by Ayobami Olopade
The return of President Goodluck Jonathan to the country on Sunday from London where he had gone to attend an Investors’ Summit was eagerly anticipated by many Nigerians.
So many issues were pending. Nigerians wanted to hear and observe Jonathan following reports of his sudden and brief illness in London.
Nigerians were also waiting to hear his decision as regards his embattled minister of aviation, Stella Oduah over the alleged purchase of two bullet-proof BMW cars for about N255 million.
Other issues on the president’s plate include the lingering strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) and the well publicised meeting between the president and the G-7 governors.
On his arrival at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja on Sunday, President Jonathan clarified some of the issues while speaking with State House correspondents. Unfortunately, while answering most of the questions, the president was coy and evasive. He did not address the major points, thereby leaving Nigerians in the dark.
It would be recalled that the committee set up by the President to look into the allegations involving Princess Oduah reportedly submitted its report secretly to Mr. President and there has been no official statement ever since.
President Jonathan confirmed the receipt of the report of the administrative panel led by former Head of Service of the Federation, Isa Bello with the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and Dick Iruenebere as members. What the President failed to state was whether his administration was going to act on the report or sweep it under the carpet like so many similar reports.
President Jonathan also thanked Nigerians for their show of love and support during his illness, “I really had some health challenges I have to thank God again because, the concern shown by Nigerians and the love. I thank God that I am very okay to resume work I believe from this night.”
He appreciated Nigerians who congratulated him on his birthday, “First, let me thank and appreciate Nigerians for the show of love and concern. First on Wednesday, even though I was in London I read how people congratulated me, remembering my birthday that I don’t normally celebrate anyway.”
The president said that “The most important thing is that I am back.”
On his expected meeting with the G-7 governors, the President had this to say, “I believe within the week we will be able to meet. Politics is about discussion, we belong to the same political party or even people from different political parties engage in political discussion and political discussion is a continous process, even during election people discuss. So we will continue to discuss.”
The G-7 governors have made their conditions for peace known some of which include the removal of Bamanga Tukur as Chairman, the reinstatement of Oyinlola as National Secretary, the recognition of Governor Rotimi Amaechi as NGF chairman amongst others.
On the report that some ministers abandoned the Investors Forum in London, the President defended them saying, “All of them performed very well. I think there is some kind of miconception. Ministers are not meant to sit throughout the period. Ministers are meant to go and make presentations even in Nigeria. The only person that normally sits throughout is the Minister of Trade and Investment that warehouses the HIIC. Some ministers don’t normally sit for two days, in a day you may not see a minister. If a minister is meant to make a presentation on the second day, it’s not that for the two days you will expect all the ministers. Because I read some of the perception in the media, that the minister of communication technology was not there on Thursday, the minister of petroleum was not there on Thursday. They appeared on Friday and made their presentation. Even in Nigeria, I even sit more in the meeting because it’s a group that advises the President.”
He stated further “If I’m not there, the Vice President takes over. Myself or the Vice President, trade and investment, CBN Governor, Economic Adviser, Finance Minister, Planning are the ones who stay more. So there is no issue about minister; people make a lot of insinuations out of nothing.”
No comment was made on his expected meeting with ASUU leadership on Monday. Nigerians would be waiting with bated breath for new developments on that.