By NBF News

President Goodluck
Mum was the word last night as President Goodluck Jonathan declined to declare his interest to contest the 2011 presidential race. Nigerians who are eager to now whether the incumbent President would throw his hat into the ring would need to wait a little longer as Jonathan refrained from making a categorical statement before a team of senior journalists during his maiden presidential media chat in Abuja.

'I am not in a position to tell Nigerians presently whether I will run or not. We have a political environment that gets heated up when elections are coming up.

'Things are calm all over the country in various sectors, even at the state level but if I declare now that I am contesting then it would become a signal for incumbent governors to begin to declare and people who want to contest against them would also declare their intentions and heat up the polity. These activities may clash and affect governance because attention is now divided.

'I have been in the system since 1999 and I know what I am talking about. If you take it at the federal level, even in the Federal Executive Council, it will disrupt the level of activities of the ministers. People will be working to deliver their communities or wards and local governments and functions of government will suffer. 'At the same time, if I say I am not contesting now, the story will begin to behave very funny and it will affect the running of government. So, the best thing to do is to keep our mouths sealed up regarding this issue.

'So far, no governor has declared his intention. Everybody is quiet. At the right time, people who wish to contest will do so and people who do not want to run will leave office. It is too early for any of us to make public pronouncement.'

Security situation in S/East embarrassing. President Goodluck Jonathan at the media chat yesterday also took a critical look at the security situation in the South-East and described it as 'terribly embarrassing.'

Although he was of the strong conviction that the security situation of the whole country should be of major concern of whoever was the President, according to him, the South-East condition needed urgent attention. He said: 'The security of the country as a whole should be of major concern to whoever is the president of Nigeria. And the situation of the South-East is becoming terribly embarrassing to all of us.

'A situation where you cannot even drive through some parts of this country… In those days when you have one orderly you think that you are safe. But now, you put one police officer there with a rifle, they will come, kill the police, kill the driver, take you away. At the end of the day, they ask for N5 million, N10 million, N100 million and we are beginning to see that it is becoming a big industry.

'The security people are picking all kinds of information. When sometimes, people are kidnapped, people will come in from Lagos, fly down, negotiate for payments. Some lawyers are even involved. So, you easily begin to see that there is big cartel beyond this boys sleeping in the bush and coming to harass people. 'We are getting on. By the time we take many senior people, some professional bodies, I hope they will not complain. Because the information we are getting, and we say look, we cannot continue that way.

'The South African, for example, we were gunning to host Commonwealth Games. One of the reasons that was used against Nigeria was security, kidnapping. That was Commonwealth. South Africa is hosting the whole world. But in terms of petty crimes, South Africa is worse than Nigeria. But the issue of kidnapping is not there. So people have the confidence that you can go to South Africa and come back safely. So, you can see the impact of this kidnapping on us.

'In fact, the economy of places like Aba is almost wiped off. The whole off Aba is a big market. At a time all the banks in Aba even closed down. As a nation we cannot continue like that.

I have no cabal, kitchen cabinet
The President denied ever having any cabal or kitchen cabinet. 'I have no cabal and I don't also believe in any cabal. I have no kitchen cabinet, as I do not believe in kitchen cabinet. Any great leader can advise me on the right steps to take. The concept of kitchen cabinet is not my ideology. Before it was even changed to cabal. That gives it a negative connotation. I don't believe in that. I don't also believe in godfatherism because it has negative effects on the economy.

I don't have godfathers, but I have elders who offer advice and who I respect. If people say Olusegun Obasanjo and T.Y Danjuma are godfathers, it is ok.'

Why I didn't force myself to see Yar'Adua
'The issue of the president's health then that made many Nigerians to feel the then first lady, Turai Yar'Adua was controlling the affairs of the nation is rooted in the need to protect the president. It is beyond the need of being powerful as a woman. The president's illness took him out of the country. He was there with top government functionaries that were not politicians.

'It was not the first lady that prevented Nigerians from seeing the late president, but security personnel. I expected the security agencies to look into the conduct of their personnel. 'It was also a family affair despite the fact that public office holders are public property. I also did not see him as the then Vice President because his family was protecting him. Supposing I forced myself to see him and after that, something happened, won't they say I am also part of his problem or won't I be suspected of harming him?'