By Kevwe Ebireri
President Goodluck Jonathan has debunked claims that the terrorist activities in Nigeria’s north east is caused by poverty.
The President who was speaking during a Presidential Media Chat on Sunday noted the terrorism requires huge funding, alleging that terrorists in the country are sponsored by top influential persons, as confessed by some members who have been arrested.
He noted, however, that in spite of continued killings from time to time, his administration was winning the war against terrorism and soon it would be a thing of the past.
“At the time I declared the state of emergency, the crisis came down. But after some time now they are looking for soft spots, places where you will not expect them to just to embarrass the country. Even Maiduguri which appears to be the centre point of Boko Haram, the whole thing has come down,” he said.
While fielding questions on the lingering strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Jonathan stated that education was key to the development of any nation, describing the union’s strike as very unfortunate and politically manipulated.
“The issue is beyond the 2009 agreement. It is political,” he said while stressing that there were certain aspects of the 2009 agreement that cannot be implemented, like the transfer of government assets to the universities who do not have the ability to manage them.
According toJonathan, the allowances which the university lectures are demanding ought to be paid from the internally generated revenues of the schools, adding that until public universities become autonomous in terms of funding, the problems will never truly be resolved.
“Even if we solve this problem, even if we give ASUU 100 per cent of what they are asking for, as long as we still manage the universities the way we are doing as a developing country, further strikes will come up in one way or the other,” he stated.
Commenting on the issue of crude theft, Jonathan expressed disappointment that those behind the vandalisation of oil pipelines in the country were very rich individuals – Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike.
“You need a vessel to lift the crude oil across the ocean and if you were to sell a stolen product abroad you also need some connection because refineries in some countries don’t take crude oil from any and everybody,” he noted.
He, however, assured Nigerians that his government was taking steps to address the problem as some oil thieves identified were already facing prosecution and called on the governors of oil producing states to complement the efforts of the federal government in terms of monitoring pipelines to prevent crude oil theft
Reacting to questions on power supply, President Jonathan assured that power will be “reasonably stable” before the end of the first quarter of 2014.
He said the achievement in the power sector in not so much in the number of megawatts of electricity generated, but in how many hours of the day Nigerians enjoy power in their homes and business places.
Jonathan avoided being categorical whether or not he intends to contest for re-election in 2015 but refuted claims that he signed a single term agreement.
“I have not signed agreement with anybody. If I had signed agreement with anybody they would have shown you. A lot of people are misinforming Nigerians,” he said.
Explaining further, the President said: “I was in Addis Ababa and that was when I advocated for this single tenure. I said it would be more productive probably, if a president has a single tenure of seven years running without interference and I said that if Nigerians agree to that seven years tenure, I will not even be involved so that people will know that I am sincere. I discussed that in the context of the single term tenure that I was advocating.”
He stated further: “My not declaring my interest does not stop you from preparing to contest.”
The Presidential Chat which is the 5th since Jonathan’s assumption of office in 2011 was anchored Senami Ohiomokhare of AIT and had a panel of journalists including Shola Oshunkeye of the Sun newspaper, Shehu Dauda of Capital Post, Nosa Igiebor of Tell magazine and Gloria Umeh of Channels