Posted by News Express | 26 March 2015 | 3,504 times
President Goodluck Jonathan has accused the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) of overheating the political space because of its desperation to take government from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He made the allegation yesterday while granting audience to international election observers, including those of the European Union, the African Union and the Commonwealth at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Jonathan explained that although the international community had in 2011 declared that elections were reasonably free and fair, there were some violence because some candidates felt that they lost and caused some violence in some cities (maybe not directly but probably their supporters) .
“This year we will make sure that we don’t have those kinds of scenarios,” President Jonathan said.
“I just finished conversation with General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s group and I assured them that elections will be free and fair, it will be credible. The electoral body INEC is working very hard and I believe that they will handle things in a way that both the candidates and electorates will conduct themselves well.
“I think some of the issues that generating this heat are the excesses of the politicians, especially the opposition politicians. Opposition not only in the sense that this is a PDP government at the federal level, there are some states that the PDP is in the opposition.
“In most cases you see the opposition hitting the system so hard because they are working hard to take over government.
“There are a lot of provocative statements that are being made that communicate something different to the international community.
“But I believe the elections would be conducted. You made reference to the previous dates the elections were to be held, the 14th February. If elections were held on February 14th I believe there would have been problems in this country because the tensions were quite high, the security challenges were quite enormous.
“When these elections were rescheduled, on that 14th, Gombe State was attacked because the Boko Haram thought elections were to be held and they came out actually to disrupt it but they were repelled.
“But now we have cleaned up Adamawa and Yobe completely. And even Borno State before the elections, it was only a little area like the Sambisa forest that will be in the hands of Boko Haram. We believe by tomorrow (today) or latest Friday we will be able to take over Gwoza. If we take over Gwoza it will not take us more than one week to clean up. Now Boko Haram are not in position to come out and disrupt elections.
“So I want to assure that elections would be conducted on the 28th across the country so there will be no reason for inclusive results.
“I want to reassure you that the elections would be conducted as scheduled, it would be free and fair. As a government we will do our best even though I’m a candidate but I’m more interested in peaceful elections than who emerges as the next president of Nigeria.
“I want a situation where the whole world should respect our electoral process. I will feel diminished if at the end of the day the international observers don’t accept the process, the result. I won’t feel comfortable.”
President also told the group: “To me, those who are close to me know what I stand for. My interest is more about the country, it’s not about me. I’m not apprehensive at all as to whether I will win the election.
“I have worked very hard to win the election, my party is working very hard for me to win the election. Political process is not an individual business because it’s actually the party that is presenting you but as a sitting president I’m more interested in the nation so nothing will keep me awake.”
Earlier, Mahamadu Danda and Anna Roberts of the EU told the President that they were in Nigeria to observe the elections and to witness in an impartial and neutral manner, the execution of the electoral process in the country.
They both said: “You have always been open every time that we have requested a meeting. We are here as we were in 2011 to get your advice on the things we should be focusing on in the remaining days of the campaign period leading up to the election day on Saturday and also things that we could do to help support the people of Nigeria in the post-elections period.”
Anna Roberts, who spoke on behalf of the EU’s Chief Observer, explained that their focus was very much on the systemic issues that arise during these elections.
According to him, they were not just thinking about these elections process but also the future ones and how they can in some way be a small part in making recommendations for reforms so that future elections would be held better in Nigeria.
•Adapted from a Channels TV report. Photo shows President Jonathan.
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