In an early morning Independence Day broadcast today President Goodluck Jonathan announced the setting up of an Advisory Committee to establish modalities for a national conference aimed at resolving issues that currently cause friction in the polity.
President Jonathan said that the committee which will have Dr. Femi Okurounmu as its Chairperson and Dr. Akilu Indabawa as its Secretary, is expected to complete its assignment within one month.
“Fellow Nigerians, our Administration has taken cognizance of suggestions over the years by well-meaning Nigerians on the need for a national dialogue on the future of our beloved country.
“When there are issues that constantly stoke tension and bring about friction, it makes perfect sense for the interested parties to come together to discuss.
“In demonstration of my avowed belief in the positive power of dialogue in charting the way forward, I have decided to set up an advisory committee whose mandate is to establish the modalities for a national dialogue or conference.
“The committee will also design a framework and come up with recommendations as to the form, structure and mechanism of the process.
“The full membership of the committee will be announced shortly. I expect its report to be ready in one month, following which the nation will be briefed on the nomenclature, structure and modalities of the dialogue,” President Jonathan said in the broadcast.
The President urged Nigerians to remain fully committed to building a strong, united, progressive and prosperous nation in spite of present challenges.
“In truth, Nigeria is still a work in progress and we are challenged everyday to keep building in spite of the various obstacles we face.
“History has proven that nations take time to evolve. We should rejoice in our democracy because it enables us to be united by our differences, not destroyed by them. And there is no more crucial time for us to be united than now.
“The threats we face may be real and immediate. But we are not alone in this regard. It is a difficult season for much of the world: industrialized or developing; rich or poor. What matters are the lessons we learn, the wisdom we demonstrate, and the victories we snatch from the jaws of possible defeat.
“This is a time to pull together behind the national cause: the cause of our freedom, and our future. We must rekindle the spirit of Nigeria, to ensure that every democrat and every lover of peace in this great nation continues to live in a free, peaceful and secure Nigeria,” President Jonathan said.
Against the background of recent terrorist atrocities in the country, President Jonathan reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to taking all necessary action to bring the war against domestic terrorism to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible.
“My heart goes out to the families of all those who have fallen victim of these dastardly acts. Our Administration will not rest until every Nigerian is free from the oppression of terrorism. I reassure you that no cost will be spared, no idea will be ignored, and no resource will be left untapped in the quest to enable our people live without fear.
“I implore every Nigerian – wherever you are, whatever language you speak, whatever your religious persuasion, whichever political party you support – let us join together to fight this evil of extremism,” President Jonathan declared.
The President rededicated himself “completely” to the service of the nation, assuring Nigerians that the country will not fail under his leadership.
“As men and women in leadership, we must continually focus on service, duty, responsibility and the next generation, not the next election. Those who are elected to govern at all levels must focus on improving the lives of our people, not selfish ambition.
“This is no time for the harmful clutches of parochial sentiments and the politics of bitterness, impunity, arrogance and unhelpful indiscipline.
“We must stand as one, with absolute commitment and resolve to resist any force that threatens us and the sanctity of our union,” President Jonathan said.
He congratulated all Nigerians as the nation marks 53 years of independence.
“If we look back over the years, we can confidently say that there is every reason to celebrate. The past 53 years have seen Nigeria evolve on an epic scale.
“I want to thank all our country men and women who have stood by this administration in the midst of mounting challenges and enormous expectations.
“I recognize that it is not easy to keep believing in the possibilities of our greatness when our faith is constantly challenged, But let me assure you that, if we do not despair, we shall reap the reward of our labour in due season,” President Jonathan concluded.