Politics Has Crept into ASUU Strike
President Goodluck Jonathan declared that ‘politics’ has crept into the ongoing strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
“I did not expect ASUU strike to last three months; I think politics is creeping into ASUU,” President Jonathan who refused to elaborate on the claim said.
The President however said his administration has done all in its power to meet the demands of the University lecturers.
Jonathan also said his administration has set up a technical committee to carry out inventories of the Universitieswhile it has also already set aside N100 billion for provision of infrastructure in the tertiary institutions, which is one of the demands of ASUU.
The President who said government is already using funds budgeted for other expenses to intervene in the Universities however said government cannot solve the problems bedeviling the sector overnight.
He also said says there are certain things in the 2009 government agreement with ASUU that the university lecturers have been insisting on as the basis of their negotiation that are difficult to implement.
The President added that payment of earned allowances, one of the demands of the lecturers should be paid by form the internally generated revenue of the Universities.
“The allowances ASUU is asking for should normally be paid from their internally generated revenue. We are only assisting,” said Jonathan.
The President also queried the participation of state owned universities in the ongoing strike, arguing that it is against the principle of federalism: Is it the president that will provide infrastructure for them? Why should they be on strike? In a federal system were states are semi autonomous where the FG does not control the resources of the states why should they strike?” ask Jonathan who added that labour laws must be reviewed to check state universities joining ASUU in national strikes.
“ASUU should work with my government to improve education,” the President said without giving any solution his administration is pursuing to end the strike, except appealing to the teachers’ emotions.
Nigeria not broke
President Jonathan also declared the claims that the country is broke because of the shortfall in the amount of revenue available to share among the three tiers of government as false.
“To say Nigeria is broke, there must be some parameters. To make that kind of statement is very unfortunate. We must be careful the statements we make. It doesn’t matter whether you like the face of the president or not,” the President said.
While noting that over 50 per cent of the investors in the Nigeria capital market are foreigners, President Jonathan said if it is true that Nigeria is bankrupt the investors would have divested from the market.
“Sometimes people play politics with serious issues, how can anyone wake up from a dream and say Nigeria is bankrupt. I had the privilege of ringing the NYSE bell & Obama said it is because Nigerian economy is improving” “Making that type of statement is quite unfortunate, ” said Jonathan.
“When you are making statements about your country you should be mindful of what you say regardless of your political ambitions” he added. The President also assured Nigerians that he is doing everything possible to bring the incidence of oil theft under control. “Stealing of crude oil didn’t start today,” Jonathan said.
He however noted that tackling the menace has been difficult because of the involvement of financially powerful individuals “You need investment to lift the crude oil across the ocean,” the President declared.
Still, the President said a lot of arrests have been made and many people are being prosecuted over crude oiltheft.
I don’t know if Shekau is alive or dead-Jonathan
On the state on insecurity, President Jonathan lamented the early Sunday morning massacre of over 40 students at the an agriculture institution in Yobe State however said the spate of terrorism has been on decline since government declare state of emergency in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa State.
He added that there was a Security Council meeting on Sunday with respect to the Yobe Killings. According to the President, the military has been successful in confining the terrorist elements to small sections of states where they are active.
According to him, terrorist elements who have been cornered now occasionally come out to attack soft targets, especially in remote areas to embarrass government.
President Jonathan said the fact that people were able to celebrate the last id -el-fitr with a Durbar in Maiduguri, Borno State and in Damaturu, Yobe State is a testimony to the fact that the country is winning the war against terror. “We are building security architecture to overcome terrorism, ” said the President.
He however said he cannot confirm whether Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram is alive or not.
The President also said his failure to appoint a substantive Minister of Defence has not had any negative impact on the war on terror as the service chiefs are key decision makers in defence matters.
President Jonathan who revealed that a planned bomb attack in Abuja in September was averted said he cannot assure Nigerians that the kind of bomb attack that took place at a mall in Kenya recently cannot take place in Nigeria: “I’m not God and can’t say it will never happen. But I promise Nigerians that within the limit of human competences, I will make sure we do not get to that situation,” said the President. “No president can tell you I don’t expect criminal activity,” he added.
On the controversies over recent kllings in Abuja, President Jonathan said there were definitely Boko Haram elements in the uncompleted building where about nine squatters were killed by a combined State Security Services and military operatives.
According to him, in every confrontation there will be “innocent people who might be caught in the gun fire.” He also said some soldiers are being tried in court martial for leaking information to Boko Haram in the North.
I didn’t sign any single term agreement
As expected, the issue of President Jonathan and the 2015 general election also came up during the chat. The first question to the President was on the alleged pact he was alleged to have signed before the 2011 elections that he will do only one term in office as alleged by Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State and some other Northern governors.
The President was however emphatic that he did not sign any such agreement whether written or not. The President challenged those saying anything to the contrary to bring the agreement out for the public to see: “I didn’t sign any agreement to serve for a single term. If I had signed any agreement, they would have shown you.”
On the allegations that he said he will use only one tenure during a trip to Ethiopia just before the 2011 elections, the President said what he spoke about was the institution of single tenure for elected officials in the Nigeria constitution.
“They should show you the agreement. I only talked about single term arrangement for our country not that Jonathan will serve for a single term,” said Jonathan.
He however refused to confirm whether he will run in 2015 or not, saying it is too early to do so. He also said doing so will be against the law of the country, especially the Electoral Act. “If you declare too early, you will destabilise government, the electoral law gives a timeframe within which you can declare.”
The President who said he cannot stop people talking in favour or against his 2015 ambitions however said he is not aware that there are already bill boards erected across the country indicating that he is seeking re-election: “Bill boards for my re-elections? I’ve not seen that. I’m hearing for the 1st time. When I leave here I will ask my security agents,” Jonathan said.
Government is winning the war against corruption
President Jonathan also told his interviewers that government is winning the war against corruption.
According to him, corruption in fertilization distribution process in Nigeria has already been eliminated with the introduction of electronic wallet system.
He said the government is also tackling the corruption in the oil sector contrary to popular belief. According to him, there are so much talk about corruption in the oil industry because there are those who want to get oil blocks, contracts and other favours from the sector: “Most of the stories on oil sector in Nigeria is not factual they are mere Molue stories,” said Jonathan.
President Jonathan said if it is true that his election was financed by those who improperly benefitted from fuel subsidy payments, he would not had made the move to remove subsidy.
The President however said corruption is not the greatest problem facing the country, contrary to perception of Nigerians. “Everyone talks as if corruption is our number one problem. But corruption is not Nigeria’s biggest problem. The key thing is access to finance, infrastructure,” the President who quoted some foreign businessmen as saying that corruption is the third most important challenge they face in Nigeria said. He added that his government is working with the judiciary and the legislature in the war against corruption.
Megawatt is not the issuePresident Jonathan who noted that the government has successfully privatized the power sector said government is no longer interested in talking about the number of megawatts of electricity it is generating, but the stability of electricity supply to Nigerians. “Generation of Megawatts is not the issue, the concern is on transmission,” said Jonathan.
PDP Government has done well
The President also scored the administration of Peoples Democratic Party which has been in charge of the country since the return to civil rule very high.
The President said as a mark of his appreciation of importance of education for instance, he has ensured that there is a federal university in all the 36 states of Nigeria since he came to power.
He added that before he became the President, only ten states had a Federal University among the 19 Northern states, but now they all have. “Within these three years I’ve been in charge I made sure that every state had a federal university.”
He also said the deregulation of the Nigeria telecommunications sector by the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo has ensured that Nigerians, regardless of their economic status can now own mobile phones.
“Before the PDP administration, even the directors in ministries had no phone,” Jonathan said. “Before PDP came into power, there were no mobile phones.
“Now my mother has a phone,” said the President. He also added that the standard of living of average Nigerians has improved. The President also said his administration has built and rehabilitated a lot of roads across the country. In the same vein, he also said government is doing everything possible to reduce the cost of governance.
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