The current political tension across Nigeria, which has led to violence in a part of the country, Rivers State, is caused by the 2015 elections, President Goodluck Jonathan has said.
The president stated this at a meeting with the leaders of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, on Thursday.
The NBA, led by its president, Okey Wali, had asked Mr. Jonathan to intervene and take every legal action to ensure that peace returns to Rivers State.
Violence broke out in Rivers recently when five state lawmakers loyal to the presidency attempted to impeach the speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, who, alongside majority lawmakers, is loyal to Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers.
Mr. Amaechi is believed to be opposed to Mr. Jonathan’s planned re-election in 2015 and has been suspended by the Peoples Democratic Party.
Speaking to journalists after the courtesy visit, Mr. Wali said the association was ready to deal with any of its members found culpable in the Rivers crisis no matter their status.
“If any matter comes to us, no matter what your status is, the Bar Association will deal you” he said.
Mr. Wali also said the Bar would not support Mr. Jonathan or any elected official to start an early campaign for 2015, but would rather be committed to do the duties for which its leaders were elected.
In his response to the concerns raised by the lawyers, Mr. Jonathan linked the political tension across the country to 2015.
“The political tension in the country is mainly built around the 2015 elections which should not be the case. It is quite disturbing.
“The year 2015 is still far off. I expect politicians to focus on the business of governance now. We must do what we were elected to do first. We will do our best to curb the overheating of the polity,” Mr. Jonathan told the delegation, which included three former presidents of the NBA.
The president said he had asked for a detailed brief on the security situation in Rivers and assured the delegation that all necessary action will be taken to ensure adherence to the rule of law in the state, and the maintenance of law and order.
Mr. Jonathan also told the delegation that his administration was implementing the right policies, programmes and projects to accelerate economic development and boost employment in the country. He called for a little more patience from Nigerians saying that the results of the present administration’s efforts in areas such as power supply will become even more apparent in due course.
President Jonathan also assured the NBA that his administration would do all that it could towards the positive reformation and strengthening of Nigeria’s judicial system, including the resolution of issues related to increased funding for the judiciary.
He reaffirmed his commitment to the progressive reformation of Nigeria’s electoral processes to guarantee that all votes cast in elections truly count and that elections in the country are accepted by all objective stakeholders as free, fair and credible.
He urged the NBA and other professional associations in Nigeria to find ways of interacting with government on a regular basis, saying that the associations are established not to antagonize government, but to contribute to national growth and development.
He accepted the NBA’s invitation to open the association’s Annual General Conference at Tinapa, Cross River State next month, promising to personally honour the invitation if his official schedule permits.In its official address to the President delivered by Mr. Wali, the NBA conveyed its views on the state of the national economy, national security, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, the anti-corruption efforts, elections, and the electoral process as well as the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution.