President Jonathan believes he is the greatest anti-corruption crusader.
President Goodluck Jonathan, Sunday, said his administration had done very well on efforts to rid the country of corruption, saying huge successes have been recorded in three key sectors of the economy.
The President, who was fielding questions from a select panel of journalists in his fourth Presidential Media Chat, said his administration had already got a handle on political corruption and fertilizer subsidy scam, while currently tackling the corruption in the oil and gas sector of the economy.
The presidential chest-thumping came at a time corruption has clearly spiralled out of control in the country, with top administration officials fingered in monumental stealing of public funds.
It also came days after a Gallup poll rated Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in the world, a verdict that vindicated claims by critics that corruption has grown since President Jonathan came to power
“I believe that the effort this government has put in, in terms of fighting corruption, I don’t think any other person (administration) has done that before,” the president said. “The perception may be different from reality. One is not saying there is no corruption. Corruption is there. But, we will continue to fight corruption.”
“The first and greatest problem we had in Nigeria was the issue of political corruption. If the President or the governor manipulate himself to office, that is corruption. The first thing is to sanitize the electoral process. We have gone very far to sanitize the system, and people are not talking about it.
“The government has sanitized the fertilizer subsidy scams to the extent that others from other African countries are coming to learn from us. We are dealing with the oil and gas industry. I have sent the report to the EFCC and told them to go beyond the recommendations,” he added.
No subsidy removal
The president, who spoke on a wide range of issues, denied that the Federal Government plans to finally remove subsidy on petrol.
“I was probably misquoted over what I said recently in an answer to a question by a group of students. If we (government) wanted to remove subsidy in January, we could not have made provision for subsidy in the 2013 budget from January to December,” he said.
On the perennial fuel crisis in the country, he noted the dearth of fresh investments to boost the country’s refining capacity, pointing out that though licenses were issued to private investors to establish refineries, they are afraid to go ahead since they would have to depend on government to get their money back.
He pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with government and give it time to sanitize the petroleum industry, saying his administration is currently conducting a forensic audit of the subsidy process to see whether the process was abused.
“I plead with Nigerians to bear with government. I got the preliminary report from Aig-Imoukhuede committee last week Friday. We will look into it to reconcile the various claims by some of the marketers who say that government might even be owing them.
“Experts are being brought in to carry out the forensic audit. I believe by the time we conclude the process of sanitizing the oil sector, the issue of fuel queues would be put behind us. We will do our best to check the fuel queues,” he said.
On the status of the controversial Manitoba management contract for the country’s electricity transmission system, the President said the contract awarded last July by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had not been revoked.
He said there were misunderstanding of some issues found to have been inconsistent with the country’s privatization process, pointing out at that time Manitoba bided for the contract, BPE had placed it as consultant, which contravened the current due process law.
“Today, the issue is viewed differently. The transaction did follow the country’s law strictly, since it was considered as a process of privatization. Every country must keep the law. There were some loopholes that were not done properly. So we need correct that so that after we have left office, we will not be invited to come and answer questions.
“I have given the relevant authorities and agencies up to Tuesday (next week) to get things sorted out. If it requires my final authorization I will get that done before the close of work on Tuesday,” he said.
On poverty reduction, the president said: “I have never promised to reduce poverty, I only promised to create wealth. If you reduce poverty and the person is still poor, you are only reducing poverty. I don’t believe in that concept of poverty reduction.”
President Jonathan also stated that his administration might be forced to revoke the Bi-Courtney agreement for the Lagos –Ibadan Expressway as it appears the company is not able to deliver on the re-construction of the road.
Why I can’t probe Halliburton, Siemens
Mr. Jonathan also spoke about the failure of his administration to diligently prosecute and convict beneficiaries of the Halliburton and Siemens bribe payments.
The president said it was difficult to effect the prosecution as the alleged crimes did not occur during his tenure.
He tried to absolve the two foreign companies of complicity in the bribery scandals saying “you know the history of Halliburton and you know the history of Siemens.”
Both companies have been found guilty and have paid heavy fines for bribing Nigerian officials in their own countries.