President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said that Nigerians had every reason to celebrate 50 years of independence anniversary especially because the country had remained together.
In his opening remarks at the Town Hall Meeting with a cross-section of the people of Bayelsa State on the second day of his state visit on Saturday October 23, the President disagreed with those who argued that there was nothing to celebrate, 50 years after independence, noting that to have remained together as one country was a big achievement.
“We must thank God for the level Nigeria has reached against the doomsday prediction years ago that Nigeria would disintegrate, but we are still together today and will remain together,” he declared.
President Jonathan while not disputing the fact that Nigeria might not have attained the level of countries of similar age especially in Asia and Latin America, however believed that a child showing good prospects in school must be encouraged to perform better rather than total condemnation, adding that, “If we can have good leadership in the next 15 years things will improve rapidly.”
The President who explained that the need to listen to the views of all segments of the society and clarify issues, informed his decision to have ministers accompany him and not to “defend anybody or put the federal or state government on trial.”
Responding to a question on constitutional role for traditional rulers, President Jonathan said he agreed with the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua that traditional rulers have very important roles to play, promising to liaise with the leadership of the National Assembly on the matter in a way that it will not be politicized.
On graduate unemployment and meeting the needs of those with physical disabilities, the President said that that the private was in a better position to provide jobs while “our goal is to create people who will create jobs,” even as he advised artisans to form cooperative bodies in order to successfully access the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) loans from government agencies.
Responding to a request for more political appointments for women, he noted that “we have no choice but to encourage our women since we cannot ignore half of our population,” while urging them to use their numerical strength by voting during elections, stressing that “we are promising you that your vote must count.”
President Jonathan advised the “youths to come together and give us hope that Nigeria of tomorrow will be great,” stressing that “our diversity should unite and not divide us.”
The President who was accompanied by the Ministers of Health, Education, Water Resources, Niger Delta, Information and Communications, Commerce and Industry, Aviation and the Minister of State FCT, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources (who represented the substantive Minister), used the second day of the visit to open the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Cash office in Yenagoa, while he also did the ground-breaking of the main CBN building in the state.
President Jonathan also commissioned township roads, a plastic factory, a specialist hospital, 100 commercial vehicles and inspected 950 transformers all built and bought by the state government.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Sunday urged Nigerians to continue to pray for peace in Nigeria and especially for a hitch-free 2011 elections.
Speaking at a thanksgiving church service at the King of Glory Chapel, Government House, Yenagoa, to mark the end of his three-day visit to Bayelsa State, on Sunday, October 24, the President said that with prayers and commitment to peace by everybody, all will be well with Nigeria.
“I know that God has a purpose for this country and means well for us and with your prayers 2011 will come and go,” he said.
On insecurity and apparent tension in his home state, President Jonathan noted that while it is not uncommon to have tension preceding elections in Nigeria at all levels because of the interest usually shown by many contestants in trying to win, politicians must remember that only one person can win at a time.
“God knows who He has blessed at any point in time and no human effort can change that,” he declared.
President Jonathan enjoined Bayelsans to “stop fighting ourselves and unite because if there is no peace in my state I will not come just as I will be advised not to visit any state where there is insecurity.”
The President however, expressed confidence that “having gone round the state and seen what was on ground, there is hope for Bayelsa State if peace and unity are allowed to prevail.”
Attributing his emergence from the position of deputy governor of the state to his current status as President of Nigeria to divine intervention, he also described the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996 by the regime of late General Sani Abacha as a miracle in spite of all odds, even as he urged the people of the state to cooperate with the state government in order to move the state forward.
President Jonathan explained that the essence of his visit to states is not just to inspect or commission projects, but “I need to come and interact with the stakeholders and see areas of cooperation and what can be done by the Federal Government.”
Prayers were offered for peace and unity to reign in Nigeria “before, during and after the 2011 elections,” while President Jonathan, Governor Timipre Sylva and their spouses and families were committed into God’s hands.
Bishop Peter Leghemo who preached the sermon titled “Understanding the Time,” reminded all Bayelsans to recognize that God had elevated their son at this time for a purpose and they must not miss this opportunity to support him in the 2011 polls.