Focus on 4-point Agenda, Shagari, Gowon, others tell Jonathan

Some eminent Nigerians under the aegis of Eminent Elders Group yesterday paid a solidarity visit to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja, and advised him to be “focused, courageous, decisive, honest, just and firm,” in the discharge of his duties.

Led by former Head of State, Dr. Yakubu Gowon, the group also asked Jonathan to scale down the seven-point agenda of President Umaru Yar’Adua to four “in order to meaningfully impact on the lives of Nigerians.”

The four critical areas of focus, according to the group, should be

1. free, fair and credible elections,
2. energy and power,
3. infrastructure,
4. as well as peace and security.

In response, Jonathan assured the former leaders of his commitment to doing what is right, while steering the affairs of the country in the absence of the president who has been attending to his health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since November last year.

While welcoming the eminent elders, Jonathan expressed appreciation for their gesture and advice in areas of critical needs and concerns of Nigerians.

The acting president acknowledged that “as a government, we are time bound. We are looking at just a little over a year or so to round off this administration.

“All of you that are here have one thing in common. You have all written your names on the positive side of history in this country.

“Even if I leave this job today or tomorrow, I want to be able to raise my head to say this and that is what we have done.”

The acting president also accepted the need to emphasize what can be done quickly to impact positively on the lives of Nigerians within the shortest possible time.

He said the administration would work towards stable power supply, ensure adequate security for Nigerians through the on-going reform of the police and improve on the force’s intelligence gathering capacity.

Jonathan promised that the suggestions proffered by the elder statesmen would be presented as a council note to the Executive Council of the Federation for consideration.

Spokesperson for the group and former Inform-ation and National Orient-ation Minister, Professor Jerry Gana said at the end of the meeting that the group emphasised the importance of good governance “in terms of ensuring that the processes of government are effective and results delivered for the benefit of the people of Nigeria.”

Gana continued: “They (eminent elders) emphasised that certain aspects of the very good seven-point agenda should be focused on to show government’s presence because people really want to see action and results.

“We emphasized about two or three of these. The most important is that Nigerians are looking forward to this administration doing its very best to ensure free, fair and credible elections in 2011.

“They want this administration to do everything humanly possible to ensure that elections in Nigeria are free and fair so that we can have legitimately elected governments in the coming election.”

Gana said the issue of energy and power was also raised at the meeting with Jonathan.

“There is no reason in this world for Nigeria to be in this kind of situation regarding power supply or even in the energy sector because we are an oil producing nation.

“So we emphasized that political will should be demonstrated in this area and that decisive action should be taken,” he said.

Gana said the power issue must be resolved to give the nation a new lease of life.

Another area the eminent elders urged Jonathan to focus on was infrastructure. Gana said the elders recognised that no economy could grow and prosper without good infrastructure, roads, good railways and pipelines.

“Things have to move in the nation. So we want the administration in the short time to take a few things and do them effectively.

“To concentrate on a few things and get them properly done. Nigerians are very observant. They know when efforts are being made to get things moving.”

The statesmen also urged Jonathan to focus on the issue of peace and security.

In this regard, Gana said: “Without peace and security, there can be no development and progress in the nation. It is not just in the Niger Delta now, but even across the nation.

“These political killings are getting very worrying and the elders really emphasised the need for resources to be deployed to ensure that criminals are detected and punished effectively.

“We hope that the issue of restoring fairness justice and equity can be restored even in the Niger Delta because people love justice, they love fairness.”

The group also discussed the issue of unemployment among the youths with Jonathan. “We pointed out that unemployment was one of the things that is contributing to the rising crime rate in the country and that everything should be done to create jobs. We have energetic youths and they want to work but have no jobs,” he said.

Members of the group who visited Jonathan were former President Shehu Shagari; former Interim Head of State, Ernest Shonekan; former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme; and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Alpha Belgore.

Others in the team were former Governor of Plateau State, Chief Solomon Lar; Isaiah Balat; Edwin Clark; Gen. T.Y. Danjuma; Ahmed Joda; Adamu Ciroma; Professor Jerry Gana; and Mrs. Christy Silas, a member of the Board of Trustee of the Peoples Democratic Party.

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