PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has collected his Certificate of Return, following his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
as the winner of last Saturday’s presidential election.
It was given to him during a short ceremony on Tuesday at the Commission’s Airport Road Collation Centre in Abuja by the Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, who also presented a Certificate of Return to Vice-President Namadi Sambo for his emergence as the vice-president-elect.
In his remarks on the occasion, the president commended Professor Jega and his team for conducting a credible election that had been praised by both local and international observers, saying the success of the exercise was the beginning of good governance in the country.
According to him, “we really have to commend INEC. Professor Jega and his team have made Nigeria proud. Before now the international observers used to paint our elections in tainted colours but this year’s elections, first, that of the National Assembly and then the presidential, the information we have received and what we have read in the papers is that they have given us a pass mark.
“It has to be so because of the competence of INEC officers and the position of not compromising your independence. We thank you. All Nigerians are happy because you have placed us on higher rung of the ladder and others have seen us as people who conduct credible elections.
“This is the beginning of good governance. This is the beginning of economic development. This is the beginning of major changes in this country,” he said.
While thanking God for the grace to conduct the election, President Jonathan hoped that the next leg of the exercise would be better than the last two, saying, “we hope that, by the grace of God, the last leg of election coming on the 26th will be better than the presidential election. We thank God. It is God that made it possible. If it is man, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
He commended Nigerians for coming out en masse to participate in the exercise and for their cooperation with government and INEC, as well as for voting for him, saying that it was a clear demonstration of their patriotism.
Commenting on the riots in parts of the North over the election outcome, Jonathan said the development was regrettable, coming against the background of commendation from international observers who witnessed the election, but added that his administration would, in the next four years, focus on issues like that to prevent recurrence.
“It is regrettable that when international observers are commending us for credible elections, we witnessed some skirmishes in parts of the country. It is really regrettable. This is what happened in the late 50’s when some parts of the country witnessed things like this. But that is what the new generation leaders have to face.
“We will make sure that in the next four years, issues like this will not lead to riot. We assure Nigerians we will carry everyone along. We will run an open government where all Nigerians will play a key role, irrespective of party affiliations,” he said.
The president also addressed the issue of victims of the violence in the riots in the North and said that the government would take inventory of the lost properties, provide assistance for victims’ families and ensure that it would never happen again.
He called on religious and political leaders to condemn the riots, saying that government would work towards providing jobs for the nation’s unemployed youths, to prevent them from being used by unscrupulous politicians.