Senate President, David Mark, on Tuesday assured Nigerians that the nation will not disintegrate after the February general elections contrary to predictions that the continued existence of the country as one entity would be decided by the crucial poll.
Mark, who stated this in his welcome address on resumption of plenary after the Christmas and New Year holidays, asked his colleagues to see the forthcoming election as a national challenge by playing a major role to ensure a peaceful exercise.
He said, “Despite the much vaunted fear, apprehension and anxiety that our nation may not survive the elections by some dooms day prophets, I personally remain optimistic that we have the strength of character, the political will, the perseverance and maturity to rise above all the challenges that lie ahead.
“We are all leaders and I know that we will work towards peace and harmony. Our nation will not disintegrate after the elections”.
He appealed to politicians and the entire political class, to support the Independent National Electoral Commission in its responsibilities without hindrance in order to achieve free, transparent and credible elections.
The senate president also charged INEC to take into account, “the wishes of a large body of internally displaced persons who have expressed their desire to have their votes cast and counted”.
He specifically warned the electoral body “to ensure that no eligible Nigerian is disenfranchised”.
He added, “The electoral season brings an unusual amount of scrutiny. We are in the fevered grip of elections but despite the pregnancy of expectation and the excitement being generated by the elections, we must always stick to the task of delivering democratic dividends to our people.
“Politicians must desist from provocative and inciting utterances. We may be in different political parties but we are not enemies. We must educate, caution and guide our supporters and followers. Election should be an asset to democracy but where it leads to violence or acrimony, it becomes a liability.
“We must, irrespective of party affiliations, do our best to ensure free, fair, transparent and credible elections. At the risk of stating the obvious, I would like to emphasize that for us to hold an elective office, there must first be a nation.
“I urge all my distinguished colleagues to continue to set example for conduct in the public sphere. I am disturbed and saddened by the war songs emanating from many quarters, particularly from highly placed Nigerians who are threatening fire and brimstone.
“Elections need not dissolve into theatres of war. It is my belief that war mongering will only result in a legacy that we will all regret”.
Mark, therefore, urged politicians to renew their priorities, listen to one another more attentively and remind themselves, ways that their aspirations and destinies were intertwined as a people.
He said, “The task before us is enormous but not insurmountable. My distinguished bosses, we are equal to it and we will rise to any challenge that lies in our path.
“It is my belief that together we can make Nigeria great. As we do our best to serve our country, we need to cherish the beauty in our diversity. Rather than dwell on what divides us, let us look continually at what unites us”.
To his colleague, Mark commended them for the stability which the senate was enjoying in this 7th Assembly and urged them to continue to work together for the progress of the nation.