By Abiodun Alade
LAGOS — President Goodluck Jonathan has insisted that the 2015 elections will be transparent, free and fair, urging for the support of Nigerians during the exercise.
Speaking,Tuesday, at a Chatham House lecture series held at Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, Special Assistant to President Jonathan on New Media, Reno Omokri, said President Jonathan was not interested in manipulating the election process or the result, arguing that previous elections held in Adamawa, Ekiti, Anambra, Edo,Osun and Niger states which were adjudged to be free and fair are a pointer that the 2015 elections will not be influenced by the President.
According to him, “the best judge of future behaviour is past behaviour, and by the deployment of security during the Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Niger elections, the fact has been proved that providing security increased rather than reduced voter turnout as shown in Ekiti that had the highest voter turnout ever in Nigeria’s history.
“Elections had been held in Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Niger and in each case they had been free and fair which is a signpost that the President would not use his position to manipulate election results.
“The averment that the incumbent could manipulate voter turnout by selective use of the security forces was not borne out by the facts on the ground. President Jonathan is the only national leader who has repeatedly said ‘My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian’, a quote he has used several times with the most recent being November 11, 2014 when he declared his intent to contest the 2015 Presidential election.”
Omokri said almost all the other aspirants had at one point or another and sometimes very recently, threatened violence and bloodshed and if suspects are being sought for those who have high incentive to manipulate election results, he urged activists to look in that direction rather than at the President.
He also argued that President Jonathan went on a State visit to Israel where he conferred with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and while he was there it only made sense for him to attend the ongoing pilgrimage. He cited examples of the Royal family and British Politicians who took the opportunity of State visits to likewise engage in Pilgrimages, stressing that if the only evidence that Dr. Marc Antoine could cite of the President’s decisiveness was his going on a pilgrimage to Israel, he should realize that rather than being evidence of the President’s divisiveness, that was proof of his accusers’ intolerance.