By Tony Akowe/The Nation
As the President was parrying the criticism of his administration at the Federal Capital Territory, former Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was railing at him in Kaduna, the North’s political headquarters.
The former presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) accused Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-military President Ibrahim Babangida of being behind the destruction of the oil industry, with its attendant effects on the welfare of the ordinary Nigerian.
Gen. Buhari spoke while receiving members of the CPC from Katsina, who paid him a Sallah homage.
But Dr. Jonathan rejected the dark tar with which his administration is painted. He said: “Sometimes, even people who have held offices in government criticise me to the extent of personal abuses. Sometimes, I ask, ‘were there roads across the country and Jonathan brought flood to wipe out these roads?’ Or we had power and I brought hurricane to break down the entire infrastructure?
“If they say Boko Haram is because of poverty; were there massive irrigation projects in the North where agriculture can thrive and massive farms and Jonathan brought drought to wipe out these farms? Under two years, is it possible? Well, time will tell. What I can tell Nigerians is that let those who criticise continue to criticise.
“We will do our best and as we progress, Nigerians will know the truth and we’ll see that we are committed and will surely transform this country.”
Jonathan assured that his critics would have the cause to praise him at the end of the life of his administration when his Transformation Agenda would have yielded the expected dividends.
He said: “I think I am the most criticised President in the whole world, but I tell this noble audience that before I leave, I will also be the most praised president.
“I have experienced that before in my governor journey in Bayelsa state. In fact, people who were close to me will tell you that even after the election, I told them that in my first 12 months, please cover your ears because you will hear all kinds of things. But as we progress, you will see (changes).
“We are working very hard to stabilise power. We are working very hard to resurface our roads. We have security challenges, which we are also working very hard to bring to reasonable control.
“It is not easy; we don’t have the magic wand, except the miracle worker that with the wave of the hand, probably will help to throw all these challenges away and prosperity will appear. But in pure governance issues, it takes time.”
The President said he promised to deliver free, fair and credible elections before the conduct of the 2011 general elections and the assessment of the polls by local and international observers was a testimony that he kept his promise.
He said his administration had initiated policies that would ensure the country political, social and economic transformation.
Jonathan said the Federal Government had proposed a new Anti-terrorism Bill 2012 to address the current security challenges in the country.
The President said he disagreed with the position of the NBA on the urgent need to create State Police to address the security challenges in the country.
According to him, Nigeria is not ripe for State Police because it can easily be abused by the governors, a development which, he said, can worsen the security situation.
He said the police became worse for it, when it introduced the policy of deploying men from the rank of Inspector downward to their states of origin.
Jonathan said his administration considered the NBA as a partner in progress and commended the association for choosing a topical theme for the conference.
The theme, “Nigeria as an Emerging Market: Redefining our Laws and Politics for Growth”, the President said, is in line with the public-private-partnership-oriented policy of his administration.
He urged the association to review its rules of engagement which, he said, bar its officers from directly getting involved in day-to-day governance either in an advisory or participatory capacity.
The President said he had appointed the outgoing President of the NBA, Joseph Daudu (SAN), as Honorary Legal Adviser, but he (Daudu) declined the offer based on the association’s rules of engagement.
Jonathan said he was still willing to appoint the incoming president of the association to the position, if the rule could be reviewed.
Gen Buhari said the insincerity and corrupt nature of the nation’s leaders were responsible for the wave of insecurity in the country.
His guests from Katsina State were led by the member representing Funtua/Dandume Federal Constituency, Dr. Mansur Abdulkadir.
According to Gen. Buhari, the high level of corruption and the destruction of the petroleum industry began in the administration of Gen. Babangida. For the country to move forward, Nigerians must entrust its affairs to trusted leaders, he counselled.
The former Head of State noted that there was no country where impunity thrives like Nigeria, adding that corruption in the petroleum sector began during the era of Gen. Babangida, continued during that of ex-President Obasanjo and the administration of President Jonathan because, in his view, they had the mindset to cheat the Nigerian masses.
He said: “The biggest challenge of Nigeria is for adequate security to be in place and ways in which we can protect the riches of this country and provide job opportunities for the youths in the country, so that we can build more industries as it was before.
“Inability of these industries to work has brought mistrust and corruption to Nigeria. Therefore, our leaders have to be sincere and lead with the fear of God and carry all along for Nigeria to be a better place.
“All leaders should stand and keep promises of the people. We cannot move forward, if things that are supposed to be put in place are not done. Like the money which was siphoned in the recent pension scam and the petroleum industry scam must all be brought back into the government’s coffer for good leadership.
“Therefore, all those that want the masses to vote and be voted for should go to the masses and get their mandate. The era of using money to bribe the masses or force to get political office is gone.
“A leader that wants to be a good leader must look at the needs of the people, the suffering and the humiliation and proffer solution to those problems and together we shall achieve greatness.”
Abdulkadir told Gen. Buhari that their mission was to wish him happy Eid-el-Fitr celebration and seek his blessing ahead of the local government election in Katsina State.