“The issue of credible elections must be institutionalised in Nigeria.”
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday in Washington DC pledged to ensure that Saturday’s governorship election in Osun is “very free, fair, and credible.”
Mr. Jonathan said that the days when a few politicians, acting in concert with their hirelings and thugs, hijack voters cards and other electoral materials, and manipulate the outcome of elections to their personal advantage are gone forever in Nigeria.
Speaking at a meeting with Nigerian professionals in the United States, Mr. Jonathan said that he remained fully committed to keeping the promise he made in 2011 that he will do everything possible to ensure that the elections in Nigeria become very free, fair and credible.
The President told the gathering that in keeping with that pledge, which he said has been fulfilled in recent elections in Edo, Ondo and Ekiti states, the federal government will take all necessary steps to ensure that no individual, group or political party is able to thwart the legitimate choice of genuine voters in Saturday’s governorship election in Osun State.
“The issue of credible elections must be institutionalised in Nigeria. Our electoral processes were not very good or credible when we came into office, but as I promised, we have been working very hard to change things and ensure that our elections are more credible, that every legitimate vote counts and that results are acceptable to the electorate.
“I promise you that the Osun governorship elections will be very free, fair and credible,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and it’s candidate, Iyiola Omisore, is the major challenger to the incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Responding to other concerns raised by the Nigerian professionals, the president said that the Federal Government will continue to give the highest possible priority to policies and programmes that will lead to the creation of enough jobs for Nigerian youth.
“Job creation is a challenge to every government in the world. We are doing all that we can to tackle the problem in Nigeria because we know that we have a very youthful population and if we do not create enough jobs to meet their needs, the country will be in trouble,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan also spoke of his administration’s efforts to improve standards and access to educational institutions in Nigeria, address the national housing deficit, and further empower women.
He thanked Nigerian professionals abroad for the patriotic support for his government and urged them to continue to show love and concern for the well-being of their fatherland.
“We expect you continue to add more value to what we are doing and we will continue to engage your services and expertise when we can, because if we do not, the valuable education and skills you have acquired will be of no benefit to the development of our country,” he said.
The President later received and commended young Nigerians who are participating in the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a leadership programme sponsored by the United States government to train young African professionals in American universities, government departments, and the private sector.
Out of the 500 places on the programme, 45 were won by young Nigerians in a competitive selection process.