President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said contrary to reports making the rounds, he had never at anytime promised that he would not contest the 2015 presidential election.
He also denied the claim by Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State that he signed an agreement with some Peoples Democratic Party governors for only one term in office. He challenged anybody with a copy of such agreement to produce it.
Jonathan was fielding questions from a panel of journalists during the Presidential Media Chat in Abuja on Sunday. SEE MORE AFTER CUT>>>>>
He answered questions ranging from politics and education to security, economy and power.
When pressed to be specific on whether he would contest the 2015 election, the President insisted that it was too early to make his intention known adding that doing so would violate the Electoral Act which stipulates the time frame within which politicians can declare their interests.
The President, however, said the fact that he had not declared his position did not mean that those who were interested in the seat could not go ahead and start working.
Jonathan said, “There was no agreement with anybody that I will serve for only one term. If I had signed any agreement with anybody, they would have shown you the agreement.
“I did not say that I will not contest in 2015. In Addis Ababa, that was when I advocated single term of seven years. My argument was that to be more productive, maybe we should consider single term of seven years.
“ I said if Nigerians agree to that, I may not be involved. I did not say I will contest or not. Those who said I have signed an agreement, they should show the agreement.”
The President blamed past governments for the continuous campaign of violence being carried out by members of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
He said the needless killings would have been avoided if the menace of the sect was curbed from the beginning.
“Boko Haram did not start today. I was Vice-President in 2009 when (Mohammed) Yusuf (Boko Haram leader) was killed. People talk about Boko Haram as if Jonathan caused it. It started before 2009 but because it was not handled well, it has grown into a cancer and it has become terrible. If something happened and you don’t take the right action, it will continue. But I can assure Nigerians that it will be brought under control,” he added.
When asked whether Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, was truly dead, the President replied, “I don’t know whether he is dead or alive. I don’t know him and I have not seen him before.”
The President, who regretted the protracted strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, described the action as unfortunate. He added that it had been politicised.
He called on the university lecturers to consider the plight of their students and the sincerity of government and call off the strike.
The President, however, said it was wrong for ASUU to go on strike because of the state of infrastructure in universities when it was his government that initiated inventory of infrastructure in the institutions and returned a verdict that something drastic must be done.
He said, “ASUU strike is very unfortunate. There is no time a government has taken inventory of properties in schools but we set up a technical team that visited all universities. When the report was presented, I said it must be presented to all governors during NEC.
“We said things must change but it can’t be done overnight. For us to do that inventory shows that we are committed. For ASUU to go on strike for infrastructure is not fair. We are doing inventory for polytechnics and colleges of education too and they are not being done for fun.
“We expect ASUU to work with us. It is unfortunate that the strike lasts this long because we have witnessed strikes before and most of them are called off when government don’t even do up to what we have done.
“Politics have fallen into so many things. We may be seeing something different.”
Jonathan faulted those who have been describing the country as broke or bankrupt, saying that also smark of unhealthy politics.
“People play politics with serious issues. How can you describe the country as bankrupt? What parameters did they use? Anybody that says Nigeria is broke is playing politics and talking out of ignorance,” he declared.
On the power sector, Jonathan promised that before the end of the first quarter of next year, power would be stable in the country.
He also promised that his administration was building security architecture to tackle oil theft.
While admitting that corruption was prevalence in the country, Jonathan however said the menace was not the nation’s number one problem.
He said, “We did an in-house investigation and we are still doing it now. I am not saying there is no corruption in the oil sector but the way people are looking at it may not be the real thing. Recently, we have asked some auditors to look at the books again.”