By JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that no matter the intentions of the Boko Haram insurgents, terrorists will not succeed in Nigeria.
Assuring that his administration was ready to dialogue with any group that had grievances against the state, he stressed that everything would be done to check the onslaught of terrorists in the country, urging them to lay down their arms and embrace peace.
The president in his 2014 Independence Day broadcast to the nation, aired on national television, said the activities of terrorists had left the nation in sombre mood, but expressed happiness that the war on terror had recorded great success, besides the nation was making giant strides in various sectors of the economy despite the threat.
On next year’s elections, President Jonathan appealed to politicians to put the love of the country first in all they did, assuring that credible elections were here to stay.
Commending the successful hosting of the national conference, he disclosed that work had started on the recommendations as a committee had been put in place to begin the implementation of the report.
His words:: “In my address to the nation last year, I did emphasise that we were in a sober moment in our country. We are still in that mood in spite of the many accomplishments of our administration. Our sombreness has to do with the crises of nationhood, occasioned by the activities of terrorist elements that have done the unimaginable to challenge our unity as a people.
“On an occasion like this, it is important that we remember all the precious souls that have been lost in the unprecedented war of terror unleashed on some parts of our country by these individuals who want to compel us to live our lives their way. They will not succeed!
“In their mission, they have maimed and raped. They have killed men, women and children, rendering many children orphans and several women widows. They have made violence their ideology and are bent on destroying our country. Dear countrymen and women, we will not allow them.
“Night after night, day after day, our security forces continue to engage the terrorists in battle. My gratitude goes out to our armed forces whose will has been greatly challenged by this insurgency more than any other time, since the civil war.
“Yet, they have remained undaunted and unwearied in the face of constant challenge and mortal danger. Driven by patriotic zeal, they are turning the tide by their prowess and determination. As commander-in-chief, I will continue to do all it takes to enable them to keep on inflicting devastating blows at the heart of terror. Fellow Nigerians, it is our collective duty as patriots to avail our men and women in uniform of all the support they need to fight and win this war.
“This administration is committed to making Nigeria safe for all Nigerians, irrespective of our places of birth, how we worship God and our political persuasion. To all those waging war against our country, I ask that you lay down your arms and embrace peace.”
The president also promised that his administration would listen to terrorists that had genuine grievances, if they brought their grievances to the dialogue table.
He said: “To the good people of Nigeria, let me restate that our task of building a better and greater country must not waver. While we continue to deploy our resources in the fight against the terrorists, we do recognise the great toll the conflict is taking on our people.”
He listed some of the things his administration had done to take care of the victims of terror, including the launch of the Victims Support Fund, and in partnership with Nigerian business leaders and international partners, the Safe Schools Initiative, which was launched to promote safe environment for education nationwide, starting with the North-East region.
He said: “The presidential initiative for the North-East, a comprehensive programme to fast-track the economic restoration of this region, which has been the epicentre of terrorist activity, has been set up.
“It should now be clear to anyone who was ever in doubt that these terrorists do not mean well for anyone, of whatever religion or dispensation. Their persistent choice of the weakest and most vulnerable in society, for gruesome attack, provides an insight into their abnormal mindset.”
The president, therefore, urged Nigerians to put aside political, sectional or other parochial considerations, and support whole-heartedly the efforts of the government and the military, in checking the evil.
He expressed gratitude to the international community that had been working with the country to confront the challenge.
On the national conference, he said: “We have successfully delivered on that promise as we established the 2014 national conference headed by Justice Legbo Kutigi. After months of deliberations, which did not come without its challenges, the conference concluded its assignment and has handed its report to me.
“I have made a firm commitment that we would act on the recommendations of the conference. This, I have started by setting up the ministerial committee, headed by the Attorney General of the Federation to work out the modalities for implementing the report. Every promise I make, God willing, I will see to its fulfilment. I assure you, we shall implement the report.”
Speaking on the economy, infrastructure and the nation’s democratic process, he said: “Our 54-year journey as a country has not been easy. There have been tough periods, but the Nigerian spirit and the unflagging resilience of our people have seen us through. We will continue to march forward to greater heights.”