January 8, at the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos.
Your Excellency, the chairman of our great party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, senior members of our party here on this great occasion, we have spent so much time here so I will not bore you with protocols. Today, I am going to address only a segment of the Nigerian population. I am going to address the people who are voting for the first time, those of you who will attain 18 years this year.
That means I am addressing the young people. I do not want to address old people like me, because we are spent already and I will crave your indulgence Nigerian youths, those of you who are here, and those of you watching us at home, listen to what I am saying. I am going to address political gatherings in 37 cities and I am going to dwell on three key things. I am focusing on the young people.
Whatever I say, when you go back, call your aunts or call your uncles, your father or your mother, or your cousin, that is at least 60 years old and confirm and ask them what you heard that the Presidential candidate of PDP mentioned in any of the rallies because 2015 elections is about the young people: either you vote and continue to be relevant in Nigeria’s political history or you vote for you to be irrelevant.
And I will repeat it, those of you who are voting for the first time, your decision to vote could mean you vote for a Nigerian youth to be important, to be relevant in this country or be a Nigerian person to be treated as a nonsense person and I believe all of you want to be relevant.
Of course you have seen…we have just introduced our governorship candidates and you see how many of them that is of your age bracket. Which other party will give that kind of opportunity?
I am going to dwell on three things because those who say they want to take over power from PDP have been telling a lot of lies. They have hired people from all over the world and those of you in the social media carry all forms of lies, painting all kinds of colour and giving me all kinds of face that I cannot defend.
If you listen to us in the 37 places we will address these issues, you will now know where to cast your votes. I will address you in all the places on three issues. The first is the issue of insecurity. I am also going to address whether this administration is fighting or encouraging corruption. I am going to address the issue of weak government and unfocused government that has no plans. Yours is to listen and compare with everything that has been done before in this country and take a decision.
I will not keep you here for too long because we still have the opportunity… I am going to raise just very few issues today and tomorrow I will continue in Enugu and then on and on and on. First let me tell you about the voter’s card. First when we came in here we saw some placards, some of you complaining that we are yet to get a permanent voters card. Only yesterday, I directed that every Nigerian (of voting age) must vote. INEC must make sure and government will not allow a situation where some (eligible) Nigerians will not vote; we will not allow it. All Nigerians must vote and I mean it.
I told you that I am addressing those of you who are voting for the first time. Those of you in the age bracket of 20 to 24, if you go back, ask your uncles, before 2011 no Nigerian complained that he had no voters card. People voted themselves into office. We came and said every Nigeria vote must count and since then, the voter’s card has become relevant.
This is the party that is giving political strength to all Nigerians. Already you have been told from intelligence reports that some people are already cloning cards so that your voter’s card will no longer be relevant. Is that the kind of people you want to take over government? (Crowd shouts NO…!)
They want to take us to the old days when nobody saw voter’s cards but results were announced. They want to take us to the old days when ballot papers would be in South Africa and results would be announced. Are you going back to the old days? (Crowd shouts NO…!)
Nigeria must move forward, Nigeria is for the youths. Nigeria is not for old people like us. The young generation must redefine this country. We must take this country to where we want it to be. Nobody can push us backwards. The past is past. They have led us backward and backward.
In fact when we were young, we were told that at Independence, Nigeria, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia and even India were all at the same level. That was what we were told when I was in the secondary school and the university. Now all those countries have left us behind and now some people want to take us backward. Do you want to go backwards? (Crowd shouts NO…!) Nigerian youths do you want to go backwards… (Crowd shouts NO…!)
Young Nigerians were doing things fantastically well, they were acting films and these very people were snubbing them, they were playing music and these very people were abusing them. But we are encouraging them and the world has accepted them. Do you want to move forward? (Crowd shouts YES…!) Do you want to go backward? (Crowd shouts NO…!)
I told you I was going to address things and I will be very brief. They talk about insecurity. That they will fight insecurity. And you will ask are our armed forces weak? Are the Nigerians in the Armed Forces weak? If we have problems what is the cause—equipment. And somebody who wakes up and tells young people of 23 years old that he wants to fight insecurity, ask him when he was the head of government did he buy one rifle for a Nigerian soldier. (Crowd shouts NO!…)
These people did not buy anything for the Nigerian soldiers. They refused to equip them. No attack helicopter, nothing. Ask them what they did with the defence budget for the whole time they were in office. No country equips armed forces overnight. What they use is quite expensive and they are built over the years. Even if you spend 10 billion dollars today, you cannot equip the army, navy and air force.
The capacity is built overtime. They refused to build the capacity. They instigated crisis and now they are telling us they will fight insurgency. Ask them and they will answer. I will elaborate more as we progress to other places.
The next is that they say government is corrupt; or we are not fighting corruption. Only yesterday, I addressed the anti-corruption agencies. I said look people are deceiving young Nigerians. You must tell Nigerians what you are doing. We have arrested more people within this period. Gotten more convictions within this period but everyday they tell us lies.
At this point, let me apologize to some Nigerian civil servants who did not receive their salaries in December early enough and I will tell you what happened. I apologize to those families that suffered because we believe that for you to fight corruption; you must take measures, establish and strengthen institutions. You just don’t wake up, enter the street, arrest one person and lock up and show on television and say that you are fighting corruption.
If they had succeeded in fighting corruption, corruption would not have been with us here today. If they had set up structures and especially in today’s modern science using ICT to manage resources, we would not have been talking about corruption today. What happened in December was that IPPIS, software for processing salaries, -- sometimes people steal through salaries- and some federal government agencies including some ministries tried to divert funds to pay some allowances. The system is scientific, it is not a human being, and as long as money meant for salaries is about to be diverted to other things, it shuts down. Those departments of government were shut down, this is the only way that you can prevent corruption. (Crowd claps …)
I served in Bayelsa as deputy governor and governor for eight years; I also served as Vice President and President for another four years at the centre, for all this period, the fertilizer area is where states and federal governments spend billions of naira but less than 10 per cent of fertilizers go to the farmers. The rest is stolen and sent out of the country. Even the 10 per cent sometimes is adulterated. We came and cleaned up the sector and today there is no corruption in the fertilizer industry again.
What did we do? We assembled some young Nigerians that are IT gurus and we developed the e-wallet system and through that the farmers now get their fertilizers directly and nobody is cheating the government again. Is that not the way to stop corruption? (Crowd shouts YES! …)
If somebody tells you that the best way to fight corruption is to arrest your uncle or father and show him on television, well, you won’t stop corruption, you will even encourage corruption. I used to tell people and I will also address press conferences so that people can ask me direct questions. Armed robbery is still with us, despite the fact that we are shooting (death penalty) armed robbers. Is that stopping armed robbery? (Crowd shouts NO…!)
So arresting people and demonstrating on television will not fight corruption, we must set up institutions, strengthen them to prevent people from even touching the money and that is what we are working on and we are succeeding.
Some people say they are finding corruption… some of you know, I am not addressing people of 20 years and below but people from 30 years and so on… Nigerians go to fuel stations and sleep overnight to buy fuel or tip those who sell fuel to buy fuel. They hoard fuel and they benefit from the hoarding. Who are those who benefitted from hoarding fuel? Since we came on board, have you suffered? Do you need to bribe someone before you get fuel?
When the crisis of insecurity came up, we had nothing. So to get things very quickly, we used some vendors to make procurement. But now what we are doing is government to government. Now any new procurement we are doing whether for the air force, navy or army it’s government to government, so there is nothing like corruption anymore. Even if we have some issues, maybe… is that not the way to fight corruption?
You must prevent people from touching money, you don’t give them the opportunity or test them with money and this is what government is doing and we are succeeding in a number of areas in our procurement processes. The relevant agencies will address Nigerians for you to appreciate what we are doing. They say the government is weak, they say we are un-focused; we have no plan.
They say we are weak because there were some people who took our fathers, our mothers and our uncles while they were abroad put them in a crate and flew them to Nigeria but they were intercepted by superior powers. That blocked Nigerians from even going to Britain at a time and the relationship between Nigeria and Britain… the whole world isolated Nigeria.
They said that is the way to fight corruption. So immediately I suspect your uncle, I can just crate him and throw him into Kirikiri. Is that the way to stop corruption? (Crowd shouts NO!)
If somebody tells you that he will not follow due process… I came in with Yar’Adua and he advocated due process and I stand by due process. Any country that does not abide by the rule of law is a jungle.
Do you want Nigeria to be a jungle society? (Crowd shouts NO!) Immediately I suspect you that you have done something wrong I just ask the police or army to arrest you and throw you into jail. Is that the country you want? (Crowd shouts NO!)
They say to be strong is to jail people indiscriminately for 300 years. Is that where you want to go? (Crowd shouts NO!)
A country is like an industry. It must be managed properly by people who have brain and great ideas upstairs.
Let me just give you some highlights: they say we are not focused; we are not planning. But our economy has become the biggest in Africa; it was not the biggest in Africa before. Without planning, can your economy become the biggest in Africa? (Crowd shouts NO!)
They say we are not planning, we are not focused but we have cleaned up the corruption in fertilizer distribution in the country. The farm inputs are getting to the farmers and our import bills, the money we use in buying things from outside is coming down. Can you get that without planning? (Crowd shouts NO!)
You are no longer queuing up and leaving your cars in fuel stations. Can you do that without planning? (Crowd shouts NO!) I believe that some few years back some young people have not seen trains except when you travel abroad and you have never boarded a train. Now our trains are moving. Can you do that without planning? (Crowd shouts NO!)
In the power sector, we are in Lagos, Egbin power sector got burnt in 2005 and remained so until now when we are fixing it. We have been able to finish the privatization of the power sector. This is an interface period but you already know that the generation capacity is almost double. Can you do that without planning? (Crowd shouts NO!)
This government feels that Nigerians are very dynamic people, very creative, very industrious, very talented in music, arts and business. Many of them do not have money and you know we are almost 200 million in Nigeria and we cannot reach everybody the same day. We came up with the concept of YOUWIN to give grants not loans to young Nigerians that have ideas. If you interview them, some of them are already manufacturing and in the next four to five years, we will be exporting things from this country. And they say we have no plans for the youths? They should come and tell us what plans they have for the youths.
I believe that young Nigerians, not people who are spent and finished. not people of my age, we are gone… that is why I said I am addressing people from the ages 18- 23 those who are voting for the first time, we believe that you people will take us to the moon. My generation has failed we couldn’t take Nigeria to the moon. Look at what India is doing. Look at what countries we were at par with at independence are doing and I said for us to get to the moon, that’s a special area; you need to expose your best brains.
I came up with a special scholarship that you must first of all make a First Class in the university. We have scholarship for everybody but you must first of all make First Class from your university and then we test the best brains and send them to the best 25 universities in the world. Can someone who has no plans for the future of this country do that? (Crowd shouts NO!.)
Can somebody who does not think about the Nigerian youth do that? (Crowd shouts NO!)
Do you want to go back to those days when they had no plans for us? (Crowd shouts NO!)
When I came on board as President, I noticed that though in the country and on paper, there is this programme or policy of government that every state must get a Federal government owned university. Out of the 36 states we have, 12 had no federal universities and people were deceiving Nigerians that they were doing something.
I said we must establish these 12 universities in the remaining 12 states, start as small universities and grow and we have done that successfully and they are growing gradually.
We did not stop there. We looked at the school drop-outs in some parts of the country and they were quite high. We came up with the Almajiri educational programme and we thank the Governors from many of the states where we have those set of students. We have programmes for Almajiri students and we have the programme for out-of-school children. Can somebody who has no plan for the country think about that kind of programme? (Crowd shouts NO!).
You will ask some of those people who are deceiving you now and who hired some people from outside the country to go on social media and tell all kinds of lies, that when they were in power did they build any nursery school for anybody? (Crowd shouts NO!) Ask them, ask them, I say go and ask them.
If they did not build nursery schools for anybody, what did they use our money for? They built prisons or universities for you?
I will build universities for you, I will build secondary schools for you, I will build primary schools for you.
They say we have no plans for this country but we established the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF)—out of the money that comes into this country we reserve a little so you just don’t squander it.
This is a government that introduced for the first time what we call the SWF and I want to thank the Governors from the states who keyed into the SWF idea. In addition to the SWF, you know that there are some stolen monies, which from time to time government gets back. They have been getting these monies back but we do not know how they are spending it.
The ones that have come in within this period, we have not even started spending it but first of all we agree on how to spend it. Because we have security challenges and this money is primarily for security and they used security channels to take it, 50 per cent of it will be used for security, 25 per cent of it for development and 25 per cent of it will be used for future generations. This is the decision we have taken even before we start spending the money. Can somebody who has no plan for the future of the country do that thing? (Crowd shouts NO!) They should come and tell you what they used our monies for.
We believe that so many young Nigerians, some young workers find it very difficult to own a house of their own. We introduced the Mortgage Refinancing Company. It is just coming up, estates are being built and we are working with the Labour unions. As we pursue that programme in the next five years, most Nigerian workers either working in private sector or in government can own houses. They have no plans for you; they are coming to tell you false stories. We have said you do not need to have so much money to own a house. Do you want to go back to the old days? (Crowd shouts NO!)
We have plans for employment generation. We know one of the greatest challenges for most governments including Nigeria is to get jobs for our youths but we are not sleeping. So far we have been able to create a number of jobs… I have set up two bodies headed by the Vice President made up of people in government and the private sector. We call them Presidential Job Creation Board and Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Council, working very hard to ensure that every year two million jobs are created. Can somebody who has no plans do that? (Crowd shouts NO!)
Of course we have been told that I have other opportunities. I have many other things to say but people are getting tired … (Crowd shouts NO!, go ahead) … we’d have the opportunity to talk and talk and talk.
Some groups of people have said that you have to vote for your liberation or imprisonment. Some groups of people came, and I read it in the papers, when they see people in government maybe governors, ministers, commissioners and so on … they will say we will draw a line, we are not probing the past because they want to deceive them to get their support.
So they will draw a line and start fighting corruption after they cross the bridge. Only two days ago, somebody stood in Port Harcourt and said he was going to catch people in the streets and throw them into Kirikiri. The same mouth says something from the right, and from the left, making contradicting statements. Can you trust those people? (Crowd shouts NO!) Are they not deceiving you? (Crowd shouts YES!)
They want power by all means and all what they want to use power for is to lock up and imprison their enemies. I have no enemy to fight. My interest is your interest. My interest is the Nigerian interest and for the future generations and young Nigerians to develop. Not to fight enemies. We must stop corruption. I will not stop corruption by catching people, putting them in trailers and dumping them off to be killed. You can’t stop corruption that way. Someone wakes up and he feels he can jail all his enemies and he thinks that is how to fight corruption? I think we have advanced beyond that point.
Somebody wakes up and says ``O, Nigerian women I am going to give you position.’’ And you ask him when you were a Head of Government, you had a cabinet, I have the list of the cabinet members, there was no one single woman. Not even one in the cabinet.
So Nigerian women, you cast your votes and go back to the kitchen and die there or you cast your votes to liberate yourself. The Nigerian women must decide where to cast their votes: you vote and go back to the kitchen and die in the kitchen or you cast your votes to liberate yourself. We are ready to liberate all Nigerian women.
Let me say one more thing and conclude. I read a headline in one paper yesterday: MEND DUMPS JONATHAN… did you read it? (Crowd shouts Yes!)
I am from the Niger Delta. The leader of MEND is one Okah. He is in South African prison. Why is he there? South Africa is not Nigeria where people will say Oh, President (Jonathan) manipulated it. Okah is in the prison because 1st October 2010 when we were to celebrate our independence, our golden year of independence, Okah was procured by some Nigerians to assassinate me. Okah bombed Abuja, but the attempt was to assassinate me and South Africa intelligence system caught him in the plan to assassinate me. He is now in jail in South Africa and they say MEND dumps Jonathan.
Okah that wanted to assassinate Jonathan, will he support Jonathan? (Crowd shouts NO!) I am told that Okah is supporting some people… I am told that Okah who is in a South African prison for killing Nigerians is endorsing some people. Is that the country you want to live in? (Crowd shouts NO!) Count me out.
Let me conclude by thanking all Nigerians, especially Lagosians. Let me sincerely on behalf of my party apologise to you because we are having this rally today so the whole of Lagos is at a standstill. We beg you, we have to do it and we know you love us, will support us and we promise to make sure that… this is the very first government that has supported the industrial sector very well. Ask your brothers and sisters in the private sector, if they are sincere they will say that we have come up with policies that have encouraged commerce and industry.
Government alone cannot employ people. The private sector must grow to create jobs for the people. Bear with us because the PDP government will continue to encourage the private sector to create jobs for Nigerians.
Finally, let me tell all of you especially those of you, who want to go to the National Assembly that we just had a national conference. The document from that conference, because of the controversy we have in the present National Assembly, you know how chaotic the present Assembly is, we know that if you bring that document to the Assembly they will dump it.
So we want to present it to the next Assembly. So those people you are sending, if you mean well for this country, you must vote people who can go to the National Assembly, discuss and adopt that document that our leaders have agreed so that this country can move forward.
I stand today in the city of Lagos, in the south west on behalf of the leader of our party, Alhaji Muazu, the Vice President and all the leaders and promise that if you vote the PDP en masse to the National Assembly and to the Presidency, we will adopt that document so that this country will move forward.
That document is to liberate you, we did not influence it, our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters that are credible came up with it.
Ask them, we did not influence it. I did not ask them to dot any `I’ or cross any `T’ because I have no personal interest. My interest is the Nigerian interest.
It is either we vote to be prisoners as we were- and I will tell you maybe some of you do not know, in 1983, I don’t know for the young people, some of you who are writing all sort of things on the social media. In 1983/84, what they called discipline as a post graduate student instead of reading my book, the whole night I queued up to buy two tins of milk. And they say that is discipline.
So we should make you queue up the whole night as students to buy two tins of milk? Is that the discipline you want? (Crowd shouts NO!)
You must vote for your liberation, you must vote for your development, you must vote to take Nigeria to the moon. You cannot vote to take Nigeria backward.
Leave us who are half dead to bury our dead. You must vote for the progress of this country, you must vote for the Nigerian youth, you must vote for the Nigerian women. PDP!… POWER!
Thank you all.
The Igbo people around the country and South East political zone in particular will ultimately decide who will be next Nigerian president. The arithmetic is quite easy to understand and the only zone that does not necessary connected directly to the main political actors is the South East political zone. There are no Igbo vying to be president or vice president in any of the major political parties in the country. Therefore the process and the interim development empowers SE zone and Ndi-Igbo to be the centre of attraction and the deciding factor in the election.
The political party, be it Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or All Progressive Congress (APC) that is able to convince the Igbo people and South East political zone will definitely, comfortably and reliably win the presidential election in February 2015.
Geography also favours Ndi-Igbo in the fort coming election. The Igbo people are one group in Nigeria that are evenly distributed and naturally placed around the country. There is no state or geo-political zone in Nigeria that Igbo people are not a secondary major group after the indigenous population. The interesting thing is how the Igbo have methodically and assiduously assimilated in every corner of country, living peacefully and comfortably with rest of other groups and fellow Nigerians. The Igbo love of Nigeria and adaptation is pointing to future of Nigeria that is devoid of tribalism and nepotism. As far as Ndi-Igbo are concern the entire Nigeria is home be it north, south, east or west.
With this patriotism and Nigerian –eccentric comes a unique advantage that Igbo people enjoyed in Nigeria more any other group. They participated in all diverse cultures of Nigeria and speak almost all the major languages in Nigeria. At the core of Ndi-Igbo is a true Nigerian that accepts Nigeria as one nation. Therefore in 2015 election, Ndi-Igbo will reap the benefit for residing in every nooks and corners of Nigeria. For the path to victory must go through the contours of Igbo political landscape.
In Northern Nigeria despite the threat of Boko haram, Igbo people are still residing in all major centers of the northern Nigeria and they are fully assimilated and speak Hausa, Fulani and other indigenous northern languages brilliantly. In the south West Igbo people reside populously in Lagos, Ibadan and other parts of south western Nigeria.
No matter the propaganda in the media and on internet, Ndi-Igbo and SE have not made the final decision on who will get their precious votes and support. The battle ground for election decision and victory will not be in the North or South West because both parties PDP and APC have active presence in those regions and in the geo-political zones. Therefore the final battle ground is in South-East political zone; and whichever political party that sweeps the SE area and have the support of majority of Igbo will ultimately win the presidency in the forth coming election.
, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa. www.afripol.org
First and foremost, what do I mean by 21st century Nigeria?
The word 21st century is now ubiquitous and superfluous in any political and economic dialogue but its significance have not diminished nor become pliable.
21st century has been called the century of possibilities and at one point it has been called the African century. The 21st century is anticipated to be a century that Africa will put her house in order and take her place under the sun. Nigeria being the largest economy and most populous in Africa is expected to be in the vanguard.
The antecedent century was marked with African humiliation of conquest by European invaders, swiveled around slavery and colonialism. Therefore with the emerging 21st century, Africans in general and Nigeria in particular must assert themselves with innovative breakthroughs and scientific ideas in high technology, modern education and high standard of living to achieve sustainable freedom and true independent.
All things being equal, it is necessary, if not indispensable that the 21st century Nigeria must be a century of possibilities and political rebirth consolidated with enlightenment and optimum economic development. So, whatever happens in Nigeria politically could determine the sustainability of the country’s progress in 21st century,
Nigeria is gearing and getting ready for an important 2015 election in February. The two rivalry parties, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its major opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC) have finally produced their presidential candidates. The incumbent Nigerian President Jonathan of PDP will be challenged by retired General Buhari of APC.
This is a serious election due to the circumstances that Nigeria found herself. Nigeria has surprise both her friends and foes on her economic and political sustainability especially on her continue existence as a corporate entity. Contrary to the proposition forwarded and propounded by naysayers Nigeria must continue to exist as a united country beyond their 2015 prediction of disillusion and meltdown. That is where the question of leadership comes in; Nigeria needs an intelligent, prudent, reliable, patriot, peaceful and unity conscious leader.
President Jonathan or General Buhari: who is the best candidate suited to be called the leader of 21st century Nigeria and who can lead Nigeria to the promise land. As I have aforementioned Nigeria is in a unique position. Economically speaking and despite the falling oil price, Nigeria has achieved an affirmative and quantifiable macroeconomics stability. Nigeria at the moment is the largest economy in Africa, no matter how you look at it, it is a great achievement. The economy is projected to grow at above 5 percent and inflation rate is below 9 percent and attraction of foreign investments conyinues.
Although, the nosedive of oil price is nibbling on the strength and value of naira due to overvalue US dollar and fervent aggressive currency speculators, the streams of foreign investments have not waned. Nigeria continues to have its low debt ratios which make it attractive to investors and inducement to leverage capital.
On the other side, Nigeria has some traceable and intractable problems with poverty and unemployment. The huge issue of Boko Haram and its destructive tendencies are threat to political stability especially in the north east of Nigeria in particular and the entire northern Nigeria in general.
The triumph over corruption must be comprehensive and long term. The defeat of corruption becomes sustainable when the political and social infrastructures are set up and effectively managed. The civic institutions including the security apparatus, courts and media must be independent and incorruptible. The citizens must be empowered to participate in creating a corrupt free society. The clergy, schools and moral leaders must be employed in the eradicating corruption. Our children and next generation of Nigerian leaders must be taught in schools on how corruption annihilates and minimize the wealth and wellbeing of a nation.
Nigeria needs a leader that understands and formulates economic policy that can be effectively communicate to investors and can be able to speak the language of economics to capitalists and potential investors. Nigeria needs a leader of purpose that can unite the country’s diverse population for the greater good of our country. Nigeria needs a visionary leader that comprehends how the 21st century world works and understands that a local action and decision have an international implication.
"I, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, have accepted to present myself on the platform of the PDP."
1. Four years ago, precisely September 18, 2010; I stood in this Eagle Square, to offer myself for election as the President of our beloved country on the platform of our great party; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
2. Seven months after that declaration, you elected me to lead this country with overwhelming support from all parts of our Nation. I remain grateful for the trust you reposed in me to lead our Nation through uncommon challenges in our march of progress as a united and democratic country.
3. Over the years, the Almighty God has made it possible for me to develop a bond with you and I am grateful for your support and understanding in the difficult periods we have journeyed through.
4. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our stewardship has not been without challenges. We have had to deal with the wave of insurgency that has swept through some parts of our dear country. Only yesterday, Government Science Secondary School in Yobe State was bombed by insurgents, killing our promising young children who were seeking education to build the country and support their parents. Many Nigerians have lost their lives and property to these mindless killings. Let me crave the indulgence of all present here to stand up to observe a minutes silence in honour of these young lads who lost their lives. Clearly, this has cast a dark cloud on our Nation but we will surely win the war against terror. A number of young men and women have been kidnapped by these criminal elements including our daughters from Chibok. We will free our daughters and defeat terrorism.
5. We are equipping the armed forces and deploying special forces to engage the terrorist and end this senseless war. We must protect our country. We must save our people. I will do everything humanly possible to end this criminal violence in our Nation.
6. To ensure the long term stability and development of the affected areas, government has launched three programmes: The Presidential Initiative for the North East, the Victim Support Fund and the Safe School Initiative. The Presidential Initiative for the Northeast is focused on improving infrastructure and economic growth in the region. The Safe School Initiative is centred on creating a safe environment to encourage our children in the communities to acquire education. The Victim Support Fund, a partnership with the Private Sector, has raised about 60 billion Naira, which will help to empower and rehabilitate victims of terror. I promise the victims of these dastardly acts that we will continue to stand with you.
7. I am grateful to all Nigerians for standing with me.
8. Let me also thank the leaders and elders of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, for the opportunity you have given to me to serve our country, Nigeria.
9. I am overwhelmed by the trust, confidence and support of the various organs of our party, the Board of Trustees, the National Caucus, the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee, the PDP Governors Forum, members of the PDP Caucuses of the National Assembly, and others.
10. This day affords me the opportunity to continue the conversation of development we started together.
11. Infrastructure has been a major focus area of my administration and so, we pursued the power sector reform to this point of irreversible progress. Nigeria has undertaken a most transparent and corruption free bidding process, attracting global commendation. The on-going 450MW Azura Power Plant in Edo State is a testimony to the success of this transformation.
12. We have also resumed development of our Hydro-Power potential, with the construction of the 700MW Zungeru Hydro-Power Plant, while construction work on the 3,050MW Mambilla Hydro-Power Plant is about to take off.
13. Our power generation and distribution companies have now been privatized. We are firmly on the road to guaranteed regular power supply in the months ahead. This our bold move, is paying off!
14. We are committed to environmental protection and conservation and reducing vulnerability to climate change. In this regard, we have embarked on a number of projects across the country. Of particular note is theAfricanGreat Green Wall Programmed, where we have released about 16 billionnaira for implementation. The project will create a green belt across 11 states from Kebbi to Borno.
15. In the past three and half years, the water sector has witnessed unprecedented improvement. Access to potable water is now 67%, up from 58% in 2010, while sanitation coverage is 41%, from 32% within the same period.
16. Major developments in water include the completion of 37 Dams and rehabilitation of 10, with several others on-going construction. The flagship Kashimbila Multipurpose Dam which is being built to contain flood from Lake Nyos, is now at 90% completion. We have also completed about 5,000 rural and semi urban water schemes.
17. We are reforming the National Urban Water supply programmes in 12 states, with 385 formal and informal irrigation projects, covering a total land area of 118000 ha, cultivated mostly by small holder farmers. This has yielded over 3 million metric tons of assorted grains and vegetables, with a market value of about 45billion naira.
18. Before the advent of this administration, the Railway system was practically dead. Today, we have revived the rail sector. The narrow gauge line from Lagos to Kano has been rehabilitated with improved coaches providing regular services. The rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maidugurirail line is progressing with the Port Harcourt-Gombe segment as well as the branch line from Kafanchan to Kaduna expected to be completed and fully operational by December 2014.
19. Already, work on the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail line, is progressing. The tracks of the rail line will be completed by December this year 2014. Upon completion of the project in the first quarter of 2015, itwill be possible for Nigerians to live in Kaduna and work in Abuja. The Itape-Ajaokuta-Wari standard gauge line has attained an advanced stage, with the track completely laid. We hope to commence full operation before the end of 2015.
20. Other segments of the new standard gauge speed train network are planned with contract already awarded for the Lagos –Ibadan Segment. There will be more of such modern and faster rail connections in the coming years. Already, discussions are now at advanced stage, for the Coastal rail line that will traverse through 10 states, from Lagos through the South-South and South-East, all the way to Calabar.
21. My administration has successfully completed the dredging of the lower River Niger from Baro in Niger State to Warri in Delta State. The cheering news is that over 6.7 million passengers and over 1.6 million tonnes of cargo have been moved through this channel in less than three years.
22. I am happy to also report that our ports now operate 24 hour service, which has led to the reduction of clearing time and improved efficiency.
23. When I assumed office in 2010, out of the 35,000km of federal roads nationwide, only about 5,000km were motorable. Today, that number has increased to about 25,000km. We expect to complete the remaining 10,000kmin three years while initiating new ones.
24. I made a commitment to build two new major bridges across the River Niger and River Benue. Today, the new bridge over the River Benue, connecting Loko in Nassarawa State to Oweto in Benue State has reached an advance stage of completion, while work has commenced on the Second Niger Bridge.
25. Beyond these, my administration has concluded plans to re-commence the construction of Bodo-Bonny Road with three major bridges on the alignment that will link the Island of Bonny with Rivers mainland.
26. Preliminary works have started on my administration’s planned re-construction and expansion of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road in Lagos to a world class entry point into our country. Only a few months ago, work started on the dualization of Kano-Katsina Road. While many Nigerians are celebrating the marked improvements on our roads, I want to assure that it will get even better as we move forward.
27. In the pursuit of an integrated transportation system, we embarked on the construction of five new Airport Terminal Buildings and Air-field facilities. We are also re-constructing existing ones. The re-construction upon completion, will lead to improved passenger processing, increased cargo handling capacity and enhanced Air-field facilities that meet international standard and improves safety. These efforts have been met with global acknowledgement including the attainment and retention of the FAA Category One status.
28. In housing, we signed the National Housing Policy to kick-start the framework for providing more affordable homes for our people. We have also expanded the National Housing Fund to accommodate more Nigerians. We have started a revolution in the housing sector with the start of the Nigerian Mortgage and Refinanced Company(NMRC) a new initiative of my administration, that will enable more citizens in the lower income bracket to become first time home owners.
29. Our partners such as the World Bank group are supporting this with US300million dollars interest free credit, while my administration will back it with over 100billion naira in bonds. We are already processing 66,000 mortgage applications for our young people. We have amended the PENCOM Act to enable the pension funds invest in housing sector bonds. This will create a boom in the housing sector.
30. In the Federal Capital Territory, we are rapidly building a befitting National Capital by expanding and providing new infrastructure, developing ten new districts and Satellite Towns to cater for the ever increasing population. In no distant future, you will be able to arrive at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and proceed to the city using the Abuja Light Rail. In addition to providing durable health, educational and transportation services, we are also collaborating with Organized Labour to build functional, affordable and social housing in Abuja.
31. Other critical capital developments that are being packaged by this Administration include the development of the Ultra-Modern World Trade Centre, the Abuja Town Centre, the Jabi Lake Comprehensive Centre, the Centenary City and the Land Swap Districts. This private sector driven infrastructural development will positively change the skyline of the city and provide the required office and residential accommodation, shopping and recreation as well as tourism and entertainment facilities of the FCT.
32. In our determination to encourage much greater participation of Nigerians in the oil and gas industry, one of the first actions I took, was the enactment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act. As a result of this law, indigenous Nigerian participation levels, in upstream and downstream activities of the oil and gas industry have increased by over 45%, thereby increasing employment opportunities for our youth.
33. We have also succeeded in eliminating the long queues that previously characterised our filling stations, through regular and sustained product supply.
34. Gas infrastructure to ensure adequate Gas to Power and Gas to Industry, is being aggressively put in place.Over 450km of gas pipelines have been installed over the last 3years. Another 2,000km is planned over the next 4years. Critical petrochemical and fertilizer facilities have commenced including the gas industrial park in Delta State, for which I am scheduled to perform the ground-breaking this Friday. This will create millions of jobs and make Nigeria a regional hub.
35. In addition, as a result of government favourable policies the private sector is investing over 12 billion dollars in the petrochemical sector, over the next 4years. This will surely create millions of jobs for our people.
36. In terms of gas supply, we have grown from less than500million cubic feet per day, 4yearsago, to about1.5 billion cubic feet per day currently. Our goal is to attain 4 billion cubic feet per day, over the next4years.
37. We have changed the face of agriculture. We moved agriculture away from a development Programme to agriculture as a business. My vision is to create wealth for our people through agriculture.
38. We have focused on encouraging the private sector to boost investments in the agricultural sector. As a result, the number of seed companies rose from five to eighty in the past three years. Private sector investment in the agricultural sector expanded by $ US 5.6 billion across the Agricultural value chain.
39. We ended decades of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors. We developed a transparent and efficient system of reaching farmers directly with subsidized farm inputs. Before our reforms, fertilizer procurement and distribution took from the needy and gave to the greedy. We restored dignity back to farmers. Today, 14 million farmers, of which 2 million are women, access fertilizers with their mobile phones, through an e-wallet system. Nigeria is the first country in the world to develop an e-wallet system to reach farmers with subsidized farm inputs on their mobile phones. Several African countries are now borrowing this transparent and efficient e-wallet system for their own countries.
40. Our national food production expanded by an additional 21 million metric tons between 2011 and 2014, a record, exceeding our set target of 20 million metric tons set for 2015.The Dangote Group, has committed to invest $US 1 billion in commercial rice production and processing. With all these developments, we are expected to be an exporter of rice in the next five years. This will be a new dawn!
41. The benefits are showing on our food imports. Our food import bill has declined from 1.1 trillion Nairain 2009 to 684 billion Naira by December 2013, even with our increasing population, a reduction of 40%.
42. Nigeria met its Millennium Development Goal One on reducing hunger and extreme poverty, two years ahead of 2015 target set by the United Nations, and was given an award by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
43. To sustain this trend, we are encouraging young graduates through the Nagropreneurs Programme to go into commercial Agriculture. We are also encouraging our students in Post Primary Schools to embrace commercial Agriculture through the National School Agriculture Programme.
44. My dear people, corruption remain a big challenge in our national life. It corrodes our efforts at development and at motivating competence in critical sectors of our national growth. We have eradicated it in the agricultural sector and we will surely eradicate it in other sectors of our economy.
45. Going forward, my focus is to continue to reinforce institutions, systems, and processes to tackle corruption, and also to bring to justice those that perpetrate corruption. Through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System(IPPIS), we have weeded out 56,000 ghost workers from the Federal Civil Service, saving 162 billion naira.
46. I have directed ICPC to bring the perpetrators of this criminal act to book. Let this be very clear, public officers must live by example, fully accounting for the national trust and resources in their care.
47. In our journey to progress, knowledge is indispensable. Knowledge is power! This is why my administration established 14 new Universities out of which 12 are conventional and two are specialized Police and Maritime Universities. Under my watch, every state in Nigeria, now has a Federal University.
48. In addition, over 500billion naira have been spent, through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the special NEEDS assessment fund on various projects to increase access and improve the quality of infrastructure at the tertiary level of our education system.
49. To provide equal access and opportunities in education and ensure that no Nigerian child is left behind, we have established and equipped 150 Almajiri Schools across the Northern states and the Out-of-School-Children Programme including Specialized Boys and Girls Schools across the country.
50. Fellow Nigerians, our country was faced with a major National security, humanitarian, and economic threat in the form of the Ebola Virus Disease, which arrived in the country on July 20, 2014, by way of a foreign national, Mr Patrick Sawyer.
51. Realizing the imminent threat, I declared a national emergency, pulling states, local and federal government into action as well as individual Nigerians to combat this disease. Without the quick action of patriotic Nigerians in the First Consultant Hospital, as well as the co-operation of Lagos and Rivers State, where the disease occurred, working with the Federal Ministry of Health and the co-operation of all Nigerians we could not have succeeded in overcoming this deadly disease. Fellow Nigerians we stopped Ebola together.
52. Just as we stopped Ebola, we are on our way to eradicating the Polio Virus in our country. We have reduced the incident of new Polio Virus from 300 in 2010, to 6 today.
53. My brothers and sisters, to encourage entrepreneurship and self-reliance among our teeming graduates, we have developed creative opportunities for enterprise for our young people.
54. Programmes such as YouWIN, the Graduate Internship Scheme, the Nagropreneurs Initiative, the220 Billion Naira Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund and the 3 Billion Naira Grant to Nollywood are empowering our graduates, the creative industry and other young people to start up their own businesses and employ others.
55. We have supported the growth of industry through policy and action. We launched The National industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), and the National Enterprise Development Programme as key drivers to bring about our desires in the industrial sectors and to diversify our economy. Our new National Automobile Policy is transforming Nigeria into a vibrant hub for the automobile industry. Our own Innoson Motors is producing world standard vehicles, and Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia, have set up factories in Nigeria and are employing thousands of our people.
56. Our support for cement production is unprecedented. We have increased our installed capacity from 16.5 million metric tons per annum in 2011 to 39.5 million metric tons per annum in 2014. Nigeria is now exporting cement. We are moving forward! We must produce what we consume and consume what we produce.
57. Our efforts to create an enabling environment for job creation in different sectors of the economy including the MSME sector, agriculture, housing and manufacturing have yielded results. Between the third quarter of 2012, when we started tracking jobs created and the end of 2013, 1.9 million jobs were created. To deepen our success in this area, I have created a Presidential Jobs Creation Board headed by the Vice President with the mandate to create at least two million jobs a year.
58. My brothers and sisters, our economy is heading in the right direction and our efforts are yielding positive results. Our economy continues to grow at the rate of 6 to 7 percent annually, one of the highest in the world. Our country is now the top investment destination and the largest economy in Africa, with a GDP of 80trillion naira (510billion dollars) as well as the 26thlargest economy in the world.
59. As part of its efforts to support inclusive growth and economic development in Nigeria through the CBN, my administration has created and disbursed the sum of 200billion naira via the Commercial Agric and Credit scheme, 300billion naira Power and Aviation fund, 220billion naira Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Fund, as well as 300 billion naira rail sector refinancing facilities at single digit interest rate. We will continue to deepen the reforms in the financial sector, in order to sustain the growth of our economy and uplift our people from poverty to prosperity.
60. Dear Compatriots, I promised as President, that we would sanitize and restore integrity in our electoral process, by ensuring that our votes are not only counted, but truly count. We have gone to great length to ensure transparent, free, fair, and credible elections. Elections have been conducted across the country with local and international election observers testifying to their transparency.
61. On the international scene, we have advanced our regional, continental and global objectives. We have strengthened our relationships with our neighbours and in many instances supported them to protect their democracy, security and stability. We are serving for a second time within a period of 4years at the United Nations Security Council. This is unprecedented in our Nation’s history. My brothers and sister, this is a growing attestation of our country’s growing influence.
62. In the first quarter of this year, our country celebrated its centenary. To prepare the nation for the challenges of the next one hundred years, I convened a National Conference where recommendations and resolutions were reached towards a more perfect union. We shall implement the report.
63. Four years ago, I made a commitment to advance the rise and rise of womanhood. Today, I am glad that we have made remarkable progress in this regard, trusting in the potential of our women and reaping from their dedication and ingenuity. I believe that any nation that ignores womanhood cannot achieve its full potential. It is in this regard that I ensured that women were given more opportunities in government, and I have not been disappointed.
64. Specifically, I doubled the percentage of women in the cabinet and gave them more challenging assignments.
65. The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), is now admitting female cadets as regular combatants and it is now possible for a woman to rise through the ranks to the peak in military service, and become a full general.
66. We must continue to sustain the banner of freedom and justice that we have held high in our country. I am proud to say that there are no political prisoners in Nigeria today. No Nigerian has been driven to exile and no one will be, under my watch.
67. It is in furtherance of a peaceful, participatory and inclusive democracy that I signed the Freedom of Information (FOI)Bill into law, to expand the frontiers of our fundamental freedom.
68. Let me re-affirm that under a Jonathan Presidency, your views, no matter how freely expressed, will not send you to prison or into exile.
69. I am convinced that I have kept my pact with Nigerians, and it is now time to look to the future. With your tremendous support, we have collectively done so much in the last three and half years, but to take our country to the next level, there is still more to be done.
70. History has shown that the path of honour for any true leader is not to walk away from his people in moments of challenges. We must stand together in adversity and overcome all threats to our development. We must defend our future, for the sake of our children.
71. So many things have inspired me in the journey to this moment. I want to appreciate ordinary Nigerians, especially young people, for the solidarity shown to me by contributing their meagre resources to enable me arrive at this point.
72. I appreciate the kind gesture of the Cattle Breeders Union, Miyetti Allah, and the Market Women Association, who encouraged me by coming together to contribute to the purchase of my Nomination form.
73. In the same vein, I am touched by the National Association of Widows who also encouraged me with their widow’s mite.
74. This labour of love, from ordinary Nigerians, has increased my appreciation of your solidarity, my trust in our joint destiny, and all we have achieved together these past three and half years.
75. Therefore, after seeking the face of God, in quiet reflection with my family and having listened to the call of our people nationwide to run, I, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, have accepted to re-present myself, on the platform of The Peoples’ Democratic Party, for re-election as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the 2015 general elections.
76. Democracy is a collective action, energized by individual responsibility. Your mandate at this time will inspire in me the strength to complete the good work we have started together.
77. My dear people of Nigeria, we must complete the task of ensuring that we lift the poor out of the depth of want, and place their feet firmly on the ladder of prosperity.
78. In this election season, I appeal to all of you, not to harm, maim or kill; and not to incite violence of any kind. We must never forget our common bond, one people from the womb of one Nigeria. Again I say: My ambition to serve you is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. I remain committed to this principle of non-violence.
79. If you believe that we must build a country that works for all, where the strong lift up the weak, and not trample upon them, where the vote of every citizen determines who governs or represents you, where the democratic space is open to all citizens to fulfil their aspirations, irrespective of the circumstance of birth, your brother, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan stands ready to continue in service to you.
80. My brothers and sisters, we cannot go back to the old ways! Our railways were allowed to rot in neglect, we have revived and are modernising them.
81. We cannot go back to the old ways! Our road infrastructure collapsed. We are reconstructing, and expanding federal roads across the country.
82. We cannot go back to the old ways! Our airport terminal buildings were dilapidated and our airspace unsafe. We are fixing this.
83. We cannot go back to the old ways! Our agricultural practices did not benefit our farmers and our people. Fertilizer distribution was a major source of fraud and we were importing food more than our budget can carry. Now we are on our way to self-sufficiency in food production.
84. Do you want to go back to the old ways?
85. We cannot go back to the old ways, where there were long queues at our filling stations due to irregular supply of products and our people were exploited.
86. We cannot go back to the old ways, when women and youths were denied opportunities in government and in responsible positions.
87. Do you want to go back to the old ways?
88. We cannot go back to the old ways! We had skewed distribution of tertiary institutions. Whereas some states had more than one degree awarding institution, some had none. We have now made sure all states have at least one Federal University.
89. We cannot go back to the old ways! Our economy is now the largest in Africa. Once, we were virtually importing everything, now we are exporting several products, including cement.
90. We cannot go back to the old ways! In 2009, average life expectancy was 47 years, by the end of 2013, it was 52 years. Some of our hospitals now perform open heart surgeries, kidney transplants and other challenging operations as we reposition our health service to end decades of medical tourism that drains our scarce resources.
91. We cannot go back to the old ways! Together, in unity, we overcame Ebola, and in the process demonstrated the strength of the Nigerian spirit. And together, united, we must maintain our vigilance.
92. Do you want to go back to the old ways?
93. We cannot go back to the old ways where individual freedoms were trampled upon and citizens were locked up for expressing their views or criticising government.
94. Do you want to go back to the old ways?
95. We cannot go back to the old ways! We must continue to have free and fair elections. We cannot go back to the era where box snatching ballot and stuffing became the norm. Where your votes never counted.
96. Certainly, we cannot!
97. We have to move forward! Only forward!!, my dear people, Forward!!!
98. In moving forward, I see a Nigeria that thirsts for progress with children across the nation, eager for knowledge and safely in schools!
99. I see a Nigeria where all who have taken up arms, would again embrace peace!
100. I see a Nigeria where our women can aspire to any heights, without hindrance!
101. I see a Nigeria where the flames in the Eagles will rekindle, and the Falcons soaring higher in victory!
102. I see a Nigeria where the children of Mustapha, and Christopher, Ade and Ada,Timi and Bunmi, Nnamdi and Namadi, do not go hungry!
103. I see a Nigeria where all, no matter their beliefs, live in peace and harmony!
104. I see a Nigeria where the green passport is accorded a royal reception the world over!
105. I see a Nigeria where one day the next generation will take us to outer space.
106. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, leadership is about staying focused to achieve goals despite challenges. I have been faced with many challenges since coming to office as President. With your support and encouragement, we have stayed the course.
107. We are succeeding, against all odds. For the young Nigerian child, who grew up in the rural area, just like me, we are expanding opportunities and giving them hope. For the market woman, we are expanding opportunities. For our young entrepreneurs, we are expanding opportunities. For the right of our people to vote and for their voices to be heard, we are expanding opportunities. For Nigerians to have the right to free speech, we are expanding opportunities. For the job seekers, against all odds, we are expanding opportunities.
108. While serving our people, I will always ensure the rule of law. I do not intimidate, I expand the democratic space. I give voice to the voiceless and uphold the weak, for the nation belongs to us all. Fellow Nigerians, as we build our democracy, leaders must show temperance at all times. That is a virtue, one which I treasure, and will always uphold.
109. My people, Nigeria is destined for greatness. Today, here at Eagle Square, I say to Nigeria, that working together in love, in strength and in faith, we will build a nation of one people, united in purpose and in action.
110. Fellow Nigerians, it is forward ever! We must put our hopes to work! Together, we will realize our collective destiny.
111. Thank you!!
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, 2014 Independence Day Broadcast, Wednesday 1st October, 2014
1. Today marks the 54th anniversary of our country’s independence as a sovereign nation. This is also the tenth month of our journey into a new century, having marked the centenary of our nation in January this year.
2. The first one hundred years were marked by triumphs and tribulations, benefits and burdens, opportunities and challenges. We made some far reaching advances in building a strong, united and prosperous nation. We also overcame the forces of disunity that culminated in a debilitating civil war. We have also renewed our faith in one another, and in our country. We have proven that we are truly a resilient nation. 3. In my address to the nation last year, I did emphasize that we were in a sober moment in our country. We are still in that mood in spite of the many accomplishments of our administration. Our sombreness has to do with the crises of nationhood occasioned by the activities of terrorist elements who have done the unimaginable to challenge our unity as a people.
4. On an occasion like this, it is important that we remember all the precious souls that have been lost in the unprecedented war of terror unleashed on some parts of our country by these individuals who want to compel us to live our lives their way. They will not succeed!
5. In their mission, they have maimed and raped. They have killed men, women and children, rendering many children orphans and several women widows.
6. They have made violence their ideology and are bent on destroying our country. Dear countrymen and women, we will not allow them.
7. Night after night, day after day, our security forces continue to engage the terrorists in battle. My gratitude goes out to our armed forces whose will has been greatly challenged by this insurgency more than any other time, since the civil war.
8. Yet, they have remained undaunted and unwearied in the face of constant challenge and mortal danger. Driven by patriotic zeal, they are turning the tide by their prowess and determination. As Commander-in-Chief, I will continue to do all it takes to enable them to keep on inflicting devastating blows at the heart of terror. Fellow Nigerians, it is our collective duty as patriots to avail our men and women in uniform of all the support they need to fight and win this war.
9. This Administration is committed to making Nigeria safe for all Nigerians, irrespective of our places of birth, how we worship God and our political persuasion. To all those waging war against our country, I ask that you lay down your arms and embrace peace.
10. To those who have genuine grievances, I affirm that Nigeria will listen to you, if you bring your grievances to the table of dialogue. To the good people of Nigeria, let me restate that our task of building a better and greater country must not waver.
11. While we continue to deploy our resources in the fight against the terrorists, we do recognize the great toll the conflict is taking on our people.
12. This is why, to assist the afflicted, we have launched the Victims Support Fund, an independent multi-sectoral charity, which will aggressively solicit resources to augment Government’s statutory intervention, in bringing succour to the injured, the displaced and the bereaved. 13. In partnership with Nigerian business leaders and international partners, we have also introduced the Safe Schools Initiative which is aimed at promoting safe environments for education nationwide, starting with the North East region. 14. The Presidential Initiative for the North East, a comprehensive programme to fast-track the economic restoration of this region, which has been the epicentre of terrorist activity, has been set up.
15. Our overall objective is to do all we possibly can, to sustain in the North-East, the momentum of economic advancement, which is on-going in other parts of the country, despite the machinations of the terrorists and their sponsors.
16. It should now be clear to anyone who was ever in doubt that these terrorists do not mean well for anyone, of whatever religion or dispensation. Their persistent choice of the weakest and most vulnerable in society, for gruesome attack, provides an insight into their abnormal mind-set.
17. I urge every Nigerian to put aside political, sectional or other parochial considerations, and support whole-heartedly the efforts of the government and the military, in checking this evil.
18. We are grateful to the international community, and especially our neighbours who are working closely with us in confronting this challenge, for their increased partnership and solidarity. Our steady progress in weakening the insurgency has certainly justified our cooperation.
19. Fellow Nigerians, in my independence anniversary address last year, I informed you that we had taken cognizance of the suggestion over the years by well-meaning Nigerians on the need to focus attention on rebuilding and strengthening the ligaments of our union. It was in that regard that we announced the convening of a National Dialogue on the future of our beloved country.
20. We have successfully delivered on that promise as we established the 2014 National Conference headed by Justice Legbo Kutigi. After months of deliberations, which did not come without its challenges, the conference concluded its assignment and has handed its Report to me.
21. I have made a firm commitment that we would act on the recommendations of the conference. This, I have started by setting up the Ministerial Committee headed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to work out the modalities for implementing the Report. Every promise I make, God willing, I will see to its fulfilment. I assure you, we shall implement the report.
22. One major lesson which the 2014 National Conference has taught us as a country is that, a multi-ethnic country like ours, must learn to embrace painstaking dialogue until consensus is established.
23. To me, the National Conference is the greatest centenary gift to our country that we must cherish and sustain.
24. Fellow Nigerians, our 54 year-journey as a nation has not been easy. There have been tough periods, but the Nigerian spirit and the unflagging resilience of our people have seen us through. We will continue to march forward to greater heights.
25. We have been able to sustain a big, strong and influential country with a robust economy. We are currently in our sixteenth year of uninterrupted democratic rule, daily improving on the consolidation of our democratic process.
26. Our Administration has made a commitment to ensure that we build and sustain a democratic infrastructure anchored on free and fair elections. International and local observers have attested to the positive evolution of electoral credibility and we cannot afford to relent. 27. We will continue to ensure that the will of the electorate prevails so that political leaders would be reminded at all times that there is a day of reckoning when they have to go back to the people at the polls. Election days must not be days of violence and death. We must remain vigilant to ensure that our electoral process is characterised by peace, security and transparency.
28. I enjoin the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), all security agencies, politicians and the electorate to work conscientiously and peacefully, together, to consolidate on the gains of the recent elections. Free and fair elections have come to stay; nothing else will be acceptable to our people.
29. My dear countrymen and women, occasions such as this present an opportunity to thank God for our country and to report to you, on our journey so far.
30. Our power sector reform is on course with the ultimate objective of generating enough electricity to power our homes, industries and businesses. We are making giant strides in the Agricultural Sector which we are re-positioning to diversify our economy. We will continue to upgrade our infrastructure to make life easier for all and create an enabling environment for enterprise to flourish.
31. Over the last four years, the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act in the Oil and Gas Sector has ensured major increase in the participation of indigenous Oil and Gas companies in the industry. Several critical infrastructure projects have been commissioned and commenced. The level of indigenous asset ownership has greatly increased and utilisation of Nigerian-owned and built assets such as marine vessels and rigs is being progressively enforced.
32. There has been maximised local value addition by encouraging the manufacture of equipment components and parts within the country. There has also been massive growth in indigenous participation in the provision of goods and services to the upstream sector from 10% to 60% within the last four years.
33. Today, following the rebasing of our economy, every international monitoring and ratings agency now acknowledges Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa, with a Gross Domestic Product of five hundred and ten billion dollars ($510 billion) which also places us as the 26th largest economy in the world. This is progress.
34. Earlier in the year, we launched the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) with the stated objective of fast tracking inclusive growth, job creation, enterprise development and industrialisation.
35. The success of these policies is already evident in the increased value addition in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
36. In line with our objective of encouraging the production of made-in-Nigeria vehicles and making Nigeria a regional hub for the automobile industry, a number of foreign auto manufacturers have established plants in Nigeria, complementing the laudable efforts of our local vehicle manufacturers who have also demonstrated great innovation and competitiveness.
37. We have also launched a special support programme for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises with an initial intervention fund of two hundred and twenty billion naira (N220 b). This is in addition to the Presidential Job Creation Board which I inaugurated recently with the charge to create three million jobs annually.
38. In demonstration of our Administration’s commitment to addressing Nigeria’s housing deficit, we have commenced the new mortgage re-finance programme with the establishment of the Nigerian Mortgage Re-finance Company. It is expected that, in addition to creating additional housing units across the country, this initiative also represents a huge job creation opportunity.
39. We have recorded notable success in the social sector. Nigeria has been globally acknowledged for reducing extreme hunger by more than half, with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) formally presenting the country with an award for achieving the Millennium Development Goal on Hunger three years ahead of the 2015 target date set for the Millennium Development Goals.
40. This progress is as a result of the deliberate policy of government to increase capacity in our agricultural sector of which the first step was to address and eliminate the graft in our fertilizer procurement system and ensure that the product gets directly to the farmer. We are expanding our irrigation infrastructure to ensure that our farmers have sufficient water supply for dry season farming.
41. A benefit of these combined actions is that our national food import bill has declined from 1.1 trillion naira (6.9 billion dollars) in 2009 to 684.7 billion naira (4.35 billion dollars) by December 2013, and continues to decline.
42. Modern hybrid schools are being provided for less privileged children across the country, resulting in significant increase in the national school enrolment figure
43. In order to further enhance access to education at the tertiary level, fourteen new Federal Universities have been established; and, to encourage persons of exceptional abilities, our Administration has also introduced a Presidential Scholarship Scheme based strictly on excellence and merit.
44. On infrastructure, we are building roads, bridges, and new rail lines to make it easier to traverse Nigeria and increase the integration of our people and our ability to do business with each other. In this regard, we have commenced the process of building the Second Niger Bridge. The Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue in Nasarawa and Benue States, will significantly reduce travel time by road between Northern and Southern Nigeria. The on-going dredging of the River Niger up to Baro in Niger State is opening up large parts of the Nigerian hinterland to maritime activity.
45. The Zungeru and Mambilla Hydro-electric power projects are on course, and the Kashimbilla dam which we started a few years ago, is nearing completion. The successful privatisation of our power sector will in the long run enhance industrial growth. Policies such as this and others have raised Nigeria to the enviable status of being the number one recipient of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa in the past year.
46. The result of this infrastructure drive is that two and a half million jobs have been created over the past two years. This is a record, which we are committed to improve upon to continue to provide jobs for our youth.
47. An unprecedented number of Airports across the country, are not only being reconstructed at the same time, but being re-equipped and reassessed with emphasis on maintaining global standards. 48. Fellow Nigerians, the goals we set to achieve for our country involve expanding the frontiers of economic freedom. Let us therefore unite with one heart and one mind. All our people must have access to the good things of life. All our people must be empowered to pursue the gift of life with happiness. This is our country; we must build it for our common posterity.
49. As we move into an election year, desperate moves to overheat the polity are becoming a regular occurrence. Our political leaders in particular must know that the contest for power should not translate to the destruction of the polity.
50. The contest for the leadership of our country must yield good governance, and not ungovernable spaces. The love of country should rank higher than our individual ambitions.
51. We must remain committed to a united and indivisible Nigeria within democratic parameters. The protection of individual rights, liberty, equality before the law, freedom of thought, and a progressive pursuit of a sound economy must be our goal.
52. I cannot end this address without commenting on the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which was sadly brought into our country recently. My directives to the Federal Ministry of Health saw the ministry leading the charge in curtailing the spread of this deadly scourge and managing its impact. This is how it should be: swift, effective and comprehensive action in defence of citizens.
53. It must be pointed out that the Ebola battle is still raging elsewhere in our sub-region. I therefore enjoin all our citizens to continue to adhere strictly to all the guidelines that have been given by our health officials to keep Ebola out of our country.
54. I appreciate and welcome the spirit of collaboration, unity and partnership with which we confronted the threat of the Ebola Virus Disease. I thank all Nigerians for working together to prevent what could have become a major epidemic. I particularly thank the medical personnel, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.
55. This is the spirit which we must demonstrate at all times as we face up to our challenges as a nation: one people, united by a common resolve, in the pursuit of one common national interest.
56. As we look forward to another year in our national life, I am more than confident that our tomorrow will be better than our yesterday and today. Nigeria has got the human and material resources to excel and we shall lead the way in that journey to our manifest destiny.
57. Fellow countrymen, brothers and sisters, in all our plans, and in all our words and our actions, we must stand together in love and unity, as one people under God.
58. We are one people from the womb of one Nigeria. We are brothers and sisters. We are one family. We are Nigerians.
59. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The broadcast was made in Abuja, Nigeria Federal Capital Terriotory.
Last month, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan answering criticism of his response to the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by the group Boko Haram. This is what Jonathan should have written.
I have remained quiet about Nigeria's continuing efforts to find the girls kidnapped in April from the northern town of Chibok, because, honestly, I hoped the world would ignore it as just another "African tragedy."
But the attention brought by the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign forced my administration to abandon its usual do-nothing strategy. I admit that for weeks, the Nigerian military was nowhere to be seen in Chibok and aggrieved parents had to resort to venturing into the jungle on foot to search for their children. But I assure everyone, we are doing our best.
I am speaking out now because national elections are in less than a year and my Washington PR firm needs to earn the reported $1.2 million I am paying it.
I wish to assure Nigerians and the international community that, even though my military wrapped up its investigation into the kidnappings without locating the girls, we are sparing no resources. We will keep the findings of the investigation secret, since my good-faith assurances are enough.
My heart aches for the missing children and their families. In fact, my heartache was so painful that I canceled plans to visit Chibok. Instead, I eased my pain by flying to Paris for a national security summit. My first lady, Patience Jonathan, shares in my grief for the families affected by the tragedy. She was so troubled by the agitation of protesters demanding their girls back that she told them to stop their actions and allegedly ordered the police to detain several protest leaders.
While terrorism knows no borders, and security threats rage across West Africa, Nigeria has long been reluctant to accept counterterrorism assistance from the United States and other partners. Nothing is more important than stopping the machinations of Boko Haram, except maybe my desire to keep up appearances and show the international community that Nigeria has been winning the war against the group. I have characterized Boko Haram as a temporary scourge. In the wake of recent attacks and kidnappings of more women, I recognize that the group has effectively exploited the inability of the Nigerian military to put up any semblance of a sustained, coordinated response. Despite the challenges, we definitely are doing our best.
Though Nigeria is a regional powerhouse with a population of more than 170 million, until now it had not occurred to me to collaborate with neighboring countries to fight terrorism. I wish to thank French President Francois Hollande for inviting me and other West African presidents to Paris to discuss this. When it comes to strategizing on African solutions to African problems, a European should take the lead. Besides, I do my best thinking in Paris.
My critics say that decades of neglect have led to conditions amenable to radicalization in the north. My detractors will point to human rights abuses perpetrated by the military. Let the finger-pointing stop. I propose to set up an international summit to organize a fact-finding commission of investigative inquiry to study the progress of ongoing investigations of corruption and lack of development in the north. I have asked Hollande to provide a forum for this in Paris, though I would accept the French Riviera.
Something positive can come out of the kidnappings in April. The world has seen what can happen when terrorism is left to run amok and the citizens of a country have little faith in the ability of their government to protect them. But I wish to assure Nigerians and the rest of the world that I am doing my best.
Karen Attiah works in The Washington Post's editorial department.
I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria’s military, police and investigators to find the girls kidnapped in April from the town of Chibok by the terrorist group Boko Haram. I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness.
My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation. But let me state this unequivocally: My government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice. On my orders, our forces have aggressively sought these killers in the forests of northern Borno state, where they are based. They are fully committed to defending the integrity of their country.
My heart aches for the missing children and their families. I am a parent myself, and I know how awfully this must hurt. Nothing is more important to me than finding and rescuing our girls.
Since 2010, thousands of people have been killed, injured, abducted or forced by Boko Haram, which seeks to overwhelm the country and impose its ideology on all Nigerians. My government is determined to make that impossible. We will not succumb to the will of terrorists.
The abduction of our children cannot be seen as an isolated event. Terrorism knows no borders. This month, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Britain and the United States established an External Intelligence Response Unit to share security information on such threats in West Africa. I propose that we build on this step to establish an enduring, worldwide commitment to destroying terrorism and those who finance or give safe haven to the terrorists.
In September, I will urge the U.N. General Assembly to establish a U.N.-coordinated system for sharing intelligence and, if necessary, special forces and law enforcement to confront terrorism wherever it occurs.
In Nigeria, there are political, religious and ethnic cleavages to overcome if we are to defeat Boko Haram. We need greater understanding and outreach between Muslims and Christians. We also know that, as it seeks to recruit the gullible, Boko Haram exploits the economic disparities that remain a problem in our country. We are addressing these challenges through such steps as bringing stakeholders together and creating a safe schools initiative, a victims’ support fund and a presidential economic recovery program for northeastern Nigeria. We are also committed to ridding our country of corruption and safeguarding human and civil rights and the rule of law.
Something positive can come out of the situation in Nigeria: most important, the return of the Chibok girls, but also new international cooperation to deny havens to terrorists and destroy their organizations wherever they are — whether in the forests of Nigeria, on the streets of New York or sanctuaries in Iraq or Pakistan. Those who value humanity , civilization and the innocence of children can do no less.
Goodluck Jonathan is president of Nigeria.
His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, spoke at the Inauguration of the National Conference Monday, 17th March, 2014.
1. I am delighted to welcome you all to the inauguration of this historic National Conference which promises to be another significant landmark in our efforts to strengthen national unity and consolidate democratic governance in our beloved country.
2. I also believe that this National Conference is coming at a very appropriate time. Having just celebrated the first centenary of our country, the most compelling task before us, as we move ahead and contemplate what our nation will be at the end of its second century, is to lay a much stronger foundation for faster development.
3. This we can achieve by building a more inclusive national consensus on the structure and guiding principles of state that will guarantee our emergence as a more united, progressive and prosperous nation.
4. In our history as a political entity, we have experienced highs and lows but have always forged ahead. To my mind, the fact that we have weathered all storms and continued with the mission of evolving a truly national identity signifies that we are going in the right direction.
5. The strongest nations in the world today also went through their own formative stages; some for decades and others for centuries. We must learn from them that nationhood will not happen overnight, especially given the circumstances of our birth as a nation.
6. History also teaches that nation-building is a journey of dedication, commitment, diligence, perseverance and patriotic vision. To be successful, nation-builders must continually strive to evolve better and more inclusive societies in which every citizen is a proud and committed stakeholder.
7. It was with this objective in mind that we set up the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) on the National Conference in October last year and charged its members with the responsibility of designing the framework and modalities for a productive National Conference.
8. The Committee which submitted its Report in December, 2013, was able to reach out to all Nigerians and various interest groups, socio-political groupings, regional and religious elements, professionals, civil society, the organised private sector, labour, youth, women and others to ascertain their views on the initiative.
9. The Presidential Advisory Committee established that there was indeed, a national consensus for this Conference to be convened immediately, to meet the yearnings and aspirations of our people.
10. The National Conference is therefore being convened to engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and to chart the best and most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all the constituent parts of our fatherland.
11. This coming together under one roof to confer and build a fresh national consensus for the amicable resolution of issues that still cause friction amongst our people must be seen as an essential part of the process of building a more united, stronger and progressive nation.
12. We cannot continue to fold our arms and assume that things will straighten themselves out in due course, instead of taking practical steps to overcome impediments on our path to true nationhood, rapid development and national prosperity.
13. For many years we have discussed and argued over various issues concerning our national existence and well-being. Much of this national discourse has been conducted through the mass media, both print and electronic. More recently, the advent of the age of ICT and social media has greatly enlarged the space for the discussion of our country’s future.
14. Many more young and articulate Nigerians who previously had little access to the traditional mass media have now joined the conversation, motivated by patriotic concern for good governance, peace, stability, justice, equity, fairness and the harmonious co-existence of the diverse groups that make up our great nation.
15. Dear Compatriots, my administration is convening this National Conference today because we believe that we must assume responsibility for ensuring that the long-running national debate on the best way forward for our country is not in vain.
16. It is our expectation that participants in this conference will patriotically articulate and synthesize our peoples’ thoughts, views and recommendations for a stronger, more united, peaceful and politically stable Nigeria, forge the broadest possible national consensus in support of those recommendations, and strive to ensure that they are given the legal and constitutional backing to shape the present and the future of our beloved fatherland.
17. In inaugurating this national conference today, we are not unmindful of the argument of those who say that we do not need such a conference since we already have an elected Parliament and an elected Government in place.
18. As cogent as that argument may sound, I have chosen to act on the sincere conviction that in the truly democratic nation we are striving to build, we must never ignore the loudly expressed views of the majority of ordinary Nigerians.
19. I have heard that majority say, that we need to rebuild trust by involving them in the process of developing a guiding document of our national political relationships which is more acceptable to all sections of the country. I have heard our people say that we need to openly and frankly discuss our problems and seek acceptable solutions instead of allowing them to fester and remain sources of perennial conflict.
20. I have also heard them say that, as the elected representatives of our people, we must never arrogate to ourselves all knowledge and wisdom regarding the development of our country.
21. And I am in full agreement with our people. The power we hold is, without question, in trust for the people. Sovereignty belongs to the people. Their voices must be heard and factored into every decision we take on their behalf.
22. This National Conference is a very important avenue for the voices of our people to be heard. Our people have yearnings and desires that need to be discussed. Their representatives at this conference are neither usurping the role of the National Assembly nor the Executive. They are complementing us in our march towards a greater and stronger union.
23. Over the years, well-meaning Nigerians have drawn attention to inadequacies in our current constitution. Some have described it as a military-inspired document which does not take into full consideration the genuine desires and wishes of the people.
24. The phrase in the preamble that says "we, the people," has been variously criticised as being misleading because, according to the critics, the constitution was not written by the people. There are also those who believe that the constitution is not our problem but the political will to faithfully implement it for the peace and progress of Nigeria.
25. While opinions on the matter can be as diverse as rain showers, I believe that irrespective of our personal views on the issue, no one can deny the fact that every constitution is a living document that needs to be revised and improved upon from time to time. The United States, which is the model democracy in the eyes of many, has amended its constitution 27 times since it was first adopted in 1787.
26. Some of our compatriots also believe that because we have held several conferences in the past, we do not need to hold another one. I do not share that view at all.
27. A deeper look will reveal that the challenges we faced before each of the preceding national conferences were different. The challenges of 1956 are certainly not the challenges of 2014, and definitely not the challenges that the nation will face in years to come. It makes sense, therefore, that as the challenges before us evolve, we must be constant and proactive in our search for fresh solutions. We cannot continue to proffer yesterday's solutions for today's problems.
28. This conference is open for us to table our thoughts and positions on issues, and make recommendations that will advance our togetherness. The issues range from form of government, structures of government, devolution of powers, revenue sharing, resource control, state and local government creation, boundary adjustment, state police and fiscal federalism, to local government elections, indigeneship, gender equality and children’s rights, amongst others.
29. We must not approach these issues with suspicion and antagonism. Rather, we should be open-minded and work to achieve what is best for Nigeria. Even though you come to the Conference as nominees and representatives of different interest groups, I urge you all to make a more united, stronger, indivisible and prosperous Nigeria your preoccupation and reference point at this national gathering. Whatever the pressures on you may be, I call upon you to put the best interest of Nigeria before all other sectional or group interests.
30. Indeed, I am quite worried when I hear people say that some participants in this National Conversation are coming here to defend and promote ethnic or clannish agenda. It is very regrettable that there are persons who believe that we cannot undertake any collective task in our country without the hindrance of ethnic rivalry even after 100 years of nationhood.
31. This conference gives us an opportunity to prove such persons wrong and I believe it will. As we start a new century of nationhood, we have an obligation to reshape and redirect our country for the benefit of our children. There should be no room for divisive cleavages and ethnic jingoism. There should be no room for selfish considerations that defeat the purpose of national progress. There should be room only for the national interest.
32. In the 60s, our country was ranked along with some developing countries including India, Malaysia and South Korea. Today, those countries have moved far ahead of us in several areas. My expectation is that the outcome of this Conference will be a positive turning point for our country’s development. We must seize this opportunity to cement the cleavages and fault lines that tend to separate us. We must re-launch our country.
33. I know the task before you is onerous; but there must be only one winner, and there can only be one winner if we do everything right, and that winner must be Nigeria. I urge you therefore to focus strictly on the Nigerian Agenda.
34. I expect that, as persons of integrity and honour, you will do nothing in this Conference that will undermine our efforts and desire to build a truly great nation. I also expect that your discussions will be informed only by the noblest of instincts and persuasions.
35. Our sole motivation for convening this conference is the patriotic desire for a better and greater nation. We are determined that things must be done in a way and manner that will positively advance that objective.
36. While we recognise that groups and communities are the building blocks of our nation, we must also emphasise that we need one another to build the solid and prosperous country of our dreams.
37. We cannot join hands together to build with a collective vision if we continue to harbour negative biases and prejudices against ourselves.
38. Yesterday's prejudices should die with yesterday. Today is a new day. This is the dawn of a new era. This is an opportunity to think anew. We must jettison the poisonous mind-sets of the past, which were built on unhealthy competition among our diverse groups and peoples.
39. We need a new mind and a new spirit of oneness and national unity. The time has come to stop seeing Nigeria as a country of many groups and regions. We have been divinely brought together under one roof. We must begin to see ourselves as one community. We are joined together by similar hopes and dreams as well as similar problems and challenges. What affects one part of the community affects the other.
40. An average Nigerian sees every part of the country as home. Let us seize the opportunity of this Conference to do more to further turn our diversity and plurality into unique national resources for strength and greatness.
41. I have always affirmed that our ability to stay together despite our acknowledged differences, when other countries are finding it difficult to meet that challenge, is a powerful statement by Nigeria to the world on the virtues of tolerance and unity.
42. It is a strong and compelling statement in a world much afflicted by strife and violence. We must sustain it. We must not allow the antagonists of unity and togetherness to prevail. We must work ceaselessly to remain one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity, as our National Anthem says.
43. Honourable Chairman and distinguished delegates, I urge you not to be under any illusions as you begin your assignment. The task that lies ahead of you is formidable. Over the coming weeks, you will be confronted with complex and emotive issues; strong views will be expressed by opposing sides and some disagreements will, in all likelihood, be intense.
44. I sincerely believe, however, that we can overcome all obstacles to true national unity if we dig deep into the recesses of our national character and look up to God Almighty for wisdom, guidance and the generosity of spirit we need to ensure the success of this conference.
45. Once again, I wish to express my appreciation to the Nigerian people who have, without hesitation, accepted dialogue as a means of resolving all differences and tensions that may exist in the country, and therefore, given their unequivocal support for this National Conference.
46. Let me at this point thank the National Assembly for introducing the provision for a referendum in the proposed amendment of the Constitution. This should be relevant for this Conference if at the end of the deliberations, the need for a referendum arises. I therefore urge the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly to speed up the Constitutional amendment process especially with regard to the subject of referendum.
47. I thank the Chairman, Senator Femi Okurounmu and members of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the arduous work they undertook to prepare for the Conference. I also thank the Chairman of this National Conference, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, the principal officers and all the distinguished patriots and representatives of our people who have taken time off their busy personal schedules to serve the cause of national unity and progress at this conference.
48. I am confident that we are embarking on a landmark journey that will make us stronger as a nation if we undertake it with all sense of purpose and sincerity. Let us do that which is selfless, purposeful and patriotic so that history will remember us for having served our nation well.
49. In conclusion, I urge all officials and participants in the national conference to work extra hard to ensure that their deliberations are completed on schedule, well ahead of the schedule of events for the next general elections already announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
50. Let me again repeat what I have been saying that Goodluck Jonathan has no personal agenda in convening this national conference.
51. Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the honour and privilege of declaring the National Conference open, for the good of our Nation and to the glory of God Almighty who has brought us together.
52. I thank you all.
President Jonathan on February 15th visited four traditional rulers in Kano, Osun and Lagos States. President Jonathan paid private visits to the Emir of Kano , Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo and the Oba of Lagos.
One of the reasons usually given by Igbos for overwhelmingly supporting President Goodluck Jonathan was erased with a stroke of the pen this morning following the sweeping changes in Nigeria’s Military High Command.
Ndigbo used to boast that for the first time in the country’s history, their ethnic group produced two Service Chiefs under the Jonathan presidency. All that is now gone as there is no single Igbo in the new set of Service Chiefs. Both Abia State’s Lt.-General Azubike O. Ihejirika, erstwhile Chief of Army Staff, and Delta State’s Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba, until this morning Chief of Naval Staff, were dropped in the shake-up announced via a statement issued in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, by Jonathan’s Special Adviser (Media & Publicity), Dr. Reuben Abati.
As announced by Abati, “Air Marshal Alex Badeh takes over from Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim as Chief of Defence Staff;
“Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah takes over from Lt.-General Azubike O. Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff;
“Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin takes over from Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba as Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu takes over from Air Marshal Badeh as Chief of Air Staff.”
It is not yet clear how this turn of events will affect President Jonathan’s political fortunes as Nigeria counts down to the next general elections in 2015 in which he is determined to contest. Already, Igbos, who constitute Jonathan’s electoral backbone, are angry that he is yet to keep his promise to build a second bridge across the famous River Niger in view of the expected collapse of the old one – a situation which does not only endanger lives but also holds the prospect of cutting off Igboland from the entire South-West.
Source News Express