Monday, May 30, 2011

President Goodluck Jonathan: 'I’ll not let you down'

WITH more than 40 world leaders and five former Nigerian presidents and heads of state to witness his inauguration for a four year term as Nigerian president, Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, yesterday, sealed a pact with Nigerians promising to turn their dreams into reality while declaring that the years of locust and cankerworm are over.

In his inaugural speech, President Jonathan cut the picture of a combatant on the battle front who is ready to fight to lift the standard of living of every Nigerian.

He said: “I will continue to fight, for your future, because I am one of you. I will continue to fight, for improved medical care for all our citizens. I will continue to fight for all citizens to have access to first class education. I will continue to fight for electricity to be available to all our citizens. I will continue to fight for an efficient and affordable public transport system for all our people.
I will continue to fight for jobs to be created through productive partnerships. You have trusted me with your mandate, and I will never, never let you down.

“I know your pain, because I have been there. Look beyond the hardship you have endured. See a new beginning; a new direction; a new spirit. Nigerians, I want you to start to dream again.  What you see in your dreams, we can achieve together.”

Nigerian former presidents and heads of state who were in attendance at the swearing in of President Jonathan included General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Ernest Shonekan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar as well as former Vice President Alex Ekuweme.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu administered the oath of office on him and Vice President, Namadi Sambo, at exactly 12.50 p.m.

President Jonathan in his speech rolled out a four-year development plan for Nigeria with special focus and attention on five keys areas of the economy including the real sector, infrastructure, education, agriculture and the Niger-Delta; and declared that “the time for lamentation is over now is the time for transformation.”

Growing the economy
He urged Nigerians including his rivals in the last presidential election to join him in his sincere determination to grow the Nigerian economy and place the country in its rightful position in the comity of nations; saying that “join me now as I begin the journey for our transformation.”

President Jonathan in his speech also sent a message to the rest of Africa, especially those yet to embrace true or people oriented democracy to do so immediately; saying that “we (Nigeria) fought for decolonization of Africa but now we will fight for democratization. I am confident that we have every reason to look to the future with hope. We owe ourselves and posterity the duty of making this country respectable in the comity of nations.

Nigeria, as a responsible member of the international community, will remain committed to the maintenance of global peace and security. We will continue to play an active role in the United Nations. Our role in the African Union, ECOWAS, and the Gulf of Guinea will be enhanced to ensure greater human and energy security.

This is a new dawn for Africa. We fought for decolonization. We will now fight for democratization. Nigeria, in partnership with the African Union, will lead the process for democracy and development in Africa. In particular, we will support the consolidation of democracy, good governance and human rights in the continent. Africa must develop its vast resources to tackle poverty and under-development.”

The colourful ceremony spiced with military parades, calisthenics by 1,050 students from both primary and secondary school, aerial displays by the Nigerian Airforce, and the traditional 21-gun salute, was witnessed by no less than 40 foreign heads of state and their spouses as well eight representatives of foreign leaders including prime ministers and vice presidents, and members of the diplomatic corps.

President Jonathan who was cheered intermittently as he read his speech stated that in the days ahead, his new government will demonstrate uncommon zeal towards the transformation of the common man, adding that the urgent and supreme task of this generation and administration is to provide equal opportunity for all Nigerians to thrive in a free society.

Rebuilding of infrastructure
He said: “Over the next four years, attention will be focused on rebuilding our infrastructure. We will create greater access to quality education and improved health care delivery. We will pay special attention to the agricultural sector, to enable it play its role of ensuring food security and massive job creation for our people.

The creation of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority will immensely contribute to strengthening our fiscal framework, by institutionalizing savings of our commodity-related revenues. With this mechanism in place, we will avoid the boom and bust cycles, and mitigate our exposure to oil price volatility. The lesson we have learnt is that the resolution of the Niger Delta issue is crucial for the health of the nation’s economy.  In the interest of justice, equity and national unity, we shall actively promote the development of the region.  I believe that peace is a necessary condition for development”.

Developmental priority
He disclosed that besides the real sector which will be given national developmental priority, in the next four years, infrastructure including power, energy; and air, road and railway transportations will also be prioritized with a view to reducing the suffering of our people, adding: “In every decision, I shall always place the common good before all else.

The bane of corruption shall be met by the overwhelming force of our collective determination, to rid our nation of this scourge. The fight against corruption is a war in which we must all enlist, so that the limited resources of this nation will be used for the growth of our commonwealth.” Jonathan declared that with the mandate given to him by the electorate during the last presidential poll he will not let the people down, saying that “with the mandate freely given to me, I want to assure that I will not disappoint our dear people.

The leadership we have pledged is decidedly transformative. The transformation will be achieved in all the critical sectors, by harnessing the creative energies of our people. We must grow the economy, create jobs, and generate enduring happiness for our people.

I have great confidence in the ability of Nigerians to transform this country.  The urgent task of my administration is to provide a suitable environment, for productive activities to flourish. I, therefore, call on the good people of Nigeria, to enlist as agents of this great transformation”.

The presidents who graced the occasion include the presidents of Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sao-Tome and Principe, Liberia, Senegal and South Africa. Others were the Presidents of the Republic of Niger, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, Cote de’ Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo -Brazzaville, Congo Democratic, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea -Bissau, Gabon, Guinea -Conakry, Mauritania, Namibia, Rwanda, Saharawi Republic, Mali, Togo, Ghana, Gambia, Zambia, Benin and Chad.

The roll call also includes the vice Presidents of the Federal Republic of Korea, Burundi, Gambia, Kenya and Tanzania and former Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda. Also present to grace the occasion was the Prime Ministers of Swaziland and Ethiopia. The Mayor of Dallas in the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Georgia were also present; while former Nigerian presidents and heads of state, present included General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Ernest Shonekan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar as well as former Vice President Alex Ekuweme.

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