President Goodluck Jonathan is hosting his fourth Presidential Media Chat since returning to office in May 2011. The first was in September 2011 and the last in June 2012.
The challenges confronting the country – insecurity, economy, corruption, fuel subsidy, dearth of infrastructural, among others – are still largely the same since his last media chat. The president’s handling of the the flooding which ravaged parts of the country and its aftermath would be an additional issue for discussion.
During the two-hour programme which will be broadcast live in major government media between 7p.m. to 9p.m, “a representative selection of the most significant questions received will be presented to President Jonathan for his response,” his spokesman, Reuben Abati, said.
The media chat ends, with the president assuring that he, with his vice president and team, will “leave something behind (by the end of his four year tenure) that Nigerians will be proud of.”
“God willing, we’ll stop stealing of our crude oil,” President Jonathan.
Crude oil theft vs Subsidy: ”Crude oil stealing is different from subsidy,” President Jonathan said. He added that one could find a correlation where if crude oil is not stolen, government will make more money and pay for subsidy easily.
“We want to bring experts… to sit down and analyse what is the problem with the aviation sector,” Jonathan said. ”There will be a retreat on the Aviation sector in January 2013.”
The First Lady: “She is fine, she was with us in service today,” the president said. “She is fine.”
“If he(Obama) did not secure a second term, the conclusion would have been that a black man is not good enough,” President Jonathan said on Obama’s victory.
Oops! The anchor just announced they still had more time. Discussion now moving into Foreign affairs.
“The idea (of the media chat) is not for the president to come and defend the action or inaction of the government,” President Jonathan said as his closing remarks.
The anchor announces the end of the media chat.
The president said he will soon take a final decision on Lagos-Ibadan express-way concessioned to Bicourtney. The company does not appear to be in a position to execute the project, the president said. He added he will not allow Nigerians suffer for a concession that was not properly entered into.
Fourth Twitter question is on power and roads. “I will be the best president,” he said, reaction to the question which was asked with a caveat that any president that fixes Nigeria’s power and road issues becomes the best.
“I even eat two times a day, breakfast and dinner; and the food I eat is not very expensive,” President Jonathan.
Discussion moves on to the expenditure of the State House on feeding and ancillary services. The presidents defends the expenditure citing what is spent on dinners in other countries like Ethiopia.
“There is a lot of misconception about the State House,” he said but he did not offer more clarification for the misconception.
Dialogue with Boko Haram: “So far, no dialogue is going on with the government and Boko Haram.” – President Jonathan
“Before we get to May 29 2015, Nigerians will now the President Jonathan and his team meant well for this nation.” - President Jonathan
The President, called back to answer question about enforcement of laws on corruption. “It is better to be slow and do the right thing than hurry and do the wrong thing,” the president replied, avoiding reasons why indicted corrupt patrons are not prosecuted.
The discussion moves back to corruption cases and Nigeria’s willingness to enforce laws with questions from Martins Oloja.
“The effort this government has put in in fighting corruption, I don’t think any other person has done that,” President Jonathan said.
“If you keep money on a table where there are so many people and the money is disappearing, why not keep it in a shelve?” President Jonathan’s idiom in defence of total deregulation of the oil industry in Nigeria.
He said free and fair election is a prerequisite for fight against corruption and his government is focused on getting that done. He cited Ondo and Edo elections as examples.
Third question from Twitter is about corruption and low trial frequency. “I can assure Nigerians and the global community that this government is fighting corruption frontally,” the president replied.
The president sees a growing trend in the private sector. He said more companies have registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.
“Even the capacity utilisation (in industries) has increased a little, not significantly…,” he said. “I never promised to reduce poverty. I promised to create wealth.”
“We are commercializing farming. We are encouraging young people to go in (to farming),” President Jonathan.
The second Twitter question is about jobs and the president said “we are working on it.” He argued that job creation take some time.
“For now, Mr. President does not know who owns the (disputed) oil well’” president Jonathan said.
The anchor runs through some questions sent through Twitter for the president’s reaction. First question is about the ownership of oil well claimed by Kogi, Anambra and Enugu state.
“They (Manitoba) did not follow the law strictly,” President Jonathan explaining the controversy surrounding the Manitoba contract.
Discussion moves on to power generation: “Manitoba contract has not been revoked,” the president said.
The presidents said by the time he concludes with “the issue of sanitizing the oil sector,” the issue of queues in fuel stations will be over.
“As we are talking today, there is no fuel queue in Benin Republic, and all the fuel are from Nigeria, yet there is fuel queue in Lagos,” he said blaming the human factor for the current scarcity of fuel in Nigeria.
Fuel queues: The president returns the question to the journalist – “I should be asking you why (licences for building of refineries are not used by owners)?” he said. “You are a journalist, you should investigate.”
Discussion moves on to fuel subsidy issues. The president said he was misquoted in some instances. The president said he has made provisions for subsidy on petrol in 2013 budget, allaying fears that subsidy might be withdrawn next year.
The president is asking for more time for himself and cabinet to work before he is faced with the question of whether he will run for elections in 2015 or not.
The president argues that in all the states where his party have lost, the contestants where all from the “PDP family”.
“PDP is doing wonderfully well. It is dangerous for this country if PDP should win all the states,” President Jonathan said in reply to Mr Oloja’s question.
Discussion returns to politics as Martins Oloja, one of the panellists asks if the president is worried that his party have lost elections recently. “PDP (the president’s party) is doing very well,” the president replied.
The presidency and the National Assembly currently disagrees on the best oil benchmark for the 2013 budget. While the presidency wants 75 USD, the lawmakers wants it higher, at 85 USD.
Discussion moves on to oil benchmark. The president said its is not just an arithmetic but tied to other parameters, not just the oil price.
“Mr President will not influence anything to favour Bayelsa or any other state” President Jonathan said.
The president now speaking about the boarder dispute between Bayelsa, his home state, and neighbouring River state. He said he has directed all relevant agencies to resolve the dispute.
The President said he cannot teach the National Assembly their job on constitution review even if he supports a referendum. ”It will not be proper for me now to begin to impose my ideas,” President Jonathan on ongoing constitution review by lawmakers.
President Jonathan said he will speak last on the components of the current amendment to the constitution. “It is too early to make comments,” he said.
The first question is about the current amendment of the constitution by the National Assembly. The president said the National Assembly review process is the right thing to do. President Jonathan advised proponents of Sovereign National Conference to partner with the National Assembly on constitution review.
Presidential media chats begins. Mohammed Kudu Abubakar, NTA TV personality is the anchor.
Highlights of last Presidential media chat: The eight attempt to call into the “live program” from Victor in Markurdi got through as the first successful call in for the day.
Highlights of last Presidential media chat: Asset Declaration: The president said its a matter of principle and whether he is criticised from “head to toe” he will not declare his assets. “I don’t give a damn,” he said.
Highlights of last Presidential media chat: The president said he is a calm person and gives people the latitude to do their job in reaction to question bothering on his perceived weak body language on the fight against corruption. “A lot of people misunderstand me,” he said.
Highlights of last Presidential media chat: President Jonathan said he has not visited Borno state, the center of Boko Haram attacks, because the Maiduguri airport was not functional at the time he planned to visit.
Highlights of last Presidential media chat: President Joinathan said he is willing to dialogue with the Boko Haram sect, if they have a “face.” He said the sect’s members are Nigerians and he will like to transform their lives just like the Niger Delta militants.