President Jonathan Restates Commitment To Peaceful Elections

jonathanPresident Goodluck Jonathan, on Wednesday in Abuja, reiterated his total commitment to ensuring peaceful, free, fair and credible elections come Saturday March 28 and April 11.

Speaking at an audience with a delegation of the National Committee on Peaceful Elections led by former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, President Jonathan urged all political parties, their candidates and supporters to approach the elections with more patriotism and a greater willingness to place the larger interest of the country above personal ambitions.

The President said that the Federal Government had worked very hard over the years to promote strong democratic institutions that will sustain the country’s democracy and will not tolerate any form of violence during or after the polls that could reverse the gains of the present democratic dispensation in the country.

“My cardinal principle has always been, and still remains that the ambition of any Nigerian is not worth the blood of anybody. I am not a violent person and I don’t tolerate violence in any form. I don’t believe that violence can be used to achieve anything meaningful in life.

“I am giving my total commitment to peaceful elections in the country, not because I am persuaded to do so, but because I believe in it,” President Jonathan said.

The President called on religious and political leaders, community heads and other senior citizens in the country to be vociferous in condemning incidences of electoral violence in the country, such as the stoning of opponents.

President Jonathan also said that he would be quite willing to meet and sign another peace accord with the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, to further emphasize his total commitment to a violence-free poll on Saturday.

The Chairman of the National Committee on Peaceful Elections, Gen. Abubakar commended the President for his consistency in insisting on peaceful, free and fair elections in the country at all levels.

Other members of the delegation were Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd.), Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, Prof. Zainab Alkali, Sam Amuka-Pem, Mrs. Priscilla Kuye  and Justice Rose Ukeje.

At another meeting with a group of international election monitors, President Jonathan gave an assurance that the coming elections would not generate the type of violence that followed the 2011 elections.

The international observers were from the African Union Group led by Dr. Amos Sawyer, the Commonwealth Group led by Dr. Bakili Muluzi, the European Parliament and the Republican Institute.

Sultan Of Sokoto Tasks Politicians On Keeping Of Promises

sultan

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, has advised political candidates of different political parties in Nigeria not to deceive the electorates with empty promises while seeking their votes and to ensure that all promises made were kept.

At a press conference held in Abuja on Monday, the Sultan assured Nigerians that nobody or group could make the country an Islamic State, dousing fears that had been built around the consideration of religion before electing any leader.

The Sultan also said that things were not going right in the country because of the attitude of politicians.

He also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections with the fear of God in them.

The INEC had promised that the election that would begin on February 14 would be free, fair and credible, despite challenges in its distribution of Permanent Voters’ Card across the oil rich nation.

It had also said it would achieve between 80 to 85 per cent distribution before the commencement of the election, extending the date of collection to February 8.

As the elections is fast approaching, there are series of political advertisement in the media to sell the candidates. Majority of these political advertisements are attack on personalities of the opposition parties in a bid to win the hearts of the electorates.

There have been calls from the populace for political campaigns to be issue-based rather than mudslinging that had been adopted by most political parties.

The Sultan’s concerns are  as a result of complaints that promises made by politicians in the past were not kept, a deceit he stressed should cease.

At the conference, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, also raised concerns over the rights of Internally Displaced Persons.

Clergies Blame Government For Oil Theft In Niger delta

John Onaiyekan Bishop
Bishop John Onaiyekan urged the government to act fast and check the oil theft affecting the Niger delta adversely

The Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have blamed government agencies and oil companies for the massive crude oil theft and poverty in the Niger Delta region.

Speaking at a meeting of stakeholders on Tuesday held in Abuja , the nation’s capital, the presiding Bishop, John Onaiyekan, criticised the government for not doing enough to reduce crude oil stolen daily which was estimated at 150, 000 barrels per day.

The Nigerian Navy recently confirmed that the nation loses about 20 billion dollars to crude oil theft annually.

Various local and international organisations have echoed this report, prompting the presidency to promise an end to the situation that has depleted the revenue generated from crude oil exploration.

Bishops, who have frequently visited these communities over years, said that government’s efforts appear fragile as activities like illegal refining had continued unabated.

The Archbishop of Abuja, Bishop Onaiyekan cited reasons behind the growing oil theft and spillage in the community while a Special Adviser to Bayelsa State Governor, Nemo Samaima, said the scars of the activities were unmistakable and had continued to threaten the livelihood of millions of people in the region.

In his reaction, the Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Mr Ohi Alegbe, said the issue had remained on the front burner of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s operation and that the Minister of Petroleum was working assiduously with a security committee to combat crude oil theft.

Question however continues as to whether or not these interventions by the government are yielding the desired impact on the people, whose farmland and source of livelihood are destroyed by illegal mining activities.

 

We’re Responsible For Our Sufferings, Sultan tells Fellow Northerners

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar has blamed the North for the present insecurity in the region.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar

He also blamed the region for being the architect of its underdevelopment.

Sultan Abubakar who is also the President of Nigeria’s Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs disclosed this at the Northern Nigeria Governors Peace and Reconciliation Committee meeting in Kaduna on Monday. He blamed northerners for inflicting heavy pains on themselves.

“Let us sit and talk freely and articulate positions that will bring us out of the quagmire we put ourselves. It is important that religious and traditional rulers from our various states sit together, so that each and every one of us will talk freely for us to articulate a position as the way out of this problem we find ourselves.

“We northerners have put ourselves in a quagmire, because whatever that is happening in the North is our own doing. This was because we did not do what we are supposed to do. And since we know that, we have to solve our problems ourselves. So, I think, it is not a bad idea that the committee was set up,” he said.

Speaking on the efforts of to bring peace to the country, the Sultan said. “We wrote a memo of about nine pages or thereabout covering various issues affecting the country and the north in particular to the then Acting President and now President Goodluck Jonathan, through the Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) where we suggested solutions to the problems.’’

In his own remarks, the Catholic Bishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, attributed the security challenges facing the North and the country in general to high level of poverty in the country and the region in particular.

Onaiyekan further said that another aspect of the problem was associated with religion, saying that, bad image of the country has spread to the outside world and there was need for the stakeholders to address the issue with a view to putting a permanent end to the problems.

Bad Character Not Religion Responsible For Violence In Nigeria – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned religious violence in the country saying that those who kill in the name of religion cannot be said to be worshipping god.

President Jonathan

President Jonathan made the observation in his remarks at a service organised to mark the 30th Episcopal Ordination and Celebration of the Elevation of Cardinal John Onaiyekan as a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Garki, Abuja.

The president described Cardinal Onaiyekan as a bridge builder and a true messenger of God expressing the confidence that one day the papal father will come from Nigeria.

He observed that most of the violence in society stem from people of questionable characters and called on the church to braze up to the responsibility of moulding people’s character.

The president said, “The Church, the government and the political actors have the same responsibilities and we believe that the Church is at the centre of society building.

“Some of the challenges we face today arise because of the character our people have.

“If the Church moulds the people especially starting from the children, Nigeria will be a better place,” he said.

He congratulated Cardinal Onaiyekan on his elevation, describing it is a significant achievement and honour for the clergyman and the nation.

He described the office of a cardinal in the Catholic Church as a position of great responsibility and service to humanity.

Pope appoints Kukah to Vatican’s Pontifical Council

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, as a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Vatican City.

Matthew Hassan Kukah with the Pope Benedict XVI

The 13-member Council is the highest decision and policy-making body for the Council for the Holy Father.

Kukah’s appointment is coming after the appointment of the Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan as a Cardinal.

The Bishop has recently had sundry of appointments and awards.

In May, the President of the Conference of Bishops of English and French speaking West Africa appointed Kukah as the Chairman of the Commission on Culture, Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism.

In February, he was elected Chairman of the Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.

He had earlier served the Council in five-year tenure when Francis Cardinal Arinze served as the President of the Council.

He was a delegate at the just-concluded Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelisation in the Vatican.