• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Jonathan woos youth in second term quest

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President Goodluck Jonathan flagged-off his campaign for a second term in office, in Lagos yesterday, with a strategic focus on  Nigerian youth who constitute about 70 percent of the population and form the bulk of the nation’s voting bloc.

Jonathan, who is the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s presidential candidate, appealed the youth to vote en masse for him and all those vying on the same platform.

Deploying the support of celebrities in the entertainment and sports industry who are a big attraction for the  country’s teeming youth, the President said: “2015 is about the young people; either you vote to advance the political history of Nigeria, or you vote to become irrelevant. I believe all of you want to be relevant? We have presented our gubernatorial candidates and some of them are within your age bracket.”

Among celebrities present at the rally were actors and actresses including Ibinabo Fiberesima, Segun Arinze, Omoni Oboli, and Monalisa Chinda. Joseph Yobo, captain of the Super Eagles, spoke on behalf of the Nigerian youths, urging support for Jonathan’s return.

Their presence on the podium caused excitement among the teeming youth who hold them (the celebrities) in high esteem.

President Jonathan, who flaunted his scorecard at the rally, held at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos, at the flag off of the Presidential campaign for the 2015 election, said his concern was for the youth who still have many more years ahead of them.

The President also said that contrary to the impression that the PDP government was not being decisive enough on the fight against insecurity, his administration had been up and doing in that regard.

Apparently reacting to the allegation by the candidate of a major opposition party that his government was sleeping on guard, Jonathan said: “Ask him when he was the head of government if he bought one rifle for the military. Ask them what they did with their defence votes. They could not improve the capacity of the Armed Forces and now they are telling us they are coming to fight insecurity and insurgency.”

On the fight against corruption, the president said: “If anybody comes to tell you that the best way to fight corruption is by arresting your uncles and showing them on television, we don’t believe in that. The best way is to stop corruption from ever happening. This is being done, by plugging all the avenues through which that can occur.”

Debunking the allegation that he was a weak leader and had no plan, Jonathan explained that his administration had also put in place procurement processes to check fraud in the system, adding that corruption, which was the order of the day in the previous administrations, noticeable in fertilizer distribution and the purchase chain, has become a thing of the past through his transformation agenda.

Scoring his administration highly on the containment of the perennial fuel scarcity across the country, he said that unlike in the past, “you are no longer queuing up and leaving your cars in filling stations.”

He said his administration has scored highly in the  power sector, adding that although there was much left to be done, there had been a remarkable improvement in that regard.

The PDP presidential candidate also spoke on his administration’s exploits in job creation for the youth through the YOUWIN programme, transformation in the railway system, establishment of new universities in about 12 states, giving hope to the Almajiris of the North by establishing a special school programme for them.

“We have built nursery schools, primary, secondary schools and universities. Ask those deceiving you now if they built nursery schools for you. They built prisons for you…Any country that does not obey the rule of law is a jungle. If I suspect you for anything and I arrest you and put you in prison for 300 years, is that how to go? Do you want to return to the enslavement of the past?” he asked.

He called on womenfolk in the country to vote the PDP, saying, “Nigerian women, you must not cast your votes to go back to the kitchen. A vote for them is for you to go back to the kitchen. Do you want to do so, or vote to liberate yourselves? We are going to liberate women.”

Earlier, Joseph Yobo, captain of Nigeria’s senior national football team, the Super Eagles, speaking for the Nigerian youth, had urged re-election of President Jonathan.

Also, members of the Actors Guide, led by Ibinabo Fiberesima, were on the stage to show solidarity, calling on the voting masses of the country to return Jonathan in the February 14 poll.

ZEBULON AGOMUO