By Daniel Idonor
ABUJA-PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan Friday returned to heat and pressure of credible poll to the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he assented to the controversial Electoral Act, saying that his quest for credible election remains an article of faith.
Speaking moment after his assent to the Act Jonathan said government’s commitment to credible elections remains an article of faith.
Jonathan however said that “it is incumbent on all of us to make full use of our rights to explore the democratic space fully otherwise the grounds we yield will become the playground for manipulators. Our tomorrow will find excuse for our failures today especially if such failures are avoidable”.
“As Nigerians, we must not allow ourselves to be seduced by apathy and elections injustice, the reward for such lethargy will undoubtedly be instability and under development. Let us all commit to the protection of integrity of the electoral process as guaranteed under the law. Henceforth, the sanctity of the process should be supreme respect”.
At my inauguration on the 6th of May, I made commitments to Nigerians that I will do all within my powers to preserve the sovereignty by guaranteeing the sanctity of the ballots.
This commitment, the President noted, “was made because of my believe that unless the right of our people to decide who governs them is enforce and protected, politicians and government officials will not be persuaded to act at all times for the common good of al”l.
“Three days ago I received three clean copies of the amended electoral bill which contained fundamental changes aimed at improving elections conducts in our country. Let me on behalf of citizens congratulate the National Assembly and other stakeholders for this initiative.
The Act we have just signed today introduces staggered elections in Section 25, the mood and manner of conducting party primaries and respect for party autonomy in Section 87 and among others”, he said.
Jonathan observed that ” serious concerns have been raised regarding some of the Sections and their capacity to constitute our inspiration for expanding our democratic space and driven by the believe that the promise of those process has greater potential and options to broaden and advance our match to democratic freedom than undermine”.
“To me the process leading to the passage of the bill was a test of the nationâ€™s emerging democratic maturity. It is prove that this system can muster the capacity to correct itself while the nation moves on to a higher level of political development”.
He commended the lawmakers and other stakeholders have demonstrated by this that if a fault is identified in a system we do not have to pull the whole house down and start the journey all over, noting that “there is no perfect human system but the system can be improved to make it work better for the good of all”.
According to him, while amendments will sometimes be required in the journey of building democratic institutions, his assent to the Act “is further evidence to those who maybe tempted to doubt our commitment to electoral reforms, the commitment we gave is a matter of honour”.
“Since coming into office, I have emphasised that this administration will do all that is needed to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in 2011 and beyond. I have said time and again that I will not consider my personal interest nor the benefit of my own political party in doing that which will secure credible elections for our people”.
He argued that “starting with some recent by-elections in some states to the reconstitution of INEC, it is obvious that we are irrevocably committed in redeeming our pledge to conduct credible elections in accordance with best practice globally”.