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Every Vote Must Count Henceforth

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ABUJA, Oct 16, (THEWILL) - President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has reassured that the present administration would ensure that every vote counts at the coming general elections. He stated this Friday night during a state banquet organised in his honour by the Imo State Government as part of his just-concluded two-day working visit to the state. “We are determined that our votes must count and I am totally committed that we must practice true democracy where the electorate will decide their destiny through their votes,” the President stated. President Jonathan also admonished politicians to play the game according to the rules and avoid politics of blackmail. He dismissed rumours making the rounds that he has strained relationship with some state governors, saying such insinuations are baseless and ill-conceived. "There is no basis for anyone to insinuate that I have problem with any governor.” President Jonathan described Imo State as his second home and assured the government and people of the state that the Federal Government would work with them for its development. He commended Governor Ohakim for the good job he is doing in Imo, noting that the spate of grassroot development across the nation indicate that both the Federal and state governments are on the same page in delivering good governance. “Before our centenary celebrations as an independent nation, Nigeria would certainly be a transformed country and the journey begins today,” Jonathan stated. Earlier in his remarks, Governor Ohakim declared total support of the South Eastern region for the President saying that "the entire Igbo land is totally with you". He welcomed the President and his entourage to the state and assured them of peaceful and remarkable working visit. On arrival in Imo yesterday, the President commissioned the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua drive constructed by the state government. The President also paid a courtesy call on the traditional ruler of Owerri, Eze Emmanuel Njemanze, in his palace. At the Eze’s palace, President Jonathan assured that Government would continue to support the traditional institution in the discharge of its duties. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Governors Theodore Orji of Abia, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom and Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa joined the host governor to welcome the President and his entourage. Other dignitaries included former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro, PDP chieftain, Chief Emmanuel Nwanyanwu, President General of the Ohaeneze, Chief Ralph Uwezue, Chief Rochas Okorocha, National Assembly members, traditional rulers and other top government functionaries. Meanwhile, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said his administration remains committed to its promise of delivering free and credible polls in the country come 2011. He stated this today at a civic reception in his honour at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri to mark the end of his two-day working visit to Imo State. President Jonathan said, “I have and will continue to provide the needed leadership in words and action in this direction. I have not only begun the process of restoring public confidence in the impartiality of the electoral body by appointing a credible chairman and non-partisan members into the commission, I have also given my full support to measures that will free it from executive control”. The President however enjoined stakeholders not to scuttle these and other ongoing efforts, by shunning “old habits” that smear the integrity of the electoral process. According to him, “We are entering a new dawn in the leadership recruitment processes of our dear nation and we must therefore rededicate ourselves to the historic mission.” “This election must set agenda that defeats poverty and abolish illiteracy. It must not be one of acrimony and bitterness. Nigeria’s new political direction must lay emphasis on the progress of our nation, and less on individual, sectional or the comfort of special interest,” Jonathan stated. While thanking the Imo State government for its expression of sympathy and solidarity with the Federal Government over the October 1 bombings in Abuja, President Jonathan vowed that government will unmask the perpetrators of the heinous crime. “One great honour we can do to the memory of the victims is to show that our justice system exists to protect the powerless and defenceless from the unprovoked acts of the wicked and the unpatriotic,” he stated. He saluted the Gov. Ohakim-led government of Imo for its developmental strides, assuring that the Federal Government will continue to support every part of the country to achieve its development objectives to ensure good living condition for the citizenry. Speaking earlier, Governor Ohakim thanked President Jonathan for the visit, assuring that the entire South East region is fully in support of the President. “We are solidly behind you because you are a product of divine paradigm shift. Your leadership is not a product of permutation. You didn’t bribe any caucus to become President.” “Those bent on perpetrating violence at the next elections should desist from their inclinations. It is only God through the will of the people that give power. Let us engage in campaign of issues and not of violence. We in Imo State fully support Mr. President’s leadership in totality.” President Jonathan was earlier conferred with the chieftaincy title of "Chi nemeze of Igboland" by the chairman of the Imo State Traditional Rulers, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya at his palace in Obilugwu in Orlu local government area of the state. The occasion was attended by prominent traditional rulers in the South East including the Obong of Calabar and the Jaja of Opobo. The President commissioned a number of road projects during his visit as well as the 4.5million-gallon Egbema Water Scheme, the new Governor's office in the Government House and the Jonathan-Sambo State Campaign office located in the heart of the Owerri city.