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Published On: Fri, Jan 2nd, 2015

‘FG committed to vibrant economy, free polls’

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BJega-Polling-Unity Lawrence Olaoye & Ayodele Samuel, Lagos

President Goodluck Jonathan has said in 2015, his administration will continue to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy that attracts significant Foreign Direct Investment and promotes policies that ensure economic stability.

Jonathan, who stated this in his New Year broadcast to the nation Thursday, said the Federal Government will continue to ensure stability in the value of the Naira by striving to take away speculative behaviours that cause market exchange pressures.

He also said that government will continue to build and maintain healthy external reserves position and strengthen fiscal buffers. “We will ensure the Naira remains strong, and gives foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need, to guide future investment decisions.

“We will continue to improve our payment systems and strengthen risk-based supervision mechanism for Nigerian banks to ensure overall health and stability of the banking system,” President Jonathan promised.

He said the Federal Government is introducing a broad spectrum of financial instruments to boost sector-specific enterprise areas in agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), manufacturing, and oil and gas to enhance our aggregate supply capacity, reduce poverty, promote job creation and increase the general well-being of our people.

“These efforts and other measures being spearheaded by relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies are geared to ensure a secure future for Nigeria and create a much more prosperous country, where people live more peaceful and fulfilled lives,” he said.

President Jonathan, similarly assured Nigerians that his administration will remain fully focused on providing good governance and the delivery of better public services to the people.

He said that, “the coming campaigns and elections will not distract us from our ongoing work to significantly improve the living conditions of our people. And I urge all tiers of government not to be distracted as well.

“The elections are very important for us as a country. Their successful conclusion will further strengthen our democratic institutions and place our beloved country even more firmly in the comity of truly democratic nations.

“Given the challenges that have characterized some previous electoral contests in our country, the eyes of the world will certainly be on the conduct and outcome of our fifth post-military rule general elections.” He explained

Jonathan reassured all Nigerians and the International Community of government’s firm commitment to free, fair and credible elections. “My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote remains unwavering.” He said

The President said his administration will continue to provide adequate funding to INEC and maintain the Commission’s independence and isolate it from any form of interference or meddling in its day-to-day affairs. “This shall continue to guarantee its impartiality and ability to conduct more credible and acceptable elections.” He added

He said that the national security agencies will also be given all necessary support to enhance their ability to ensure that the elections are peaceful and violence-free, noting that the Nigeria Police has already established an Elections Security Planning and Monitoring Unit.

In a swift reaction Thursday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) welcomed the stated commitment of President Jonathan, in his New Year message, to the conduct of free, fair and violence-free elections this year, but urged the President to match the commitment with action.

In a statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party expressed satisfaction that the President and his party have come out publicly to join the APC in pledging commitment to successful and violence-free polls next month.

“In a statement we issued on Dec. 28th 2014, we assured Nigerians that we will do everything in our power to make the 2015 elections violence-free. Since then, PDP National Chairman Adamu Muazu and the President have joined us in making similar pledges. This is a welcome development that will gladden the hearts of our citizens who are very apprehensive about the forthcoming elections,’’ it said.

APC however said the best way to make the elections free, fair and devoid of violence is for the Federal Government to ensure a level playing field for all the parties by not tampering with the independence of INEC; not using the security agencies to witch-hunt the opposition and not deliberately disenfranchising all those who are qualified to vote.

“If an election is free, fair and transparent and seen to be so by all, it will be easy for all concerned to accept the outcome, and there will be no violence. Violence only occurs when there is a realization that the process has been skewed against some and in favour of others,’’ the party said.

 

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