Aniebo NwamuThis is the address President Goodluck Jonathan OUGHT TO deliver tomorrow:
Fellow Nigerians:
In the past, I used to feign unperturbed by the scale of wickedness perpetrated by the dregs of humanity that have waged a war of blame on our dear nation. The move was deliberate: I did not want the business of government to suffer; I did not want to be distracted. Together with my service chiefs, I have done everything humanly possible to pacify the misguided individuals in order to restore peace to the north-eastern part of the country. We have tried the soft approach and the hard approach. But the terrorists and their sponsors have remained adamant in unleashing sorrow on our people.
I need not repeat what my brother, Governor Kashim Shettima, stated in his address to the people of Borno State last Friday. Let every compatriot know, however, that these agents of darkness have killed nearly 20, 000 innocent children, old men and women in our country, since they began their campaign of human and material destruction. They have driven millions of people from their homes and razed down villages and towns. Now they have crossed the red line of declaring a republic within the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They could not have been committing such evils for religious or ethnic reasons, for no religion preaches violence against innocent people or forces others to accept one method of worship.
Forty-seven years ago, when the people of the south-east were pushed – they did not start a war like these ones – into declaring the republic of Biafra, we were almost united in our opposition. Although some of my brothers initially supported Biafra out of anger provoked by the pogrom and frustration that the federal troops were not doing enough to protect them, the majority of us in the then newly created Rivers State fought to keep Nigeria one. Now, some rebels in another section of the country have seized a Nigerian territory and declared a republic. Luckily for us this time, the rebels do not enjoy any sympathy even in their home bases; defeating them won’t take another 30 months.
Today, I have decided to put on my military uniform as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. I will not pull it off until these undesirable elements are uprooted from the Nigerian soil and we reclaim our towns and villages they have occupied. And I invite everyone else to take a stand now: you either fight for Nigeria or you fight for the rebels. No sitting on the fence anymore.
Needless to remind you, any act of treachery is punishable by death. For those who do not know, war crimes include economic sabotage: oil thieves and pipeline vandals are traitors that are also punishable by death. So are armed robbers, treasury looters and those who compromise our borders. The punishment is even worse for any member of the armed forces who attempts to sabotage our efforts or leaks information to the enemy. I am, however, proud of our men and women in the armed forces. Their gallantry and bravery so far are appreciated and will be rewarded. What I demand from every one of them at this time is just to be part of this last-minute effort to give the rebels a final push.
Only a few days ago, thousands of young men in Borno State requested permission to confront Boko Haram in their den. This declaration of war is a direct response to their demand. I have directed the chief of army staff to ensure that every genuine Civilian-JTF member, hunter or traditional scientist willing to contribute to this war effort is conscripted without delay. Let our young men in other states of the federation follow in the footsteps of the youths of Borno and enlist immediately. In this address, I will not disclose our war tactics. But I wish to assure you that all our friends in the international community are at one with us in this war. So let us move as one and achieve victory swiftly. If Boko Haram and their allies were a force to reckon with, I would have told you. In a matter of days, I hope, this war will be over.
Just as Governor Shettima spoke of the preparedness of the state government to take care of the displaced, the orphaned and the less privileged, we have also made adequate plans at the federal level to take care of our troops as well as the civilians that may be displaced temporarily. The minister of interior will, from time to time, tell you where to go and what to do. Be assured, however, that nobody who fights on the nation’s side will go hungry or thirsty.
I am not oblivious to the setback this war is sure to bring to the polity. The general elections are expected in five months. Only on Thursday, I constituted a committee to deliberate on the report of the National Conference that sat this year. We have not implemented this year’s budget, especially in troubled parts of our country.
However, the makers of our constitution clearly understood the distortions war could bring. That is why Section 64 (2) and Section 135 (3) give me and the National Assembly powers to maintain the status quo for as long as any war lasts. Let me repeat what the constitution says: “If the Federation is at war in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the President considers that it is not practicable to hold elections, the National Assembly may by resolution extend the period of four years mentioned in subsection (1) of this section from time to time but not beyond a period of six months at any one time.”
Depending on how fast we rout the insurgents, therefore, we may have to shift the dates for the elections. This may also affect the handover date. At the appropriate time, we may rely on this section of the constitution to do the needful. To demonstrate my love for the country, I offer to sacrifice my right to seek re-election at the end of the emergency period, that is, the period after May 29, 2015, which the current crisis may produce. The vice-president and I have agreed to step down, and I implore all other incumbent officeholders – governors and deputy governors, state and federal lawmakers – to do likewise for the sake of the country.
Before we hand over, I expect that our politics will have been reformed in a way that it will engender free and fair polls, eschew money politics and discourage corruption. After we have handed over the baton of leadership, I expect to see a less expensive government, a nation at peace with itself and the world, a nation on the path of progress and prosperity. Happily, the National Conference, made up of the disparate peoples and delegates from all strata, has delivered to us a document that will guide us on this journey to greatness. Our country needs change and it will get it.
Fellow compatriots, my intention is not to frighten you or to seek tenure elongation through the backdoor. I have decided to tell you the true state of our nation so we can face reality. The challenges are many but they are conquerable. Let us confront them and take back our peace and harmony. I hope to address you once again on October 1, by which time the anti-terror battle would have been won and lost.
Thank you for listening. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
By Aniebo Nwamu


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