ANKARA, TURKEY—IF given the mandate to lead Nigeria in the next four years, President Goodluck Jonathan has promised not to let Nigerians down.
The president vowed that he was prepared to stake his reputation to ensure a drastic change in the conduct of government’s business in Nigeria within a short time, starting with the conduct of a free and fair election, which outcome he was confident would be generally acceptable.
Speaking during an interactive session with members of the Nigerian community in Turkey and Cyprus on Tuesday, as part of his on-going state visit to Turkey, Jonathan said part of the reasons he wanted to contest the presidential election was to prove a point that an incumbent president could preside over a free and fair election in the country.
Recalling his early days in office, Jonathan said: “I remember in those early days, some people came to me and said Jonathan, we think you mean well for this country, but if you become a candidate, we are not too sure the elections will be free and fair.
“The best thing is for you not to contest. If you don’t contest, we believe in you. But if you contest, there could be issues along the line.
“But If I don’t contest, some people will say it is because the president did not participate, that is why the elections were free and fair. But our constitution gives the president the privilege to stand for election.
“I want to be a sitting president that will contest election and ensure that the election is free and fair, such that people will have no excuse.”
He believed that “as a politician, you must work hard. I must talk to people. I must campaign just like any other politician. In terms of the coming elections, your votes must count. Everybody’s vote must count and you will see that there will be significant difference between the elections in April and previous elections in the country.
“To me, the presidential election, whether it goes to the left or to the right, I have made a name. If at the end of the day the elections are free and fair and I lose, I will make a name as a sitting African president that contested for election and lost gallantly. But if I win the election, I will also be commended for winning the election. So I have nothing to lose,” he declared.
He assured that “with sustained commitment, the change we so badly need will be achieved within 4 – 6 year,” stressing that his administration would leave no stone unturned in its effort to achieved set objectives.
Jonathan, who mandated three ministers to respond to questions and comments from members of the Nigerian community on the performances of different sectors by the present administration, said he would strengthen democratic structures and values in the country so as to make Nigeria a big player in the globe economically and politically.
On power, he revealed that as at Tuesday, power generation had hit 4000Mw, a landmark that had not been achieved in the last 10 years.
According to him, even though the feat is small compared to Turkey which generate about 40, 000mw, it was significant and would continue to improve.
“We don’t want to give a benchmark but we are going to stabilize power and every month, every quarter and every year, we will be going higher and higher until we get to where others are,” he added.
Speaking on the problems in the Niger Delta, he remarked that security in the area had improved significantly, enabling Nigeria to meet its crude oil production quota from the Organisation of Oil Producing Countries, OPEC.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Power, Nuhu Wya, stated that the present administration was prepared to tackle the issue of power in the country once and for all.
He assured the Nigerian community that based the efforts of government so far in that direction, very soon the problem of epileptic power supply in the country would be a thing of the past.
In her contribution, the Minster of Aviation, Mrs Fidelia Njeze, revealed plans to remodel the terminal buildings of the nation’s five international airports to provide the needed passenger comfort and inspire confidence in people visiting the country through the gateways.
On education, the Minster, Prof. Ruqqayatu Rufai spoke of efforts to create access to education for deserving Nigerians and also ensure that the quality of education obtainable in the nation’s institutions of learning was comparable to other countries of the world.
She advised Nigerians in Diaspora to return home and contribute their own quota to the development of the sector.
Speaking on behalf of the Nigerian community, their leader, Mr. Eno, praised the efforts of government and urged the president to remain focus in his determination to bring rapid improvement in the welfare of all Nigerians.