Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan on
Wednesday called on terrorists and insurgents waging war against the Nigerian
state to lay down their arms and embrace peace.
In a broadcast to mark Nigeria's 54th independence
anniversary, Jonathan restated the commitment of his administration to bringing
all terrorists to justice and making the country safe for all.
He extended the olive branch to those with genuine
grievances, saying that government would listen to them if they embrace
promising to empower to enable the Armed Forces destroy
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"On an occasion like this, it is important that we remember
all the precious souls that have been lost in the unprecedented war of terror.
"This war is unleashed on some parts of our country by
these individuals who want to compel us to live our lives their way. They will
"In their mission, they have maimed and raped. They have
killed men, women and children, rendering many children orphans and several
"They have made violence their ideology and are bent on
destroying our country. Dear countrymen and women, we will not allow them.''
Jonathan paid tributes to the security and armed forces for
their commitment and sacrifice even in the face constant challenges and mortal
"Night after night, day after day, our security forces
continue to engage the terrorists in battle.
"My gratitude goes out to our armed forces whose will has
been greatly challenged by this insurgency more than any other time since the
"Yet, they have remained undaunted and unwearied in the
face of constant challenges and mortal danger.
"Fellow Nigerians, it is our collective duty as patriots
to avail our men and women in uniform of all the support they need to fight and
win this war.
"I urge every Nigerian to put aside political, sectional or
other parochial considerations, and support whole-heartedly the efforts of the
government and the military in checking this evil,'' he said.
The president said that while the government continued to
deploy resources in the fight against terrorists, it would also pursue
initiatives aimed at bringing succour to victims of terrorism in the country.
He said that the recently launched Victims Support Fund,
which would aggressively solicit resources to complement other government's
intervention programmes, was one of such initiatives.
"In partnership with Nigerian business leaders and
international partners, we have also introduced the Safe Schools Initiative
which is aimed at promoting safe environments for education nationwide,
starting with the North East region.
"The Presidential Initiative for the North East, a
comprehensive programme to fast-track the economic restoration of this region,
which has been the epicentre of terrorist activity, has been set up.
"Our overall objective is to do all we possibly can to
sustain in the North East, the momentum of economic advancement, which is
on-going in other parts of the country, despite the machinations of the
terrorists and their sponsors.
"It should now be clear to anyone who was ever in doubt
that these terrorists do not mean well for anyone of whatever religion or
"Their persistent choice of the weakest and most vulnerable
in society, for gruesome attack, provides an insight into their abnormal
The president expressed gratitude to the international
community, especially the country's neighbours, for working closely with
Nigeria in confronting terror.
According to him, the steady progress being made by the
country against insurgents justifies its cooperation with the international
Savouring the success of the 2014 National Conference,
Jonathan described it as the greatest centenary gift to the country which all
Nigerians must cherish and sustain.
He noted one lesson that the conference had taught all
Nigerians was that a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria must learn to embrace
painstaking dialogue until consensus was established.
"In my independence anniversary address last year, I
informed you that we had taken cognisance of the suggestion over the years by
well-meaning Nigerians on the need to focus attention on rebuilding and
strengthening the ligaments of our union.
"It was in that regard that we announced the convening of a
national dialogue on the future of our beloved country.
"We have successfully delivered on that promise as we
established the 2014 National Conference headed by Justice Legbo Kutigi.
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"After months of deliberations, which did not come without
its challenges, the conference concluded its assignment and has handed its
report to me.
"I have made the commitment that we would act on the
recommendations of the conference.
"This, I have started by setting up the ministerial
committee headed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to work
out the modalities for implementing the Report.
"Every promise I make, God willing, I will see to its
fulfilment. I assure you, we shall implement the report,'' he said.
The president also renewed his administration's commitment
to building and sustaining a strong democratic institution anchored on credible
He said that the endorsement of the results of recent
elections in some states by both local and international observers attested to
the ``positive evolution of electoral credibility'' in the country.
"We cannot afford to relent. We will continue to ensure
that the will of the electorate prevails so that political leaders would be reminded
at all times that there is a day of reckoning when they have to go back to the
people at the polls.
"Election days must not be days of violence and death. We
must remain vigilant to ensure that our electoral process is characterised by
peace, security and transparency.
"I enjoin the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC), all security agencies, politicians and the electorate to work
conscientiously and peacefully together to consolidate on the gains of the
"Free and fair elections have come to stay; nothing else
will be acceptable to our people.''
Jonathan noted that "desperate'' moves to overheat the
polity were becoming regular occurrence as the country moved into an election
"Our political leaders in particular must know that the
contest for power should not translate to the destruction of the polity.
"The contest for the leadership of our country must yield
good governance, and not ungovernable spaces. The love of country should rank
higher than our individual ambitions.
"We must remain committed to a united and indivisible
Nigeria within democratic parameters.
"The protection of individual rights, liberty, equality
before the law, freedom of thought, and a progressive pursuit of a sound
economy must be our goal.''