'State of Emergency is necessary…. only as a last resort' Jonathan
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said that declaring a state of emergency in violence-prone states where elections were deferred is unnecessary, and can only be considered as an option when all measures to keep the peace in such states fail. Fielding questions from journalists shortly after voting during state assembly polls in his country home, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, today, the president pointed out that already government has redoubled security measures in some volatile states like Kaduna and Bauchi where INEC had to defer elections to a later date, adding that declaring a state of emergency is not the best option unless such security measures are defied. Hear him:
"State of emergency? Sometimes people don't even understand the implications. I got to know that when you impose a state of emergency by law, the governor is not supposed to leave, that is what my AGF told me. We will clarify that.'
'You declare a state of emergency in a state or country based on our constitution - that is, when the social circumstances create an environment that governance becomes extremely difficult - then you want to militarise the whole place. Invariably what you are saying is that there will be no development in that state and every money goes for security. You appoint a military administrator and use the money to ensure their security and that is not the best."
'There may be two reasons why people are clamouring for state of emergency. Either because the situation is still so bad or alternatively if by 29th of this month we are unable to conduct election in a state, then by law you can't conduct any election in such state again until after inauguration because we need 30 days, in which case we have no choice than to declare state of emergency.'
'But as a President you cannot be in a hurry to declare a state of emergency. It should be the last option when everything else fails because a state of emergency can be probably for six months or even if it is three months, those three months will be months of stagnation.'
'Let's see what happens across the country. Let us also study the situation in Kaduna and Bauchi and let us know if we move more security personnel to those states whether we can conduct the elections or not. State of emergency is not the best option but if we cannot conduct the elections, well we can consider that but it is not the best option,' the President stated.
President Jonathan, who was in very high spirits, said the transparent and peaceful conduct of the general elections so far, including today's gubernatorial and state assemblies' polls, are indications that Nigeria has come of age in the practice of constitutional democracy and has earned its enviable status among the comity of nations.
The president commended all Nigerians for their passionate commitment towards sustaining democracy in the country as exemplified by their massive turn-out and participation during the entire general elections, notwithstanding the frustration of the initial April 2 postponement.
He also praised the commitment of INEC personnel and its ad-hoc staff especially members of the National Youth Service Corps and the security agencies for braving all odds to make sure the electoral process is transparent, noting that 'the era where people snatch ballot boxes during elections is fast eroding in our country'.
Referring to corps members who lost their lives to post-election riots in some parts of the country, President Jonathan said government is aware of the supreme sacrifice they have paid for the nation, 'and will do what is right.'
The president got accredited at his Ward 13, Otazi Playground polling unit, Otuoke, this morning at exactly 9.15am in the company of his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, his mother, Madam Ayi Jonathan, other family members and presidential aides. He later cast his ballot at exactly 1.05pm.