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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Tasks Nigerians On Survival of Democracy

Published on Tuesday 1st June 2010 Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Tasks Nigerians On Survival of Democracy

President Goodluck Jonathan has praised the perseverance and commitment of Nigerians in the past 11 years of trying times in nurturing democracy and urged them not to relent.

He enjoined them on Sunday to continue to pray for democracy to thrive and pleaded with them to do everything within the law to guarantee credible and acceptable elections next year.

Jonathan, who spoke through Senate President David Mark at the inter-denominational church service to mark 2010 Democracy Day in Abuja, said the government has resolved to institutionalise structures that would enhance good governance and credible elections.

He recalled the hardship Nigerians went through attempting to find an acceptable political solution when the late President Umaru Yar'Adua was indisposed.

"It is painful that all our efforts for the quick recovery of our dear President did not sail through, we have no power to give or take life. We take solace in the fact that (he) lived an exemplary life," he said.

He implored Nigerians on all sides of religion to pray fervently for smooth transition in 2011, especially for an acceptable vote.

"We are doing all we can, especially through the electoral reforms, to ensure that the 2011 general elections would be hitch-free, fair, just, and acceptable to all."

Jonathan noted the troubles Nigerians have gone through since 1999, among them youth restiveness, sectarian crises, political intolerance, and prayed that such would never reoccur.

He expressed optimistism that Nigerians can resolve their problems at a round table without arms or violence.

"For the fact that we are able to resolve the intractable Niger Delta youth restiveness through the amnesty programme underscores the fact that we can resolve our problems."

He requested an effective collaboration among the three arms of government, so as to consolidate the gains already recorded under this democratic dispensation.

In a sermon, the Bishop of the Methodist Church of Abuja, Chimaroke Iweha, urged governments at all levels to uphold the tenets of democracy which prescribe freedom of speech, information, religion, and association, as well as respect for the rights of minorities, among others.

Iweha tasked governments to ensure that the 2011 ballot is free and fair, stressing that, "This time around, peoples' vote must count, not political parties.

"We must ensure that the right candidates are voted into power to lead our country.

This year's Democracy Day church service was organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the National Christian Centre, Abuja.

Also speaking on democracy, former Presidential National Assembly (NASS) Adviser, Tanko Yakassai, blamed former President Olusegun Obasanjo for squandering the public goodwill he enjoyed when he assumed the leadership for the second time in 1999, tracing much of the failure of democracy in the last 11 years to him.

He noted in Kano that the goodwill Obasanjo had when he emerged winner of the election organised by the last military junta was higher than the one for the late Moshood Abiola when he won the Presidential election in 1993, despite the all-round popularity of Abiola.

Said Yakassai: "We started very well, and I think unfortunately for us (Obasanjo) squandered the first opportunity. I don't know whether it is because of his military background or his own character, because he enjoyed tremendous goodwill from Nigerians.

"I think the amount of goodwill and support he enjoyed, no politician in our entire history had ever enjoyed such goodwill, it was greater than that of (Abiola).

"But Obasanjo squandered it, in the sense that he has nothing to show for it, he made a lot of promises, he even promised to fix power within six months of his assumption of office, but he ended spending eight years without doing that.

"You cannot single out something you will say is different in Nigeria from what the country was before he came in."

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