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Jonathan harps on free and fair election

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Abuja – President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday in Abuja reiterated the committment of the Federal Government to conduct a free and fair election, to earn Nigeria the respect of the international community.

Jonathan made the remark at a Holy Mass to mark the opening ceremony of the 2011 Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).

“Until we can conduct free and fair election, until all our leaders from President down to Councilors are selected by our ballot, the international community will never respect us. CUE IN AUDIO

“Because as a President I know that it is one of the areas the international community has some reservations for this country.

“And they may not give us the kind of position they would love to give us because of our mode of selecting our leaders,’’ Jonathan said. CUE OUT AUDIO

Thanking the religious leaders for their continuous prayers for the nation, he urged them not to hesitate to correct the government whenever they noticed any mistake.

“Whenever you feel the government is not doing things the way it is supposed to be done, feel very free to come to us and make suggestions.

“This is another turning point as we are going in for elections. The issue is whether a serving President will conduct free and fair elections.

“The issue is not whether a person is contesting or not but whether that person is committed to make changes in this country,’’ Jonathan said.

Most Rev. John Onaiyekan, Archbishop, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, in a sermon said that by the Providence of God, the conference coincided with the long awaited 2011 election
and the Lenten period.

He noted that the Lenten period was a time every Christian should be inspired to live upright in humility, truth and integrity.

“We urge all our country men and women, especially the Christians among us to make the best of this Holy coincidence” he said.

Onaiyekan described the President as the desire of the vast majority of Nigerians and tasked him to ensure peaceful and level playing ground for all contestants in the forthcoming elections.

“There are enough honest Nigerians to ensure honest elections if we all will rise up to reject evil. We must stand up to be counted,’’ he said.

The conference which was attended by 62 Bishops has as its theme: “The Church in Nigeria and the Challenges of Mission and Evangelisation in the World today’’.

In attendance were the Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Patrick Yakowa, Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Josephine Anenih and Interior Minister, Captain Emmanuel Iheanachor.

Others are Defence Minister, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode and Minister of Information and Communications, Mr Labaran Maku. (NAN)

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