Interview of President Jonathan On AIT’s Current Affairs Programme, Kaakaki

Interview of President  Jonathan On AIT’s Current Affairs Programme, Kaakaki
March 06 10:34 2015 Print This Article

gej-09091President Goodluck Jonathan was a guest of AIT’s magazine programme “Kakaaki” and answered a lot of questions bordering on the petroleum sector, security, the whereabouts of the Chibok girls, the 2015 elections and the achievements of his government in all sector.

Excerpts?
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How do we revamp our refineries so that 80 per cent of our import can be refined here?

For fuel scarcity we are doing everything humanly possible that is taken care of. Of course there is some kind of panic buying because of the drop in the value of the naria there is so many stories that makes people to behave in a way they ought not to which leads to scarcity. This is very temporary. Of course there were some issues of payments and so on which is being addressed.? We believe between one or two days this will be completely over.

But you are right until we start refining our crude oil and get our products here within the country we cannot get out of this. ?Is even a policy of government that when you continue to export raw materials you are actually exporting jobs and there is no reason why we should continue to import PMS, DPK, AGO and so on, now we should refine. We have been working on how to bring back our refineries but it has not been too easy because the refineries were even privatized. I remember as Vice President that both Kaduna and Port Harcourt were even privatized, the deposit of about $51 million was even paid by the companies that were to take over. But there were a lot of labour resistance and so on and so it was reverted back to government. And since then we have not been able to get to where we are supposed to.
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I think is an area we must make deliberate attempt ?in the next dispensation to see that we encourage the private sector. Luckily a number of people in the private sector including the Dangote Group are ready to build their own refineries not necessarily acquring that of government, though is easier for them to acquire than to build a new one but a lot of labour issues but is something we must address as a nation.
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It’s been alleged that ?bringing down the price of petrol from N97 to N87 was politically motivated. ?What is your take?
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Is not politically motivated. People play politics with everything in Nigeria which is quite unfortunate. Pump prices are not constant, pump prices are fixed base on changes in the international price of crude oil. As a vice president in 2007 a similar thing happened when the price of crude oil dropped as low as $40, there was a day it dropped up to $38 and I remember that we dropped the pump price of PMC to N65 or so. That was the lowest. Then we now took it up when the crude oil price went as high as $111 and the cushioning gap which we call subsidy was unbearable to government, so we had to push it up to N97.

Of course now the international price of crude oil has now dropped back in fact at a time it was about $57 now is about $60 or so. It will not be fair for you to ask Nigerians to buy at that same price except you want to deregulate completely. But if you are not deregulating completely then the pump price will oscillate based on the international ?price of crude oil. So it has nothing to do with politics.

?You mentioned the issue of privatization of oil refineries and the deadlock with labour yours. We know in 2011 over N760 million was put into maintaining the refineries yet the capacity ?was not increased. Don’t you think not carrying the unions along especially with the fear of losing their jobs is what is giving them concern?

The fear of losing jobs is a bit morbid, we always encourage the unions that you cannot just loss your jobs. Yes if the private sector takes over normally they are better in terms of managing crisis?, the government is an evolution. It came up at a time where government manages everything but now if you look at it gobally, the best practice is for government to create the enabling environment and let the private sector drive the economy. That is why even in the power sector it has now been privatized. Before now even the value chain from generation, distribution and transmission were in the hands of the federal government alone not even the state governments. By law state governments are not even allowed to generate power for commercial purposes, you can do that by providing rural electricity and distribute free to people. But that is not efficient, we have tried all over the years it has not worked and it will not work so the best thing is for the private sector to take over.  We are lucky we have completed the privatization, this is an interface period. The 12 months or thereabouts is to stabilise ?and it will take a live of its own just like the telecom and Nigerians will no longer suffer from this epileptic power.

So is the refineries. If the refineries are privatized and the privatize sector takes over, they are not going to bring people from the moon? to work they will still employ Nigerians. But there is always this fear, the fear of unknown which is of course the normal human behaviour. Even what you don’t know you will be better but you will prefer like what is normally said that a bird in hand is worth thousands in the skies so that makes people to resist change. But for the refineries we will definitely do that, we will privatized it completely because that is the only way but it will be done in such a way that it will have no effect on Nigerians. But we cannot continue to have refineries that do not work because it will not even be useful to them. As a population the roads get better, more vehicles are bought and demand for PMS will continue to increase. So the most important thing about refineries is not even privatizing government owned refineries but allow the private sector to build their own and that is where we are going.

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?No doubt the Nigerian military is doing well in dislodging the insurgents ?in north east Nigeria in the last two to three weeks. But the question is why did it take this long to record these recent successes?
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?Well, these questions continue to come up and we continue to explain. Yes, I agree that at the beginning, probably we did not really estimate the capacity of the Boko Haram. But is obvious Boko Haram started as a non-violent group led by Yusuf and limited to around Maiduguri area, of course, from Yobe to Maiduguri. It did not even get up to Adamawa, not to talk about Yobe or Kano or Bauchi. So, it started as a non-violent group. But just like every group of youths or young people taking to criminality, Boko Haram expanded their network and linked up with other terrorist organisations in North Africa. Of course like Al-Qaeda and other similar brands all over the world. So, they continued to build their capacity. So it got to a point where for you to tackle them and of course with the kind of environment where they operate, you need some specialized some equipment to use and we don’t manufacture these equipment for now. Yes, as a nation, we are trying. In terms of industrialization within the West Africa sub-region?, Nigeria is more industrialised than other countries but still, we are yet to manufacture these high calibre weapons. We are going into that, but for now we don’t have,  we depend on getting there from other countries. We had some issues, but over the period, we have been able to get some reasonable supplies. I believe we have gotten up to 60 or 65 percent of what we need to prosecute this terrorist war let me put it that way. That is why the movement has changed.

So it is not deliberate. You will recall that immediately I appointed the present service chiefs, the chief of defence staff even promised Nigerians that we are going to root out Boko Haram within a short period  but it never came. But it was not delibereate.
The internally displaced persons are in millions they are numbering behind Syria and Columbia as the largest number in Africa. What is the blueprint for getting the IDPs back to base and restarting their economic lives?
?Of course we have already started that and people are even beginning to move. You will record that we launched what we called the Victims Support Fund because we believe that within our budgetary provision alone it will be difficult for us to  rehabilitate this group of persons very quickly especially considering the number of communities these excesses of Boko Haram has impacted. That is why we called good Nigerians we have the interest of people at heart to come and donate. Reasonable  sums of monies have been donated though not  everybody has redeemed the pledged ?but we have enough money.
So that coupled with what the government has been able to do to rehabilitate them we are already working on that. Especially in the Adamawa case, Adamawa is almost through, even in Adamawa it is only the Magali Local Government that is remaining, places like Gulak which was the headquarters of Boko Haram has been taken over by our troops.  And I believe that before the end of this week or by Sunday we will be able to liberate Adamawa completely and I also believe Yobe State will be liberated completely before next week. So we are moving.
And of course the Victims Support Fund is not managed directly by the government that is the beautiful aspect. ?So that when the combination of sources of fund, some managed by government. The Victims Support Fund even though government initiated the fundraising is managed by ?the private sector so that they will bring the private sector perspective into it. I believe we will be able to rehabilitate them.
A lot of the victims still have fears of reprisal attacks?
Cuts in: Yes that is why if you listen to the language of the military. They ?will say they have overtaken and they are mopping up. Because there has been reprisal attacks before. You know most of these communities were takeover before by our troops but you see Boko Haram will come back and there will be a lot of casualties and that is why this time around they are no longer doing that. Any area that has been taken over it is mopped up. That is all windows that will encourage boko haram to strike back has been blocked.
Now is also better for us because ?before it was like Nigerian government alone fighting the terrorists and the terrorist don’t respect international boundaries. When they are under pressure they could run to Niger, Chad territories and when the heat is off they come back. But the African Union has now permitted the Lake Chad Basin countries – Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Benin and others to work together to route out Boko Haram, so all these areas are now they cannot go into Cameroon territory easily, they cannot move into Chad because they are also fighting, they cannot go into Niger because they also being attacked. So at least is much easier for us. If you listen to what has been happening in the past couple of weeks now, you have not heard of a community being taken over by Boko Haram until we take over all our territories.
With the successes recorded a lot of Nigerians are expecting to see the release of the  Chibok girls. Many believed they were in Sambisa forest and we know the Nigerian troops have combed through the Sambisa forest but the girls have not been found.
We still have reasonable parts of our territories that are in the hands of Boko Haram. We promised that that we will get the Chibok girls release. The good story is that they have not killed them, because when terrorists kill they display so that they use it to intimidate the civil society. So, these girls are alive. And so, we will get the girls. Luckily we are narrowing down the areas of their control. So we will get them.

Lately they seem to be large number of female suicide bombers. There are fears that the girls are being used as human shield or suicide bombers?

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The issue of using the girls as human shield, of course, they would want to use them as human shield. That is why the operations are being done with the best standards. You cannot just move with artilleries and clear the place. That is why it has to be slow because you know that is not just these girls, a number of young ladies or even men are held in captive. You know recently in the Yobe axis, they released hundreds of them held in captive that people didn’t know because they were picking them in threes, fives and so on. But they were not so celebrated compared to the Chibok girls and that is why the military are a bit careful in their approach so that third parties like the civilians will not get killed in the crossfire.?

Still on IDPs a lot of them have expressed worries of going back to their communities. In fact one of them last week said unless she sees army barrack in her community she is not going back. How soon will the IDPs return home?
The IDPs are not just in one camp or taken away from one community, we are talking about so many local governments in Borno State, ?two local governments in Yobe State, another six local government in Adamawa State were under the control of Boko Haram. As we are talking now, only Madagali in Adamawa State is left in the hands of Boko Haram, even the headquarters Gulak has been taken over by our troops. I was in Mubi where I paid courtesy call on the Emir, definitely the palace is still a bit empty and he said his people are coming back. And I saw people in the community, people are going back even though the community is still half empty. But I still saw children, men and some women, so live is coming back. You see when a place is under attack we suffered that during the civil war, my community was burnt down everybody disappeared. But when the whole place was liberated gradually people started coming back. So even this person that said except a barrack is built he is not coming back, yes agree they must have been traumatized by the experiences, but when others have come back you have three four friends are coming back and you see that nothing is happening to them and that they are living their normal lives, then you will want to return back. You will see that live has returned back and you are no longer hearing story of Boko Haram reprisal attack. These communities before now people were no longer sleeping, they formed vigilante, people were sleeping in the bush. But they are mopping up the area now. When you no longer hear stories of marauding Boko Haram even within the local government, within the nearby communities then you will have the courage to go back. Yes security will be strengthened, even our borders security we are already working on that. We are even trying to use technology to monitor our borders to make sure that marauders, criminals, cross border bandits will be minised. That will be done especially in these three local government areas. But people will go back when they are sure they are safe and are no longer hearing stories Boko Haram have invaded communities.

Why should Nigerians vote for you again?

I believe Nigerians will vote for me and I want Nigerians to vote for me because we have done well. But sometimes as a government we are busy working and we don’t advertise what we have done. And sometimes it appears not much (is done). Of course Nigeria is a very big country. For instance somebody who lives in Lagos can live in a part of Lagos and not know what is happening in some parts of Lagos for 10 years. If you assess what we have done in a number of areas, we have done quite well and I believe that if Nigeria is linking up to where we were before and what we have done over these four years of government, they will want us to really continue to make sure we at least complete some of these transformation programmes.

If you take the rail sector for example, people take thinks for granted more so human memories are short. I remember as a Vice President, I’m an Anglican, there are some occasions I will go to church at the headquarters, my Primate then Akinola, he has retired now, when he is preaching will attack government so viciously sometimes I even feel ashame to go to church. As at that time, we had about just five kilometers of motorable roads in Nigeria. So the story was that out of the 35,000 kilometers of federal roads only about five were motorable. It was terrible. We have 20,000 to that 5,000 remaining 10,000 kilometers. 10,000 kilometers is a very long distance and of course is not just the kilometers but the expansion. We have dualised most of these roads, so Nigerians that traveled these days, people that are sincere are confessing that yes the roads are much more better. We still have 10,000 kilometers and if we could cover 20,000 kilometers ?in four years we believe that if we are given the opportunity the remaining10,000 kilometers ?will be covered. So Nigerians will drive on good roads at least across the nation.
The power sector for example, it has been a problem from the days of ECN till now. The only thing is this privatization just like we were talking about refining of our crude oil. We have done the privatization luckily the participants from other countries are global players, I think it was a process that was done in line with global best practice. Now some of the GENCOs (generating plants)n, some of those who bought the generating plants are even doubling their generation capacity, the limitation is gas issues. We still have issues with maxium supply of gas to these plants and of course the evacuation of the powers being generated. So we have these interface of federal government control and then private sector control and then power value chain from generation to transmission to distribution which needs to be managed delicately because is a delicate process. If new people just come they may bastardize the process and if care is not taken we may go back to a situation worse off.
Even on agriculture, ?you don’t need to be the minister of agriculture to know what we are doing. You don’t even need to be an expert in marketing or agriculture to know what we are doing. We had a devastating flood in 2012, in fact the worst flood in recent history. And people said we will have farmine, that there will be scarcity of food. A number of business came to me asking for weaver to import grains, rice into this country. Because of the devastating flood, all the farm lands were washed out. I called the agric minister and asked do we have to give wavers for people to bring grains he said no. He said with the improvement in dry season farming and so on we will not suffer farmine, we will not suffer food scarcity and the price of food will remain stable. 
The drop in price of crude oil also led to the drop in the value of the naira also, they are some countries that queue up for essential commodities ?because they import food. But even though with the drop in the value of the naira naturally if you import food the price of food would have gone up but the price of food are still relatively stable because we are producing more food. We have not reached where we want to go because we just don’t want to produce more food, we want to package and export to other countries. So we are doing very well here and if we continue we are not afraid we will stablise. If we continue for another four years, staple food like rice we will not just be producing for our own consumption we will be producing cheaper rice for our neigbouring countries but also outside Nigeria. We are also doing this with wheat and other areas.
So we believe that in several areas, we have tried and we are working very well and if we are encouraged in the next four years, at least Nigeria will be able to stabilise in those sectors. So I believe if Nigerians really know where we were before and what we done within these four years, then they will encourage us to at least continue for the next four years.
??In 2011 there were a lot of enthusiasm as regards the elections and sort of tip the scale. A Lot of the argument is that there is a huge disconnect between the government and the people. How do you hope to address the communication gaps between government and the people in the next four years should you win the elections?

Yes I agree with you because you the media know much more than we do. I am also convinced that a number of Nigerians don’t follow government activities, we have not been able to expose government sufficiently to Nigerians and that is one area we must do better God willing if we come back, we must make sure that we carry Nigerians along in all what we do.
In 2011 there challenges in the country, the President was ill and later he died and I became the President, then every business of government was known by everybody. And we limited ourselves to? how do we stabilise our country, how do we conduct free and fair elections and then how do we handle the issue of power. So we were not into many areas it was after the elections that we decided to face other issues. How do we handle health, education, road infrastructure and so on and so forth. But while doing this we were working is just that people are not knowing what you are doing but the country is fast developing. So I believe that in the next dispensation we must marry the work and exposing government suffiently to Nigerians. Let ordinary play a role by making suggestions and for them to do that you must tell them what you are doing and seek for their opnion. So I think these are areas we have to change our approach.
The power sector has been successfully privatized but there are a lot of issues. Would you like to clarify because that is one sector that is very critical in Nigeria and would turn the tide in the areas of economic gains?
?The power sector is going on well but like any human endeavour there must be some problems. For example I just mentioned the issue of gas that the ministry of petroleum resources is working very hard to make sure that all the plants have gas. All the plants now are generating over 60 per cent of their installed capacities because they don’t have gas and that is being addressed. Also, the issue of metering is also being addressed because in this modern world you cannot just go and ask a consumer pay this x-amount, the person will want to know what he has consumed. So many consumers don’t even have meters and that is why even getting the facilities to enable the DISCOS (Distribution companies) to install meters in all the premises of consumers, so you will know the exact amount you have consumed. So these are some gray areas and that is why we are saying the transitional phase, which is so many debts issues to work out. What was called NEPA before it was unbundled to privitaisation. There are still legacy issues and they are still some pending issues and they are still being soughted out. I believe is the best thing that has happened in this country.
God willing this transitional phase in the next 12 months or so would be sorted out and you will see a lot of increase in terms of power generation.
Still on transportation. There is you live in Kaduna and work in Abuja rail project, is this project realizable in this first term of your office before you go into elections?
I’m very hopeful that I will take a ride from Abuja to Kaduna and from Kaduna to Abuja  before the 29th of May. I’m very hopeful.
What is the state of the rail right now? We know there are changes from Lagos to Kano but there is a light rail project in Abuja that has been going on for two decades now?? 
?The Abuja light rail is for city dwellers like you to enjoy, I think is going on well, I have not gotten briefings on that very recently. You know is being funded from the Chinese loan arrangement and usually is being done in phases. But for the Narrow  Gauge rail that we inherited from our colonial masters, yes it might not be very good in moving people because is slow. Because it was designed to carry raw materials to carry raw materials from hinterland to coastal areas for export. But we still believe we have to refurbished those ones because yes is being used for moving passengers. But the key thing is that the heavy materials that we carry on our roads we can now move them from North to South and from South to North by rail using the Narrow Guage line. And we have refurbished almost 90 per cent of it, that is from Lagos to Kano, to Kaduna, Port Harcourt, to Enugu in the South East linking up to Benue and Lagos, is almost complete. It is when it is complete that you will know that this movement of heavy material will reduce the impact it has on our roads. You know all these heavy trucks that carry cement and other things will no longer be allowed to ply on our roads to make our roads last longer.
But then the Standard Gauge that you are talking about Kaduna-Abuja we are working on that and there are other plans to put rail lines across. Because in the master plan, every state capital in link up by standard rail. It will reduce transportation cost by almost 50 per cent or less. Transportation is one thing that take the chunk of the salaries of workers, people spend almost 30, 40 per cent of their earnings if not more on transportation.

The Dana crash brought the Aviation sector into light, we know plane crashes are not peculiar to Nigeria. But what has been the biggest achievements of the sector in your administration?

 
 
Yes we have had two ugly incidents in the aviation sector since I became the President, the Dana Crash and the other crash that killed the former Governor of Ondo State. And that is why the issue of security is key which is the total radar coverage of our airspace which we never had before now. When you don’t have total radar coverage is difficult for you to access in terms of security. Whenever an aircraft is in the air, it must be located at one put or the other. And we have done that.
One of the areas that was quiet worrisome some years ago was the issue of terminal building, those who come into the country the first impression of a country is when you pass through the airports, our terminal buildings were in very deplorable state now there is improvement. We have not really completed the terminal buildings but we have done the remodeling of some of them and in some cases building new ones. But at least there is significant improvement. So the key thing about ?aviation sector is not necessary the number of airlines a country has especially for international flights other airlines can fly in and out. Even for domestic flights you can allow investors to come set up and our local companies can work with others. But the key thing is safety and the quality of the terminal building which are addressing.
Let’s look at your auto policy do you think this is the way to go to encourage Nigerians buy made in Nigeria vehicles?
?No. High import dues will not solve our import problem and I believe some of this is because of the slight drop in the value of the naira. Yes with the auto policy many people fear that maybe government wants to take this step to block importation of cars. We spend almost close to $50 billion a year importing auto parts and articulated vehicles and as a nation we cannot continue to afford that, it will affect your foreign reserves drastically. That is why we are encouraging local production of vehicle because it will create more jobs for our people. Any company that produces vehicles has other subsidiaries producing components, there is no one company all over the world that produces all the components in a vehicle, sometimes up to 20 small companies producing different components of vehicles and these then to create more jobs for the country and helps to strengthen the local economy.
But the prices people are talking about is probably the policy of controlling the issue of Nigeria being a dumping ground for all kinds of vehicles that are almost dead. It doesn’t mean Nigerians cannot drive the car they want?, if you have the money you can drive the best car, Nigeria is a free society. But we also feel that with this luxuery there must be consumer tax. But it will not affect the kind of car maybe a young graduate will use but those people who want to drive multimillion naira vehicles, that have a little more money, they should be ready to assist government and pay some consumer taxes. Because we prefer a situation where instead of driving second hand cars you should be able to use one point something million to drive a new car made in Nigeria car. It will last longer in terms of safety and so on and so forth.
A Lot of government’s jobs programmes like YouWin and others is quite commendable, however but the seem to be a large disconnect between the teaming unemployed youths and available jobs in the market. Why do we not have jobs centers like is done abroad to announce available jobs in the different sectors?
 
?Recently we launched a similar website that is not directly on jobs opportunities alone but other opportunities like those who are interested in technical trainings and so on. I agree with you that as a nation we don’t have that but we are encouraging at the state level, normally they have labour offices where you go and fill forms. Where there are jobs opportunities they encourage people to apply.
In terms of people not still feeling impact in terms of the number of jobs being created, yes people may not but a number of jobs are being created because you know we are in a country that every year 1.8 million enter the labour market. Presently we generate about 1.4 million so you see it cannot even employ all of them looking for jobs. Our target is to at least generate not less than two million jobs annually, that was why we set up the job creation board headed by the Vice President and a number of private sector people are there. We also have the small and medium scale enterprises board also headed by the Vice President. These two processes expand the labour space to create more jobs. If you look at the Asian tigars, what makes them great is not the merga companies but is the small and medium scale enterprises that create so many jobs for the people. That is why we are encouraging young people.
If you look at the YouWin programme for instance where we are directly ?giving grants almost like a venture capital business, young people have shown that they have enterprising courage and so on. So we are encouraging the private sector, we will certainly go above this 1.4 million jobs, our target is two million and I believe from this year onward we will get to that. Yes the drop in crude oil price may affect us a little especially it will affect investments and stocks and so on. But until we are able to create at least two million jobs it will appear as if you are doing nothing. We have not reached the target even if we start creating two million jobs we will still have spill overs because of the previous backlog.
The sliding oil price is a source of worry to many people. If elected back what are the measures you will put in place to diversify the economy not just in agriculture?
?We are already doing a number of things in terms of diversifying the economy. If you look at the fact that our GDP is about $510 billion, this is not from oil sector. The contribution of the oil sector is about 14.5 per cent, agriculture is about 22 per cent while manufacturing is about 21.5 per cent. So in terms of the general wealth of the nation, oil is just 14.5 per cent. The only difference is that in terms of government earning, monies government need to pay salaries and so on and so forth it will affect it. But we are adversity already not just in agriculture if you listen to the minister we are talking about the complete value chain. That means you are talking about agro-allied companies, there must be a bit of manufacturing meaning you don’t just get your cocoa and export it, you must produce chocolate and produce other products. So we are saying let us expand it. The manufacturing sector contributes 21.5 per cent so that must be encouraged as well.
In 2011 it was landslide victory for PDP but many believe the PDP freighted away it’s goodwill and went to sleep and now it has a bigger contender. Has this affected your projections for the elections?
 
In 2011 there were four strong parties. The PDP was strong, the ACN was strong, the CPC was strong and the ANPP was strong. So we had four strong political parties presidents sharing the votes of Nigeria. Yes I agree with you it was easier in 2011 but PDP is still the dominant party. There is no polling unit, the smallest structure in Nigeria where you don’t have members of the PDP.

Yes, for one reason or the other, within the party people get angry and may even vote against PDP but in terms of membership of the PDP, there is no party that has that spread. So, PDP still has the most formidable structure, PDP has better chances of winning a national election.

In 2011 we had three presidential candidates against the PDP it was easier. But if these three have come together no matter how strong, in politics coming together also has a cost. As a second term president, globally in 70 per cent of the cases it is most challenging for the President to secure a second term than first term. Because in most cases when you are coming into office the expectations are quite high and of course during your campaigns you must have promised a number of things, so people expect their lives to change over night but nature does not work that way. It takes time to come up with policies it takes time for you to implement the policies and it takes time for the fruits to be felt by the people. Even you have to build a three story building and you have all the monies in the world, it still takes time.
 
So if I’m a young man with no job and a politician is coming to promise me a better Nigeria, my hopes will be that as soon as the inauguration is over, I will expect to go to an office and resume my job and if it doesn’t come after sometimes I get disillusioned. This is natural. So is more challenging for a sitting president seeking re-election. But PDP still has an edge over the opposition.
 
 
 
Are you worried about the elections?
 
?I’m not worried because in terms of spread, even the opposition will tell you is they are realistic. Who has strengthened the opposition? Are not the PDP elements? If you remove the PDP election from the opposition, will just collapse like a pack of cards. PDP is the only party now that can say every polling unit they have their members.
Why are people aggressive towards the PDP to the extent that even the presidential convoyed is stoned? Why do you show that aggression? If you are comfortable, you will not do that.
Let’s come back to peace talk. Even though you speak very little, you see all the mudslinging ?being done by a lot of politician despite the Abuja peace accord?
Yes of course people are worried about crisis following the elections, the conduct of politicians especially when politicians are employing young people who sometimes do not know? their left from their rights. Atimes when you look at people and the way they behave you will know that they don’t even know what they are doing.
For instance when my convoy was stoned and I looked at the young people they are not even of voting age, they are just 14, 15, 16. Like when I was stoned in Katsina, I wanted to come out of the car because these were children. So you see some people are trying to brain wash the young people who do not even know what they are doing. Children stoning someone building almajiri schools to liberate these set of children so that they will have a hope. So sombody has brainwashed them so they don’t even know this is someone bringing development to you.
So agree with you, the Abuja Accord all these are persuasive there are not laws? that if somebody contravene  you can prosecute the person. Is normal persuasion and the leaders willingly agreed and signed. We were not compel to sign. So if you key into that you sign but you are morally bound to abide by it. The result might not be so obvious but it tells the average politician he knows violence will not solve the problem because there is no reason for us to be so violent. There is no reason for us to kill and destroy. Yes in Africa elections have those kinds of symtoms. Those of you who read political history know about what happened in first and second republic  there were some issues in some parts of the country. And of course the aborted third republic and even the present republic there are challenges. These things have always been there and we manage it.
So I use this opportunity to plead with fellow politicians that first of all we must have a country before we can seek for any office. Be that of a councillor at local level, a senator at the federal level or a governor or a state or even a president of a country.
Will you attend the debate by Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) on March 22nd and tell Nigerians what your prospective for Nigeria will be?
 Yes if I am called even today, I will go because I’m a public servant, nobody compelled me to come and contest the election to be the President of Nigeria. I feel I have something to offer, I feel I can serve. So if Nigerians call me and say we need to listen to you, we have questions you should answer, definitely I will, even in the night.
When the elections were fixed for February 14th and 28th a lot of people traveled out of Abuja and other parts for fear of their safety of what might happen after the elections. What will be  ?your advise to them now?

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?My advise to Nigerians is that stay wherever you register to vote to cast your vote, you can still vote. Because you must participate in installing a government. You must play a role in deciding who governs you. Is not necessary that your candidate must win because you might want a particular governor or president and he may loss. But be happy that at least you participate.  If you refuse to vote and the wrong person comes into power you are the ones that will suffer.
In terms of security, we are doing everything and everything will be done to ensure people are safe. The experiences we had in 2011 we never envisaged it that people will go to the extent of killing, we lost 10 young people.? And those people  were killed even at a time the elections were being declared at those polling units it was when the overall results were being declared in Abuja. Because they believe a particular person of their choice should have won the presidential elections and since the person was lossing out they started those crisis. Now we know that it could come up again and that is why we are taking every step to make sure it doesn’t happen again. So people should stay back home and vote they will be protected.
??And do you still maintain that May 29th remains sacrosanct?
Definitely. I don’t know why people insinuate. I think that they are some Nigerians who are bent on creating problems in this country. There was no reason for anybody to doubt that date because you just cannot. This is a democracy we are running and we are controlled by law. Everything we are doing is based on the constitution. The Nigeria constitution is very clear on how government should be changed. There is no provision for interim goverment in the Nigerian constitution?. Talking about interim government to me is treasonable because the only interim government is the military government.
In the Francophone system where they have constitutional court?, it can redesign a government wherever there is a stalemate, like it happened in Burkina Faso. I was there as one of the African leaders that went and had these conversation with the President of Ghana, who is the Chair of the ECOWAS. If such a situation they have it in their constitution, the Speaker takes over but there is no provision where the President or the Speaker will not be there. What happened was that there was some kind of civil disobedience and the Speaker and the President were chased out of the country. It was a stalemate, the military had to take over because that was the only option and ECOWAS is totally against a military government in the sub-region, so what do you? We don’t have that provision in Nigeria so nobody can talk about interim government, anybody saying that doesn’t know what he is saying.
We will like you to put to rest the issue of the INEC Chairman to stay or not to stay?
?Even the issue of the INEC chairman I don’t even know why that debate. When I saw it I think it was on AIT that even in the parliament people were talking about it I felt very sad. Because I will advise my fellow politicians? , those of us holding very high offices, should not discourse things based on unsubstantiated rumour. Because if a Senator or a House of Representatives member should make a statement based on rumour, you are now giving credibility to that.  It can be discussed in the motor park or beer parlor or in the market, people may not worry much. But when you start discussing it in the parliament or even among members of the Executive Council, then what ordinary should have disappeared as unfounded rumour begin to have some ?credibility.
I appointed the INEC chairman, that is the exclusive preserve of the President, is not given to any other authority and I have not discussed with any human being on earth or even in my dream on whether the INEC chairman should stay or go. So I don’t know. I belive is caused by some people who want to create crisis in this country.
So we are confident that after the polls after March 28th polls we will see a winner sitting in front of us?
 

I think so.
 
 
Mr. President you final ?message to Nigerians?
 
My message is that first I have to thank Nigerians for their support, is not easy especially with what the country is passing through especially with the insecurity of which we have witnessed bombings in Abuja, Niger State, Kaduna State, Kano State, Gombe State?. Not to talk of the crisis of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. So when people are being killed naturally people will be angry with government. I appreciate but I plead with Nigerians that it is a global phenomenon and we are doing all we can. I’m quite pleased what the successes in the north east, we have not had cases of Boko Haram coming back to take over territories again. And without Boko Haram we can stabilise this country. 
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