NO RIFT BETWEEN OBASANJO AND ME – JONATHAN
He dismissed the recent outburst by the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, Mujaheed Asari-Dokubo, that he might not govern beyond 2015 – because he was surrounded by greedy people – as an expression begotten from a wrong premise which did not reflect the true feelings of Nigerians about his administration.
Jonathan was reacting to insinuations in certain quarters that there was a serious conflict between him and the former president, which is putting his future political ambition in the balance, following a certain recent statement by Obasanjo criticizing the manner in which he was running the country.
The president, who was also reacting to an interview granted by Asari-Dokubo's in which he claimed that the greedy politicians surrounding the president were responsible for the seeming rift between him and Obasanjo, wondered whether it was wise for Asari-Dokubo to openly undercut the government he was a known supporter of.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, he said, 'At the end of the day, President Jonathan is not running an Ijaw project; he is running a Nigerian project, and I keep saying that he is a man who is very conscious of his place in history.'
Remarking that the militant leader's tirade came as a surprise to the presidency, he advised Asari-Dokubo to remain consistent, see the big picture and worry less about greedy people who are preventing other Ijaws from reaching the president, as he seems to be making out. He also reminded the former militant leader that Nigerians knew him as a very strong supporter of the Jonathan administration, who had said a lot of positive things about the administration.
Abati said, 'I read that interview granted by Asari-Dokubo and I was quite surprised that he would talk like that because as he himself admitted in that interview that he is close to government. And his interview was full of proverbs. So, I don't know whether it is a wise thing for you to be a member of the house and then for you to stand outside and urinate into that same house. Doing so may serve the purpose of sensationalism and it may please some mischief makers, but the truth of the matter is that wise people may think that that is not really the right way to go.
'In spite of the content of his interview, in which he was saying the president has a rift with former president Obasanjo, I keep saying it: there is no rift between President Jonathan and former President Obasanjo. The president has the utmost respect for the former president whom he regards as his father. He even calls him Baba. And I don't think anybody can say he has any evidence anywhere where the president has been disrespectful to the elderly man.
'So, those things that you see in the newspapers – about people saying President Jonathan and former President Obasanjo are quarreling – are exaggerated; they do not reflect the truth. He (Asari-Dokubo) claims that there is a rift between President Jonathan and former President Obasanjo; so, you can see that the whole of that commentary is based on a wrong premise.'
On Asari-Dokubo's allegation that Jonathan chose to surround himself with greedy people who have refused other Nigerians access to the president, the presidential spokesman said, 'What you just take from all that is this crab mentality theory of human relationship, and I think that there is a lot of this crab theory at play in Nigeria, both in terms of interpersonal relationship and in terms of how people respond to public issues.
'What is that crab theory all about? If you put a number of crabs in a bucket and one of them tries to go to the top, the other crabs will be struggling to pull down that one that is trying to go to the top. They will keep reminding that top crab that it is one of them.
'When you translate that crab theory into the governance arena, you find that it puts people who are in leadership position under enormous pressure, because there are too many other persons saying some don't want their progress because they all want to be at the same level.'
Abati went to say that Asari was entitled to his freedom of speech and that hia comment did not reflect his true opinions, but he might have said them to gain attention.
'I believe that he, having been a very strong supporter of the administration and who has been on record as having said a lot of positive things about the administration, having made whatever point he has now made, will also see the need to be consistent, honest and truthful, and to see the big picture and to worry less about greedy people who are preventing other Ijaws, as he seems to be making out, from reaching the president.'
'At the end of the day, it is important to remember that the only person that will be called to come and give account is President Jonathan. That is the man Nigerians voted for. And all of us, whether we are his kinsmen or we are his employee or we are his friends, I think we should focus more on the Nigerian project, the Nigerian assignment that President Jonathan has been given, and worry less about such insinuations,' he said.
He reiterated that President Jonathan had no problems with former President Obasanjo, saying, 'they have an excellent relationship from what I can see.'
He waved off the insinuation, saying it was the handiwork of mischief makers who using the media to try to set up the two leader, saying he believed 'that both leaders are experienced enough to know that sometimes people use the media just to create drama and you know drama is a very important element of politics and governance'.
Wishes for a Nigeria without power generating sets
Meanwhile President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday in Kaduna assured Nigerians that his administration would perform better in 2013 by overcome the challenges currently confronting the country, saying his wish was for Nigeria to have constant electricity and for generating sets to become a thing of the past.
Speaking immediately after laying the foundation stone of the Living Faith Foundation's Bible College in Kaduna, Jonathan pledged that his government would better the lot of Nigerians in all aspects next year.
He gave assurance that the improvement being witnessed in the area of power supply would be sustained because his wish had been that Nigerians should live without buying power generating sets.
'Let me assure all of you and indeed all Nigerians that 2013 will be better for us than 2012 in all aspects of the nation's history. The New Year shall be better for us in terms of job creation, wealth creation and improved security among others,' he said.
The president urged Nigerians not to lose hope because he and members of his team had vowed to make significant changes in the country during his tenure, saying that although the changes might be taking place at a slow pace due the tedious processes involved, they would soon be manifesting in the form of better wellbeing for the people.
Noting that he was aware that people find it difficult to continue to believe the government because of the challenges they are facing, Jonathan said, 'Sometimes, challenges make people doubt the sincerity of government, but I am confident that God knows everything.'
Likening the Nigerian situation to the biblical Job who lost everything he had, Jonathan said God wanted Nigerians to learn some lessons from the challenges they were facing because he means well for the country.
He said that his administration should be able to generate enough power so that small scale businesses could thrive, noting that such small scale businesses such as barbing salons could not continue to buy generators to operate and break even.
'My wish is for Nigerians not to have generating sets,' Jonathan said.
On the daunting security challenges in the country, he gave assurance that security operatives were working hard to solve the problem.
He further remarked that having sanitised the electoral process, his administration was also intervening massively in road construction, upgrading of airports and railway development.