YENAGOA (Sundiata Post) – Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday received commendations from the local and international observer groups for Saturday’s Bayelsa State governorship elections, who described him as a model for credible elections.
Representatives of the 50 observer groups accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the election made this known while paying a courtesy call on the former President in his hometown, Otuoke, Bayelsa State.
The observers further praised Jonathan for leading the Commonwealth Observer Group to Tanzania’s presidential election, just as the former president noted that development follows credible and peaceful elections.
Amb. Emmanuel Nkweke, state co-ordinator of the Coalition of INEC Accredited Election Observers, who led the delegation told Jonathan that they chose to visit him because of his position as a former president and father of the people of Bayelsa State, adding that they were impressed by his achievements in organising credible elections while in office.
Nkweke said: “I wish to say that you have taught us the language of transparent and credible elections. We believe that the time has come for the celebration of your legacies in transparent and peaceful elections. In fact, by next year we should be celebrating one year of that.
“We want also to thank you for the exemplary leadership you displayed in Tanzania as chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group. It is an experience that we see as a standard in election monitoring. I was in Ghana for another assignment when the news of your excellent performance in that assignment was all over Africa and I was proud to tell my hosts in Ghana that you were my former President.”
Nkweke noted that all the observer groups had already deployed their members across the state and were ready to carry out their duties in Bayelsa in an independent and orderly manner.
In welcoming them, Jonathan charged the observers to be diligent in their assignment as a way of helping Nigeria boost its democratic credentials.
The former President said: “I have to commend you for the courage and commitment to embark on this assignment. This is an isolated election. Your job as an observer is not just to witness voting processes at the polling booths but also to follow up all the way to ensure that the tallying processes are credible.”
He said further: “Our challenge as a developing nation is to ensure that we encourage credible electoral processes. Elections must be credible, peaceful and transparent. It is only then that we can talk about development. Then leaders will begin to fulfil election promises; campaigns will be based on issues, and such issues will then become obligations. You can see that we are not there yet, but we are definitely making progress.
“As a person, my position on election is known not just here but globally. What that means is that a society that cannot elect their leaders decently can never develop. This is because if you should get to office through fraudulent means, you will only be listening to the few that helped you to get there, and not the people. But if it is the people’s vote that put you there, you will know that you are accountable to them, and your policies and programmes will be built around them.
“In the five years that I was in office as president, we conducted both general and many isolated elections in different states and my emphasis has always been that if we cannot get human beings to vote people into office, we should not expect such leaders to be accountable to the people. What I always advise young people is that if you want good governance, you should not allow yourselves to be used as local thugs to rig elections. So that your governors will know that if they don’t do well they would be voted out. That is what will force them to come up with programmes and policies that will be beneficial to the people.”