Fellow Citizens and compatriots, Three days ago, I addressed you to express our pride on the successful conduct of the presidential election. I said then that we are all winners and that there are no losers.
I believe that I spoke the minds of most Nigerians, as well as men and women of goodwill all around the world.
We all came together for a historic achievement and to celebrate the progressive march of our democracy. I thank all of you who responded to my appeal on that occasion to reach out to your neighbours with love; to keep our nation united and strong.
This administration had taken practical steps to ensure the attainment of its goal of delivering free, fair and credible elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was reconstituted with credible and non-partisan people to the acclaim of Nigerians and the international community. Despite a few challenges, the new INEC has provided an atmosphere for the conduct of credible elections right from the review of the voter register to the presidential elections which took place last Saturday.
Sadly, some misguided elements do not share in the spirit of our democratic achievements. They formed into groups of miscreants and struck with deadly and destructive force in some parts of the country.
They killed and maimed innocent citizens. They set ablaze business premises, private homes and even places of worship. In some cases, they showed utter disrespect to all forms of authority, including our most revered traditional institutions. They systematically targeted population groups. They singled out and harassed nationalistic politicians. They intimidated travellers.
The mobs also targeted government offices and facilities, especially those of INEC. They waylaid vulnerable Youth Corps members, even though we all know that these young and innocent Nigerians are guests within our communities and are agents of public good and national unity.
We are shocked by these horrific acts which strike at the heart of our nation. These disturbances are more than mere political protests. Clearly, they aim to frustrate the remaining elections. This is not acceptable.
If anything at all, these acts of mayhem are sad reminders of the events which plunged our country into 30 months of an unfortunate civil war. As a nation, we are yet to come to terms with the level of human suffering, destruction and displacement, including that of our children to far-away countries, occasioned by those dark days.
In recent years, we have also witnessed other acts of intolerance, violence and destruction of human life perpetrated by unpatriotic elements for no justifiable reason. Indeed, the nation still bears some of the scars of other similar events like the aftermath of the June 12 1993 elections that brought our polity to the brink. It is inconceivable therefore, that there are some in our midst who seek to re-enact a stalemate in the political process.
My fellow countrymen and women, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
Democracy is about the rule of law. It is to its credit, that in recent years our judiciary has demonstrated great courage, fortitude and independence in the discharge of its duties.
There are, therefore, no grievances that our laws and courts cannot address.
I have been in touch with all state governors and relevant security agencies. I have consulted with traditional, religious and political leaders who are also very disturbed by this trend of events.
As president, it is my solemn duty to defend the constitution of this country. That includes the obligation to protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian wherever they choose to live.
I will defend the right of all citizens to freely express their democratic choice anywhere in this country; to enjoy every freedom and opportunity that this country can offer without let or hindrance.
I assure all Nigerians that I will do so with all powers at my disposal as President, Commander-in-Chief.
I have ordered the deployment of security personnel to troubled parts of the country. I have also directed the reinforcement of security in all parts of the country.
I have authorised our security services to use all lawful means, including justifiable force to bring an immediate end to all acts of violence against our fellow citizens.
In view of the condemnable attacks on our gallant Youth Corps members, I have directed all state governors to take personal responsibility for their security and safety in the states where they serve.
I have directed that the perpetrators of these dastardly acts of violence and all those who seek to continue to breach the peace and stability of this nation must be fished out and made to face the full weight of the law.
In this regard, a Judicial Commission of Inquiry will be constituted to look into the immediate and remote causes of this recent tide of unrest.
I urge all Nigerians to remain law abiding. I appeal to parents to take full charge of their wards.
We must not allow anybody to use innocent youth as cannon fodder for the ambitions of a few. Let us preserve the sanctity of the lives and future of all of our children.
On behalf of all Nigerians, I express heart-felt condolences to the victims of this violence. I lament the loss of lives; destruction of means of livelihood; the burning of homes and places of worship.
I appeal to all members of the political class, leaders of thought and traditional rulers to continue to put our national interest first at this critical time.
Particularly, I call on our religious leaders not to use the sacredness of our places of worship to promote messages that could lead to hate, disharmony and disaffection. Rather, we must all at this time join hands and support INEC in ensuring a successful conclusion of the commendable work which they started.
I appeal to all communities around the country to show restraint in the face of provocation. I urge all Nigerians to remain steadfast in prayers for peace and tranquillity in our country.
I assure you all that calm is being restored in troubled parts of the country and that the elections scheduled for next Tuesday will go on as planned.
All Nigerians should therefore go about their businesses without fear and exercise their franchise on April 26 to vote for candidates of their choice in the next round of elections.
To those who persist in sowing the seeds of discord, I say, you may hurt and bring grief to some innocent families momentarily, but you will never succeed in stopping our transformational journey: a journey that will lead this country, by the grace of God, to emerge stronger, more prosperous and more united.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us continue to build a nation in which we all live in peace.
A nation where the bonds of our common aspirations and goals will spur and re-energise our resolve towards greatness. A nation where our children from North and South, East and West will grow with hope and live together as brothers, sisters and friends. Let us always remember that we are all part of a shared destiny.
I thank you all. God bless Nigeria. GEJ