Jonathan tackles Buhari, others at Lagos PDP rally

jonathan-campaignPRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday, kicked off the 2015 presidential campaign in Lagos, urging Nigerians to ask his predecessors in office what they did with security funds during their tenure.

Jonathan, at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, said his government started fighting insecurity with bare hands.

According to Jonathan, his predecessors in office refused to equip the military, adding that those who failed in doing so now turned around to accuse his administration of failing to fight insurgency.

The president, who spoke extempore, said he was targeting his address at the younger generation of Nigerians, especially those who would be voting for the first time this year, adding that he wanted them to purge themselves of the misconceptions and lies that had been circulated on the social media.

“Today, I am going to address people who will be voting for the first time; people from age 20 and below. I will be addressing three key issues and I will speak in 37 places. Those of you who will vote for the first time, it is either you vote for youths to be relevant or irrelevant,” Jonathan said, adding that his government was youth-friendly and wanted the younger generation to take Nigeria to the moon.

Jonathan said the three key issues he would be addressing include insecurity, corruption and weak or focused government.

He also lampooned the adoption of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, by the Movement for Emancipation of Nigeria Delta (MEND), saying the group, whose leader, Henry Okah, is in South African prisons, was arrested for planting bombs in Abuja on the 50th Independence anniversary of Nigeria.

‘MEND wanted to kill me’

“The leader of MEND is one Okah. He is imprisoned in South Africa because the intelligence network of South Africa and the Nigerian intelligence circles were able to detect his plans to assassinate me.

“On the day we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of our independence in Abuja, his group detonated bombs that killed Nigerians and that group is now endorsing somebody. Count me out,” Jonathan stated.

He added that the leader of MEND is imprisoned in South Africa, adding that there is no way anybody could insinuate that he was roped into it by Nigerian government.

Nigerians should ask past leaders what they did with security votes

Jonathan said his opponents had accused him of failing to tackle insecurity but asked the citizens to ask those of them who had been heads of state before to account for what they did with security funds in their administration.

According to him, the Federal Government, under his watch, started fighting insurgency with bare hands, adding that the past governments failed to buy even “a rifle” for the Nigerian military.

“Those who say they want to take over power now have said we have insecurity. Ask them what they did with security funds during their tenure. Why did they refuse to build capacity of the military? It takes years to equip the military. Even if you spend $10 billion today, you will need to equip the Army, equip the Navy and equip the Air Force.

Buhari did not buy a single rifle for military as Head of State

“Somebody who wakes up and tell you he wants to fight insecurity, ask him: when he was in government, did he buy one rifle for the Nigerian soldiers? He didn’t buy anything for the Nigerian soldiers. Ask them what they did with finance budget when they were in office. No country equips the armed forces overnight, because what they use is quite expensive. Armed forces are built over the years. Ask them. They created crisis and now they say they want to come and fight insurgency,” the president said.

He added that the country had issues with procuring arms at the start of insurgency when it had to rely on some vendors to procure arms, adding that the issues had now been cleared “because we have resorted to government to government.”

On corruption

Jonathan apologised to federal civil servants for delayed December salaries, as he blamed the delay on an attempt by some ministries and parastatals to divert funds meant for salaries to pay allowances.

He said the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), through which salaries were paid, had to reject the irregularity in an effort to check corruption.

Jonathan said the only way to stop corruption was to set up institutions and strengthen them.

He said his administration had done much in the areas of upholding the rule of law, due process, improving rail transport, power sector and education development.

“I set up 12 universities in the remaining 12 states where there are no universities and came up with schools for the Almajiri and out-of-school children,” he said.

Jonathan said the administration also set a presidential job creation board, which would make sure that at least two million jobs would be created in Nigeria annually.

He stated that Nigerians must be wary of being taken to the dark days, adding that the nation’s contemporaries at independence had all left it behind.

Apparently referring to Buhari and his predecessors in government, Jonathan said: “if they had succeeded in fighting corruption, corruption will not be with us today.”

He said he had told the anti-graft agencies to tell Nigerians what they were doing, adding that the government had arrested and prosecuted more persons in recent years.

He insisted that a government could only fight corruption by preventing people from being tempted with the money, adding that robbers were being killed by firing squad, but the practice had not stopped robbery.

The president also denied insinuations that his government was weak or lacked focus, adding that he would not engage in hauling people into jail, just because he suspected them to be corrupt.

“Any country in this world that does not obey the rule of law is a jungle. Is that the type of country you want?” he asked, adding that his government had made Nigeria the biggest economy in Africa, a feat that could not be achieved without planning.

He also showcased his achievements in the area of youth empowerment, rebuilding of infrastructure, including the Egbin Power Plant that got burnt in 2005, as well as the resuscitation of railways, privatisation of the power sector, the creation of Sovereign Wealth Fund, as well as the invention of a special way of spending recovered stolen funds.

He stated that before now, stolen funds that were recovered to the country were spent without record, adding, however, that his government had decided that all recovered funds would now be spent on specific projects.

According to him, 50 per cent of the funds would be spent on security; 25 per cent on infrastructure and the remaining 25 per cent on the future generation.

On national conference

Jonathan also declared that Nigerians needed to vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) massively in the February election, because of the need to enable the National Assembly to ratify the report of the 2014 national conference, which he said was arrived at without government prodding.

He said he would submit the report to the next National Assembly because of the rancour that existed in the current assembly, adding that Nigerians must vote for those who will adopt the report to liberate the country.

Vice President Namadi Sambo, who was also at the event, said Nigerians needed to support the Jonathan-led administration once again to enable him to complete the good works he started.

Senate President, David Mark, said the difference between Jonathan and Buhari was that between day and night, maintaining that Jonathan had continued to intensify efforts in full realisation of his administration’s transformation agenda.

According to him, evidence of such could be seen in transportation, power, education, among others, pointing out that giving the president another term would help him consolidate on his various achievements.

Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, who also addressed the gathering, said that the South-West people would ensure the re-election of President Jonathan because of his record of achievements.

He said Jonathan was a true democrat rather than a born again democrat, adding that his record of achievements were unparalleled.

Ekiti State governor, Chief Ayo Fayose, who also spoke at the event, said the people of Ekiti would vote massively for PDP in the forthcoming election, adding that the return of Jonathan to power is “inevitable.”

Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Olajumoke Akinjide, who spoke on behalf of the women, said he difference between Jonathan and his main challenger was like the difference between light and darkness.

She said while the other candidate shot his way to power, Jonathan ensured one man one vote; one woman, one vote.

She also said that while Jonathan had started the expansion and reconstruction of Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, the other candidate cancelled Metro line project, which would have shot the country into the limelight of intra-city transport.

According to her, today, Lagos residents were languishing in traffic snares because of the cancellation of the Metro project. -Tribune

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