Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday assured the international community that the 2015 elections would be peaceful, free and fair.
Jonathan gave the assurance when he hosted the members of the Diplomatic Community to a New Year cocktail at the Presidential Villa.
He spoke against the background of possible apprehension owing to the recent heightened political development in the country.
“I know that one thing that must be agitating the minds of diplomats that are here and the heads of your government is the next general elections in this country.”
“The general elections will take place early next year, but the processes that will lead to the elections will commence this year.”
“Parties will select their candidate through primaries this year, campaigns will commence this year, so this year will be full of activities and I know that there is some apprehension with the elections.”
“I do not know the kind of correspondences that you have been dispatching to your own countries about that, but let me reassure you that the election this year will even be better than in 2011.”
“Let me reassure you that the general elections that will come up next year will be better than the elections you witnessed in 2011,” he said.
Jonathan said that as the nation progressed into the year, some of the tensions would come down.
According to him, at the beginning of the electoral processes in most countries, especially developing nations, tensions use to be quite high even in developed countries.
“That is what we are witnessing now, but all these will come down.”
“We will make sure that we maintain peace and security and that elections are conducted in the manner that will be seen as free and fair by everybody.”
The president seized the opportunity to solicit the support of the international community in the conduct of the forthcoming elections.
“I thank the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, who has already promised that some of the organisations and countries that helped us in the 2011 elections, will also help us again.”
“I am placing before you to communicate to your organisations and countries that we still need your assistance to make sure that the INEC conducts elections that is better than what they did in 2011.”
He also urged the diplomats to use their good offices for their countries to participate in the nation's centenary celebration.
Jonathan said the high point of the centenary celebration would take place Feb. 27, and he had already extended invitations to various countries.
He expressed gratitude to some nations which rendered logistics and other supports to the nation in the fight against terrorism.
He said the world should, in 2014, place priority attention to sustaining efforts at conflicts resolutions through dialogue and fight against terrorism.
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corp and the High Commissioner of Cameroon to Nigeria, Abbas Salaudeen, thanked the president for the interaction, and for taking out time to interface with them.
He described the event as “a great moment of fraternity”.
Salaudeen congratulated the country on its 100 years of existence, adding that the members of the diplomatic community were ``lucky to be part of the centenary celebration’’.
He said the year 2014 was also special because it would herald a political transition.
The doyen of the diplomatic community assured that they were committed to providing everything necessary to make the 2015 election a success.
He also hailed Jonathan's decision to convene national dialogue, noting that Nigeria had played host to remarkable numbers of foreign leaders because of improved and positive diplomacy of the country.
He said eminent Nigerians have also been elected into dignified international positions
Salaudeen said despite internal challenges, Nigeria was currently present in eight countries keeping peace.
He urged the president to continue with the positive steps in placing Nigeria high in global records.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports more that 40 Ambassadors and High Commissioners attended the event.