Don’t govern until you are sworn in, Jonathan tells governors-elect

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President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday urged newly elected governors to stop interfering in the governance of their states, as the mandate of the incumbent governors runs till May 29.

“We must not set a precedent that will haunt us when we leave office,” Mr Jonathan said. “We are all indigenes of our states. If we must attract the respect of the people, then we must play politics without bitterness.”

He spoke at the first induction ceremony organised by the Nigerian Governors Forum – an association of state governors in the country – for the new governors at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Mr Jonathan told the governors-elect to perform their duties once sworn in or be ready to face the people’s judgment in future elections.

He said taking the country forward is the responsibility of all the elected representatives of the people. According to him, it is up to them to entrench, deepen and strengthen the structures and institutions of democratic governance in the country; enhance the welfare and well-being of the people; promote growth and development as well as inspire the people’s confidence in the political leadership.

“These, we can only achieve through transparent, accountable, purpose-driven, people-centered and God-fearing leadership,” he said.

“My belief and I hope your belief also, is that by the end of the next four years, Nigerians must see that the present generation of politicians have taken the country to a level that the generations to come will commend. We must set a clear agenda that will take us to the promised land,” Mr Jonathan said.

The president also said the present times call for a renewed resolve and renewed courage to face up to the sundry developmental and economic challenges confronting the nation. He urged political leaders to be at the forefront of preaching peace and harmony rather than violence.

“As chief law officers, we have the obligation of ensuring the security of lives and property of citizens of this country. On my own part, I want to assure you all the federal government’s preparedness to avail you all the requisite support at all times,” he said. “As we take oaths of office on 29 May, we have no choice but to show our people that we have the political will to address these urgent challenges, irrespective of the political parties that we belong to. We all have a common intent, a common call, a common commitment to improve the quality of life of our people. We must therefore narrow our political boundaries and resolve to work together to provide the basic amenities for our people. After all, most of the people who voted for us do not necessarily belong to political parties.”

Mr Jonathan said he will continue to run a Nigerian government that is totally committed to handling Nigerian problems without sentiment or bias.

Bringing change

A former minister, Maitama Sule, called for a mixture of the old and new breed in governance, saying “new breed without old breed will build greed”. Mr Sule said he remains optimistic that the country will come out of its current political quagmire, adding that “I begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. We must accommodate one another to realise our potentials”.

Blaming past leaders for the country’s woes, he also said “I believe we can still make it. Things can change, things are changing and I am beginning to see the change. We need peace. I see no reason why religion and tribalism should stand in our ways. No religion says you should coerce, we should live together, the essence of every religion is love.”

“I have seen signs of change, I have a dream we will come out of the woods, I have a dream Nigeria will take her place in the comity of nations,” he said. “Nigeria needs leaders not rulers who will not lie or steal; leaders not rulers who are not corrupt, leaders not rulers who are godly.”

A Catholic priest, Matthew Kukah, traced the source of the nation’s political woes to the effect of the long years of military rule and urged the leaders to focus on people oriented policies.

“There are very few people in the world that can take the kind of bashings that Nigerians have taken from our politicians and still stay together,” he said.

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