ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – President Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated that interim government is not known to the Nigerian constitution, warning that such insinuation was tantamount to treason.
He assured that elections would hold on the new dates of March 28th and April 11th as announced by Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), noting that interim government can only be set up by the military, which will not be acceptable to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has urged President Jonathan to warn his aides and supporters to desist from poisoning his resolve and declarations that elections would hold on the new dates set by INEC and that the May 29th inauguration of a new government remained sacrosanct.
The President, who was at the opening mass for the plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Garki, Abuja, said there is no way he that was elected with clear mandate of the people would push for an interim government, assuring that his personal ambition would never supercede the interest of the nation.
According to the President, “There is no way Goodluck Jonathan elected by people with clear mandate will now go and head interim government. The only interim government anybody can constitute is that of the military government which of course will not be accepted. “ECOWAS, AU, UN won’t accept it. And Nigeria will not be a patriah state. Clearly the insinuation of interim government to me is treasonable.
“Elections will be conducted as scheduled by INEC”, he said.
The President, who again thanked Christians for the prayers for the nation, noted that the whole world was going crazy because of the bloodshed by terrorists including Boko Haram.
While commending the theme of the conference which is family, Jonathan described it as unique, noting that even the bible acknowledges that if the foundation is not right the righteous cannot do much.
He condemned utterances that were overheating the polity, portraying the country as going up in flames anytime soon in the media particularly the social media, expressing the belief that Nigeria would overcome her challenges.
Speaking more on the rescheduled dates of the elections, he said the postponement was a blessing in disguise, saying he shuddered to think about the casualty figure of the attack in Gombe State on February 14th, if the elections had held.
“Look at what happened in Gombe on February 14th, if the elections had been held the casualty figure after that attack in Gombe would have been great.
“It is better for us to conduct elections that will not be contested, elections that are credible, free and fair.
“We believe no criminal element can come and prevent us from conducting our elections
“I will not do anything because of personal interest that would jeopardise the interest of this nation.
“When I listen to how some of us politicians talk… but God is supreme this nation will survive”.
Onaiyekan stressed on the need for a loving nucleus family for a peaceful nation, a normal society and a morally upright society, adding that the nation needed to do more in promoting family life as a good family makes a good nation.
The Cardinal regretted the rivalry among political parties, urging them not to forget national priorities and justice among other things.
He urged that personal insults and caricature should give way to national discourse that would benefit all and that truth must be sacrosanct it must be the hall marks of politics.
Onaiyekan said, “Good families make a good nation. We can go even further to state that a good nation should be a family of families. The diversity of our nation is well known. But that is no reason why we cannot see ourselves as belonging to the same national family. Apart from the fact that the things we have in common far outweigh our differences, even those differences need not be causes for conflict and friction. If we acquire the habit of respecting one another, then our differences can become beauty to celebrate in harmony.
“Politics is very much in the air. It is a notable and sacred task meant to serve the common good of the family that is the nation. The hot competition between political parties should not make them forget the common objectives that everyone should be pursuing: justice, peace, prosperity, harmony, good order, building a nation we can all be proud of, etc. The differences are in strategies and priorities. These are what should be presented to us, positively and transparently, to guide our free choice at elections.
“There should therefore not be 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. They are the hall marks of the bad politics which have not allowed us achieve the high level that we deserve as a nation. These are what builds tentions, heats up the polity, spreads dangerous rumours and cause deep distrust among rival political groups. All this is not in the interest of our people”, he said.
On the rescheduled election, the cleric asked politicians to use the extra time to mend fences.
He warned that the dates should not be violated to avoid dire consequences.
He said while the president has promised the elections will hold and that May 29 remained sacrosanct for a new government to take over, he urged him to cautioned his supporters not to poison the air.
He said the dates are declarations by the President and he should be given the benefit of doubt.
According to Onaiyekan, ”However one judges the wisdom or even justice of the postponement of the elections, we should commend the political parties for patiently accepting a “fait accompli” that seriously disrupted the plans – and maybe even budget – of many of them.
“The nation will nevertheless be better served if we use the unexpected extra time to work for better outcome in our elections. Can we spend the time left to change attitudes, repair broken relationships and build trust. For example, Mr. President has declared publicly that he is committed to a free and fair elections. While we believe him, we hope that he will not allow any of his supporters to poison this his holy resolve.
“In the same vein, he has declared that not only May 29th but also March 28 and April 11 are sacrosanct dates. There is no question of any new shift of dates. By the same token, he has excluded any idea of a much speculated “interim government” for which there is, is 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 the doubt and stop sowing doubts that only raise tensions and create avoidable anxieties”.
Onaiyekan also spoke to the clergy urging them not to make reckless remarks and political utterances liable to comprise their sacred role.