President Goodluck Jonathan has warned trouble-makers of dire consequences should they breach peace before, during and after next year’s general elections.
He also assured Nigerians that political campaigns and the 2015 general elections will not distract his administration from its ongoing effort to significantly improve their living conditions.
In a New Year message broadcast this morning, President Jonathan said the Federal Government will not tolerate what happened in 2011 elections, when some people unleashed violence after the exercise.
“After the 2011 general elections, some unpatriotic elements embarked on an orgy of violence, resulting in the destruction of lives and property. That will not be allowed to happen this time around. This government will act decisively against anyone who disrupts the public peace, before, during or after the 2015 general elections,” he stated.
He promised that Nigerians, of voting age, would freely vote “based on their convictions,” vowing: It is our duty to defend and protect that basic right, and let no one be in doubt, we will.”
Jonathan assured that steps will be taken by his administration to shield the poor and low-medium income earners from the full brunt of measures included in the 2015 budget to ensure the stability of the national economy in the face of the current downturn in the prices of crude oil.
He further assured that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be given the full support to conduct free and fair elections, calling on Nigerians to cooperate to ensure a peaceful and violent free polls.
The President vowed that his involvement in the campaigns and election as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) notwithstanding, he will remain fully focused on providing good governance and delivering better public services to Nigerians.
“By the Special Grace of God, the Federal Government, under my leadership, has continued, in the past four years to lead our country forward, even under the most trying circumstances. The progress we have made in priority areas bears us testimony.
“Our national economy maintained a steady growth rate of close to seven per cent in the past four years and millions of fresh employment opportunities were created for our people as a direct consequence.
“Being very conscious of the inherent perils of our over-reliance on income from crude oil exports for national development, we have focused on accelerating the diversification of our economy.
“The non-oil sector which has grown by an average of 8% in the last few years, is now a major driver of growth in our economy. The 2015 national budget, which is now before the National Assembly, is targeted at deepening our efforts at becoming a non-oil economy.
“The budget also includes measures to ensure that the downturn in the price of oil does not affect our development plans and our national economy too adversely. We are adjusting our financial processes to safeguard our economy. We are also taking steps to ensure that the poor and the low and medium income earners do not bear the brunt.
“In 2015, this administration will continue to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy that attracts significant Foreign Direct Investment and promotes policies that ensure economic stability. We will ensure stability in the value of the Naira by striving to take away speculative behaviours that cause market exchange pressures.
“We will continue to build and maintain a healthy external reserves position and strengthen fiscal buffers. We will ensure the Naira remains strong, and gives foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need, to guide future investment decisions.
“We will continue to improve our payment systems and strengthen risk-based supervision mechanism for Nigerian banks to ensure overall health and stability of the banking system,” President Jonathan said.
The President reassured Nigerians and the global community of his administration’s resolute commitment to free, fair, credible and acceptable elections.
He also warned that that firm and decisive action will be taken against any individuals or groups who attempt to disrupt the public peace before, during or after the 2015 elections.
“The elections are very important for us as a country. Their successful conclusion will further strengthen our democratic institutions and place our beloved country even more firmly in the comity of truly democratic nations.
“Given the challenges that have characterized some previous electoral contests in our country, the eyes of the world will certainly be on the conduct and outcome of our fifth post-military rule general elections.
“I reassure all Nigerians and the international community of our firm commitment to free, fair and credible elections. My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote remains unwavering.
“Our administration has worked hard in previous elections to prepare all key stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the electorate optimally, to ensure a progressively improved electoral process in the country under my watch. We will continue to do so for the coming elections.
“We will continue to provide adequate funding to INEC and maintain the Commission’s independence and isolate it from any form of interference or meddling in its day-to-day affairs. This shall continue to guarantee its impartiality and ability to conduct more credible and acceptable elections.
“National security agencies will also be given all necessary support to enhance their ability to ensure that the elections are peaceful and violence-free.
“I am optimistic that with the cooperation of all law-abiding citizens of the country, our commitment to have a peaceful and violence-free election will be actualized.
“I will like to say this, once again, to my fellow politicians and political leaders. None of our political ambitions is worth the blood of any of our countrymen, women and children. The improvement of their lives and living conditions ought to be our primary motive and the driving force of our quest for political power and leadership positions.
“Let us not promote sectionalism, disunity, intolerance, hate, falsehood or the malicious abuse of political opponents. Whatever we feel or seek, we must have a nation and a people before we can dream of political ambitions. Let us put the nation and the people first,” he said. – The Sun.