President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, dismissed insinuations of a secret dialogue between the administration and the Boko Haram just as he declared former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s invasion of Odi in Bayelsa State in 1999 as a failure that did not help to curb militancy in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking on nationwide television media chat, the president also gave a robust defence of the administration’s fight against corruption as he set a 2014 date on the decision whether he would contest the next presidential election or not.
In the two-hour broadcast session on television and radio network, President Jonathan also pledged to align himself with Nigerians if the citizens choose to retain the two-term tenure system for executive office holders.
The Media Chat programme anchoredby the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA’s, Kudu Abubakar had the Chairman of the Editorial Board of Vanguard, Mr. Ikeddy Isiguzo, Editor of The Guardian Mr. Martins Oloja and Gbemi Olujobi, Editor Saturday Mirror, as panelists.
The President denied insinuations of the declining dominance of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the country following consecutive election losses in Edo and Ondo states.
He also rebuffed reports of the cancellation of the contract between the administration and Manitoba Hydro Limited for the management of the transmission lines of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
Questions were also drawn from Nigerians through text messages and twitter. In one of such questions where the sender said the president would go down in history as the best president if he fixes the Benin-Ore Road and solves the power problem, Dr Jonathan responded that he would be the best president.
Asked to respond to claims of backroom dialogue with Boko Haram following the group’s offer for dialogue, President Jonathan said:
“Presently, government is not dialoguing with any group. There is no dialogue between the Boko Haram and government. Though there was a news item talking about dialogue, but the Boko Haram group is yet to come out. So there is nobody to dialogue with.”
Against the claims by former President Obasanjo that more force as was used in Odi would have helped to dislodge the Boko Haram insurgents, President Jonathan said:
“I can give you the narrative of what led to the Odi crisis. The peak of the militancy was when 12 police officers were killed, that was cold blooded murder and that made the Federal government to now invade Odi. After that invasion, myself and the governor entered Odi, ordinarily, the governor and his deputy are not supposed to move under such situation, but we entered and saw some dead people. Most of the people that died in Odi were mostly old men, women and children, none of the militants was killed.