President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that his interest in the 2015 general elections, if any should not debar anybody from running for the Presidency. According to him, any person who is waiting for President Goodluck Jonathan to declare before he starts preparing to run for the seat is not serious, adding that whether Jonathan declares or not, the person should have been prepared well ahead for the election.
The President who spoke in a media chat in Abuja explained that the Electoral Act must be obeyed, because it has a time frame for both declaration of candidate’s interest and the time to start campaigning. The President said that declaring too early without obedience to the electoral law causes alot of problem in the polity because it could distract and destabilise government.
He also said that he did not sign any agreement with anybody that he will run for one term and challenged those who claim that he signed any agreement to show it to Nigerians. He said the issue of one term came up while he was interfacing with Nigerians in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, and suggested that because of our level of political development, for any President to do well, he should be allowed uninterrupted seven years rule and that he could not promote it at home since people will say he would have spent 12 years having utilised one year to finish late President Musa Yar’ Adua’s tenure in addition to his first tenure in office as elected president of Nigeria.
On the lingering crisis by the Academic Staff Union of University(ASUU), the President said that such crisis are expected in any developing country, explaining that the ASUU strike is unfortunate. He pointed out that only his government that has taken inventory of all the Federal Universities and was working on the recommendation before the ASUU strike commenced.
He explained that governments opted to intervene with N100 billion and other intervention funds from the NNPC besides what has been allocated to the universities and that what ASUU is asking for in term of allowance ought to be mitigated by Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
He called on ASSU to shelve the strike in the interest of the Nigerian children and partner with government because government has shown enough sincerity to address their problems. He explained that even if government has all the money things will not change overnight but that it will take some time.
He said that Nigeria is not broke and attributed the allegations that Nigeria is broke to burst closure of two pipelines in the Niger Delta in June which brought down the sales of crude oil in the international community.
“The main reason was the closure of the two pipelines in June which forced the sales of oil down and it does not mean that the country is broke, ” adding that the development affected monthly allocation to the state governments. The President averred that even if the Federal Government fails to pay salaries as and when due does not imply that the country is broke, stressing that so many other factors could have been responsible.
The President said that the perception about Nigeria’s economy in the international community is totally positive as against local perception adding that during his recent visit to the United States where he addressed the United Nation, he was given a very rare opportunity to ring the bell on the floor of the American Stock Exchange.
“The President of US, President Barack Obama told me that for you to have been allowed to ring the bell is indicative of the level of confidence investors have on the Nigerian economy”, the President said.
On power, the President said that government plans to stabilise power for Nigerians, adding that from October till the first quarter of next year, government will formerly transfer infrastructure to the private sector. He said that once that is done, he expects power to be stabilised. He noted that though there could be some challenges during the transfer, he will try as much as possible to minimise envisaged problems.
He explained that the all the National Integrated Power Plants (NIPP) are ready for commissioning, adding he has commenced the process of commissioning all of them. Jonathan said his administration is not keen on telling Nigerians about megawatts since generation is just one aspect of power supply. “This is because if you generate without capacity to evacuate, you are doing nothing”, he said adding that government hopes to use Manitoba Power Holdings to manage all the NIPPS.