The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, says the gains of democracy is being threatened by increasing insurgency in the north east, but reiterated government’s commitment to ending the insurgency and restoring ‘days of peace’.
In a Democracy Day message on Thursday, President Jonathan said the government, while pursuing security measures, would explore all options, including readiness to accept unconditional renunciation of violence by insurgents and to ensure their de-radicalisation, rehabilitation and re-integration into the broader society.
He urged Nigerians to remain united in order to win the war against terrorism.
“Christians, Moslems, farmers, fishermen, herdsmen, teachers, lawyers, clergy or clerics, the rich, the poor and Nigerians from all sections of the country must work together with our security agencies and armed forces to overcome the terrorists who now threaten all that we hold dear.
“The war against terror may be difficult, but the ‘days of peace will come again’. Terror is evil; nowhere in history has evil endured forever. The menace of Boko Haram will surely come to an end. I believe that because of your prayers, your courage, hard work, faith and sacrifice, we will ultimately prevail over the terrorists and all other evil forces,” he said.
True Beginning Of Democracy
President Jonathan stressed that Nigeria had made notable progress since the first Democracy Day on May 29, 1999 when the military finally relinquished power and handed over to a democratically-elected government.
According to him, the handing over of power marked the true beginning of a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
President Jonathan had ordered a low-key commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day in deference to the current mood of the nation. He insisted that there could be no doubt that the past 15 years, the longest period of sustained democratic governance in Nigeria, had been a blessing to Nigerians.
He called on all Nigerians to pay tribute once again to all those who played a part in restoring the nation to the true path of democratic governance, built on the foundations of rule of law and freedom of expression.
He listed the achievements of his administration to include high national economic growth rates, steady improvements and expansion of national infrastructure including airports and roads, the restoration of rail transportation, the efficient implementation of a roadmap for improved power supply, a revolutionary approach to agricultural production, as well as advances in education, sports, youth development, healthcare delivery, housing, water supply and other social services.
In the oil and gas sector, he pointed out that the promotion of a sustainable local content policy had continued to guarantee equity and better opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs and skilled personnel.
Significant increase in mobile telephone and national broadband penetration, making Information and Communications Technology (ICT) one of the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy, were other remarkable achievements he described as gains of a democratically elected government.
He, however, described as sad, the fact that “all the gains of the past 15 years of democratic governance are being threatened by the presence of international terrorism on our shores”.
“Our dear country, Nigeria is facing a new challenge. A war has been unleashed on us. Extremist foreign elements, collaborating with some of our misguided citizens, are focused on an attempt to bring down our country and the democracy and freedom we cherish and celebrate today.
“The despicable abduction of school girls from Chibok in Borno State has brought to the awareness of the entire world, the heartless brutality of these terrorists who want to instigate a descent into anarchy and balkanise our nation.
“In recent years, terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of several of our compatriots, many have been injured or maimed, whole villages and communities have been destroyed and the economy of some of our states is in jeopardy.
“There can be no doubt that what we are witnessing in Nigeria today is a manifestation of the same warped and ferocious world view that brought down the Twin Towers in New York, killed innocent persons in Boston and led to the murder of defenceless people in the Southern Russian city of Volgograd,” he said.
President Jonathan commended the security forces for their effort in combating terrorist activities and called on all Nigerians to show confidence in their ability, expressing optimism that with the support of Nigerians, neighbouring countries and the international community, Nigeria’s defence would be reinforced in order to free the over 200 girls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorist group and rid Nigeria of terrorists.