President Goodluck Jonathan in an interview at the State House, Marina, Lagos, spoke about burning national issues: his relationship with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Boko Haram and the 2015 general election.
Mr. President, in recent months, there have been several scathing statements and remarks from former President Olusegun Obasanjo against your candidature in this forthcoming election and there have been so much scathing criticism of you on the fact that you agreed that you will just spend one term in office. Also some days back, he alerted Nigerians to a grand plot whether by people acting on your behalf or you also working in concert with them to foist the Gbagbo option on Nigeria. How do you react to this. What exactly is the problem between you and former President Obasanjo? Thank you. First and foremost, Obasanjo is a father to me. By divine providence and the Grace of God I am the President of Nigeria today. It is not by my strength. But God uses human beings to actualise His own blessings on human beings. And He used so many Nigerians, including former President Obasanjo to play one role or the other for me. I became the deputy governor of a state, became the governor, the vice-president and president. I have no issues with him and I really don’t want to join issues with President Obasanjo. I think it is not necessary. But I will use this opportunity, because you asked, to just plead with my father that he is a leader, a former president of the country. He has led the country more than anybody; eight years of democratic governance and almost four years of military governance. No other person has that kind of record. The stability of this country is critical in terms of the economy of this country. Rating agencies downgrade countries that are going into elections, because the feeling is that there would be crisis. When you paint the colour of instability for your own nation, you are doing so much injustice to the country, because it affects the economy of the country, not just in terms of security and social issues alone. It affects the economy directly. So, I plead with very senior citizens to remember that Nigeria is dear to us. We don’t have any other country than Nigeria. So actions and inaction or utterances should be guarded so that we don’t expose our country to the International community as if it is a country in danger and one that is about to collapse. You are frightening the investors, especially those who invest their cash, who may begin to pull out their money from the country and that would affect the stock market and it would affect the economy. For one reason or the other, former President Obasanjo may disagree with me as his first political son; you can even disagree with your own biological children as a human being, let alone disagreeing with your political children. So he can agree or disagree with me, but the utterances have to be managed in a way that they do not affect the economy of this country and the security of this country. Comparing me with Gbagbo is quite unfortunate, because I spearheaded the push by other African countries to fight Gbagbo. Then I was Chairman, Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS and I knew some of my colleagues were a bit worried about the fate of citizens of their countries in Cote D’Ivoire. But I said no, the right thing must be done. Let me assure you again, because you asked, that we will conduct this election as scheduled by INEC and a president will be inaugurated. There is no reason for anybody to insinuate that I want to frustrate elections. So that I would stay for how long? Will I stay forever? Am I a military head of state? You and I know that in the Nigerian Constitution, there is no provision for a president to stay beyond four years once you are elected. So if I stay without conducting election after May 29, what would happen? An illegal president? There is no basis for it. There is not just any basis for it and it’s quite unfortunate. How hurt were you when former President Obasanjo tore his PDP card on national television? I don’t feel any difference, because the bullets have been coming over and over for a very long time. So you see, it gets to a situation you become hardened. That is why even in those days when corporal punishment was in vogue, parents were advised not to be flogging their children for all flimsy excuses. If you have children you shout at over smallest things they do, then your shouting at some points will become meaningless; even when they have not really done anything wrong, you shout, they would just say Daddy or Mummy has started again. They will not feel guilty again, because they don’t know the difference between when they have done wrong and when they have not done anything wrong. They just feel that Daddy or Mummy is always shouting. Mr President, with all these situations you have painted about the country, what you call the propaganda which has tried to rubbish the efforts of government and even the insurgency in a part of the country, why do you want another term sir? If you listen to one of these Reggae artistes, I think it is Bob Marley, he said if you fight and run away, you live to fight another day. War is politics, even international politics. If you see intimidation and you say because of that you run, then you don’t mean well for your people. I was very reluctant to get involved in politics as Deputy Governor, but that is a story for another day. When I was approached I said I was not prepared to run for elective office. I was still working as Assistant Director at OMPADEC then, and I said I was not ready but I was persuaded and the day I decided to go into politics, I said okay, I am going in fully. So I have come in fully, at whatever cost. So if I am convinced that what I am doing is right, I will not just surrender because of intimidation.