that there was
or in January 2013, saying he was misunderstood on the issue.
Speaking yesterday on the third edition of the presidential media chat aired
live nationwide, President Jonathan assured Nigerians that government would not
remove fuel subsidy just as it happened on January 1, this year, saying the
2013 budget had already provided for fuel subsidy.
“I did not say we are deregulating, already we have provision in the 2013
budget for subsidy, if we want to remove subsidy from January as you are afraid
that another January is coming, we couldn’t have made provision but we have made
provision from January,” the President said.
Jonathan who was reacting to reports that Nigerians should brace up for total
removal of fuel subsidy, saying that he was totally misunderstood.
“Frankly speaking, I think I was totally misunderstood, in the statement I
made. I received NIPSS, they submitted their report, normally it is a research
work and they did their analysis and they say that in Canada, they have 16
refineries; in Nigeria, we have only four refineries.”
Jonathan noted that it was discovered that the 16 refineries in Canada were
privately owned with some regulations, stressing that total deregulation of the
oil sector in the country still remains the solution to rapid investment in the
industry, stressing that it would encourage private investors to the sector
particularly in the area of building refineries.
The President also said that he has not decided whether or not to contest in
the 2015 general election because it was too early to take such decision,
saying that Nigerians should wait till 2014
Jonathan said that the question of contesting for second term was one of the
reasons that he advocated for single tenure
His words: “I plead with journalists that it is too early to ask a sitting
president whether he would contest election and this was one of the reasons we
are advocating for single tenure because if the President tells you today that
he is contesting, it would generate a lot of issues, if I say am not
contesting, it will generate issues.
“If I say am not contesting, some of my cabinet Ministers may even resign and
go because most of them are qualified if not all of them qualify to contest the
“Four years is very short time for a person to make an impact, immediately he
starts talking about election, he is unnecessarily heating the polity, give us
time, before you ask whether Mr. President will contest or not, wait until
2014, give me some time to make sure myself and cabinet work, I don’t want to
distract members of my cabinet.”
He asked that Nigerians should give him and his team time to face the task of
nation building before talking about 2015.
President Jonathan also reiterated his belief in the ability of the National
Assembly to fashion out an acceptable amendment to the 1999 Constitution, even
as he said that it was the duty of the National Assembly that is empowered to
handle the amendment.
The President said he cannot teach the National Assembly their job on
constitution review even if he supports a referendum. “It will not be proper
for me now to begin to impose my ideas,” he added.
He advised proponents of the sovereign national conference to liaise and
partner with the National Assembly on constitution review.
The President insisted that he can’t dictate to the National Assembly on the
areas of the constitution that should be amended or decide for the lawmakers on
the issue of referendum.
He stated that the National Assembly is an independent body that would take
decision on such matter, stressing that he could make some inputs only when the
amendment comes to him for assent.
On the issue of insurgency in some states in the North and the proposed
dialogue with the Boko Haram sect, President Jonathan said the Federal
Government is at present not in any dialogue with the group.
According to him, no one has come out claiming that that he is a member of the
sect and ready for dialogue, saying that government cannot dialogue with
Jonathan disclosed that the government was not negotiating or dialoging with the
He said that members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect are still wearing a mask,
they have not come out for dialogue.
He said the group is still operating under cover and there is no way the
government will dialogue with Boko Haram when there is no face to parley with.
“Government is at present not in any dialogue with Boko Haram. The group is
still operating under cover, so there is no face to parley with,” Jonathan
said, assuring that despite the daunting challenge of insecurity to his
government, Nigeria’s future remains bright.
His words: “The future of Nigeria is bright though we have security challenges
in form of the Boko Haram and kidnapping in some states in the South. The
future is bright, especially in the area of agriculture and I want to assure
Nigerians that there would be no food scarcity due to the recent flood, as
envisaged in some quarters.
“We are empowering our farmers affected by the flood to produce more food. We
are really moving as a nation. The foreign direct investment within a short
period of recent has been very impressive. By the time we get to 2015,
Nigerians will know that Jonathan and his team really meant well for this
Lagos-Ibadan expressway contract
On the problematic Lagos-Ibadan Expressway concession contract awarded to
Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, President Jonathan indicated that the
concession would likely be revoked as the company had not demonstrated capacity
to implement the project.
According to the president, “a final decision” is to be taken on the concession
as it seems that the concessionaire is not on a position to do the project.”
Pointing out that the expressway is the busiest road in Nigeria and a strategic
link between the South and other parts of the country; he said the government “would
not want to be held to ransom because of a transaction that was not properly
done.” Aviation sector The President said the government was going to organise
a retreat to look at the problems of the aviation sector especially the
airlines as several interventions appeared not to be working. According to the
president, the aviation sector had been in the hands of private sector as it is
the practice all over the world citing the example of British Airways, which he
described as one of the most successful airlines in the world. He said that
several airlines had been floated by private companies in Nigeria but many had
collapsed over the years just as it was the case of the defunct national
carrier, Nigeria Airways. He said the government had tried to help the airlines
with interventions funds provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria and more
recently with incentive such as the removal of taxes on aircraft and spare
parts import yet they still had problems. We are going to do a retreat next
year where we will invite experts and analyse the problems of the sector.
Putting in money has not been working, so what is the problem? Is it management
issue? We will have a retreat to look at all these.
On First Lady
The president acknowledged that the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan had been
ill and was still recuperating though; he insisted that she was “OK”. He said
his wife attended church service with other family members this morning but was
yet be very active as before.
The President also praised the appreciable progress so far made in the power
sector. He said: “We are yet to get 24 hours of electricity in our cities but
you will agree with me that difference is clear. We have moved from below 3,000
megawatts, we are now generating more than 5,000 megawatts, but we have the
problem of evacuation because of weak infrastructure.”
President Jonathan has said the Federal Government has not cancelled the
contract deal on power with Manitoba as erroneously being speculated in the
media, noting that there has been a misconception about the whole exercise,
especially by the public.
He added that a holistic approach has been accorded the energy sector having
realised how critical it is to the nation’s development, pointing out that the
government is on course to meet up with the nation’s demand by the middle of
His words: “Manitoba contract has not been revoked. There were some issues
raised due to misunderstanding. In 2006 when it all started, Manitoba and
others also bid. As of that time, it was the Bureau of Public Enterprise that
handled the whole exercise. There was confusion and they placed procurement on
Manitoba as a consultant to manage our transmission. But with the law we have
now, the due process law, it has painted that procurement differently.
“It was just discovered that the process of privatisation did not follow the
law strictly. Every country must keep to its law.”
The president pointed out that ”we saw some loopholes that were not properly
done and we say look, we should do it properly so that if we leave, after few
years, nobody will come and ask you questions. We believe that we should
rectify what was not properly done, therefore give the relevant section of
government up to next Tuesday to get all things sorted out, so that if it
requires my authorisation, l can do it. Let me assure you that we did not
cancel the Manitoba contract.”
Heads of states and PHCH successor companies
On the issue of the involvement of the former Heads of State, the president
noted: “On the issue of the former heads of state, the former heads of state
have to live, just like any other citizen. That you are a former head of state
does not mean that you should go and sleep; you need business to survive.
“But let me assure you that whether the person has been a former head of state
or not, it would not affect the process. The privatisation that is going on is
not only being handled by Nigerians alone. The World Bank is also involved. The
former heads of state may probably have shares in the companies taking part in
the bidding. I don’t think the whole company is owned by him. ”
Single term tenure proposal
Speaking on the single tenure proposal, President Jonathan said that the idea,
which came from consultation with other political parties, was meant to reduce
the tension generated by the second term syndrome in the polity, saying that he
had to mellow down on the proposal when Nigerians reacted negatively to it.
Why PDP not winning recent elections
On why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not been winning election in
recent times, President Jonathan replied that the PDP is the party to beat yet
in Nigeria, saying that the PDP is doing well and it’s not winning elections is
good for the nation’s democracy.
He said: “The PDP is doing well and that it is not winning elections is good
for democracy. It would have been dangerous for our democracy if the PDP wins
election in all the states. In the case of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko was a
member of the PDP. When he contested in 2007, his running mate was the state
chairman of the PDP, so it was more of a PDP family affair.”
On corruption, President Jonathan said: “We have been fighting corruption
frontally. We can make bold to say that we have combated corruption in the
electoral system; we have also tackled corruption in the agriculture sector,
especially in the distribution of fertilisers to the local farmers.”
Jonathan said: “If you keep money on a table where there are so many people and
the money is disappearing, why not keep it in a shelve?”
He added: “I can assure Nigerians and the global community that this government
is fighting corruption frontally.”
On poverty, he said: “I never promised to reduce poverty. I promised to create
On corruption, which is seen as the greatest problem confronting the country,
Jonathan said his administration was doing all in its power to tackle it,
adding that no administration before his had put so much into combating
He said: “The effort this government has put in in fighting corruption, I don’t
think any other person has done that.”
Speaking specifically on the corruption in the oil sector as revealed by the
probe of the disbursement of subsidy funds, Jonathan said the best way out was
to ensure there was no money to be stolen.
Jonathan explained that his government was making steady progress in power,
agriculture, economy and the provision of employment, and tacking corruption in
all areas while assuring Nigerians that his transformation agenda would start
to yield fruits before he leaves office.
Source: National Mirror