President Goodluck Jonathan on Thirsday, January 8, 2015 took a swipe at the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari over what he termed the “crude” method envisaged to be employed by the former Head of State in tackling corruption of elected President.
He made the statement while flagging off his re-election campaign at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos.
Asides poking holes in Buhari’s anti-corruption methods – bringing to mind the 1984 aborted kidnap of a former Transport Minister, Umaru Dikko, who was found unconscious in a crate on Federal orders – President Jonathan used the opportunity to address the issue of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), which recently endorsed Buhari.
Addressing the mammoth crowd, President Jonathan admonished the youths to work for the country’s future as they held the wherewithal to take Nigeria to the moon, adding that his generation had failed to live up to its potential.
“They said my government is corrupt and that we are not fighting corruption. Only yesterday, I addressed anti-corruption agencies and told them that people are deceiving young Nigerians. I said that they must tell Nigerians what they are doing. We have arrested more people and done more convictions. Let me apologise to some Nigerian federal civil servants who did not receive their December salaries early enough and I will tell you what happened. I apologise to those families that suffered because we believe and I believe that for you to fight corruption, we must take measures. If they had succeeded in fighting corruption, corruption would not have been with us today. If they had set up structures especially with the days of modern science and technology using ICT, to manage resources, we would not have been talking about corruption today.
Speaking on the non-payment of December salaries to some workers, President Jonathan said the problem was as a result of the computerization of government parastatals, as the software to process salary packages had just been introduced.
He said: “What happened in December was because of a software that is used for processing salary packages. Sometimes, people steal through salaries and some federal government agencies, including some ministries try to divert funds to try and pay for some allowances and the system is scientific. It is not a human being. Once money meant to pay salaries is diverted, it shuts you down and those departments of government were shut down. This is the only way you can prevent corruption.”
“If somebody tells you that the best way to fight corruption is to come and arrest your uncle and father and show him on television and jail him, it won’t stop corruption. It even encourages corruption. Armed robbery is still with us, we are shooting armed robbers, is that stopping armed robbery?
“So, arresting people and showing them on television will not stop it; we must set up institutions and strengthen them to prevent people from touching the money and that is what we are working on and we are succeeding.”
“We talked about corruption and they say that the military is corrupt. When this crisis of insecurity came up, we had nothing, so to get these equipment quickly, we had to use vendors to procure them; but now, what we are doing is government to government transaction. Any new procurement we are doing whether for the Air Force, Navy or Army, is government to government. There is nothing like corruption any more even if we had some issues. Is that not the way to fight corruption? You must prevent people from touching your money and this is what government is doing and succeeding in a number of areas especially in the procurement area. If you look at it, we are reducing corruption.”
On the late Umaru Dikko’s 1984 abduction, President Jonathan said: “They say we are weak but we know that there were some people who, while they were abroad, some people drugged them and put them in crates and attempted to fly them to Nigeria but they were intercepted by superior powers. That blocked Nigerians from even going to Britain; the whole world isolated Nigeria. They say that is the best way to fight corruption. Is that the way to stop corruption? Not to follow due process? So, immediately I suspect your uncle, I just go and crate him and put him in Kirikiri (Kirikiri Prison). Is that the way to stop corruption?
“They want power at all cost, all they want to use power for is to lock up and imprison their enemies. I have no enemies to fight. I won’t stop corruption by arresting people and putting them in jail. You cannot stop corruption that way.”
While lampooning his generation for failing the country, the President said his administration was currently motivating the youths.
He said: “Government feels that Nigerians are very dynamic people, creative and industrious people and, as you know, we are over 200 million people but we cannot touch everybody the same day.
“We came up with the concept of YOUWIN to give grants and not loans to young Nigerians that have ideas. We have done that and some of them are already manufacturing things. In the next five years or so, some of them will be exporting things out of the country. Can you do that without planning? And they say we have no plans for the youths, let them come and tell us the plans they have for the youths. Look at what India is doing, look at what countries that we were at par at independence are doing. Do you want to go back to those days where they had no plans for the youths?”
On the issue of MEND, President Jonathan said:“Let me say one thing and conclude. I read in a paper recently where it said ‘MEND dumps Jonathan’. I am from the Niger Delta, the leader of MEND is one Okar. Okar is in a South African prison because on October 1, 2010, when we were to celebrate our 50th Independence anniversary, Okar was hired by some Nigerians to assassinate me.
“Okar bombed Abuja and the attempt was to assassinate me but intelligence report from South Africa hinted me on the plan to assassinate me. He is now in jail in South Africa and they said MEND dumped Jonathan. Okar that wanted to assassinate Jonathan, will he support Jonathan? I am told that Okar is supporting some people.”