"Free and fair election?, This is just the beginning", says Jonathan

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Goodluck Jonathan's cartoon

President Goodluck Jonaathan has thanked all Nigerians for their commitment to the sustenance of democracy in the country and most especially for the enthusiasm they have shown in the current elections.

According to the president, from all indications and information available, Tuesday’s gubernatorial and State Assembly elections had been well-conducted in most parts of the country where they were held .

He expressed the hope that, though the elections in the country have been praised for their credibility, the 2015 election would be even better, asserting that everyone had a role to play.

The president was speaking to journalists after voting in his hometown, Otueke, in Bayelsa state just after casting his votes. He had offered to respond to journalist questions just as he and members of his family cast their votes.

“I will ensure that we conduct free and fair election. What I promise now is that the 2015 will be better elections because we will improve,” said Mr Jonathan, assuring the nation the nation’s authentic democracy has arrived.

The president praised the courage of the National Youth Service Corps members for their conduct as ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, assuring them that government was aware of their plight and was doing everything possible to protect their lives.

President Jonathan said that the rescheduled elections in Bauchi and Kaduna States will hold on Thursday as planned, but if the elections were not held, the federal government may be forced to impose a state of emergency in the two states.

He added: m”There is no reason why the elections would not go on as scheduled because more security personnel would be deployed to the two states2.

The president explained that even though Nigerians generally have a misconception about the declaration of a state of emergency, which is supposed to be used only as a last resort, it may not necessarily lead to the ouster of the state governors.

The Crest

“State of emergency, sometimes people don’t even understand. I got to know that when you impose a state of emergency, by law, the governor is not supposed to leave. That is what my attorney general of the federation told me. We will find out.”

He added, “If you declare a state of emergency in any state, invariably, what you are saying is that there is nothing like development in that state. You appoint a military administrator and use the money to make sure there is security and this is not the best.

“There may be two reasons why people are talking about state of emergency, either because the situation is still so bad or alternatively if by 29th of this month we are unable to conduct election in any state, then by law you can’t conduct any election in any state again until after inauguration because we need 30 days.

“In that case we have no choice than to declare a state of emergency. But as a president you cannot just rush to declare state of emergency. It should be the last when everything fails because this is the state of emergency that is probably for six months or even if it is three months, these are three months of stagnation. We cannot just rush that. That is why we deferred the election for Kaduna, Bauchi ‘til Thursday.”

Mr Jonathan added that the government was keenly studying the situation in both states before taking any decision.