In a live media chat today, President Goodluck Jonathan stated that the Federal Government is not into any dialogue with the militant Islamist group Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram. Mr. Jonathan declared the sect faceless, stating that his government cannot dialogue with them.
Mr. Jonathan’s comment on Boko Haram was one of several issues he touched on during a presidential media chat that ran live on NTA in Nigeria.
President Jonathan insisted that Boko Haram and their sponsors would not stop Nigerians from working, adding that all agencies of the government including the president, vice president, ministers must keep faith in Nigeria till the end.
He added that Boko Haram was attacking churches in order to instigate religious crises. Mr. Jonathan said, “We are working and will crush it. They are changing tactics. They can as well be attacking mosques to instigate Muslims against Christians.”
Asked to justify his recent trip to Brazil, President Jonathan declared that he had no regrets, noting, “Boko Haram’s main agenda is to destabilize government like all other terrorists.” The Nigerian president stressed that suspending his trip would have given terrorists a boost.
Mr. Jonathan also explained why he had not visited Maiduguri and Damaturu, two hot beds of sectarian violence. He said the airport was ill-maintained for his plane to land, adding that he could not travel by helicopter for security reasons.
Asked why he had not declared his assets, Mr. Jonathan replied in an impatient tone, stating “I don’t give a damn” about declaration of assets. He related that he had gone to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to caution “that we should not play to the hands of some people [by openly declaring their assets].” Mr. Jonathan added, “That is a matter of principle and I am not going to declare. It is not the president declaring his asset that will end Boko Haram.”
Other highlights of the president’s media chat are in the Premium Times report below:
President Goodluck Jonathan will this evening host a televised media chat with some Nigerian journalists to respond to questions on some topical national issues. We bring you LIVE updates from the chat.
President Goodluck Jonathan is hosting his third Presidential Media Chat since returning to office in May 2011. The first was in September 2011 and the last in January 2012, in the heat of the removal of subsidy on petroleum products.
The challenges confronting the country - insecurity, economy, corruption, fuel subsidy, dearth of infrastructural, among others - are still largely the same since his last media chat.
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The phone lines to call in on the presidential media chat is 09-625-1100 or 09-625-1000. If you are calling from outside the country, use the contry code (+234).
19:06 Gvernment ready to discuss with Boko Haram: President Joinathan says he is willing to dialogue with the Boko Haram sect, if they have a "face." He said the sect's members are Nigerians and he will like to transform their lives just like the Niger Delta millitants.
19:12 For now, there is no negotiation ongoing with Boko Haram, the president said.
19:16 President Jonathan said he has not visited Borno state, the center of Boko Haram attacks, because the airport there was not functional at the time he planned to visit. "And we did not want to land somewhere and fly in to Maiduguri with a helicopter for obvious reasons." He promises to visit the state and other states in Nigeria.
19:19 The Brazil Trip: The president said if he hadn't travelled to Brazil while Kaduna was boiling, it would have sent out a very wromg message to the world, and bolster the sect. "The day the international community gets to know that the president of Nigeria couldn't travel because of Boko Haram, then we are finished," the president said. "The Boko Haram and their sponsors cannot stop Nigeria."
19:24 The Body Language on Corruption: The president said he is a calm person and gives people the latitude to do their job in reaction to question bothering on his percieved weak body language on the fight against corruption. "A lot of people misunderstand me," he said.
Whoever says the president's body language does not allow him to fight corruption, he's incompetent
Asset Declaration: The presient says its a matter of principle and whether he is criticised from "head to toe" he will not declare his assets. "It is not right," he said. "I didn't want even want to declare my assets as VP" but was forced by the then president, Umara Musa Yar'Adua. He said asset declaration is "not the right thing to do."
19:35 Oil Subsidy Probe: The president said he initiated the probe of the oil industry even before the Senate and the House of Reps began its probe of the sector.
The president just mentioned that "only yesterday," he directed the EFCC to investigate Nigeria's bank accounts in the United States, following a report on a newspaper.
The presidency said he dealing with the same businessmen former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua hobnobbed with. He speaks in defence of the businessmen, including Femi Otedola who is involved a bribery scandal with chairman of House of Reps Panel that probed the subsidy regime. He however said he did not initiate the sting operation that caught Mr. Lawan.
19:55 Electricity: "When we were campaiging, we didn't know that BH will overtake the priorities of government," the president says.
He adds that what the government is doing with the increased electricity tariff is too ensure that those who earn low income pay lower tariff. "What we are doing with electricity tariff is too ensure that those who earn low income pay lower tariff," the president said.
20:07 Agriculture: The president said his government are revolutionizing agriculture in Nigeria."We are giving cotton seeds free in the North" he said.
Third caller unable to get through to the program.
Nigeria is owing over N100 billion in judgement debts, the president reveals.
20:14 The fourth caller's line fails after he introduced himself as calling from Ibadan.
The President said the government is doing very well in railway construction. "You may not know, but we are working," he said. He added that his government has made a "significant progress" in railway construction. "You should commend us," he adds.
20:19 Ogene Tega's call from Delta state gets through, he introduces himself and the line goes dead again.
20:20 The prsident says they are managing the economy professionally, "It is not Jonathan that is managing it," he said
20:22 The president begs to us first to use two years plus to see what he can do in terms of wealth creation, before talking about 2015. "It is too early to talk about 2015," the president said. "When INEC opens the gate, we will know who will contest or who will not contest."
20:27 Relationship with National Assembly: "I have a good relationship with the National assembly," the president said. "It is not as if there are no issues." He plans to do annual address to the National Assembly and says his being summoned to the National Assembly is not an issue.
"Whenever I travel, I go with atleast two members of the National Assembly," the president reveals.
20:35 The president says he "thinks" Nigerians should still trust him. He blames his poor public perception on the dublicability of IT (social media).
He said Nigerians will begin to see the results of his government in 2013. "People (critics) will begin to change after one year," the president said.
20:42 UNILAG name change: The president said what he did, in terms of law, was correct. You change the name first, then send the bill to the National Assembly later, he argues. "What we did, was the normal procedure," he said.
He also insists that most of the students are too young to know the significance of Moshood Abiola in Nigeria's democracy.
20:46 Call from Victor in Markurdi gets through as the first successful call in for the day. Victor is asking for equitable distribution of You Win grants. He is asking the president to ensure that the grant is not given to only those who know people in government.
20:52 Crude Oil Tefth: "The stealing of crude oil is a Nigerian phenomenon," the president said. He adds that it has gone cancerous. "We will stop it, but it is like allowing a cancerous cell to grow into a major tumor."
20:55 The program ends. Thank you for following our updates.