President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday faulted those condemning the massive deployment of security personnel during the recent governorship elections in the country, saying the move was to ensure credible elections and not to manipulate the process.
He also declared that certain individuals, who have been prophesying doom for the country during and after the 2015 general elections, would be disappointed as the poll would come and go without incident.
The president spoke at an interfaith conference held at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, with the theme: ‘The Imperative of Interfaith Understanding and Cooperation for Responsible Politics’, organized by the Interfaith Initiative for Peace.
Jonathan also lambasted some politicians, who he said, had been making reckless and irresponsible remarks that were capable of stoking tension and inciting people to take laws into their hands with a view to destabilizing the country.
According to him, these unguarded remarks, rather than being borne out of the genuine concern for Nigeria, are the ranting of enemies of peace who “are only trying to spoil the mood and create tempestuous temperature”, adding that they would also fail.
He noted that government must ensure that Nigerians are not killed during and after elections.
Jonathan said: “I’m surprised that some political parties are agitating that government should withdraw security during and after elections. What surprises me most is that even some labour leaders are agitating that government should not secure people during elections.
“And I wonder how short human memories are. We just finished 2011 elections and we are talking about three years ago or quite close to four years ago and we know what happened in Bauchi where about 10 youth corpers were slaughtered in that elections.
“We know what happened in Kano; properties worth millions of naira were destroyed, and some of the people have not gotten back their houses.
“We know what happened in Akwa Ibom where some criminals even had to severe the genitals of some men in the name of politics – demons who want to hold political office. In that kind of situation, how would a person who calls himself a labour leader come out publicly to say government should not secure people. I don’t agree with them. My promise of free and fair elections is clear”.
Dispelling the predictions of those he described as doomsday prophets, Jonathan said the country would overcome its challenges.
“As the 2015 elections draw near, the dooms day prophets are out and predicting how Nigeria is going to catch fire next year. In the opinion of some so-called experts, our ethnic and religious differences are bound to boil over. They portray us as doomed to fail.
“But I can say categorically that Nigeria will not disintegrate. We will not fail. We will surely get over our challenges and become even a stronger nation”, the president insisted.
In his keynote address, co-coordinator of the conference, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, said one of the major tragedies of the Nigerian state was the demonisation of politics.
According to him, politics has been associated with duplicity, dishonesty, corruption, and self-enrichment by all means, oppression of opponents, disregard of the poor and weak and uncompromising attitude of the do-or-die in relation to political rivals and competitors.
Another co-coordinator of the conference and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, noted that the aim of the conference was to deliberate on the 2015 election and the maintenance of peace in the society ahead of the election.
Abubakar called on Nigerians to unite in honesty, regardless of religious differences, to fight the situation, and averred that poverty, injustice and unemployment were among the causes of insecurity that must be tackled head-on.