President Jonathan Speaks on why Azazi was sacked
Photo : Jonathan
By Johnson Ayantunji, Daniel Kanu, Mark Mayah, and Austin Oboh
Though government was satisfied with the performance of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Andrew Azazi, and former Defence Minister, Haliru Bello, they were, nevertheless, eased out of office on Friday because of the urgent need to change tactics in the fight against Boko Haram.
This was disclosed on Sunday by the man who sacked them, President Goodluck Jonathan.
The President, who spoke while fielding questions in the latest edition of Presidential Media Chart on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) on Sunday night, said by sacking the Defence Minister and National Security Adviser, government wanted to ensure that it could strategically deal with terrorists who had adopted new tactics in their war against the Nigerian state.
According to him, the terrorists and their sponsors changed tactics by attacking religious centres to cause religious crisis.
This strategy, he said, was targeted at destabilising the government.
Jonathan, who observed that terrorism had become a global phenomenon like the ongoing world economic recession, said Abuja would keep changing its security personnel to meet recurring security challenges.
He emphasised that the Federal Government was willing to dialogue with the Boko Haram group but ruled out any discussion with those he called faceless groups.
The President assured Nigerians that he was not insensitive when he travelled to Brazil for the United Nations Rio+20 Summit on Environment while terrorists were killing and maiming innocent citizens in Kaduna and Yobe states.
He insisted that Boko Haram would not stop government from functioning.
“The day the international community gets to know that the President of Nigeria could not travel because of terrorists, Nigeria is finished,” he said, and assured that the government was working hard to bring terrorist activities to an end.
On corruption, he revealed that erstwhile Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss, Farida Waziri, was removed because Nigerians had gradually lost confidence in her.
Jonathan expressed confidence in the current leadership of the EFCC under Ibrahim Lamorde whom he recalled had probed him (Jonathan) when he was Governor of Bayelsa State.
Dismissing fears that his attitude was giving Nigerians the impression that he was not keen on stamping out corruption, the President described himself as a very calm person who gives public officers adequate latitude to perform their work, adding that the anti-corruption agencies were determined to operate according to the rule of law instead of harassing innocent Nigerians.
Waxing philosophical, he stated that, “It is better for one criminal to go free than for one innocent person to get punished,” adding that “most Nigerians have confidence in him (Lamorde), and so have I; allow him to do his job.”
Jonathan also denied insinuations that the Presidency had anything to do with the scandals rocking the nation over the House of Representatives oil subsidy probe, reminding the panel of interviewers that government had already set up a committee under former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, to probe subsidy management because it was determined to unearth the sleaze in the oil sector.
While accusing some people of playing politics with oil subsidy issue, he claimed that he had earlier directed the EFCC to investigate Nigerian oil subsidy account in the U.S.
Confronted with his failure to declare his assets according to constitutional demands, he said, “I will not declare my assets,” arguing that assets declaration was a matter of principle.
The President said he had declared his assets when he was Vice President but nothing happened and wondered what difference the time lapse between then and now could have made.
“If I declare my assets, all political office holders would declare their assets, but I am not going to declare my assets.”
Speaking on the lingering power crisis in the country, the President assured Nigerians that the government was on top of the situation, and revealed that it was one of the reasons he travelled to Brazil.
He said he had useful discussions with experts in the sector in that country who pledged their readiness to come over to Nigeria and make their input.
On the controversial University of Lagos name change, the President insisted that government followed the proper procedure which entails declaring the new name first before sending the bill to the National Assembly, remarking that it was now left to the lawmakers to accept the bill or reject it.
The President dismissed claims that Nigeria was broke, saying investors would not have been coming to the country.
“We’re managing the economy professionally,” he announced, and stated that Coordinator of the Economic Team, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was a globally recognised economic manager.
The President was not forthcoming on his rumoured 2015 ambition, as he argued that it was too early to discuss the matter, just as he kept mum on the Justice Ayo Salami controversy.
The media chat which turned out to be quite revealing, however, suffered technical hitches as phone lines opened for the public to call in and ask the President questions failed to work.