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TEXT-Nigerian VP Jonathan assumes presidential powers

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office as acting president on Tuesday more than two months after President Umaru Yar’Adua left for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Below are excerpts from his speech:

ASSUMING POWERS

“As we all know, our dear President, His Excellency, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has been receiving treatment in Saudi Arabia for some time now. Naturally, his absence from the country has generated considerable interest and a heated national debate.

“Today, the National Assembly passed a resolution mandating me to act as President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“In following the extant provisions of the 1999 constitution to arrive at this decision, the leadership and members of the National Assembly have shown great courage, statesmanship and patriotism. I salute them all ...

“The circumstances in which I find myself assuming office today as Acting President of our country are uncommon, sober and reflective. More than ever therefore, I urge all Nigerians as a people of faith in God, to pray fervently for the full recovery of our dear President and his early return.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

“It is now time for us to move on in a more determined manner to tackle the various challenges which we face as a nation ...

“We see a need to prioritise on a few of the most critical areas which continue to plague our effort at engendering meaningful economic growth and development.

“Some of these critical sectors include power, infrastructure, security, generation of employment and business opportunities for our teeming young men and women.”

NIGER DELTA, RELIGIOUS UNREST

“The Federal Government will take every step necessary to consolidate the gains of amnesty in the Niger Delta and execute the post-amnesty programme. I therefore appeal to all concerned to be patient, as there can be no meaningful development without peace and security.

“As regards the Jos crisis, government will endeavour to sustain the peace and find a lasting solution to the recurring crisis in Plateau State.

“In the meantime, culprits of the heinous crimes committed in the recent incident will face the full weight of the law. I want to restate that government will not tolerate the culture of impunity that is fast becoming an unwelcome part of our socio-political life.”

CORRUPTION AND GOVERNANCE

“One of the cardinal commitments of this administration is our commitment to good governance, accountability and transparency. We shall continue to pursue these policy objectives with all the seriousness they deserve.

“In particular, the war against corruption will be prosecuted more robustly. We will therefore strengthen the capacity of the anti-corruption agencies and give them a free hand to prosecute the anti-corruption war.

“Let me once again commend the people of Anambra State, for the successful conduct of the recent gubernatorial election. This has shown that Nigerians can conduct free, fair and credible elections.

“The Anambra Election has however exposed some weaknesses in our electoral system, and government is determined to plug these loop holes as we approach the next General Elections in 2011. I want to reassure all Nigerians and our friends around the world, that our determination to ensure that the sanctity of the electoral rights of our people shall not be compromised.”

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