Call your supporters to order, Onaiyekan tells president
Jaiyeola Andrews andâ€¨Paul Obi in Abuja â€¨
President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday warned those suggesting interim government, saying it is treasonable as such a system of government runs contrary to the nation’s constitution.
The president still reassured Nigerians that elections would hold on March 28 and April 11 as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to the president, it was only the military that could put an interim government in place but that it would not be accepted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).
But despite the assurance, Archbishop of Catholic Diocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, urged President Jonathan to call his aides and supporters to order in order to prevent them from jeopardising the president’s resolve and declarations that elections will hold on March 28 and April 11, as well as May 29 for the inauguration of a new government.
Jonathan spoke at the opening mass for the plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Garki, Abuja, with the theme: Good Families Make Good Nation.
While stressing that the nation comes first as against personal interest, the president also noted that any candidate elected with clear mandate of the people would never canvass for an interim government.
“There is no way Goodluck Jonathan elected by people with clear mandate will now go and head interim Government. The only interim Government anybody can constitute is that of the military government which of course will not be accepted. “ECOWAS, AU, UN won’t accept it. And Nigeria will not be a pariah state. Clearly, the insinuation of interim government to me is treasonable.
“Elections will be conducted as schedule by INEC,” Jonathan assured.
Besides thanking Christians for the prayers for the nation, the president equally stressed that the whole world was against bloody activities of terrorists.
He flayed the unguarded utterances by some individuals, which had been overheating the polity, insisting that the nation would overcome its challenges.
“Look at what happened in Gombe on February 14th, if the elections had been held the casualty figure after that attack in Gombe would have been great.
“It is better for us to conduct elections that will not be contested, elections that are credible, free and fair.
“We believe no criminal element can come and prevent us from conducting our elections.
“I will not do anything because of personal interest that would jeopardise the interest of this nation.
“When I listen to how some of us politicians talk, and the comments in the social media… but God is supreme this nation will survive,” Jonathan said.
Onaiyekan noted that it has become imperative for the nation to do more in promoting family life, pointing out that a good family makes a good nation.
Speaking on the conference theme, “Good Families Make a Good Nation, Onaiyekan stated that, “we can go even further to state that a good nation should be a family of families. The diversity of our nation is well known. But that is no reason why we cannot see ourselves as belonging to the same national family. Apart from the fact that the things we have in common far outweigh our differences, even those differences need not be causes for conflict and friction. If we acquire the habit of respecting one another, then our differences can become beauty to celebrate in harmony.
“Politics is very much in the air. It is a notable and sacred task meant to serve the common good of the family that is the nation. The hot competition between political parties should not make them forget the common objectives that everyone should be pursuing: justice, peace, prosperity, harmony, good order, building a nation we can all be proud of.
“The differences are in strategies and priorities. These are what should be presented to us, positively and transparently, to guide our free choice at elections, stressing that truth must be sacrosanct even in politics.
“There should therefore not be room for negative campaigns. Personal insults and caricatures should give way to rational discussion of issues that concern us all. Truth must be sacrosanct even in politics. Lies, deceit, calumnies cannot move us forward.
“They are the hallmarks of the bad politics, which have not allowed us achieve the high level that we deserve as a nation. These are what build tension, heat up the polity, spread dangerous rumours and cause deep distrust among rival political groups. All these are not in the interest of our people,” Onaiyekan said.
On the rescheduled election, the clergy said: “However one judges the wisdom or even justice of the postponement of the elections, we should commend the political parties for patiently accepting a ‘fait accompli’ that seriously disrupted the plans – and maybe even budget – of many of them.
“The nation will nevertheless be better served if we use the unexpected extra time to work for better outcome in our elections. Can we spend the time left to change attitudes, repair broken relationships and build trust.
“For example, Mr. President has declared publicly that he is committed to a free and fair elections. While we believe him, we hope that he will not allow any of his supporters to poison this his holy resolve.
“In the same vein, he has also declared that not only May 29th but also March 28 and April 11 are sacrosanct dates. There is no question of any new shift of dates. By the same token, he has excluded any idea of a much speculated “interim government” for which there is, in any case, no provisions in our constitution.
“These are sacred declarations from our President, which cannot be violated without the kind of serious consequence that is in nobody’s interest. It would be better therefore that we give Mr. President the benefit of the doubt and stop sowing doubts that only raise tensions and create avoidable anxieties.”
Onaiyekan, who had some words for clergies, said: “the clergy should lead in this regard. As spiritual fathers to all for the common good, they should avoid reckless and politically partisan utterances, capable of compromising their sacred role and confuse the flock.
“We commend and encourage our lay members to have decided to take on the apostolate of public life, in the spirit of service and not for selfish aims.
“As catholic politicians, they should be witnesses to the truth, justice and peace that are the hallmark of our Catholic Social Teaching. If it is often said that: “politics is dirty”, they should dare to be different, armed with God’s grace, and play a clean game, even at the cost of being declared losers at the polls.
In his opening remarks, the CBCN President and Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama said: “the feverish barren political campaigns do not allow room for a national family spirit and the quest to win elections at all cost contribute to heating up the political temperature.
“Are we then surprised that some people domiciled and doing business elsewhere are moving back to their hometowns for fear of political violence during the elections?
“We are deeply saddened by unedifying pronouncements by persons or groups from the North and South who threaten brimstone and fire should their preferred political candidate fail to win the presidential election. We have not failed in our conversation with the aspirants to ask them to do something urgently to check this ugly trend.”
In a more strategic approach to ensure violence-free 2015 elections, the Catholic Bishops called for a continuous interaction between president Jonathan and All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Kaigama told the congregation that: “We will like to see a friendly, social interaction between Mr. President and Gen. Buhari and if possible with other candidates where the issue is not elections but a light-hearted conversation about the good of Nigeria.” that concern us all.
The Senate President, David Mark, also assured that government will continue to bring normalcy in the North-east, while also promoting economic growth.
The Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Kasujja expressed worry over the pervading rate of extremism and terrorism around the country.
Kasujja urged Nigeria to brace up the challenges of raising good families, as the prevailing outcome of terrorism emanated from broken homes.
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, represented by the Primate of Anglican Communion, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh called for a united front in building good families for the betterment of society.
The ceremony was attended by former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Pauline Tallen amongst other top dignitaries.
Thisday News – Culled from http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/jonathan-interim-govt-is-treasonable/202514/