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Jonathan and John Kerry

May 29 handover date is unchangable, Jonathan tells US

President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday assured all stakeholders including the United States of America that the May 29 handover date was sacrosanct.

He gave the assurance amidst calls by some individuals including the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), for the postponement of the February general elections.

According to a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President gave the assurance during a closed-door meeting he had with the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, at the State House, Marina.

The statement was signed personally by the President.

He said he had what he called “a candid and constructive discussion” about a broad range of issues with his guest.

He said he emphasised to Kerry that he was deeply committed to ensuring that the elections were free, fair and credible.

He added that he also promised his guest that his government would provide all resources required by the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct hitch-free elections.

Jonathan said, “I emphasised to Secretary Kerry that I am deeply committed to ensuring that our forthcoming election is free, fair, and credible.

“It is especially critical that all political parties abide by the Abuja Accord, which commits each to non-violence before, during, and after the election.

“I made it absolutely clear that the May 29th handover date is sacrosanct.

“In addition, the government will provide all resources that are required by the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that the election goes smoothly.

“I also emphasised that INEC is an independent body, which makes its own decisions without any interference from the government.”

The President said he was grateful to the US for standing with Nigeria and its people in the nation’s fight against Boko Haram.

He said he reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to working together with the US to put an end to global terrorism and particularly Boko Haram.

He promised that Nigeria would also work to deepen and consolidate its bilateral relationship with the US.

The President described Nigeria as a vibrant democracy and the largest trading partner of the US in Africa with over $18bn in bilateral trade.

He noted that the two countries and peoples shared a mutual admiration for one another and a deep commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights.

This, he explained, was why the two countries were jointly engaged in a struggle against “a common enemy that promotes terror, fear, division, and violates human rights, most especially of women and girls, with complete impunity.”

The President added, “Winning the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria and West Africa is absolutely essential to beat back the tide of religious extremism around the world.

“Our security forces have been working tirelessly and courageously to achieve this goal.

“I reaffirmed for Secretary Kerry that Nigeria is strongly committed to building the multinational task force to fight Boko Haram in partnership with Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

“Indeed, I called publicly for such a regional approach at the African leaders’ summit in Paris in May 2014 and more recently in multilateral meetings.

“We are pleased that the international community is now strongly united behind this initiative and agree that its success is critical.

“It is equally important that the multinational force receives the significant support that is required to address the threat through our global partners.

“The United States, more than any other country in the world, has the most experience fighting armed insurgencies.

“And having suffered the devastating attacks of 9/11, its people also understand the insecurity and fear that is the reality for the vast majority of peaceful, tolerant Muslims and Christians in north eastern Nigeria.”

[Punch]

 

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