Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, is hosting his sixth Presidential Media Chat since returning to office in May 2011.
The challenges confronting Nigeria – insecurity, the economy, corruption, dearth of infrastructure – are still largely the same issues the administration is grappling with since his first media chat in September 2011.
One new topic the president might be pressed to clarify is the recent suspension of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. The CBN governor was suspended over alleged financial misconduct.
With the 2015 general elections about 11 months away, Mr Jonathan might be pressed to make a definitive statement about his ambition ahead of the February 2015 general elections. In previous media chats, the president waved the question aside saying it was premature to talk about 2015.
The presidency promised to receive questions from Nigerians via telephone during the live program. In the past, telephone lines provided hardly got across to the president work during live episodes of the programme.
In case you are able to reach the president on the programme today, PREMIUM TIMES suggest you put these questions to him, in addition to others you might have.
The Twitter handle @mediachatng1 can also be used to throw in questions during the chat.
PREMIUM TIMES will bring you live updates from the media chat, as it progresses, here. Join the discussion on twitter using #presmediachat
Chat ends with discussion around the power situation in Nigeria. He promises it will improve.
Still on the issue of Boko Haram attacks on Borno state, and the recent comments by the governor of that state that it appears the militants have upper hand in the war, the president said the governor’s comment was wrong. “if we pullout the military from Borno state, let us see if he will be able to stay in the government house,” the president answered, emphasizing the strength of the military operatives working in the state.
The president said he is also not aware of plans to send a military administrator to the troubled Borno state.
“It is quite worrisome,” Jonathan says of killing of innocents by Boko Haram. “Surely we’ll get over it.”
He says all security forces are involved in the war.
The president denies removing subsidy on kerosene. Even though he admits the directive to the petroleum minister demanding the removal of subsidy on kerosene remains, he said it is old and rather mischievous for someone to go to the archives and “pullout the memo” and begin to distribute.
The president’s answer, however, lacked much certainty. But he claims he was involved in the process, as a vice president.
The president says the CBN act, which he earlier said places undue powers on the bank’s governor, will “definitely” be reviewed, indicating he will press for a legislative review of the CBN act.
Another twitter questions asks why only the CBN governor was singled out for suspension based on the report of the Financial Reporting Council, when the report indicted almost every member of the CBN leadership, the president argues the governor was made to step aside because he is the head.
“You cannot suspend everybody!” he said.
In reaction to a question sent in via twitter, the president said Sanusi would be prosecuted only if a clear fraud is established against the sacked governor. He said the future of the suspended governor depends on the nature of the findings of the ongoing investigation of alleged fraud in by the governor by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria.
“If Sanusi has no case to answer, how will you prosecute who has no case?” he asked.
President Jonathan promises to pursue the lead of the whistle Sanusi blew before his suspension. “Nobody is covering anybody up,” he said. He argues that no president will watch even one billion dollars miss, “even one Kobo.”
In the society, people must begin to know that the right thing has to be done, no matter who’s ox is gored.
The president says he “quickly rushed” to suspend the CBN governor so that the bank’s audit reports of 2012 and 2013 would be resolved and cleared.
He said the CBN governor is stepping aside to allow the board clear issues raised with the bank’s 2012 financial audit, so he will not influence the outcome.
“There is no time that is inappropriate to suspend anybody,” — Jonathan.
Discussion moves on to the recent suspension of the CBN governor. The president argues that he has “Absolute powers” to suspend the CBN governor. “The issue of suspension and removal are very different. Sanusi is still the CBN governor,” he said.
The presidents says the CBN is not properly defined in the constitution and the CBN act is ill conceived, placing the governor at the head of the bank’s board.
Bolaji presses that the president answer if he will contest in 2015 or not. The presidents still does not answer directly. He argues that if he announces his direction now, there will be too many political tension, either way. He said Nigerians should wait till the time is ripe to know his future ambitions.
When pressed if his recent trips to almost all traditional rulers, churches and party activities across Nigeria, is a way of saying he will contest the 2015 presidential elections, the president does not answer directly. He explains his recent trips as a way of indicating he is a president of everyone. He does not answer if he will run or not.
“Even if I do not contest, I will like to lead my party to victory,” he said.
“the result of this National Conference will not affect this administration significantly, …Our tenure is too short” — Jonathan.
The National conference will be inaugurated on March 10, but secretariat will kick off one week before. Chairman of the conference will also be announced one earlier.
Discussions have moved to the National Conference, planned shortly after the centenary. President Jonathan emphasizes he will not supervise the break-up of Nigeria, justifying the conferences defined limits on discuss-able issues.
He insists the conference is not planned to prevent disintegration and shall not discuss it. “Nigeria will not disintegrate,” he said. “We are not saying without the National Conference, Nigeria will break,” he adds.
The panelist interviewing the president include Grace Ekpo of Wazobia FM Abuja, Goodluck Nnaji of Base Fm Oraifite in Anambra state, Bolaji Tunji of New Telegraph, and Imoni Amarere of AIT.
Presidential media chat starts with discussions about planned centenary celebrations. The president says he cannot say exactly how much the centenary would cost. He said only the presidential guest would be funded by the government. A large chunk of the celebration is funded by “private organizations.” “Government is not spending even one naira on the Centenary City.”