By CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA – President Goodluck Jonathan again on Sunday dismissed the insinuation about the possibility of Nigeria having an interim government, describing it as treasonable offence.
Jonathan, who stated this at the first 2015 plenary session of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), in Abuja, said interim government was unknown to the Nigeria constitution.
According to him, “There is no way Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elected by people with clear mandate will now go and head interim government.
“The only interim government anybody can constitute is military government which of course will no be accepted by ECOWAS, AU won’t accept it, UN won’t accept it. And Nigeria will not be a patriah state. Clearly the insinuation of interim government to me is treasonable.”
On election dates, the President made it clear that the 2015 elections would be held as scheduled, urging Nigerians to cooperate with his government.
“Elections will be conducted as schedule by INEC. Look at what happened in Gombe on February 14, if elections had been held the casualty figure after that attack would have been great.
“Is better for us to conduct elections that will not be contested, elections that are credible, free and fair.
“I will not do anything because of personal interest that would jeopardize the interest of this nation,” the President assured.
He criticized the manner in which politicians were making inflammatory remarks, adding that, “when I listen to how some of us, politicians talk, but God is supreme, this nation will survive.”
On the theme of the conference: ‘Good Family, Make Good Nation’, Jonathan stated that the theme was unique and apt to the current realities in the country.
He said further that the theme “has a lot to do with the family. Even the bible says if the foundation is not right, what can the righteous do?
“People say all kinds of things, the kind of statements in the media, especially the social media can put the country into flame. But I believe Nigeria will overcome.”
Also speaking, the Senate President, Senator David Mark said the polls shift was a blessing in disguise, as many Nigerians would have been disenfranchised, with the initial election time-table.
“I want to be re-elected but I don’t want to go through the back door,” the senator said.
He reaffirmed the President’s position on interim government, re-stating, “no place for interim government in our constitution, so nobody should contemplate it.”
In his remarks, the CBCN President and Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama said: “the feverish barren political campaigns do not allow room for a national family spirit and the quest to win elections at all cost contribute to heating up the political temperature.
“We are then surprised that some people domiciled and doing business elsewhere are moving back to their hometowns for fear of political violence during the elections.
“We are deeply saddened by unedifying pronouncements by person or groups from the North and South, who threaten brimstone and fire should their preferred political candidate fail to win the presidential election.
“We have not relent in our conversation with the aspirants to ask them to do something urgently to check this ugly trend.”
The Conference called for a continuous interaction between President Jonathan and All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as part of efforts to ensure violence free polls.
Kaigama told the congregation that “We will like to see a friendly, social interaction between Mr President and Gen. Buhari and if possible with other aspirants where the issue is not elections, but a light – hearted conversation about the good of Nigeria.”
The Catholic Bishops also warned all clergy within their ranks to desist from being partisan.
The conference maintained that “as spiritual fathers to all, for the common good of all, they should avoid reckless and politically partisan utterances, liable to compromise their sacred role and confuse the flock.
“As Catholic politicians, they should be witnesses to the truth, Justice and peace that are the hallmark of our Catholic social teachings. It is often said that ‘politics is dirty’ they should dare to be different, armed with God’s grace.”
The Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan, John Cardinal Onaiyekan explained that “the hot competition between political parties should not make them forget the common objectives: justice, peace, prosperity, harmony, good order, and building a nation, we can all be proud of.
“The differences are in strategies and priorities. These are what should be presented to us, positively and transparently, to guide our free choice at the elections.
“There should therefore not be a room for negative campaigns. Personal insults and caricatures should give way to rational discussion of issues that concern us all.
“Truth must be sacrosanct even in politics. Lies, deceit, calumnies cannot move us forward. These are the hallmark of bad politics, which have not allowed us achieve the high level that we deserve as a nation.”
Onaiyekan stated that “these are what builds tensions, heats up the polity, spreads dangerous rumours and cause deep distrust among rival political groups. All these are not in the interest of our people.
“Mr President has declared publicly that he is committed to a free and fair election. While we believe him, we hope that he will not allow any of his supporters to poison his holy resolve.
“In the same vein, he has declared that not only 29 May, but also 28 March and 11 April are sacrosanct dates. There is no question of any new shift of dates. He has excluded any idea of a much speculated ‘interim government’ for which there is, in any case, no provisions in our constitution.
“These are sacred declarations from our President, which cannot be violated without the kind of serious consequence that is in nobody’s interest.
“It would be better therefore that we give Mr President the benefit of doubt, and stop sowing doubts that only raise tensions and create avoidable anxieties.”
The Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Kasujja expressed worry over the prevailing rate of extremism and terrorism around the country.
Kasujja urged Nigeria to brace up to the challenges of raising good families, as the prevailing outcome of terrorism emanated from broken homes.
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, represented by the Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Archbishop Nicholas Okoh called for a united front in building good families for better society.
Okoh stressed the need for the universal church, Nigeria in particular to rise up to the current challenges of terrorism and speak with one voice.
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