BY TONY EDIKE
…Says I have sanitized electoral system
ENUGU—PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, Monday, asked those Nigerians who are bent on pulling the nation down on account of their dissatisfaction with the political set up to have a rethink, saying political leadership is transient and there was no need for people to fight over it.
He said those who are not too comfortable with any particular situation in government should patiently wait for the expiration of the tenure of the holder of such a political office and vote him out rather than engaging in violence that would have adverse consequences on the nation.
Jonathan was speaking during the dedication of the All Saints Anglican Covenant Church, Mpu in Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu built by the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu. Mpu is the hometown of the Deputy Senate President.
The president told the congregation that what should be uppermost in the mind of Nigerians should be how to join hands to build the nation, saying he was committed to making those little things that would make a difference in the lives of the people.
According to him, one major desire he had on assumption of office as president was to sanitize the flawed electoral system which had made Nigeria a laughing stock in other countries, stressing that he had succeeded in effecting a positive change which could make votes really count in elections.
He said: “My message is just to concur with what His Grace, the Anglican Primate, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh said in the sermon. I totally agree with you that if we leave Nigeria and go elsewhere, we may have business friends, we may have all kinds of friends, we may use different passports that will give us automatic entry into some countries without even visas, but they still regard you as a Nigerian. You cannot fit in properly until you come home, so as we talk about building the church, let us join hands and build the nation that we, our children, grand-children and our children yet unborn will be happy.
“Irrespective of provocations, yes, during political system, just like the Primate said, political leadership is very transient, every leader comes and goes. As a leader you always pray that as you leave a footprint behind, you lead and go. Other people take over and continue. And we believe that if every leader puts something solid that he could be remembered for then as you progress, as different regimes come and go, the whole country will become developed and more solid.
“So, there is no need for people to fight over political leadership that is transient to the extent that you want to even burn your house down because you perceive that you are not too comfortable with a particular situation, be it at the local government level, be it at the federal constituency level, be it at the senatorial level , be it at the state level or the federal level.
“These are transitional leadership, luckily we have a constitution that defines the maximum tenure any individual can stay in office and even if the constitution does not clearly define it, no one individual will stay there for life because we are biological specimen.
“I think collectively, we should think more about our own country; think more of building a society that our children will be happy in.
“For me, I believe that no leader can do everything for the society but think about some key things and try and do those ones very well. Just like the philosophy of the Singapore leader when he was asked how he was able to take that country from third world to first world, he said ‘take some few things and do those few things very well and continue to do those things very well’. He didn’t say do everything, you can’t do everything and succeed.
“And that is one of the reasons why in this present dispensation, by divine providence, grace of God and goodwill of Nigerians I happen to be the president. My feeling is that since the political dispensation, the first and foremost is to have free and fair elections. I always say that you can’t even talk about good governance where the elections of people are manipulated.
“You cannot steal a mandate and turn round to say you can govern well. Lawyers will say you can’t build something on nothing, so if your coming to power at all levels – from councillorship to presidency is based on manipulation, then there is no good thing you can do there. You cannot go and celebrate it. First and foremost, the people must vote for you. People must put you there before you can begin to talk about whether you will even run the system well or not”.
“If it is during the military dispensation, of course that one you use a bigger gun to overthrow the people with smaller gun and take over, that is the system. But in a political dispensation, you must be properly elected.
“So I believe, first and foremost, it is to make sure that our electoral system is sanitized and the votes of Nigerians count. And it has paid off because wherever we go I know the kind of statements people make. I knew when I came in as vice president and I travelled out the kind of statement people make, sometimes I feel so diminished and so humiliated and now the story has changed.
“What I can promise Nigerians is that with your prayers we will succeed. We have our challenges no doubt about that, most other countries have their challenges but we are committed that we will make those little changes that will make the difference in our lives.”
President Jonathan applauded Senator Ekweremadu for building the house of God just like Solomon built a temple in the Bible, stressing that for him to think about home and provide a house of worship for his community was a landmark achievement for which he would ever be remembered by his people.
Earlier in his sermon, the Anglican Prelate, Most Rev. Okoh said that the problem affecting the nation was because of “human manipulation” stressing that even when Nigeria was highly regarded as a strong religious nation, the available potentials have not been well harnessed to build the nation.
He expressed regrets that most places of worship had been turned to houses of bickering and unnecessary squabbles, advising that the church should endeavour to assume its rightful place as a corrective institution and to serve as a guide to those in positions of authority.
“We must work hard to deliver our country together. Sometimes if you read newspapers you can find that some people are being deliberately mischievous and when you read that, there is nothing you conclude than we are not yet serious,” he said.
In his remarks, Ekweremadu said he built the church in fulfillment of the covenant he made with God when he was coming up in life that if he was protected and blessed in his life career, he would build a church for the Lord.
“As a young man growing up, I looked around me both in my home, my local government and the greater part of my state and I saw hopelessness. Just finished secondary school, I went to church and we were asked to pray and ask God to do for us whatever we wished and I remember that particular day, I said to God because of these challenges I can see around me, if you make me an instrument of solving these problems and make me successful in life, I will build a church for you.
“And from that day my life changed completely, it has been one progress after the other, I have never known failure since then and God has been faithful. Sometime in the past severally I have come close to death but I was rescued because of this church,” Ekweremadu said.
He thanked all those who assisted him in realizing the project just as he donated two buses and a Hilux van for use by the church.
However, a renowned businessman and Chairman of Triax Group, Prince Engr. Arthur Eze also made a donation of N10 million to the Anglican Diocese during the occasion, which was attended by eminent personalities including the Senate President David Mark, several members of the National Assembly, Governors of Anambra and Abia States, Peter Obi and Theodore Orji as well as Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Sunday Onyebuchi.