President Goodluck Jonathan Monday restated the resolve of his administration to enthrone credible electoral process in the country with a view to ensuring that the votes of the people were made to count in future polls.
He also called on the political class to conduct their affairs strictly within the purview of the provisions of the constitution, which stipulated the tenure of office they could enjoy at any given time.
President Jonathan, who disclosed this in Enugu, during the dedication of All Saints’ Anglican Church, built by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, for his community, Mpu in Aninnri local government area, said there cannot be good governance in the country, when the electoral process was being manipulated against the overall aspiration of the populace.
Present at the ceremony were Deputy Speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha; Governors Theodore Orji (Abia) and Peter Obi (Anambra), Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; her Aviation counterpart, Ms. Stella Oduah; Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri. Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, was represented by his deputy, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi.
Others were Senators Ayogu Eze, Tunde Ogbeha, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Mr. Fran Nweke Jnr, Mr Osita Chidoka. The foundation of the church was laid on January 15, 2004.
Speaking at the occasion, the president expressed dismay at the level the international community had continued to lampoon the nation’s electoral process, stressing that having been given the opportunity as president, he remained determined to change the situation.
“You cannot talk about good governance where the elections of people are manipulated; you cannot steal a mandate and turn round to say that you can govern well. Lawyers will say you can’t build anything on nothing, through your coming to power from councillorship to presidency is based on manipulation, there will be no good thing you can do there. You cannot go and celebrate. First and foremost, people must vote for you and you cannot talk about doing something good without their support.
“It is actually during the military that they use big gun to overthrow those with small guns and take over. In the political dispensation, you must be properly elected and for this, we must make sure that electoral processes are sanitised and the vote of Nigerians counts. I know the kind of statement people make each time we leave here to other places, sometimes I feel so humiliated, and now the story has changed.
“What I can promise Nigerians is that with your prayers, we have our challenges no doubt but most countries have their challenges, that we will make those little changes that will make a difference in our lives.”
He decried the tendency where Nigerians abandon the country for others based on the challenges confronting it, stressing that building a virile future was the collective responsibility of all and sundry.
“If we leave Nigeria and go elsewhere where we have all kinds of friends who may use business passports that can give you automatic entry into countries, but they still regard you as a Nigerian. You cannot fit in properly until you come home. We have talked about building the church, let us join hands and build a nation that our children, grandchildren and Nigerians unborn will be happy, irrespective of provocation and political differences. Just like the primate said, every leader come and go but as a leader, you pray that you leave behind something solid, if we progress from here, the whole country becomes highly developed,” he said.
On the criticisms trailing his 2015 purported ambition, President Jonathan said even where the constitution does not state the maximum term, no individual could stay in office for life.
The president, who was apparently reacting to criticisms trailing his purported plans to contest the 2015 presidency, explained that: “There is no point fighting for political leadership that is transient to the extent that you want to even burn a house down because they perceive you are not too comfortable with a particular situation be it at the local level, be at the state and federal levels. These are transitional leadership.”
“Today, we have a constitution that defines the maximum tenure that any individual can stay in office. And even if the constitution does not define, no leaders will stay there for life. I think collectively, we should think more about our own country, think more about leaving behind a society that our children will be happy of.
“I believe no leader can do everything for the society. But, think about some key things and do those ones but try and do those ones very well. What I can promise Nigerians is that with your support we will succeed. We have our challenges no doubt about that, but we are committed that we will make these little changes that will make a different in our lives,” he assured.
President Jonathan, who charged Nigerians to assist government in building the country, said: “I want to concur with what His grace (the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Rev Nicholas Okoh) said that if we leave Nigeria and go elsewhere, you may have different passports that can take you to many countries without even visas, they will still regard you as a Nigerian. You cannot fit in properly until you come home.”
“So, let us join hands and build a nation that we, our children and children yet unborn will be happy. Just like the Primate said, political leaders are transient, they come and go. As a leader you always pray that as you go, you leave good footprints behind,” he said.
He commended Ekwerenmadu for his efforts, saying: “Ike has been able to build a church for Mpu community. We have to thank God for giving Martias (his late father), a son like Ike.”
In his sermon, Okoh, who dedicated the church, congratulated Ekewremadu for being chosen by God to build the church.
“Of all you have ever done in your life, this is the best. You have applied your money to do something that bring glory to God. It is a shame that we have not harnessed the powerful resources we have to build our country but our failure to do that is because somebody has not been sincere because God is sincere,” he said.
Okoh, who later prayed for President Jonathan, said: “He (President Jonathan) came to this position through your grace, may he not be disgraced out. There may be people who are not happy with him, may you protect him from their powers. Give him the grace as the man who transformed this country. May he not go home empty handed, may our destiny as a nation be fulfilled.”
In his remarks, Ekweremadu said as a young man growing up, “I saw homelessness”, saying he later made a covenant to build a church should he be successful in life.
“I said God because of this challenges surrounding me, if you make me successful in life, I will build a church for you. And from that day, it has been one progress or the other. Today is a very important day in the life of my family. It is the most important day in my life because God has given us the opportunity to redeem our pledge and covenant. Since then, it has been from one promotion to another and I have not done anything that I did not prosper,” he said.