- Category: GENERAL
- Published on Sunday, 24 June 2012 23:36
- Written by Elombah.com
President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to investigate Nigeria’s bank accounts in the United States. Fielding questions on Sunday during his third Presidential media chat at the Aso Villa Abuja, Mr. Jonathan said he is a calm person and gives people the latitude to do their
job in reaction to question bothering on his perceived weak body language on the fight against corruption. “A lot of people misunderstand me,” he said.
elombah.com reports that two American banks in an unprecedented investigation for money laundering and other financial crimes closed two bank accounts belonging to the Nigerian Embassy in the United States has caused rumpus within diplomatic circles.
Elombah.com said that the extension of the probe to a third Bank account is a sign of a troubling escalation of the US authorities investigation of whether the Embassy uses their diplomatic access and Banks to launder money for Nigerian corrupt politicians.
During Yesterday's media chat monitored by elombah.com, the president mentioned that “only yesterday,” he directed the EFCC to investigate Nigeria’s bank accounts in the United States, following a report on a newspaper.
Whoever says the president’s body language does not allow him to fight corruption, he’s incompetent, he added.
On making public the declaration of his assets, the President said, “The issue of public asset declaration is a matter of personal principle. That is the way I see it, and I don’t give a damn about it, even if you criticise me from heaven. When I was the Vice President , that matter came up, and I told the former President (late Musa Yar’adua) let’s not start something that would make us play into the hands of people and create an anomalous situation in the country.
“The law is clear. A public officer should declare his assets, and if there are issues, then the relevant agencies would have a basis to assess whether you have amassed wealth or not. When it is said that people should declare their assets in public, it is not only the President or the vice President, it includes everybody, incluidng Ministers.
“When I was a governor in Bayelsa state for about a year before becoming vice president, I was investigated thoroughly. I have nothing to hide. But, because I was under somebody and it was becoming an issue, because of the media, and because my boss had declared, it was said that the vice President must. I declared, not because I wanted to."
Mr. Jonathan continued, “Initially I said they can talk about it from morning to night, I will not. I said it is a matter of principle. It is not proper. If one amends the law to say that only the President and the Vice should declare assets publicly, fine. But, presently everybody who is holding political office is expected to do, and I say it is not right. Those who made the law knew why they put the law that way. I could be investigated when I leave office.
“You don’t need to declare assets publicly; otherwise you are playing to the gallery. You don’t need to publicly declare assets. That’s a matter of principle. If I have to declare publicly, it means every political office holder will have to declare publicly. And it is not the right thing to do. That is my belief.
“It is not the President’s declaration of assets that would change the economy. There are challenges security, power and revolutionising agriculture. These are areas we should be interested in. Whether Mr. Jonathan publicly declares his assets or not is not the issue.
On Boko haram, President Goodluck Jonathan said that the extremist group is seeking to incite religious crisis in Nigeria by attacking Christians in the north in an attempt to destabilise his administration.
In the televised media chat with selected journalists, the president said that “terrorists all over the world have one common agenda - destabilising government.”
“Attacking churches is to instigate religious crisis,” he said.
“They believe that when they attack a church, Christian youths will revolt against Muslim youths. They don’t care about who dies in the process.
“If it doesn’t work, the same Boko Haram will start attacking mosques to instigate Muslim youths to attack Christians. So they change their tactics.”
The president said that he is confident that the security operatives will halt the violence in the North and other parts of the country.
He said the government was open to dialogue if Boko Haram figures identified themselves and make clear demands.
On the controversial trip to Brazil for the Conference on Sustainable development, the President said he had no regret for attending the summit in spite of the instability in the country.
He said he could not afford to boycott the summit because of the country's internal challenges, as doing do would have sent wrong signals to the international community.
He explained, “I have no regrets travelling to Brazil for the Rio Conference lat week. The issue of Boko Haram is very pathetic. I sympathise with people who have lost relations and property. People feel unsafe, and I feel the pain. As the president, if one person dies, I feel so sad.
“A lot of Nigerians who were worried that I traveled to Brazil did so out of ignorance. One of the tactics of terrorists is to strangle governemnt . If they hear that the President, Vice President or Ministers could not travel because of their activities, they would celebrate.
“The government of Nigeria must not stop for a second because of terror. Let the relevant security agencies ocntinue to do their work and allow governemnt to continue to function. The day government stops functioning, it communicates very serious negative signals to the international community. If governemnt stops to function, we would have played into the hands of the terrorists.
Boko Haram and their sponsors cannot and will never stop thegovernemnt from moving. All the arms of governemnt will continue to keep faith with their national and international engagements . They cannot bring us to our knees. We must continue to fight to bring Boko Haram to an end.”
On oil Subsidy Probe, the president said he initiated the probe of the oil industry even before the Senate and the House of Reps began its probe of the sector.
The presidency said he is dealing with the same businessmen former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua hobnobbed with. He speaks in defence of the businessmen, including Femi Otedola who is involved a bribery scandal with chairman of House of Reps Panel that probed the subsidy regime. He however said he did not initiate the sting operation that caught Mr. Lawan.
Commenting on electricity during the media chat, Jonathan said "When we were campaiging, we didn't know that BH will overtake the priorities of government," the president says.
He adds that what the government is doing with the increased electricity tariff is too ensure that those who earn low income pay lower tariff. "What we are doing with electricity tariff is too ensure that those who earn low income pay lower tariff," the president said, but did not explain how government intends to do this.