ABUJA (SundiataPost) – President Goodluck Jonathan lost his cool on Wednesday in an audience with the Northern Elders Council (NEC), when he indirectly replied statements credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo about the performance of his administration.
He said any elder statesman who uses his position to fan the ember of disunity, set the country ablaze with utterances including telling lies to discredit his administration can best be described as motor park touts.
Jonathan, who was particularly pained that a national daily published a news item where they claimed that most of the projects awarded by his government were skewed towards the south south while the north east had a very tiny portion coming to them, said he has directed all his ministers to come up with factual documents that will puncture or support that claim.
He said he was particularly saddened that the younger generation were today seeing Nigeria as being divided along ethnic and religious lines because of the utterances of politicians.
He also regretted that he is portrayed as hating the north even when his administration has done a lot to improve that region especially in the area education where out of the 12 federal universities nine were established in the north and Almajiri schools established to give the children of the poor from the north access to education.
Speaking on how utterances from elder statesmen can make or mar the country, Jonathan said, “Some people call themselves statesmen but they are not statesmen but just ordinary politicians. For you to be a statesman is not because you have occupied a big office before but the question is what are you bringing to the table. Are you building this country? Or are you a part of people who tell lies to destroy this country? Are you part of the people who create enmity and make people who ordinarily would have been living together to fight themselves? Are you planning to set the country ablaze because you did not get that particular thing you want?
“At the appropriate time Nigerians will know all of us even though I know most of you but the younger ones do not know. Some people are hiding under some clogs, some big names and creating a lot of problems in this country. Making provocative statements in this country, statements that will set this country ablaze and you tell me you are a senior citizen? You are not a senior citizen you can never be, you are ordinary motor park tout.
“Because if you are a senior citizen you will act like one. It is by divine grace and providence that some of us occupy these offices. But what role are you playing to build this country? So let me not go too far, let me again join the Vice President in thanking you for the leadership you are showing and be rest assured that we will continue to work and protect our people and make sure all Nigerians live in peace”.
Jonathan commended the Northern Elders Council for their efforts to ensure that Nigeria remains united, peaceful, noting that without unity there could never be development.
“America is great today because America is made up of various cultural groups, everybody makes America because ethnic lines have been so weakened that people think about America. And that is why America is great today. Any country that begins to see themselves through their tiny tribal enclaves make cannot go anywhere.
“If today I’m sick if the best doctor that can treat me is from Zamfara or Enugu or Ekiti they will bring that doctor to treat me. They will not ask if that doctor is an Ijaw man, Ogbia or any other tribe. And until we get to that level where we begin to use people based on their competences, yes they must be spread in political appointment and so on. But until we get to that level where we don’t discriminate based on primordial privileges that of course will be the beginning of our development. And that is what we stand for. I will continue to plead with you because from all of your activities you have been advocating for that.
“I use to tell Nigerians I come from the down trodden what you call the Talakawas, I come from that level and I am here today talking to you because I went to school. And I said the only thing that can liberate an individual or a group of individuals is education. If I did not go to school I wouldn’t have been here to talk to big people like this.
“If you didn’t go to school you wouldn’t have spoken the way you spoke, you would have look for somebody to interpret. This is what I believe, I don’t play politics with it. It has been my policy that I don’t play politics with education.
“When I came on board I said even though as a country we have the policy on paper, every state must get a federal government university. Out of the 12 federal universities created nine was in the north while three was in southern Nigeria. The only three states that had no federal university were Bayelsa, Ebonyi and Ekiti.
Earlier in his remarks, The Chairman of NEC, Tanko Yakasai, noted that Nigeria was passing through a critical time and that the country was created in such a manner that one region cannot do without the other.
He said Nigerians must continue to respect the principle to sustain democracy, adding that insulting, blackmailing and castigating others will not take the country anywhere.
Yakassai said, “Mr. President, Nigeria is passing through political transformation and it is important to all Nigerians and indeed northerners to appreciate the fact that this country was crafted in such a manner that no one section can rule the country without support of the other. It was indeed the north, in its characteristic culture of fairness and equity that endorsed the principle of power shift which brought about the Presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and your humble self. It behoves on us as northerners and indeed all Nigerians to continue to respect the principles and sustainers of democracy in Nigeria.
“Northern Elders Council believes in peaceful co-existence bad extension of hands of fellowship to brothers and sisters from the other side of the nation. It is unpatriotic for anybody to instigate people against any person or peoples because of a temporary gain. Politics of insult, blackmail and castigation of individuals shall not take this country anywhere. We therefore believe in peaceful co-existence among Nigerians and by working together shall we move the country forward”.