President Goodluck Jonathan, on Tuesday, said he has delivered on the promises he made to Nigerians four years ago as he declared to seek a new term.
Speaking at the Eagles Square, Abuja, Mr. Jonathan assured that Nigeria will not go back in its old ways, but move to greater heights, if he was elected.
He also promised not to intimidate any Nigerian, but ensure the rule of law, expand the democratic space, give voice to the voiceless and uphold the weak.
Mr. Jonathan was adopted by all the organs of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in September as the party’s lone candidate in the February 14 presidential contest.
He assumed office as president on May 6, 2010, following the death of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and was elected in 2011 to the position.
The president rounds off his current tenure on May 29, 2015.
At the Eagles Square, Abuja, Mr. Jonathan told his supporters from the 36 states of the federation that he accepted to contest the coming presidential poll after seeking the face of God, held wide consultations and made deep reflection on the matter with his family.
Mr. Jonathan recounted his administration’s achievements since it came to office, saying infrastructure had been its major area of focus.
He listed some major achievements in critical sectors such as the water, agricultural, transport, road, housing, oil and gas, health, education, food production, anti-corruption crusade, youth development, military, entertainment, economy and electoral reforms.
He also praised his administration for the giant strides it made on the international scene.
“We have advanced our regional, continental and global objectives,” he said. “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.
“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.”
The president, who called for a minute silence in honour of the students of the Government Science Secondary School in Yobe State on Monday, however, lamented the lingering security challenge in the country, which he said had led to the loss of lives and property.
He said, “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.
“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.”
Mr. Jonathan explained that to ensure the long term stability and development of the affected areas, government had launched three programmes, namely the Presidential Initiative for the North East, the Victim Support Fund and the Safe School Initiative.
He expressed gratitude “to all Nigerians for standing with me.”
The president said in furtherance of a peaceful, participatory and inclusive democracy that he signed the Freedom of Information, FoI, Bill into law, to expand the frontiers of the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
He affirmed that under his presidency, “your views, no matter how freely expressed, will not send you to prison or into exile.”
He said the support by the party would enable him continue the conversation of development he began in the country.
Stating that democracy was a collective action, energized by individual responsibility, Mr. Jonathan said the mandate that would be given to him this time would inspire in him the strength to complete the good work his administration had begun.
He said he would ensure that the poor is lifted out of the depth of want and place their feet on the ladder of prosperity.
While noting that leaders must always show temperance at all times, the president promised “That is a virtue, one which I treasure, and will always uphold.”
On the coming election, Mr. Jonathan, who thanked those who contributed their meagre resources towards his re-election bid, appealed to his supporters not to harm, maim or kill or incite any kind of violence.
He reiterated that his election bid does not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
“We must 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 Nigeria. I remain committed to this principle of non-violence,” he said.
The president said he would be ready to continue in service to the people if they believed that a country that works for everybody must be built, where the strong lift up the weak, and not trample upon them, where the vote of every citizen determines who governs or represents them, and where democratic space is open to all citizens, irrespective of their aspirations and circumstances of birth.
He said the country would not return to its dark days, but must move forward.
He told the crowd, “Do you want to go back to the old ways? 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.
“Do you want to go back to the old ways? 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 ballot box snatching and stuffing became the norm, where your votes never counted.
“Certainly, we cannot! We have to move forward! Only forward!!, my dear people, forward!!!
The president said in moving forward, “I see a Nigeria that thirsts for progress with children across the nation, eager for knowledge and safely in schools!
“I see a Nigeria where all who have taken up arms, would again embrace peace! I see a Nigeria where our women can aspire to any heights, without hindrance! I see a Nigeria where the flames in the Eagles will rekindle, and the Falcons soaring higher in victory!
Mr. Jonathan also stated that he sees a Nigeria “where the children of Mustapha, and Christopher, Ade and Ada, Timi and Bunmi, Nnamdi and Namadi, do not go hungry!
“I see a Nigeria where all, no matter their beliefs, live in peace and harmony!
“I see a Nigeria where the green passport is accorded a royal reception the world over!
“I see a Nigeria where one day the next generation will take us to outer space.”
Both the vice president, Namadi Sambo and the Senate President, David Mark, also delivered speeches at the event. Mr. Mark spoke on behalf of the PDP members of the National Assembly, who pledge support for the president for having performed well since he assumed office.
The Senate President lamented the security challenge in the country, but assured that it was not insurmountable.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, who spoke on behalf of the PDP governors, said the governors were solidly behind the president.
Solidarity messages were also delivered on zonal basis by a former Minister of Environment, Hassan Adamu, North East; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, North West; former Information Minister, Jerry Gana, North Central; former military governor of the old Ondo State, Bode George, South West; former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, South South; and former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, South East.