May 29 Handover Date Is Sacrosanct, Says Jonathan

GEJ-John KerryPresident Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday assured all concerned stakeholders that the May 29 handover date remained sacrosanct.

The president 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.

A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, quoted President Jonathan as giving the assurance during a closed-door meeting with the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, at the State House, Marina, Lagos.

The statement was personally signed by Mr. Jonathan.

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

The president said he emphasised to the US secretary of State 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 that were 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 emphasized that INEC is an independent body, which makes its own decisions without any interference from the government”.

President Jonathan said he was grateful to the US for standing with Nigeria and its people in the nation’s fight against Boko Haram just as he reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to partnering the US to put an end to global terrorism and particularly Boko Haram.

The president promised Mr. Kerry that Nigeria would also work to deepen and consolidate on 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.

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