February 12, 2015
Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, hosted his eight presidential media chat since May 2011.
The challenges confronting Nigeria – insecurity, the economy, corruption, dearth of infrastructure – are still largely the same issues the administration is grappling with since his first media chat in September 2011.
Insecurity has worsened since the last media chat. The 250 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, south of Borno state have not been found. Boko Haram attacks have escalated and a large portion of Nigeria is now under the control of the terrorists. Last month was particularly bloody with reports of over 2000 killed during a take over of Baga by the terrorists.
Issues surrounding the 2015 general elections, recently postponed, purportedly for security reasons, and the falling oil prices, will be the new entrants to the discussion.
The presidency promised to receive questions from Nigerians via telephone during the live program. In the past, telephone lines provided hardly got across to the president work during live episodes of the programme.
Here are the updates of the Media Chat
The presidential media chat has started. It was opened by a brief speech by the president. Questioning have swiftly moved into the postponed 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.
The president is 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.
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. One of the interviewers interjected that he (Jega) is watching. He blames 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” provisions that gives him powers to sack whoever he appoints.
In the next four weeks Nigerians will see the difference in the security intervention in the North- Jonathan
On Jega: 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
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.”
The next question is about 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. He did not categorically condemn the hate speeches or war threats or politically-motivated violence. “We will make sure things are done so that nobody goes to war,” the president said when he pressed for categorical stance on the war threats by ex-millitants should he lose the elections. He argues journalists have responsibility to ensure the unity of the country.
The president is asked why he frequents churches for campaign but never visited mosques. He responded by saying he does not receive invitations from Muslims.
The president is asked if election would hold should the military fails to eliminate Boko Haram in six weeks. The presidents said the new dates are scrosanct 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.
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.” With regards to his weakened political base, the president said “in politics, there are only permanent interests.”
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 prewsident said. “Let us communicated 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.
Chibok Girls: I belief the story of Chibok Girls will get better in the next few weeks, but don’t quote me. We are working with our neighbours, we will comb the whole of that place 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.
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 .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.
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 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.
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, still answering questions on security said Boko Haram is faceless and factionalized.
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. The preaident responded it was an unfair question. He however mentioned that he has recieved more criticism that Muhammadu Buhari on social media.
The president is asked if he has confidence in INEC as presidently constituted. He answered sayimg he appointed everyone at the management level of INEC.
In his closing remarks, the presaident 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 eberyone woukd be happy with.
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