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Jonathan, Mark reassure on rescheduled elections

GEJ-CATHOLIC-CLERICS

ONCE again, President Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated that his administration has no plan for an interim government, as it is not recognised by the Nigerian Constitution.

   He also reassured that by March 28, the first set of elections would be conducted, adding that he would not do anything that would jeopardize the peace and unity of the nation because of personal interest.

   Speaking at the opening of the first plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in Abuja Sunday, Jonathan said that Nigeria is not a pariah state, adding that the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would not accept it.

   He explained that the postponement of the elections was to enable the military tackle the security problem to some level, adding that it has also provided opportunity to Nigerians to collect their permanent voter cards (PVCs).

   “I am convinced that this country will continue to be stable,” he said. “Interim government is not known in the Nigerian Constitution. Unfortunately, as a nation, we don’t have any constitutional provision for interim government, unlike Burkina Faso.”

   Jonathan stated his readiness to champion the course that would bring Nigeria to enviable heights and called for prayers and support from Nigerians for a free, fair and credible election.

   Also speaking, President of the Senate, David Mark, noted that the postponement of the elections was a blessing in disguise as it has afforded millions of Nigerians an opportunity to collect their PVCs. However, he noted that the new dates of March 28 and April 11 are sacrosanct.

   “If the elections were held on February 14 and 28 respectively, millions of Nigerians would have been disenfranchised,” he stated. “I want to be re-elected but I don’t want to go through the back door, I want to go with so many Nigerians accepting that this is their choice.” 

   Mark also reiterated that the constitution did not make provision for the interim government, adding that on May 29, 2015, a democratically elected government would be sworn in, stressing: “It is in our national interest that this happens.”

   In his address, CBCN President and Catholic Bishop of Jos, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, said the conference was sad at the unedifying pronouncements by persons or groups across the regions, who threaten fire and brimstone should their preferred political candidate fail to win the presidential election. 

   He urged the candidates to urgently do something to check the ugly trend, noting: “ We would like to see a friendly social interaction between Mr. President and Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and if possible with other aspirants, where the issue is not elections but a light-hearted conversation about the good people of Nigeria. 

   “This will no doubt go a long way to lessen the tension and hopefully some of their followers who now spit fire will begin to spit love and patriotism

   He observed that since the shift in the election timetable, fears have been expressed in many quarters, adding that their “meeting with any aspirant now would help to lower the political temperature, encourage peace, narrow gaps, create a bridge of brotherly understanding.”

   Kaigama noted that Nigerians ought to be a family of one united nation, “we need to go beyond ethnic chauvinism, narrow political interests and religious fanaticism to enjoy love, peace and progress

   “Unfortunately, politics, religion and ethnicity, noble gift as they are to humanity, instead of uniting Nigerians and propelling us to greater heights are being manipulated by some persons to cause disaffection, polarization, destruction and violence.

   “In the current political season, one can speak of political paranoia. Politics, which is about social development through the free choice of good leaders, is played with unnecessary antagonism and confrontational leaders in Nigeria – strategies that contradict what mature and civilised democracy stand for.”

The cleric also disclosed that the Catholic Church in Northern Cameroun wrote to the CBCN complaining of Nigeria’s numerous internally displaced persons that are taking refuge there and appealed to President Jonathan to do something about the situation.



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