2011: Why I don’t want to take a stand – Jonathan

Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan last night said it would be too early for him to say whether he would run for president in 2011 or not.

Jonathan who spoke at his maiden Presidential media chat at the Villa in Abuja, said taking a stand would heat up the polity.

The President while stating that what is paramount in his mind is free and fair election and stable polity, said he would very soon make known his position on zoning.

He then said he is not an apostle of godfatherism in politics, noting that he interacts with all past leaders with respect and this should not be construed as having them as godfathers.

His words: “That is one thing dominating discourse in the country. Some days back, I saw a caption (headline) of one of the newspapers saying ‘Jonathan run, don’t run’ but see I am not in a position to tell Nigerians whether I will run or not on this issue which has dominated discourse now.

“I don’t want to overheat the system as my saying anything on it will affect governance and the functions of state … until the appropriate time.

“At the state level at present, things are a bit calm. Immediately I declare now that I am contesting, it becomes a signal to all the governors and those who are in position to contest would also start to declare. Immediately all these begin, government functions will suffer.

“If I say I am not, the story will be different. Some people would begin to feel one kind and at the same time, it will affect the functions of government. I think the best thing to do is to keep my mouth sealed up; at least, no governor has come up to declare. So, I believe it is too early to make any public pronouncement on the matter. Running or not running is immaterial.”

“Whether I run or I don’t run is immaterial to the election I am going to conduct in 2011. Those who do follow my discussion, I have made it very, very clear that as a party we must put our house in order. 2011 must be free and fair, the vote of Nigerians must count.

“I am not the only person on that wave length. If you listened to the new chairman of PDP last week Thursday, you will agree with me that he is a stronger advocate for free and fair elections than even myself. For him to have the courage to make that comment shows that he is totally committed. For the governors, I don’t expect them to make too much of public pronouncement because free and fair election is the responsibility of INEC.”

On the controversy over the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) zoning arrangement, the President vowed to speak soon on the issue.

He said: “When the time comes I will also make my own opinion on zoning known. Incidentally, I attended the meeting where this zoning matter was discussed. I was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State then. My governor travelled and I had to attend the extended caucus meeting in the Presidential Villa. It was a heated meeting and I remember that ex-President Obasanjo didn’t say anything then. Ex-Vice President Atiku only asked for a clarification. We stayed in the villa till around 4a.m.”

President Jonathan also reiterated his administration’s commitment to reforms in the power sector, saying that key operations in the sector must be privatized to guarantee efficiency.

“We must complete the reforms in the power sector”, he said, stressing that privatization would block the leakages created by civil servants.

Jonathan said based on the advice of many stakeholders, his administration decided to focus on power, security, infrastructural development, local economy and electoral reform.

But, he said, despite the emphasis on these areas, all the sectors are important, adding that their inclusion in the budget underscored their importance.

The President, who disclosed that the Federal Government had not embarked on “new, major projects” in the sector, admitted that some weak links in the chain created impediments.

He lamented that successive governments did not invest in power until the Obasanjo administration came in 1999, adding that power generation was not also backed up with transmission framework.

“Until we complete the entire process, there will be no electricity,” Jonathan said, adding: “We must complete the reforms in the power sector. Private sector must come into the sector. We spend more money because we want government to do all. There are leakages because of the way the government functions. Generation must be completely privatised. If government generates, we will not get anywhere. Distribution must be privatised. Government can handle transmission, but as time goes on, we must have consultants to do it,” said the President.

President Jonathan regretted that though his predecessor, the late Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua was committed to power generation, things did not proceed as expected.

He said based on advice, he decided to take the responsibility for power from the ministry to two committees in utter sensitivity to the complications and constraints imposed by law.

He disclosed that he would name today a new Special Adviser on Petroleum who is expected to chair the second committee on power.

On godfatherism, the President said: “I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in godfatherism. I know that in nature nobody just wakes up and be what you are.

“Along the line, people help you one way or the other; he may be younger or older. As a deputy governor, I helped some people to become local government chairmen and after that I leave you to do your work.

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