Jonathan Confident Of Winning, But Says Not Desperate To Serve
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has expressed confidence that he would “surely” win next Saturday’s presidential election.
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired yesterday, the President said: “I’ll surely win. I will surely win it… My party is still the strongest party.”
But in Abuja yesterday at a public launch of a book, ‘The People’s Choice: The story of President Goodluck Jonathan,’ written by Rev. Fr. Charles Imokhai, a Catholic Priest based in Auchi, Edo State, the President stated that his seeking second term in office was not out desperation, but out of the desire to give quality leadership to Nigerians.
He advised politicians interested in occupying any elective position, either at state or federal level, not to be desperate, saying that was why he has remained unruffled despite the various things that had been said or written about him.
On Boko Haram and the fight against insurgency, Jonathan stated told BBC: “I’m very hopeful that it will not take us more than a month to recover the old territories that hitherto have been in Boko Haram’s hands.
“They are getting weaker and weaker by the day,” he told the BBC, while admitting government’s/military’s slow response to the initial threats by the insurgents in the northeast.
He added: “We never expected that (Boko Haram) will build up that kind of capacity. We under-rated their external influence. Since after the civil war, we’ve not fought any war, we don’t manufacture weapons, so we had to look for help to re-equip our army and the Air Force.”
Speaking on the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, the President said: “We have not seen dead girls, that is the good news. I believe they are still alive. I believe we will get them.”
On violence during his presidency: Jonathan stated: “Whatever goes wrong, I accept. Whatever goes right, I take the glory. Whenever I hear that somebody dies in Nigeria… I feel pain, because they are all Nigerians.”
Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Kenneth Minimah, had earlier in the week noted that there were no traces of the girls yet in all the towns and villages retaken from the insurgents.
Yesterday’s book launch was an opportunity for former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, to provide an insight into some of the incidents that preceded the nation’s 30-month-old civil war, especially the Aburi Accord, which he said a lot of people had misconceived.
Over N175m was donated by individuals and groups at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja venue of the launch of the four-part book, which chronicles the life of the President, including his educational background, political career and family among others.
The President said: “My second message is to all of us, especially those of us who are politicians, that for all of us who want to serve, we should be ready to serve, but we should not be desperate to serve our people.
“Sometimes, people ask me Mr. President, from what we read and what we see, we see you still smiling and unruffled. Yes, nothing will really ruffle me because I am willing and ready to serve, but I am not desperate to serve. That is what keeps me going. The only things needed are readiness and willingness.
“All of us who want to hold offices, if all of us are always ready and willing to serve our people, but we are not desperate in our mission, then of course Nigeria will be a better place for all of us.”
The President, who described the story of his life as a humble one, noted that most previous accounts of his life so far published in the past were not accurate.
He stated that the book presented yesterday provided an account that is close to being accurate, as he would write the most accurate one after leaving office.
He promised that as long as he remains the President, he would continue to come up with programmes that will help young people.
While expressing confidence that beneficiaries of his administration’s ‘YouWin Programme’ would be shocking the country in the next 10 to 15 years, the President also said a product of the Almijiri schools being established by his government would one day become the President of the country.
He said that was why he is passionate about education and decided to increase the number of federal universities across the country.
Jonathan made it clear that the money realised from the launch was neither going to his pocket nor that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), explaining that the organisers plan to set up a Foundation and use the proceeds to embark on projects that would impact positively on the country and its citizens.
Gowon, who chaired the occasion in the place of an elder statesman, Dr. Yusuf Maitama Sule, used the opportunity to clear the air on the agreement he reached with former Biafran leader, the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, later known as the Aburi Accord.
He explained that Odumegwu-Ojukwu made a statement that was contrary to what they discussed at the venue of the accord and got away with it because he (Gowon) was down with fever when Odumegwu-Ojukwu returned to make the statement.
“I have seen that you (the author) have gone back in history in your research when Ojukwu and myself had the Aburi Accord.
“I was fascinated by that because I can assure you that that meeting was to break the ice and for all of us allow the military leaders at the time to agree to be discussing our problems in Nigeria and to solve them.
“What happened to us at Aburi was that I couldn’t make it down because I was unfortunately down with a fever. Ojukwu got back and made a statement and that wasn’t what we discussed and that was the beginning of the misunderstanding, not because we agreed to work with Ojukwu.
“Since you presented that we had a meeting, I thought I should make that comment and to correct that,” he said.
Gowon advised Nigerians to vote their conscience during next Saturday’s presidential elections, not minding their religious differences.
“Vote your conscience, but vote right. I hope all of you here will do the right thing and vote for the people’s choice,” he said.
The author said he wrote the book as an encouragement for the President to continue with his good works and likened Jonathan to a Catholic priest, who always hears what he did wrongly, but does not hear what he did rightly.
The book reviewer, Prof Richard King, said although many books had been written on Jonathan, this was the first time an in-depth mention would be made about almost everything about the President.