Akin Akande, Abuja
As the nations’s tertiary institutions remain closed because of an industrial action by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU, ) President Goodluck Jonathan has lamented that the union’s action may well be political.
President Jonathan noted that the union could not stampede his government to fulfill the 2009 agreement, saying government cannot close down other sectors to satisfy the university lecturers.
The President said during a Presidential Media Chat that there is no way his government would tackle all the problems of the universities in the country at once.
He insisted that his government has fulfilled the major part of the 2009 agreements, saying that that was enough for the strike action to be called off.
This was as he enjoined the lecturers to put the country first and call off the strike for the sake of students who have been at home for the past three months.
President Jonathan said that he had ordered the inventory of all the universities in the country to ascertain the state of infrastructure of in the universities.
“We set up a team, technical team, they visited all the universities, all the hostels including the toilets that we had in the hostels, they took photographs and videos records and when it was present to the executive council, I said it must be presented to the governors,” he said.
“So I asked the Vice President that during the National Economic Council meeting with the governors, the Finance Minister is a member, the Planning Minister, Chief Economic Adviser to the President and the Central Bank Governor, the report should be presented,” he explained.
“The report was on Federal Universities and States, we did not go to the private universities and we saw the enormous responsibilities that we have as a nation, the Vice President could not recognise where he learnt his Architecture,” he added.
I believe we can say there is misunderstanding definitely politics has come into so many things that we do, some we observe that the way we do certain things I have a feeling that something else is happening, they may be saying something different”, the President said.
Speaking on the dust so far gathered about his perceived 2015 ambition, the President said he never signed any agreement with anyone that he won’t contest for a second term in 2015.
He made it clear that his silence on his ambition for 2015 should not be a stumbling block for anybody that is interested in contesting to declare his or her ambition.
He said that time is not right for him to declare whether or not he would contest in 2015, adding that his declaration to contest would disrupt his developmental programmes for the country.
His words: “So the electoral laws give time frame for political parties and those who are interested in elections to begin to inform Nigerians.
“But if you do so earlier you would destabilise the polity. Whether it is President Goodluck Jonathan or any other person, if you declare early enough, you create more problems in the system than solve the problems. If you say you are contesting or not, you create more problems.
“So, don’t even force the president to declare his interest. It is not right. It is even against the electoral laws. Electoral laws stipulate the time that political parties will conduct their primaries.
“Whatever you are doing is about time…even after the 2011 elections, I directed that every billboard should be removed, and if somebody has gone to erect the billboard, I am hearing for the first time. We are talking about development,” he said.
The President continued: ” Whether I am contesting or not should not be an issue in a normal society.
“If anybody wants to be president of Nigeria, he will contest whether I am contesting or not. My not declaring my interest does not stop or prevent him from contesting. You don’t have to wait until I, Jonathan, say I am not contesting an election.
“If you are interested, go and be preparing. You don’t need to wait for me to say I am not contesting. If you want to contest governorship election in a state where the sitting governor still has the opportunity to re-contest, you don’t have to wait for the governor to say he is not contesting or he is contesting. Members of the National Assembly, by law, have no limit to the number of times to contest elections.
“People are preparing to contest Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly seats, and they have not asked them whether they are contesting or not? So if you want to contest, you don’t need to come out and say Jonathan must declare whether he is contesting or not,” he said.
On the agreement he allegedly signed, the President said: “No, I didn’t sign any such agreement. If I had signed an agreement with anybody, they would have shown you.
“A lot of people are misinforming Nigerians. I was in Addis Ababa when I advocated for this single tenure. I said if we look at the politics of Nigeria especially now that the country is just developing…in terms of the political evolution, we started the First Republic, it collapsed, the Second Republic collapsed, the Third Republic collapsed.
“This is the very first time that we have stayed. So, I said if we look at the way we go about our politics, to be productive, definitely if a president a single tenure of seven years of one term without any interference, he must be productive more than even in the so-called eight years.
“I advocate for that, people would say the president, having completed the late President Yar’Adua’s tenure and another four years that make it five years, want to serve for another seven year single tenure, that would make it 12 years. If Nigerians agree to that single tenure, I believe it will be more productive for the country because I am thinking more about the country. I did not say oh, Jonathan is or not going to contest election.
“I discovered that the concept of the single tenure which I was advocating at that time, it was when I was interfacing with some Nigerians in Addis Ababa, that some said I signed an agreement. They should show you the agreement,” he stated.
The President held that corruption in the country is not as bad as it is being painted by Transparency International, adding that it is about perception and not reality.
He dismissed insinuation that Nigeria is broke, saying government critics have no proof for such insinuations.