by Hauwa Gambo
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday declared that he survived January’s fuel subsidy removal protests because his mandate from the Nigerian people is popular.
The President was speaking in Freetown, Sierra Leone at a meeting with the chairman of the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), Christina Thorpe, as well as politicians and candidates for their November 17 elections.
The president made the remarks to emphasise the need for free and fair elections and their potential to allow leaders make necessary, but unpopular decisions.
“In Nigeria, I remember the fuel subsidy crisis all over the country, I could have been removed but I was confident of my mandate,” he said. “When some people started talking of regime change, majority of the people who voted for me insisted that they elected me and what they are asking for is change of policy, not regime change; and that calmed down the situation.
“Credible elections give you the mandate of the people and confidence too. It is difficult to calm people down when elections are manipulated”, he said.
He told his audience that he has credibility on the subject of fair polls. “If we had manipulated elections in Nigeria, I would not have had the courage to come and confront you,” he said. “If I had manipulated myself into office, there is no way I would come and sell to you what I do not have”.
The president was also formally given the highest honour of Grand Commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone (GCRSL) awarded to him during Sierra Leone’s 51st Independence Anniversary in April.