STORY FOR THE GODS…"I WILL HAND OVER IF I LOSE AND NO PLAN TO SACK JEGA"...AS TOLD BY GEJPRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has said he is prepared to hand over to a new government if he loses in a free, fair and credible presidential election in March.

Speaking during a live edition of Presidential Media Chat from State House, Abuja, on Wednesday, he said his major interest was to ensure the conduct of a free and fair election.

Jonathan noted that just like in 2011 when he expressed similar sentiment, he would gladly go home if he fails to secure the mandate of the people for a second tenure, saying that no politician’s ambition was more important than the interest of the country.

According to him, if he was ready to hand over in 2011 even if he was not voted into power, he would do the same in 2015 if he is not re-elected.

“If in 2011 I said I will conduct free and fair elections and if I lose, I will happily go home; it should be recorded that as at that time, no African sitting president had lost an election, but within this period, a number of African sitting presidents have lost election.

“I wanted to create history of being the first African sitting president that lost election, but let the world know that it was free and fair. Then, I just concluded the late president’s term, I was the president for about a year, acting for some months, but I said I would be happy to go, that this nation is more important than any human being.

“Anybody who wants to hold this office of the president or any office at all and feels that he is more important than the nation, that is not quite right.

“So, if as at that time I insisted that I was ready to conduct free and fair election and that if I lose I will go, not to talk about now that Nigerians have given me the opportunity to be here for four full years.

“So, if the elections are conducted and I lose, of course, we will inaugurate a new government. There is no way I will say if I lose, I will not hand over.”

The president assured that the election would hold and a new government inaugurated by May 29.

He asked Nigerians to disregard the rumour of the impending removal of the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor. Attahiru Jega.

Jonathan said those who said that Jega would be sent on terminal leave and another person appointed in his place to conduct election meant to deceive the public.

He said though INEC chairman and commissioners were appointees of the president, he had not told anybody that he would remove Jega, adding that people were using the opportunity of election shift to misinform Nigerians.

“How I wish Jega were here. I could have asked him to answer that question.

“If you ask Jega, he will tell you. I appointed all the commissioners and resident electoral commissioners in INEC. They are my appointees. So, if I feel that Jega is not good enough for obvious reasons, then I can, by that provision of the constitution that gives the person who appoints him the power to remove him. I have not told anybody that I am going to remove Jega.

“Some of these things are creations by people who want to cause confusion. A lot of people are using the rescheduling of the elections to misinform Nigerians,” he said.

Jonathan added that one thing about politics or leadership generally is that “when you are a leader, you have your members who support you.

“Maybe somebody has been making statements to advance your cause, the assumption is that the person is close to you and he is a fan. There are too many messages that go out and sometimes I call people. More than 80 per cent of people sponsoring these messages I don’t even know. So, whatever that person says is different from Jonathan.”

The president also revealed that though the National Council of State discussed the issue of election postponement, the government did not put pressure on the electoral body to shift the polls.

However, he added that the commission took into consideration, security advice, because it had to work with the security forces for a successful implementation of the elections.

He explained that the postponement of the election ought not to be a vexatious issue, but the nature of Nigerian politics had given it a different colouration.

The president observed that INEC was not fully ready for the conduct of the election on February 14 because of the challenges it faced in the distribution of permanent voter cards (PVCs).

On the fate of the Chibok girls, he assured that with the equipment recently acquired by the military and cooperation of Nigeria’s neighbours, the territories held by Boko Haram would be combed and some of the girls rescued within the next few weeks.

“Just give us some time. The situation we are now, just give us some time. We will recover them alive. They have been in the hands of criminals for a long time, but with the position now, I am more hopeful than before, because of what we have now and the cooperation of our neighbours,” he said.

Also at the briefing, President Jonathan dismissed threats of war from some quarters over the outcome of the elections.

Jonathan said anarchy would not be condoned in Nigeria, as the country was bigger than the interest of any individual.

According to him, journalists also have a duty to defuse tension in the polity through their reportage.

“We cannot destroy this country and we cannot encourage anybody who wants to destroy this country,” he said.

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