From Punch online
President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to deal decisively with anyone who may decide to foment trouble before, during and after the 2015 general elections.
He said he would wield the big stick against troublemakers because of the post-2011 elections violence that erupted in some parts of the country.
Jonathan read the Riot Act in his New Year message broadcast on radio and television networks early on Thursday morning.
He said his administration would not tolerate a repeat of the 2011 orgy of violence.
“After the 2011 general elections, some unpatriotic elements embarked on an orgy of violence, resulting in the destruction of lives and property. That will not be allowed to happen this time around. This government will act decisively against anyone who disrupts the public peace, before, during or after the 2015 general elections,” the President declared.
Jonathan observed that the general elections were important for the country, saying their successful conclusion would further strengthen Nigeria’s democratic institutions and place it more firmly in the comity of truly democratic nations.
He said given the challenges that had characterised some previous electoral contests in the country, the eyes of the world would be on the conduct and outcome of what he described as the nation’s fifth post-military rule general elections.
He reassured Nigerians and the international community of his administration’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections.
The President added, “My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote remains unwavering. Our administration has worked hard in previous elections to prepare all key stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies and the electorate optimally, to ensure a progressively improved electoral process in the country under my watch. We will continue to do so for the coming elections.
“We will continue to provide adequate funding to INEC and maintain the commission’s independence and isolate it from any form of interference or meddling in its day-to-day affairs. This shall continue to guarantee its impartiality and ability to conduct more credible and acceptable elections.
“The national security agencies will also be given all necessary support to enhance their ability to ensure that the elections are peaceful and violence-free.”
Jonathan reiterated his position that no political ambition was worth the blood of any Nigerian.
He urged politicians, as they carry out their campaigns, not to promote sectionalism, disunity or hate.
Jonathan further advised them to conduct their campaigns with decorum and civility towards opponents.
“Let us not promote sectionalism, disunity, intolerance, hate, falsehood or the malicious abuse of political opponents. Whatever we feel or seek, we must have a nation and a people before we can dream of political ambitions. Let us put the nation and the people first.
“Let us all conduct our electoral campaigns with the highest possible decorum and civility towards political opponents. Let us give INEC the fullest possible support and cooperation it requires to conduct credible and violence-free elections in 2015,” the President added.
He said all Nigerians of voting age were free to vote during the elections based on their convictions.
Jonathan also assured Nigerians that political campaigns and the general elections would not distract his administration from its ongoing efforts to improve their living conditions.
He promised that his involvement in the campaigns and election as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party notwithstanding, he would remain focused on providing good governance and delivering better public services to Nigerians.
He said, “Being very conscious of the inherent perils of our over-reliance on income from crude oil exports for national development, we have focused on accelerating the diversification of our economy.
“The non-oil sector, which has grown by an average of eight per cent in the last few years, is now a major driver of growth in our economy.
“The 2015 national budget, which is now before the National Assembly, is targeted at deepening our efforts at becoming a non-oil economy.
“The budget also includes measures to ensure that the downturn in the price of oil does not affect our development plans and our national economy too adversely. We are adjusting our financial processes to safeguard our economy. We are also taking steps to ensure that the poor and the low and medium income earners do not bear the brunt.
“In 2015, this administration will continue to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy that attracts significant Foreign Direct Investment and promotes policies that ensure economic stability.
“We will ensure stability in the value of the Naira by striving to take away speculative behaviours that cause market exchange pressures.
“We will continue to build and maintain a healthy external reserves position and strengthen fiscal buffers. We will ensure the Naira remains strong, and gives foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need, to guide future investment decisions.
“We will continue to improve our payment systems and strengthen risk-based supervision mechanism for Nigerian banks to ensure overall health and stability of the banking system.”
Wishing Nigerians a happy and prosperous 2015, the President urged them to enter the new year with renewed hope, patriotism and zeal to serve their fatherland.
He reiterated his position that all the challenges facing the nation are surmountable.
“As I have always maintained, none of the challenges before us is insurmountable. We must come together as a people and work with single-minded unity of purpose to overcome them.
“As we go into this New Year, I salute the indomitable and resilient spirit of our people in Nigeria and wherever they are in the world. Our spirit of enterprise and the doggedness to succeed amongst all odds has been our strength.”
The President praised the gallant officers, men and women of the Armed Forces and other security agencies who have been in the forefront of the war against terrorism and violent extremism in Nigeria.