By Jaiyeola Andrews in Abuja
As the Presidential and National Assembly elections hold this Saturday, President Goodluck Jonathan has charged all political parties and politicians to allow the free, unfettered will of Nigerians to be expressed without any hindrance during the elections in keeping with the hallowed principles and tenets of democratic governance.
The will of the people freely expressed through the ballot, according to Jonathan, was the bedrock of all democracies and as such that of Nigeria could not be an exception.
The president spoke during the nationwide broadcast on the 2015 elections on Friday.
“As we prepare to go to the polls tomorrow, I have come before you this morning to express my immense appreciation for the opportunity you gave me to lead this great nation of ours in the past four years.
“I also wish to place on record, once again, my sincere gratitude for the support you have given my administration without which the significant progress we have made in recent years would not have been possible.
“In spite of the many challenges we have had to contend with since 1999, our present democratic dispensation continues to endure and grow stronger in keeping with the yearnings and aspirations of our people.
“We have all worked very hard to nurture and strengthen our democratic institutions and promote the good governance practices which they were designed to deliver for the better well-being of our people.
“I believe I can say without fear of contradiction that we all clearly cherish the democracy we now have and will never willingly give it up for any other form of governance.
“This much-cherished democracy of ours is about to be put to the test once again.
“I urge you all to troop out en-masse to peacefully perform your civic duty of voting for leaders of your choice tomorrow (today).
“As we do so, let us all – political party leaders, contestants, party members, party agents, supporters and ordinary voters alike, be very conscious of the fact that the eyes of the entire world are on us.
“We must therefore comport ourselves in a manner that will further strengthen our democracy and consolidate our place in the comity of truly democratic nations.
“I made a commitment on assumption of office to progressively deliver freer, fairer and more credible elections in our country. In keeping with that commitment, the Federal Government has given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) all necessary support to ensure that it conducts very successful elections tomorrow 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.
“We are also glad that our gallant Armed Forces have successfully stemmed the seizure of Nigerian territories in the North-East by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
“They have 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.
“I also thank all Nigerians for keeping faith with us over the past six weeks.
“I call on all political parties and politicians in the country to allow the free, unfettered will of our people to be expressed without any hindrance in the coming elections in keeping with the hallowed principles and tenets of democratic governance which we all profess.
“The will of the people freely expressed through the ballot is the bedrock of all democracies and ours cannot be an exception.
“Let us 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” Jonathan said.
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