Short takes from Presidential Media Chat

President Goodluck Jonathan on February 12, 2014 had its eighth Presidential Media Chat, where he explained issues challenging the country. Here are some of the things he said on economy, corruption, insecurity as complied by Nigerian Monitor… Rescheduling of elections: The president sought the understanding of the international community over the postponed elections. He said the kind of scenarios where elections are postponed for the sake of perpetuating power is not the case in Nigeria. Boko Haram: The president was asked why he thinks the war against Boko Haram can be won in six weeks even though the war had raged for six years. The president said he has just acquired new weapons, and gotten support of neigbhouring countries to fight Boko Haram. He mentioned that Chad waited for African Union approval, which they recently got too. He also mentioned that the issue of security is beyond Boko Haram. The president said it runs into dangerous signals of youth restiveness. In the next four weeks Nigerians will see the difference in the security intervention in the North, he said. The president is asked where he bought arms for the coming onslaught on Boko Haram. He said they managed to get from other sources other than America. Do you have confidence in Jega to conduct the 2015 elections? The president said he wished Jega was seated by his side to answer the question. I wish Jega were here, I could have asked him to answer whether I have confidence in him Yes those who called for his sack may be close to me, but they express their own opinion. More than 80 per cent of those who sponsor messages on our behalf we don’t even know them. People use the reschedule of election to misinform Nigerians. I have never thought about removing INEC Chairman, though I have the constitutional power to do so.” GEJ blamed his supporters for rumours about Jega’s resignation. “I have not told anybody that I will remove Jega,” he said. He explained that if there are obvious reasons to remove Jega, he would rely on “constitutional” provision that gives him powers to sack whoever he appoints. Attacks: ”The level of misinformation, especially from young people is high. Attempting to attack the president is treasonable offence. The president is protected by soldiers, not just the police. People get carried away and make some provocative statements. Those who pelted my convoy during my campaigns in the Northern part of the country were ignorant. If INEC conducts the election poorly, it will be on my head.” Hate speeches and political violence by both opposition and ruling party members. The president explained that “some people” get carried away by the political play and exude these violence. He blamed aides and associates of key political actors for the hate speeches and political violence. On why he frequents churches for campaign but never visited mosques: GEJ responded by saying he does not receive invitations from Muslims like from the churches. If election would hold should the military fails to eliminate Boko Haram in six weeks: The presidents said the new dates are sacrosanct and a new president would be sworn in by May 29. He argued that the goal is not to totally eliminate Boko Haram but to make adequate security arrangement for the election. Missing Chibok girls: Questioning moves to the issue of the president’s perceived weak support especially as it relates to the missing Chibok girls. “Just give us some times,” he said, responding to questions seeking the state of the girls at the moment. The president is optimistic the girls would be rescued with the new military collaboration with neighbouring countries. “I believe the story would be different in a few weeks,” the president said. “We would recover them alive.” I believe the story of Chibok Girls will get better in the next few weeks, but don’t quote me. Partying after abduction? It’s unfortunate that people play politics with the issue of Chibok girls. It’s not like that elsewhere. In other countries, political boundaries collapse in the face of terror attacks, not so in Nigeria. Loss of some of his associates like Gov. Amaechi, the president said “in politics, there are only permanent interests.” He stated that politicians tend to seek elsewhere if their interests are not met in their psrties and that was what happened. The president is asked to clarify his previous comments that “stealing is not corruption”: He said he made that statement quoting the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Dahiru Mustafa, who explained to him that his analysis of corruption cases in Nigeria showed that most of such cases were theft. He argued that referring to stealing as corruption minimizes the crime. “Ole (thief in Yoruba) should be called Ole and given that treatment,” the president said. “Let us communicate properly. The word corruption, we have abused it.” “It is not actually my quotation. I quoted the former Chief Justice,” as he continues to defend his previous comments on corruption and stealing. We have convicted more corrupt people than ever. It is just that Nigerians are confused on what the difference is between stealing and corruption. The state of the N1 billion security loan and funds confiscated in South Africa. He said the government have not started disbursing the N1 billion loan. With regards to the 9.3 million arms money seized in South Africa, he said the money does not belong to Nigeria, technically. He added that the matter was in court. The president is asked if he would hand over if he loses the next election. “If the elections are conducted and I lose, of course, another president would be sworn in,” the president said. He argued that Nigeria is more important than any individual. The president is asked what he will do differently if he wins. He said most of the problem he had in the past is related to perception and not concrete. He did not really say what he would do differently. The president is asked to comment on his opponent for the 2015 general election, Buhari. The president responded it was an unfair question. Asked if he has confidence in INEC as presently constituted. He answered saying he appointed everyone at the management level of INEC. Closing Remarks: In his closing remarks, president Jonathan assured Nigerians that elections would be conducted and a new president sworn in on May 29. He argued that it is better for INEC to conduct an election everyone would be happy with.

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