President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday urged Nigerians to turn-out en-masse during tomorrow’s presidential and subsequent elections to vote for candidates of their choice.
President Jonathan spoke when Mr. John Kuffuor, former Ghanaian President and leader of African Union Election Observation Mission to the Nigerian Presidential Elections, visited him at State House.
He said: “I thank Nigerians for the large turn-out during the National Assembly elections held last Saturday, and urge them all to go out en-masse during the Presidential elections next Saturday and the subsequent elections to vote for candidates of their choice.”
The President restated his commitment to free and fair elections, and re-assured Mr. Kuffuor and the international community that the “Federal Government will not interfere with INEC or the electoral process, but will support the electoral body and security agencies to deliver credible, free and fair elections.”
Jonathan said Nigeria had a duty to conduct free and fair elections in order to live up to the leadership responsibility it had on the continent, and be able to admonish others who might not feel obliged to do same.
Earlier, Mr. Kuffuor had said the 40-man AU Election Observation Mission was in Nigeria to observe the presidential elections, adding that it was deployed to four political zones, and would depart next week after discharging its duty.
Also yesterday, President Jonathan received leaders of two other election observation missions, with former Prime Minister of Slovenia, Mr. Alojz Peterle, leading the 140-man European Union, EU, Election Observation Mission, and Professor Amos Sawyer, former President of Liberia, at the head of the 300-man ECOWAS Election Observer Mission.
He assured both delegations of his personal and Federal Government’s commitment to free and fair elections, expressing confidence in the capacity of INEC and the security agencies to check desperate politicians who might want to derail the process.
In his comments, Mr. Alojz Peterle of the EU Observation Mission said they were pleased with the “peaceful, positive elections held last Saturday” and assured President Jonathan that their reports will be based on personal observations, not rumours”.
On his part, Professor Sawyer said his mission was impressed with the measures put in place to strengthen democracy in Nigeria, adding that ECOWAS was looking forward to credible and successful elections in Nigeria as a yardstick for other countries in the sub-region.