PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday declared that the aim of the Islamic religious sect, Boko Haram’s insurgency in the country is to destabilise government and make it unable to function, vowing that his administration would do all that is necessary to halt their terrorist activities.
Speaking during a live radio and television presidential media chat on Sunday, he noted that the sect’s tactics were similar to all other terrorists’ in the world, adding that government was adopting various strategies to bring the menace under control.
He explained that the reason he relived former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew Azazi and former Minister of Defence, Dr Mohammed Haliru Bello of their appointments was informed by the need to adjust the strategy for fighting terrorism to make it more effective.
The president who did not rule out the possibility of dialogue with the sect, however, reiterated that that they must first unveil themselves before the dialogue option could be considered.
He observed that Boko Haram targeted military personnel when it just started but when the tactics did not work, they resorted to attacking Christian places of worship because they realised that such attack would push Christian youths into reprisal action.
He noted that he would not be surprised if Boko Haram began to attack Muslim places of worship since their initial tactics would have failed to achieve the desired result.
According to him, “those people who have held these offices have done well. If you look at the evolution of Boko Haram, they change their tactics everyday. The interest of a terrorist is to destabilise government. If one thing doesn’t work, they change to another. So, you must also begin to change your personnel, change your style, change your strategy.
“We are also changing and we think there is a time some other hands will have to come in to do things slightly differently. It is not that the people who were there before were not working hard. They are good Nigerians. They worked very hard.”
He added that under the security architecture being developed by government, where there was the need for changes, government would not hesitate to implement them.
On his recent visit to Brazil which drew a lot of condemnation, President Jonathan said he had no regret embarking on the trip, as he noted that stopping the journey, which came on the heels of deadly Boko Haram attacks in Kaduna and Yobe states, would have played into the hands of the terrorists.
He revealed that while he was in Brazil for the United Nations (UN) conference on sustainable development, he received phones calls from people in Nigeria, worried about his absence from the country at a time of serious security challenge.
While noting that he felt the pain of victims of the various attacks, he, however, said genuine Nigerians who were worried over his absence did so out of ignorance, adding that one of the tactics of terrorists was to strangulate government.
On corruption, he dismissed insinuation that he had not encouraged the various anti-corruption agencies to go after identified corrupt individuals in the country, adding that the agencies needed time to properly execute their mandates.
While noting the capability of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, to do his work, he urged Nigerians to have confidence in the anti-corruption effort, assuring that he would not influence their activities.
Answering a question on the oil subsidy probe carried out by the House of Representatives and the subsequent bribery allegation against Honour-able Farouk Lawan, the chairman of the House ad hoc committee that investigated the matter, he denied that most of the people indicted in the report were patrons of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While he conceded that many businessmen were friends of government, he said government was not vacillating on the report because those indicted were PDP patrons, as he noted that the ruling party did not have patrons.
He recalled that long before the lawmakers’ initiative, his administration had introduced measures to audit the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with the setting up of a committee headed by former EFCC chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, as well as a directive to the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, to involve international auditors in the NNPC and the Petroleum Technology Developmet Fund (PTDF) accounts.
President Jonathan said if he had anything to hide, he would not have appointed Ribadu to head the committee, as the former Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) presidential candidate contested election against him.
He denied setting up a sting operation against Lawan, saying that even if he wanted to do that, he had no reason to involve Femi Otedola, a member of the Economic Management Team at the centre of the bribery allegation.
On the recent renaming of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) after Chief Moshood Abiola, the president justified the measure, saying that in about 50 years time, people would be talking about the insti-tution’s position in the world rather than its name.
He said he did the right thing in announcing the new name before sending it to the National Assembly for approval, noting, however, that if the lawmakers failed to give it the nod, the university would revert to its original name.
The president was also questioned on the 2015 presidential election, but he refused to be drawn into whether or not he would contest, as he maintained that it was yet too early to talk about it.