Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said Wednesday night that power is ‘one area where Nigerians are quite pleased with the government.’
Jonathan, speaking in an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN, added that his commitment to improve power is working.
Christiane Amanpour was the first journalist to interview Goodluck Jonathan when he assumed the presidency in April 2010. One focus of that conversation was about the endemic electric outages that average Nigerians face.
Three years later, despite continued problems and a report by Nigeria’s Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission that says 60% of Nigerians are without access to power, Jonathan said that the country has made significant strides.
“That is one area where Nigerians are quite pleased with the government – that our commitment to improve power is working,” he said. “I promise you before the end of this year, power outages will be reasonably stable in Nigeria.”
On Endemic Corruption
“You cannot change the mindset of people by waving your hand. You must take means to make sure that you don’t create an environment where everyone will be corrupt and we are doing it very well,” Jonathan said.
He cited the previous elections as signs of success against corruption. International observers, The African Union, and the Independent National Electoral Commission all praised the polling.
But there is still widespread corruption in the oil industry.
Last April, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that 400,000 barrels of oil a day were looted from the country in just one month.
The International Energy Agency said that $7 billion dollars a year is lost annually to oil theft.
“Frankly speaking, speaking I want the international community to support Nigeria because this stolen crude is being bought by refineries abroad and they know the crude oil was stolen,” Jonathan told Amanpour. “The world must condemn what is wrong.”
On Boko Haram
Jonathan said that Islamist extremist group Boko Haram would pose a threat to other African nations if not contained, while also pledging support for Mali.
He denied the Boko Haram insurgency was spurred by deep poverty in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and refuting widespread reports of major military abuses.
“Boko Haram, if it is not contained, would be a threat not only to Nigeria, but to west Africa, central Africa and of course to north Africa,” he said from Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum.
He mentioned Boko Haram members travelling to “link up” with members of Al-Qaeda’s north African branch operating in northern Mali and other north African nations.
“That is why the Nigerian government is totally committed to work with other nationals, other friendly governments, to make sure that we contain the problems in Mali,” Jonathan said.
Asked whether misrule and corruption were helping feed the violence blamed on Boko Haram in Nigeria, Jonathan firmly denied it.
Most Nigerians live on less than $2 per day despite the country’s status as Africa’s biggest oil producer, and many have seen the insurgency as largely in response to conditions in the north, which has been particularly neglected.
“Boko Haram is a local terror group and we call on the rest of the world to work with us,” said Jonathan.
“Because now we are talking about Algeria, we are talking about northern Mali, and what I believe is that if we allow terror to exist in any part of the world, it will not just affect that country or that state, but it will affect the rest of the globe, and we should not play politics with Boko Haram.”