BY VICTORIA OJEME
ABUJA — President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, declared that, there is no alternative to democratic governance, assuring of the commitment of his administration to continue to work to strengthen democratic institutions and entrench the rule of law in the country.
President Jonathan spoke at the opening of a two-day National Workshop entitled, ‘Strengthening Democratic Traditions and Institutions,’ organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Community of Democracies in Abuja.
The president, who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, decried the practice in the past where political parties indulged in seeking power by any means, including indulging in electoral mal-practices and violence.
“Now our democracy focuses on returning power to the people through credible elections, thus consolidating our greatness as a country.
“This tremendous leap came as a result of our resolves to ensure that votes count and in 2011 we conducted general elections that were adjudged by international and local observers as free, fair, transparent and credible,” he said.
He pledged the commitment of the government to continue to support the Independent National Electoral Commission’s capacity to conduct credible polls as witnessed by the elections of Bayelsa, Kogi, Edo and Ondo states.
“Respect for human rights, justice and the free choice of Nigerians remain fundamental to the policies of this administration.
“We have vigorously applied the rule of law by ensuring that organs of the state obey court orders and judgements, subject to rights of appeal as provided in our constitution,” Jonathan added.
The Secretary General of the Community of Democracies (CoD), Ambassador Maria Leissner in her address commended Nigeria for establishing the ‘Group of Friends of Mali’, an initiative made up of democratic countries to assist and support Mali in its transition to democracy.
“Democracy and peace belong together, there are no two democracies at war with each other or threatening each other with attacks. They have conflicts, but these are dealt with in peaceful manner. It is the only form of system compatible with human dignity,” she said.
Leissner commented on the presidency of the CoD which Nigeria would assume in 2015 noting that it is time for Africa to get on the world stage as the global perception changes from a continent which was look down upon, to one with educated people, democrats ad growing economies.
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