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Jonathan’s Speech At Lagos State Re-election Campaign
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

Jonathan’s Speech At Lagos State Re-election Campaign

President Goodluck Jonathan began his re-election campaign in Lagos   on Thursday, saying he would not fight corruption by arresting and putting people in crates.

Jonathan, in his 33-minute speech that centered more on responses to criticisms of his administration by some prominent Nigerians and the opposition, faulted a recent statement credited to the APC presidential candidate, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, that he would send corrupt Nigerians to jail.

Although he did not mention   names, he   was indirectly making reference to   Buhari’s role in the 1984 botched attempt to smuggle a former Transport minister, the late Umaru Dikko, to Nigeria.

He said, “They said they will start fighting corruption after they have crossed the bridge. And only two days ago, somebody stood in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and said he would catch people that steal and throw them in Kirikiri(Prisons).

“I agree that we must stop corruption but I will not do so by catching people and putting them in crates and   jailing   or killing them. We can’t stop corruption that way.”

The President told the PDP chiefs, members and supporters at the carnival-like event that held at the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos that “the   same mouth says something from the right and the left, making contradictory statements.”

Raising his voice, he asked rhetorically,“ Can you trust such a man ? Are they not deceiving you?

“They want power by all means. All they want to use power for is to lock up and imprison their enemies,” he claimed, eliciting thunderous applause from the gathering.

The President also said that if   Buhari had effectively fought corruption   between 1983 and 1985 when he was Head of State, Nigeria would not be grappling with graft today.

He argued that the kind of anti-graft war the APC presidential candidate was advocating had no place in today’s democracy.

The President said that instead of fighting corruption by making arrests, he would structure Nigeria in such a way that people holding public offices would no longer have direct access to funds.

Jonathan added   that his administration had   curbed corruption in the civil service and the agricultural sector through the computerisation of   payment system.

The President, however, explained that the   system caused the delay in paying federal civil servants   December salaries.

He said, “I apologise to those families that suffered because I believe that for you to fight corruption, you must take some measures such as establishing institutions. You don’t just wake up, enter the streets and start arresting people   and showing them on television sets and saying you are fighting corruption.

“If they had succeeded in fighting corruption, corruption would not have been with us today. If they had set up structures to manage resources, in this ICT era, we would not have been talking about corruption today.

“What happened on the issue of civil servants is something known as IPIS which is a software for protecting salaries. Sometimes people steal   salaries in some Federal Government agencies and ministries. They tried to divert funds meant for some allowances but since the system is scientific,   it shut down.   This is the only way that you can prevent corruption.

“I served in Bayelsa State as deputy governor and governor for eight years and then vice president and president for another four years. Within these periods,   fertiliser distribution was an area where both the federal   and state governments spent billions of naira. Less than 10 per cent of   the product got to farmers while the rest was stolen and sent out of the country. Even the 10 per cent was sometimes adulterated.

“What did we do? We assembled some young Nigerians that are IT gurus and developed what we call the Electronic Wallet. Through   the wallet,   farmers got   fertiliser directly and nobody is cheating the government again. Is that not a way to stop corruption?

“If somebody tells you that the best way to fight corruption is to come and arrest your mother and father and show them on   television,   will that   stop corruption? In fact, it will even encourage corruption. We are shooting armed robbers but is that stopping them? So, arresting people and showing them on television sets will do nothing. We must set up institutions and strengthen them in order to prevent people from stealing public money. That is what we are working on and we are succeeding.”

Although Jonathan was also short of mentioning names , he said that Nigeria would become a jungle if some people who did not believe in the rule of law were allowed to take over governance.

He said, “They say the government is weak and have no plan. They say we are weak because they took our fathers, mothers and uncles and drugged and put them in crates before flying them to Nigeria. They were intercepted mid-air by superior powers.

“That even blocked Nigerians from even going to Britain at a time. The relationship between Nigeria and Britain went sour and the whole world isolated Nigeria . They say that is the way to fight corruption. So the moment I suspect your uncle (of corruption), I can crate him and send them to Kirikiri (prisons).

“Is that the way to stop corruption? I served with (former President Umaru)Yar’Adua and he stood by due process and I also stand by due process.

“Any country that does not obey the rule of law is a jungle. Do you want Nigeria to be a jungle ? “Immediately I suspect you of doing something wrong, I will call the police and the army and throw you into jail. Is that the kind of country you want? They said to be strong is to jail people indiscriminately for 300 years. Is that the way to go? A country is like an industry, it must be managed properly by people who have grey and white matters upstairs.”

He said the APC was not a democratic party as the Department of State Service had exposed its plan   to clone Permanent Voter Cards in order to rig the general elections.

Jonathan warned that a vote for the APC was a vote for backwardness.

In the area of insecurity, Jonathan said Buhari could not tackle the problem because he contributed to it by failing to invest in the military when he was head of state.

He said, “They talked about insecurity. Are Nigerians in the armed forces weak? The problem is that we don’t have platforms (equipment) and somebody who wakes up and tells young people   that they want to fight insecurity, ask him:   Did he buy one rifle for a Nigerian soldier?

“These people did not buy anything; they refused to equip the military and there were no helicopters; nothing. Ask them what they did with their defence budgets and the whole time they could not equip the military.”

The President said $10bn was not enough to buy equipment for the military as it usually took   years to boost its capacity. He, however, said he had been able to curb corruption in the armed forces by eliminating middlemen in the purchase of arms.

He said, “No country equips its military overnight . Armed forces are built over the years because even if you spend $10bn today, you cannot equip the Air Force, the Navy and   the Army. They refused to build their capacity, they instigated crisis and now they are telling you they can fight insecurity.

“They said the military is corrupt. When this insecurity started, we had nothing so to tackle it very quickly, we used vendors to get equipment.   But now, we are doing government to government arrangement and so there is nothing like corruption anymore. Is that not the way to fight corruption? You must prevent people from touching public money.”

Jonathan said since   his generation had failed Nigeria,   it was important for the youths to vote for those who would invest in their future.

He said it was his dream for the next generation of Nigerians to fly to the moon.

He said, “Those of my age and above are finished; we are gone. That is why I am addressing those of you that are voting for the first time. We believe it is you that will take us to the moon. My generation has failed, we couldn’t take Nigeria to the moon.

“Look at what India is doing? I said for us to get to the moon,   our first class graduates should be sent   to the best 25 universities in the world for postgraduate studies.

“ So you must vote wisely. They will build prisons for you but I will build universities for you. I will build primary schools and secondary schools .”

He said the APC was not on a mission to fight corruption but to jail their enemies. He, therefore, urged Nigerians not to vote for the party.

Jonathan laughed at the reported endorsement of Buhari by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

He said it was unfortunate that the group which was responsible for killing Nigerians on October 1, 2010 was the one identifying with the APC.

He also alleged that MEND jailed leader, Henry Okah, was paid   to kill him in 2010.

Earlier, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, said the alleged missing money from the treasury was a propaganda tool created by the APC.

Akpabio said,   “We (governors) were the ones that told Mr. President that we should share the 55bn. We said we could not be saving while our people are hungry. Will you be saving when your child is in the hospital?

“If your child dies, wouldn’t you be a fool? The money was shared by the three tiers of government so no money is missing.”

He did not say if the money was in naira or dollars.

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