President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday apologised to members of the diplomatic community and the international community living in Nigeria for the inconveniences caused by the six-day strike over the removal of fuel subsidy.
Speaking during the Annual Diplomatic launch, held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the president assured that the government will work hard to ensure this does not repeat itself. He added that the experience has helped in strengthening the resolve of his administration to make Nigeria a better society.
According to him, “I can assure you that it has even made us stronger and indeed better. We promise that we will continue to grow from strength to strength and the incident of last week, we have put them behind us and we are moving forward. We will not experience that kind of situation again.”
“We will make sure we work hard to ensure we do not experience that again. We appreciate your understanding, I know some people must have come to you and send all kinds of messages to your various governments. I believe that you know that the position of the government is the best for the people.
“Government will ensure that while adjusting the pump price, we will not do it in a way that will bring suffering to the people. We know we were misunderstood, prices couldn’t have gone up that way but that is a human society and is a human factor”.
“I regret the inconveniences some of you passed through because of the government attempt to see the way we can look at our oil industry by adjusting the pump price and the issue of deregulating the oil sector that led to demonstrations by labour and civil societies.
I believed some of you suffered some inconveniences because you couldn’t go out for a week, you couldn’t visit people you would have loved to visit.”
The President thanked the international community for the goodwill messages during the nation’s trying times and also during the New Year and Christmas celebrations and reassured them of his government’s readiness to safeguard lives and property of both citizens and foreign nationals resident in Nigeria. He added that Nigeria will continue to work together with the members of the diplomatic corps and their organisations and countries to ensure world peace.
“Let me also use this opportunity to express my appreciation and that of the government and good people of Nigeria for the goodwill messages your organisations and governments sent to me, my government and my country.
“Because of the ugly incident of Boko Haram even the UN secretariat was bombed. Your organisations and the head of governments sent letters of commiserations to me. Let me again express my appreciation to them. Let me assure all of you that Nigeria will continue to maintain a very warm relationship with all the organisation and all the countries in spite of our experiences with the Boko Haram.
“We believe that all citizens of the world should live freely and peacefully wherever they find themselves. We will work with you and all your countries and organisations to make sure that the world is a place where all of us will live without fear or favour.”
He stressed that the world over was facing similar challenges, but ‘collectively, we will work towards that.’
He thanked them for the role they played during last year’s elections and assured that democracy has not just come to stay in Nigeria, ‘but democracy that is sanctioned by an election that is credible, election that is free and fair. And using our own slogan, election that the votes of Nigerians must count, where we say one man one vote, one woman one vote and one youth one vote.’
He noted that ‘democracy that is not dictated by the vote of the people is not good democracy, adding that until the votes of the people account that is when we can say this is a democracy.
And I believe also that it is difficult for you to topple such a democracy because it is the people that elect those that are ruling. But if people impose themselves on ordinary people of course such a democracy may not be able to stand on a solid ground.
“With a little turbulence such a government will fall. In Nigeria we are totally committed to democracy and enduring democratic culture that the votes of individuals will count.
At the end of our elections in April, we did promise the whole world that our subsequent elections will even be better and promising. But as we march towards 2015 for another round of elections, the elections will be conducted better than the elections in 2011.”
Earlier, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Ambassador of Burkina Faso to Nigeria, Yamego Dramane, expressed the support of the diplomatic community to leadership of President Jonathan, saying that “We stand behind you and Nigeria in the fight against terrorism”.