Tuesday, September 13, 2011

President Goodluck Jonathan orders military to take over Jos security

Following the unending bloodletting in Jos, President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin, to take over full charge of security matters in Plateau State.

With this directive, the military will effectively take control of security in the state, but Presidency sources maintained Monday night that it was not a backdoor declaration of a state of emergency.

Over 100 persons including two families have been killed in the last two weeks following a dispute over the venue of Eid prayers by an Islamic sect after the Ramadan.
Thousands of lives have also been lost in the crises spanning over a decade.

At the last Council of State meeting, the National Security Adviser, General Owoye Andrew Azazi, had said Jonathan directed him to bring up the Jos issue at the next meeting, but apparently because of the spate of killings, the president is acting before then.

A statement from the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said the president further directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, to bring up all pending reports of recent committees set up by the Federal Government on the issue for immediate review and implementation.

Jonathan, who is billed to meet with Governor Jonah Jang today, further directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to move in immediately to provide succour for internally displaced persons in the troubled state.

In a broadcast Monday to state citizens, Jang said the recent events “have again confirmed that terrorism is here with us and they are expanding their frontiers and posing a greater security challenge. And it must therefore be tackled with all the might at government’s command”.

He said “the bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja shows that these terrorists have no regards to not only life, but any course for humanity which the United Nations symbolises,” adding that the terrorism challenge which manifests across the nation “is real and should not be politicised but approached with all sense of decency”.

Meanwhile, speaking on the Presidential Media Chat on national TV and radio Monday night to mark his first 100 days in office, President Jonathan said the Jos crisis is essentially an economic problem but that religion is being used to fan the flames.

He expressed optimism that Nigeria would not disintegrate.

He said the issue of security problem in Jos was more of a problem with the people but pushed by religion and assured Nigerians that the government was on top of the situation and would soon bring the problem under strict control.

He comprehensively responded to American diplomatic cables published by the Wikileaks website and dismissed it as “beer parlour gossip” that is unreliable given the circumstances under which such information was either given or assumed.

Jonathan was particularly miffed that his wife, Dame Patience, was reportedly arrested with $13.5 million, pointing out that his wife never travelled within the period under reference and wondered how such amount would be raised by the wife of a Deputy Governor.

“It is like beer parlour gossip and associated to the former US Ambassador and some of them said that they discussed with people and what they claim was discussed cannot be verified. It is unreliable and unfortunately people tend to believe it.

“The recent one about me and one of my aides who was alleged to have said that I contributed to the poverty of the people and belongs to the old order is bad. I was just 12 months in office when they said the issue in reference or were they referring to when I was Deputy Governor. So how did I bring poverty to the Niger Delta and how was I part of the old order?

“Maybe people have different wikileaks now. How can my wife get $13.5 million? Do people know what $13.5million is? I think that is rubbish. Those gossips that are being published are what I cannot comment, they are gossips. My wife never travelled so where did they catch her? If your name is mentioned in such a thing you cannot keep quiet but you should not castigate someone about it,” he said.

On the single tenure, he said the people should have waited for him to bring out the details of the proposed amendment but wondered how even legal luminaries kept on commenting on what they had not seen and likened such comments to rumour.

He, however, said for a stable economy to be achievable, there has to be stability in the polity, pointing out that Nigeria started out with countries like Singapore which has now progressed beyond Nigeria due to the stability in their polity.

He noted that even in Africa, Nigeria has the shortest political gestation of four years which was too short and costly for the economy. Added to the social and political upheavals that attend such elections, he said, for an investor to have confidence to invest in the economy, he must see consistency in policy that would protect his investments.

He also said that due to the short period, just when people settle down to offices, they start thinking of second term and some even stay less when they win at tribunals a few months to the end of their tenure.

“The cost of conducting elections cannot be good for us every four years. We spent about N130 billion on INEC alone and we are talking about roads, water etc. Nigeria is the only country in Africa with four years. South Africa is five years and Liberia is seven years and both have two terms. In Africa, elections lead too civil strife.

“I have no regrets about proposing a single tenure of say seven years for Governors and president and six years for Assembly members who may want to spend the rest of their lives there because it will stabilise the polity. People are opposing it out of sentiments but one day, Nigerian will decide. Now it is like a rumour,” he said.

This Day

Related stories: Family of 8 butchered in Jos violence

More killed in Jos intercommunal violence

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