I’ll relentlessly fight corruption •Jonathan vows at presidential debate; charges Nigerians to be on alert

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Thursday, 31 March 2011

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to take the fight against corruption to the next level if he wins the April 9 presidential election as he harped on necessity for strengthening the anti-corruption institutions as a means of making them perform more effectively.

The president promised never to interfere with the operations of any of the anti-corruption agencies and to obey the rule of law in the fight against the menace.

He said Nigerians in general should not limit the fight against corruption to the anti-corruption agencies alone, as he appealed to every citizen to join the fight by exercising the courage to report cases of corruption within the government circles.

The president made this known while answering questions from panellists at a presidential debate organised by the Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG), which was held at the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja, on Wednesday.

He was the only one who showed up for the debate, as other presidential candidates refused to show up, having earlier resolved not to participate.

The president blamed the refusal of other candidates to take place in the debate on communication gap among all organisations, which showed initial interest in organising the presidential debate, explaining that no fewer than 12 media organisations were struggling to package the debate without agreeing to a proper co-ordination.

While fielding questions, President Jonathan alluded to personal efforts in fighting corruption, as he recalled that the first major assignment he performed as acting president some months ago was to call for external auditing of the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the first of its kind in many years.
He promised to call for external auditing of the accounts of other major government departments and agencies of government if re-elected as the president of Nigeria.
He harped on his preparedness to raise the stake on the power sector in Nigeria once re-elected, as he traced the problem of power sector to the utter neglect of the sector by successive governments, which, he said, failed to put additional infrastructure to improve the sector power generation and distribution.
The president lamented the lack of progress in the power projects embarked upon by the government of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, blaming the shortcoming on the litigation filed against the then government by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission on the suspicion that it was taking money directly from state accounts to fund the power projects.

The president, who could not unfold his full agenda on power, owing to time constraint, however, said all contracts on National Independent Power Project (NIPP) with inputs from state governments were being processed and re-awarded.

The president enlivened the hope of the media in Nigeria, by promising that he would sign the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill into law, barring any compelling need to make alterations, just as he declared himself a friend of the media.

On economy, the president laid emphasis on revival of the agricultural sector, promising to infuse some high measure of revolution into it by conscripting all states of the federation to focus on, at least, two cash crops, for the purpose of generating more funds and solving unemployment problems in Nigeria.

In another development, President Goodluck Jona-than has admonished Nigerians to be vigilant and be sure to report to appropriate security agencies, any suspicious character that may want to create security breach in their localities.

Speaking while inaugurating two committees, the presidential awareness committee on security and civic responsibility and presidential committee on the review of the reform processes in the Nigerian public service at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday, he said he was disturbed at the level of violence in the country.

According to him, “it is disturbing to note that security breaches, as well as violence across the country are assuming a serious dimension. 

“Some of these major security challenges, which are capable of subverting the process, include intra and inter-political party conflicts, socio-economic agitations, ethno-religious crises, civil and organised rebellions and outright criminality.”

Alhaji Lateef Adegbite, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, led the presidential awareness committee on security and civic responsibility, while the presidential committee on the review of the reform processes in the Nigerian public service was headed by Mallam Adamu Waziri Fika.

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