By Ben Agande
ABUJA—President Goodluck Jonathan has given a firm commitment to the international community that the 2015 elections will be freer and fairer than the 2011 general elections.
Speaking at a reception for the diplomatic corps in Nigeria, President Jonathan called for international support for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to realize the goal of surpassing the benchmark attained in 2011.
The cocktail reception on the lawns of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, is an annual ritual during which the president interacts with the diplomatic corps in Nigeria.
The president used the occasion to intimate the diplomats on preparations towards the 2015 general elections and to assure them on his determination to set a benchmark for free and fair elections.
“The general elections will take place early next year but the processes that will lead to the elections will commence this year. Parties will select their candidates through primaries this year, campaigns will commence this year, so this year will be full of activities. And I know that there is some apprehension with the elections.
“Let me reassure you that the general election that will come up next year will be better than the elections you witnessed in 2011. As we progress into the year, some of these tensions will come down.
“At the beginning of the electoral processes in most countries, especially developing nations, tensions use to be quite high even in developed countries. That is what we are witnessing now, but all these will come down. We will make sure that we maintain peace and security and that elections are conducted in the manner that will be seen as free and fair by everybody”, he said.
He told the diplomats that “I am placing before you to communicate to your organisations and countries that we still need your assistance to make sure that the INEC conducts elections that are even better than the ones they did in 2011.”
On global terrorism, the President said national and global development was being hampered by the menace of terrorism, adding that in 2014, sustained efforts through dialogue and other means must be mounted against terrorism.
On the forthcoming national confab, Jonathan said it was imperative since Nigerians feel that the 1999 Constitution that was midwifed by the military and still in place today, was not properly and fully deliberated upon or screened by the people.