President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday denied signing an agreement with governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to spend one term in office.
He challenged those who have the pact to produce the document.
The President spoke last night during a Presidential media chat – his fifth since his election in 2011- aired on national television.
Jonathan also spoke on various topics in the two-hour live programme in which he fielded questions from five journalists in the studio. He also took questions sent by some Nigerians.
He also spoke on the ongoing university teachers’ strike which is nearing the 90th day, the Boko Haram activities and the controversy over the death or otherwise of its leader Abubakar Shekau, oil theft, the state of the economy, corruption and the sack of some minister, among others.
Jonathan said: “I did not sign agreement with anybody; if I had signed an agreement, they would have shown you.
“What I said in Ethiopia was that should Nigerians agree to a single term of seven years, I would not be part of it so that they would not say I canvassed it in order to spend 12 years in office.
“A lot of people are misinforming Nigerians. I was in Addis Ababa when I advocated for this single tenure. I said if we look at the politics of Nigeria, especially now that the country is just developing…in terms of the political evolution, we started the First Republic, it collapsed, the Second Republic collapsed, the Third Republic collapsed. This is the very first time that we have stayed.
“So, I said if we look at the way we go about our politics, to be productive, definitely if a president a tenure of seven years of one term without any interference, he must be productive more than even in the so-called eight years. I advocated for that, people would say the president, having completed the late President Yar’Adua’s tenure and another four years that make it five years, want to serve for another seven year single tenure, that would make it 12 years.”
“If Nigerians agree to that single tenure, I believe it will be more
productive for the country because I am thinking more about the
country. I did not say oh, Jonathan is or not going to contest election. I discovered that the concept of the single tenure which I was advocating at that time, it was when I was interfacing with some Nigerians in Addis Ababa, that some said I signed an agreement. They should show you the agreement.”
On his 2015 ambition, Jonathan said it is too early to declare.
He said: “We have laws in this country and our electoral laws regulate political activities. It gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) time frame to declare campaign open.
“My declaring early will create more problems for the system than solving it. A lot of people have been holding meetings silently but have you heard any of them coming out to say I want to be president or governor?”
On Boko Haram, Jonathan said it was not caused by poverty. He insisted that poor people cannot afford the weapons used by the sect.
When asked if Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau is dead or alive, Jonathan said: “I do not know whether he (Shekau) is dead or alive. I do not know him and have never seen him before. You cannot have clear information on security operation.
“If he was talking regularly in the past and suddenly stopped, there should be speculations.”
On the cademic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, the President said politics had crept into so many things. He said: “We have agreed on all issues, except transferring government’s assets to the university.
“Until we get to that level where universities that claim to be autonomous are autonomous in funding and other areas, we will still face similar challenges.
“The earned allowances which the lecturers are talking about are supposed to be paid from the Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) of the universities. The Federal Government cannot close all other departments because we want to solve ASUU problem.”
Jonathan wondered why state universities’ lecturers should join those in the federal universities to embark on strike.
He said: “Is it Federal Government that will provide infrastructure for state universities when we say we are in a federation? ASUU strike is very unfortunate because the union knows we are committed to revamping the infrastructure.”
The President also spoke on revenue, saying the monthly meetings to share allocation were not necessary.
He chided those who said the country was bankrupt, wondering why people play politics with serious issues.
Jonathan said: “How can someone say Nigeria is bankrupt? What are the yardsticks used when Nigeria currently has the highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa. If Nigeria is bankrupt, investors will remove their money overnight.
“We should be mindful of what we say as citizens. Despite all political interests, we must take our country first when making statements.”
Appealing to ASUU to suspend the strike, he said the government’s commitment to make changes is total but that everything cannot be done overnight.
He said: ” We set up a team, technical team, they visited all the universities, all the hostels including the toilets that we had in the hostels, they took photographs and videos records and when it was present to the executive council, I said it must be presented to the governors.
“So , I asked the Vice President that during the National Economic Council meeting with the governors, the Finance Minister is a member, the Planning Minister, Chief Economic Adviser to the President and the Central Bank Governor, the report should be presented.
“The report was on Federal Universities and states, we did not go to the private universities and we saw the enormous responsibilities that we have as a nation; the Vice-President could not recognise where he learnt his Architecture.
“I believe we can say there is misunderstanding; definitely, politics has come into so many things that we do, some we observe that the way we do certain things I have a feeling that something else is happening, they may be saying something different.
“Anybody who talked about Nigeria being broke is just playing politics with the issue, we should be mindful of what statement we make.”
He said Boko Haram did not start in 2009 and that because it was not handled properly at the initial stage, it became cancerous.
He denied the allegation that the sack of ministers has anything to do with the aggrieved governors.
On privitasation, he said: “There is no selective privatisation, you cannot privatise everything the same day.”
On power, he said: “We are not talking about how many megawatts. That is not the issue, because. When we generate and you do not have the capacity to evacuate, then you have done nothing.
“As at the time we were talking about megawatt, we couldn’t even have done more than 5500 megawatts, but We are taken the whole chain, including the privatisation of Gencos and Discos.”
He said those criticising the Petroleum Ministry are those who want to get oil blocks or lift oil and are not able to do so.
“They will complain. Most of the stories are based on perception. Some of the stories are ‘molue’ stories. We are now paying a little less than a Trillion.”
On oil theft, he said: “When something starts in a very small way, if it is not checked it will result in what we are seen now. I can assure you that we will get it under control. Government is also working with other heads of states outside Nigeria. There is no reason why you should accept stolen crude oil. It is not done by poor people.”