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I never signed single-term agreement – Jonathan

By The Rainbow

President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said contrary he never promised that he would not contest the 2015 presidential election, contrary to reports being bandied around by his detractors.

Joanthan also denied the claim by Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State that bound himself in agreement with some Peoples Democratic Party governors to serve only one term in office.

He challenged anybody with a copy of such a pact to produce it.

Jonathan was answering questions from a panel of journalists during the Presidential Media Chat in Abuja on Sunday.

The chat, his fifth since his election in 2011, was beamed by all major networks in the country.

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.

When pressed by the panelists to be specific on whether he would contest the 2015 election, the President said said for the umpteenth time it was too early to make his intention known.

According to him, to do so would will 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.

He  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.'

For the President,  past administrations are to be blamed for the continuous campaign of violence being carried out by members of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram. His reason: they did not act decisively on the insurgency in time.

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.'

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.'