new frontier is that INEC must be fully prepared to conduct the rescheduled elections seamlessly and efficiently.
“It should be done in a manner that its outcome is adjudged by all to be free, fair and credible.
“The political party leaders, the candidates and their followers should conduct themselves with civility, decorum and restraint in both their words and deeds during and the aftermath of the elections.
“INEC can only achieve success if the contending parties regulate their behaviour and conduct in accordance with democratic norms and the law.
“We urge all participants to accept the final results announced by INEC and where parties feel aggrieved; recourse should be made to dispute resolution mechanisms prescribed by the constitution and the Electoral Act,’’ he said.
On election violence, he said: “It is heart rending for elders to stand by and watch as the nation bleed profusely and pretend that all is as well as it should be.
“The violent turn of expressions deepened economic hardships and increasing desperation of the national polity has to be reversed to keep hope alive.’’
Gowon also called on the incoming president as a central figure to mobilise the energies of the citizens behind large and ambitious goals that would have transformative effect on society.
He said that the next president would be immediately confronted with a set of daunting challenges and opportunities, adding that under the constitutional democratic system, the “presidency is the vital nerve centre of operations’’.
“The occupant of that office will be the central figure who must engage the vivid imagination and mobilise the energies of the citizens behind large and ambitious goals that will have transformative effect on society.
“Accordingly, it is incumbent upon the president to lead the charge in articulating and implementing a long term vision, which will make Nigeria a very prosperous and globally competitive economy by the year 2040,’’ he said.
Gowon said that mobilisation of the populace was essential, adding that this would be best achieved if broad segments of the population were represented.
He said that if Nigeria must join the ranks of the world’s leading economies by 2040, it must rely on development plans as the primary vehicles for delivering on the lofty goals and aspirations of the national vision.
Gowon said that the character of the incoming president must be seen to transcend party, ethnic, regional or religious affiliations.
“As a father of all, he should take concrete steps to calm frayed nerves, heal the nation’s wounds, and give credence to our founding principles of unity in diversity.
“Given the enormity of the problems confronting the nation, the next president should seize the opportunity of the transition period to lay the foundation for establishing a strong competent administration.
“This president can do by hiring talented men and women with experience, dedication, drive and patriotism to serve the country with distinction in all the key offices across the public sector and our national security establishments,’’ he said.
Gowon said there was an urgent and compelling need to address our national security crisis which was at the risk of spiraling out of control.
He called for a presidential proclamation of a national security emergency which should result in the establishment of a broad-based coalition of highly skilled and experienced stakeholders.