President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged that no matter how critical Nigerians are of his government, nobody will have to go on exile or prison under his watch.
This is even as he re-assured Nigerians that the current insurgency facing the country would be defeated, vowing also to prosecute public officers found to be corrupt.
The President lamented the effects of corruption on the nation, stressing that graft corrodes national development and has remained a stain in the nation’s life.
He however, pledged to fight corruption headlong and prosecute those found wanting, and gave instance of his administration having already saved the nation over N162 billion owing to discovery of over 56,000 ghost workers.
Jonathan who yesterday officially accepted to run for the 2015 presidential elections on the platform of the Peoples democratic Party (PDP), said having sought the face of God and consulted with his family, he was ready to heed the call of Nigerians.
The President asked for a minute silence to be observed in honour of the students killed in Government Science Secondary School, Potiskum, Yobe State, on Monday. He said: Our journey has not been without challenges, we have had to deal with insurgents, just yesterday (Monday) our young children were killed in school.
“This has cast a dark cloud over our nation we will overcome. We must get our daughters (Chibok girls) free and we must defeat terror. I will do everything humanly possible to defeat this terror”.
The President stated that three programmes have been put in place to help rehabilitate those affected by insurgents’ activities.
Jonathan said the presidential initiative was meant to improve infrastructure in the area hit by Boko Haram, the safe school initiative he said was to provide safe school environment for the children in school, while the victims support fund was to rehabilitate victims of terror.
Jonathan said the declaration affords him the opportunity to develop the country:
My vision is to create wealth for our people through agriculture. We took fertiliser from the greedy and gave to the needy.
“We will be exporting rice in the next five years with the development in agriculture. Nigeria reduced hunger and extreme poverty two years before the end of MDGs.
“The one thing that remains a stain in Nigeria is corruption, we have eradicated it in agriculture we will eradicate in other sectors. I will bring perpetrators of corruption to book. Public servants must live by example.
Any nation that ignores womanhood will not realise its potentials, the women I appointed and gave sensitive positions have done well and I can now say they have not disappointed me.
“There has been no political prisoners, no one has been driven to exile and no one would be driven to exile under my watch. Your views no matter how freely expressed will not send you to prison or exile. There is still more work to be done to move Nigeria to next level. We must defend our future for the sake of our children.
“I’m touched my common Nigerians. After seeking the face of God and after listening to the call of my people to run, I have accepted to present myself to run.
“Today we have gathered to listen to our president as he declares for 2015. It is a privilege for us all that after deep reflection and wide consultations has decided to heed the call and continue the good work he has been doing in Nigeria.
“Having worked with him, I can say he has been a blessing to Nigeria. He is not only a great boss but a listening boss”.
The Chairman Presidential Declaration Committee, Dr. Bello Haliru in his welcome said:
“We are not calling you to contest because we love you, but because of what you have done for Nigeria. We have heard testimonies and we will hear more from people who have benefited from you since you came into power”.
Former president of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Peter Esele, spoke about his experience working with Jonathan:
“I’m here to talk about my experience as president of TUC and PENGASSAN. I have had to work with three presidents while in office, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan.
Speaking for the North East, Dr. Hassan Adamu said: “History is made today, your millions of supporters in the north east. We asked you in 2011 that there was no fuel. You have established two universities, you have extended the railway to Bauchi, this is the time to pay you back”.
Speaking for the South South, Peter Odili, thanked Nigerians for the support given Jonathan: “We have absolute confidence in his capacity to do more, there are challenges but Nigeria has what it takes to win.”
Speaking for the North Central Jerry Gana, said: “We are in support of him, he is a performer, activator of railway, transformer of power sector and performer of agriculture”.
Speaking for the South West, Bode George said: “It is divine that he has decided to declare his intention to run. Those of us in South West we believe in the prediction of our leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, that a southerner will be president one day and today it has come to pass. We will give you the support so that in 2015 we will begin the journey of job creation”.
Speaking for the North West, Attahiru Bafarawa said: “We are here to witness this great day, to give our support to ensure you will win in 2015. There are lots of ministerial appointments from North West, the IG is from the North West. We will defend our reason why we are working for you and we will ensure you get 70 to 80 per cent from the North West. And to demonstrate how serious we are, We are donating a bus for campaign”.
Speaking for the South East, Senator Ken Namani said: “We are interested in your continuity. We don’t want second Niger Bridge to be abandoned. We want you to commission Niger Bridge, you can fix the bad roads in the East. Yes, we have problems of insurgence but you can fix it because you have the experience.
“We in the South East don’t want handout but want level playing field, we want competition”.
Speaking on behalf of PDP governors, Godswill Akpabio said: “We are here as field commanders, we are in 21 states and two half states Sokoto and Nasarawa because we have the deputy governors who are still in PDP here. We will work to ensure we win 29 or 30 states in 2015.”