President Goodluck Jonathan has cautioned Nigerians against mistaking elections for war, saying polls must not be seen as an opportunity to set fellow citizens against one another and tear the nation apart.
The president gave the warning this morning in his national broadcast on the 2015 general elections. He said:"Democracy allows dissent. It encourages differences and even fervent disagreements. But elections must never be mistaken for war or an opportunity to set fellow citizens against each other and tear our beloved nation apart".
He warned that he would clamp down on troublemakers in accordance with the laws of the land, saying the security agencies were fully prepared and ready to deal decisively with any group or persons attempting to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the elections or cause any form of public disorder.
"Those who may harbour any intentions of testing our will by unleashing violence during the elections in order to advance their political ambitions should think again as all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that any persons who breach the peace or cause public disorder during or after the elections are speedily apprehended and summarily dealt with according to our laws", he said.
According to him, Saturday's election is another very important milestone as Nigeria continues her march towards fulfilling her God-given potential for greatness.
"The election offers us another opportunity to empower leaders of our choice once again, and to show the world that genuine democracy is alive and well in our beloved nation".
Jonathan expressed belief that all Nigerians cherished democracy and would never willingly give it up for any other form of governance.
The president, however, noted that "this much-cherished democracy of ours is about to be put to the test once again".
He urged all Nigerians to troop out en-masse to peacefully perform their civic duty of voting for leaders of their choice on Saturday.
Jonathan, who reiterated his belief that no political ambition can justify violence or the shedding of the blood of Nigerians, also reaffirmed his preparedness to ensure fair play during the elections and to deploy the resources and institutions of state only in the manner prescribed by laws.
"Let me warn, however, that as President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, I am under oath to protect the lives of all Nigerians and the security of our country at all times. I will never abdicate my responsibilities in that regard", he emphasised.
The president urged all political party leaders, contestants, party members, agents, supporters and ordinary voters to be conscious of the fact that the eyes of the entire world are on Nigeria; saying citizens must comport themselves in a manner that would further strengthen Nigeria's democracy and consolidate her place in the comity of truly democratic nations.
He called on all political parties and politicians in Nigeria to allow the free, unfettered will of the citizens to be expressed without any hindrance in the coming elections in keeping with the hallowed principles and tenets of democratic governance.
"The will of the people freely expressed through the ballot is the bedrock of all democracies and ours cannot be an exception. Let's all therefore be prepared, as true democrats, to graciously accept the outcome of the elections as the rightful choice of our people from whom all political powers in our democracy must emanate. My administration has done its utmost best in the past four years to deliver on our promise to positively transform our country", he said.
He asked the citizens to go out on Saturday to vote peacefully and set a fitting example of political maturity for other emerging democracies to follow.
The president wished all Nigerians and the nation, very peaceful and successful elections.
He thanked Nigerians for giving him the opportunity to lead the nation in the past four years.
He said despite the many challenges Nigeria had to contend with since 1999, her present democratic dispensation continued to endure and grow stronger in keeping with the yearnings and aspirations of the citizens.
He said in keeping with his commitment to progressively delivering freer, fairer and more credible elections in Nigeria, his administration had given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) all necessary support to ensure that it conducts very successful elections on Saturday and on April 11.
"We have all been assured that INEC is fully ready for the elections. I believe that we can all trust that they are certainly more ready now than they may have been before security issues and other concerns necessitated a re-scheduling of the dates for the 2015 general elections. As an administration, we welcome the fact that millions of Nigerians who were yet to receive their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) as at February 14, and would therefore have been unfairly disenfranchised if the polls had gone ahead on that date, have seized the opportunity of the re-scheduling to collect their cards and can now exercise their right to vote tomorrow", he said.
Jonathan said he was also glad that our Armed Forces had successfully stemmed the seizure of Nigerian territories in the North-East by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
"They've recaptured most of the communities and territories formerly occupied by the insurgents, making it possible for thousands of internally-displaced Nigerians to begin returning to their homes and communities. I heartily commend the very courageous men and women of our Armed Forces for the immense sacrifices which they continue to make in defending the nation and protecting its citizens", he said.
The president also thanked all Nigerians for keeping faith with his administration over the past six weeks".
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