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Nigeria’s Unity, Stability Not Negotiable, Says President Jonathan

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…Offers To Dialogue, Reconcile With Terrorists Who Embrace Peace

BEVERLY HILLS, CA, May 29, (THEWILL) – President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday expressed his determination to protect Nigeria’s democracy, saying the unity and stability of the country, and the protection of lives and property are non-negotiable.

“I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism. The unity and stability of our country, and the protection of lives and property are non-negotiable.

“I have instructed our security forces to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil, “the President said in his Democracy Day national broadcast to mark 15 years of uninterrupted democratic governance in the country.

He however offered to dialogue and reconcile with terrorists and insurgents who embrace peace, saying “our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace.”

President Jonathan, who said he had ordered a low-key commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day in deference to the current mood of the nation, said there can be no doubt that the past 15 years, the longest period of sustained democratic governance in Nigeria, have been a blessing to the people of the country.

He also paid glowing tribute to all those who played a part in restoring the country to the true path of democratic governance, built on the foundations of rule of law and freedom of expression.

According to the President, “As a result of our collective efforts since 1999, democratic governance is now entrenched in our nation and institutions. I wholeheartedly believe that our people are the better for it. The scope of fundamental rights and liberties enjoyed by our people over the past 15 years has been expanded beyond measure.”

He noted that “we have witnessed high national economic growth rates, steady improvements and expansion of national infrastructure including airports and roads, the restoration of rail transportation, the efficient implementation of a roadmap for improved power supply, a revolutionary approach to agricultural production, as well as advances in education, sports, youth development, healthcare delivery, housing, water supply and other social services, ”among many other improvements.

He also said that Nigeria has also gained recognition as the largest economy in Africa, the most preferred investment destination in the continent and in terms of returns on investment, the fourth in the world.

“We are pleased that the world has noticed, as global leaders converged in Abuja early this month for the World Economic Forum in Africa,” he added, saying “The event not only witnessed a record attendance, it brought the prospect of an additional flow of investment into the Nigerian economy estimated at over $68 billion over the next few years.”

President Jonathan also thumped up his administration, saying “The National Conference we initiated to deliberate and make recommendations on the best ways of resolving our current political and socio-economic challenges is ongoing.

“It is our expectation that its outcomes will help to further consolidate the gains we have made from democracy in the past 15 years, and place our dear nation even more firmly on the path to greatness.

He however noted that with regrets that all the gains of the past 15 years of democratic governance are currently being threatened by the presence of international terrorism in the country. “Our dear country, Nigeria is facing a new challenge. A war has been unleashed on us. Extremist foreign elements, collaborating with some of our misguided citizens, are focused on an attempt to bring down our country and the democracy and freedom we cherish and celebrate today.

“The despicable abduction of school girls from Chibok in Borno State has brought to the awareness of the entire world, the heartless brutality of these terrorists who want to instigate a descent into anarchy and balkanise our nation.

“In recent years, terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of several of our compatriots, many have been injured or maimed, whole villages and communities have been destroyed and the economy of some of our states is in jeopardy,” he lamented.

The President however assured that though the war against terror may be difficult, the days of peace will come again.

“Terror is evil; nowhere in history has evil endured forever. The menace of Boko Haram will surely come to an end. I believe that because of your prayers, your courage, hard work, faith and sacrifice, we will ultimately prevail over the terrorists and all other evil forces,” he assured.

He also made an offer to those who have joined hands with Al Qaeda and international terrorists in the misguided belief that violence can possibly solve their problems, saying “our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace.”

President Jonathan said “My government, while pursuing security measures, will explore all options, including readiness to accept unconditional renunciation of violence by insurgents, and to ensure their de-radicalization, rehabilitation and re-integration into the broader society.”