I’ll return to Otuoke if I lose –Jonathan

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President Goodluck Jonathan has said that he will return to his Otuoke home in Bayelsa State, if by default, he loses the March 28 presidential election.

Jonathan, who said Nigeria is not his father’s estate, was however optimistic that he “will not lose the election.”

“If by default somebody wins the election, of course, I will go back to my village. The country is not my father’s estate,” he told the Quatar-based international television station, AlJazeera, on Monday night.

The President denied that he was scared of the All Progressives Congress and its Presidential candidate, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, adding that he would win because he had performed well.

When asked what he made of the insinuations in some quarters that the sudden step-up of military operations in the fight against Boko Haram was because he was scared he might lose the election on the grounds of insecurity, he replied , “It is out of ignorance.

“In a political environment, if one party, particularly the ruling party, is going to the left, the opposition would have to go to the right. They must find something. They must have something to tell the people.”

The President, however, explained that Boko Haram insurgents were able to wreak havoc on parts of the country for long because the military lacked certain weapons to confront them.

The President noted that with the procurement of modern weapons, the security agencies would rout the terror group soon.

He also denied that he mishandled the threat posed by the sect to the country and that the activities of the group did not start with his administration.

Jonathan, who reassured Nigerians that the rescheduled elections would not be postponed, said the security agencies had not promised to rout out Boko Haram completely before the elections.

The President however explained that the military would degrade the insurgents to the level that they would no longer have the strength to disrupt the polls.

He said,“That is the key thing. In terms of taking over our territories by the sect,we will retake them and very soon, there will be no part of Nigeria where the insurgents will erect a flag and say this is a Boko Haram territory.

“That we will do but what I am saying is that even if you do that, that does not mean you are isolated from terror attack, but gradually with improvement in terms of technology and monitoring we will able to bring it down.

“When we take over all the territories they are holding, they are becoming weaker, now we will improve our monitoring using superior technologies to monitor their activities. We will begin to pick them and then of course, frustrate their activities. So over the period, it will go. We cannot live with terror. No, we can’t. We will stop it.”

He also dismissed the allegation by some APC senators that he was planning to remove the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega.

He told his interviewer that he had not even discussed Jega’s purported removal with anyone.

Jonathan said, “Except somebody is insinuating that the chairman has done something wrong. You cannot change an officer, except the person has done something wrong. Government, whether at the federal or state level, president or governor, does not wake up and change somebody, especially somebody like the INEC chairman; except that person has done something wrong.

“INEC is a very sensitive body. For me to change the INEC chairman, Nigerians and non-Nigerians will ask questions. So, you cannot wake up and change the INEC Chairman.”

Jonathan also dismissed insinuations that corruption had worsened in the country under his Presidency.

The President specifically made reference to an allegation by a former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido (the current Emir of Kano) that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation failed to remit N49.8bn to the national treasury between 2011 and 2012.

He accused him of blowing the issue of corruption out of proportion.

Jonathan said, “Even the corruption issues –even if you look at the Corruption Perception Index…yes, people talk about corruption now because it has become almost a political issue. And when you move something to the level of politics, of course normally the issue is blown out of proportion.

“Yes, we have cases of corruption but it’s not as bad as people make it to be. Yes, we have cases of stealing; I always say it that, call a thief a thief. I am not staying that Nigeria doesn’t have an element of corruption or stealing.

“Start from ex-CBN governor who said $48.9bn was missing. What is the budget of this country for God’s sake? Our budget has been about N3.something trillion. That’s roughly about $18 to $20bn a year.

“And someone is saying we lose N48.9bn. If we lost that huge amount both federal and state governments would not be able to pay salaries. I don’t know how he came about that figure. The next thing was for him to reduce the figure. Up to this time I don’t know which is the correct accusation.”

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