Last updateDim, 25 Jan 2015 7pm

Goodluck Jonathan: National conference to commence in two weeks

National conference in Nigeria – Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, says the proposed national conference of ethnic nationalities and other interest groups will kick off in the next two weeks.

President Jonathan also described the issues surrounding last Thursday’s suspension of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as “unfortunate” and said whatever amount of money that was missing from the coffers would be investigated and accounted for.

Speaking during his first Presidential interaction with the media this year, President Jonathan said the issue of Nigeria’s indivisibility should not be part of the conference's deliberations  because “there is no President that will preside over the disintegration of the State”.

He said: “By the 3rd of March, we will announce the name of the chairman and the secretary for the national conference. They will then work out the details of the working of the conference. Then, I will inaugurate the conference one week after."

President Jonathan said Nigeria was entering the second centenary as a nation and if there were things to correct, they should be done now.

He said the outcome of the conference would be part of the 2015 political campaign, adding "if people agree at the conference and say, ‘this is what Nigerians want’, you follow it. I don’t want to dictate to Nigerians. They, through their representatives, will decide what is best for Nigeria.”

On the fight against terrorism, he said the administration was concerned that the incident had not subsided.

He said: "We are not happy when people are killed for no just cause. But I must say that it is not altogether a total failure; there have been successes recorded, but the only thing is that it is the negative ones that get noticed."

The President confirmed that the Nigerian authorities were working with the Cameroonian authorities to assist to get of the situation of cross-border attacks by the terror sect Boko Haram under control.

The President said while the option of dialogue was being pursued, the military option still remained viable because of the nature of the operation of Boko Haram.

"Terrorists are difficult to deal with effectively because they are brainwashed. Therefore, their approach is always difficult and deadly. In the light of that, while we believe in dialogue, the military option still remains on the card.”

President Jonathan denied reports that he had planned to appoint a military administrator for Borno State, one of the states where the sect is active, to tackle the insurgency, saying he did not think that he had the power to appoint a military administrator for any state.

On the suspension of Mallam Sanusi, Jonathan said the president had absolute powers to suspend the Governor of CBN, adding that Sanusi had not been removed as the Governor of CBN and that he was still the Governor.

He said there would not be a substantive Governor until all the issues were resolved.

Sanusi had alleged that US$20 billion of oil money was missing.

Pana 25/02/2014