By Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€”PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said that the success of his Administration â€œwould depend on the cooperation of the National Assembly.â€
This came as the United States declared that whether President Jonathan decided to run in next yearâ€™s presidential elections or not, such a decision cannot influence the conduct of free and fair election by Nigeria.
President Jonathan who spoke while receiving a delegation of the Senate led by the Senate President, David Mark, at the State House, commended the support and cooperation his Administration had been receiving from the National Assembly.
Jonathan recognizes NASSâ€™ relevance
Jonathan while noting that the cooperation of the three arms of government was crucial to delivering dividends of democracy to Nigerians, urged continued support from the legislature especially in the areas of the budget, the management of the economy, cutting down on costs, blocking areas of wastage and getting â€œvalue for money spent.â€
He told the Senate team: â€œMany speculated that Nigeria was going to split, but you proved them wrong,â€ adding that President Yarâ€™Adua â€œmeant well for Nigeria and Africa.â€
The President also thanked the National Assembly for the speedy clearance given to Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Senator Mark said the visit was based on a resolution of the Senate during the valedictory session in honour of the late President, to the effect that delegations be sent to Katsina to commiserate with the Yarâ€™Adua family, and another to console President Jonathan, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, and the Nigerian people.
Fielding questions from reporters, Senator Mark said: â€œWhat I can assure you is that we will have the electoral reform in place; we will have the new Act in place before the 2011 elections.
And the reform will come. Whatever reform we put in place will be used for the 2011 elections. We are anxious about that too. We are equally concerned about a credible election everyone else in this country, we are the ones directly affected by the reforms. So we are working very hard to get it in place.â€
On whether democracy was worth celebrating in Nigeria, the Senate President said: â€œEven if it is one day, the main fact is that we are entrenching democracy and democracy really has come to stay. That on its own is worth celebrating. We are building it up we might not get everything perfectly right now, eleven years is a short period in a life of a nation.
â€œThe important thing is that we are laying a very solid foundation and we must be able to build on it and we must continue to at least applaud ourselves. It does not really matter how small the gains are, if you want to encourage a child who is in school if he passes a little bit you encourage him so that he can pass better and try and work harder. But we are going to work very hard on it, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.â€
â€˜No going back on free elections’
Meantime, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday reaffirmed the commitment of his Administration to ensure free and fair elections next year.
The President said during an audience granted a United States delegation led by the Under-Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, Maria Otero, at the State House: â€œIn the next election, there will be no cheating. Every vote must count and we are totally committed to this. inning elections is not the issue, but the process must be credible, free and fair.â€
The Under-Secretary who was accompanied by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders, saidÂ her delegation was in Nigeria to attend the first Nigeria-US Bi-national Commission meeting.
Ms Otero also commended the current Administrationâ€™s commitment to electoral reforms, while pledging her countryâ€™s readiness to provide funding and training to INEC in the build-up to the general elections.
The US also stated that the controversy surrounding whether Jonathan would contest the election or not was unnecessary as the President had the constitutional right to run for the election so long as the conduct of the exercise was seen to be free and fair.