No talks with Boko Haram; 4 years is too short to make impact; Subsidy stays in 2013 – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said no dialogue is going on between the Federal Government and Boko Haram.

Speaking during his fourth Presidential media chat since he was sworn in for a full term, the President disclosed that the terrorist group “hides behind a mask” and as such the government has no one to dialogue with.

This is contrary to media reports indicating that the sect had stated its intentions to enter into talks with the Federal Government, even going so far as to publish a list of names of government officials expected to mediate possible peace talks.

According to president Jonathan, “Government is not in dialogue with any group of people, not the least Boko Haram. They (Boko Haram) are still operating under cover. They wear a mask. They don’t have a face. You don’t dialogue with people you don’t know. We don’t have anybody to dialogue with. There is no dialogue going on anywhere contrary to reports that has been carried in the media.”

Following initial reports of Boko Haram’s willingness to dialogue, the Presidency, through spokesman Dr. Reuben Abati, had said they were not opposed to idea of peace talks.

The spokesman stressed, however, that the government will “protect the rule of law” and “see that justice is done where wrongs have been committed”.

Jonathan also defended his government’s war against terror, saying that wholesome invasion of communities harbouring violent groups have never really solved the fundamental problems as they usually escape from such areas after committing their terror acts, citing the invasion of Odi, Bayelsa State by the Military during the Niger Delta crisis.

He added: “12 police officers were murdered in Odi which made the Federal Government to invade Odi. But none of the militants were caught. Bombing Odi never solved the problem but it escalated the problem. We had more challenges because it attracted international sympathy to the people because the people that died in the invasion were old women and children. None of the militants were killed. It was a wrong move by the Federal Government.”

On fuel subsidy removal

Jonathan stated: “If we are going to remove subsidy from January, as you are afraid we will do in January, we couldn’t have made provisions for it in the 2013 budget. We have made provisions from January till December,” Jonathan said during the Presidential Media Chat aired live on network television and radio.

“Why is it that people are not building refineries in Nigeria despite that it is a big business? It is because of the policy of subsidy, and that is why we want to get out of it.”

‘‘I did not say we are deregulating. But all what we are saying is that if we are to get to that level of Canada, the policy that existed in January, which is public-private sector driven, we have to adopt that in Nigeria,” he said.

On the shortage of fuel and the return of queues at filling stations, the President said Nigerians should bear with his government.

He said, “This situation can manifest in different areas, some people may have the product and decide to manipulate the system so that they can get more money.

“I am asking Nigerians to bear with us. I got the report from the ( Aig) Imokhuede committee on Friday, an advanced copy of the report. The arguments by the marketers is that it is government that is owing them. (But) the preliminary report we have indicates that they owe the government.

“They (oil marketers) are businessmen; they could decide to manipulate the system to get more money. I got a copy of the report. We will look into it. Experts are being brought in to do forensic audit. The human element is there, and we have our own challenges. I believe that by the time we finish sanitizing the oil sector, the issue of fuel queue will be put behind us for good.”

On whether he will contest elections or not

On whether he will contest elections or not, president Jonathan said it was too early to ask.

“This is one of the reasons we agitated for this single tenure issue. If a President tells you today that I am contesting it will generate a lot of issues; I am not contesting will also generate a lot of issues.

“If I say I am not contesting some of my cabinet ministers will even resign and go because most of them, if not all of them, are qualified to contest the position. So we have a four year tenure which is quite short, because if you look at the African scenario, it ranges from 4 years to seven.

“Some countries have five years, like South Africa, some seven years, others six years of double tenures, but we operate what we copied from the United States of America.”

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