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I’ll hand over to Atiku, if... – OBJ

Posted by Daily Champion on 2007/02/26 | Views: 1542 |

I’ll hand over to Atiku, if... – OBJ

President Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday that contrary to insinuations, he will hand over to Vice President Atiku Abubakar on May 29, if he wins the presidential election on the platform of Action Congress (AC).

President Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday that contrary to insinuations, he will hand over to Vice President Atiku Abubakar on May 29, if he wins the presidential election on the platform of Action Congress (AC).

He said that his recent public utterances were not something extra-ordinary, because "I have freedom of speech like everybody".

President Obasanjo said these while featuring on a Radio Nigeria audience participation and phone-in programme, "The president explains".

Responding to a question of a caller, Mr. John Williams, from Enugu, Enugu State, on whether he will handover to Vice President Atiku if he wins the presidential election in April, Obasanjo said: "I will handover to anybody who wins election."

Speaking further, the president stated: "I have even told the ministries to prepare their handover notes in April for those who win elections. My job is finished on May 28. I won’t even sleep in Aso Villa that day."

He had earlier described as malicious and mischievous for anyone to say he does not intend to handover power to a democratically-elected government on May 29, saying those canvassing for this view have something up their sleeves.

According to him, he had already bade farewell to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).

He wondered why anybody should think he will not handover when he has been trasversing the country with his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua, campaigning for votes.

Obasanjo who said there was nothing wrong in his utterances, stated: "What did I say? I have freedom of speech like everybody. Those who are complaining, what are they saying? What utterances have I made? As a politician, I say what my party wants to do. I don’t want you to follow what people are saying. I won’t take that."

Some people and organizations including the Action Congress (AC) and the senate have kicked against this remark. The senate last week warned him that he should watch his tongue, mind his language and guide against utterances capable of truncating democracy in the country.

President Obasanjo also said yesterday that people should pray against those who want to truncate democracy adding "God will stop them from working against it."

He also stated that it is the responsibility of all Nigerians including the security agents and agencies to ensure a sustainable democracy and free, fair and transparent elections.

"No agent or agency can assure a free, fair and transparent election, it is the responsibility of all Nigerians. We will not leave any stone unturned in achieving this. The police, State Security Services (SSS), political chieftains and other Nigerians have something to contribute and we should do something with the fear of God," he said.

Assuring that government would provide necessary fund for the security agents to ensure smooth running of elections, the president further said: "politicians should know that Nigeria is more important than all of us".

"You cannot contribute to Nigeria if you see nothing good in your country.

Nigeria must be one of the best. We have not reached the promised land yet, we have resources to be there and we will be there.

"Seven years ago, nobody knew Nigeria could have current levels of foreign reserves four years ago, nobody knew Nigeria would get debt relief, nobody knew that Nigerians in the Diaspora would return home with so many repatriating their money back. So, indeed, there is hope for our future.

"We have challenges. Let’s face our challenges squarely. We should be active citizens to guarantee free, fair and transparent elections," Obasanjo said.

Speaking on his achievements that interest him most, the president stated: "Nigerians here and in diaspora have hope. We are creating hope for Nigerians. On Monday (i.e. tomorrow) 500 megawatts of electricity will be commissioned. Nine others are also to be commissioned.

On what he would like to be remembered for, Obasanjo simply said: "God gave me the opportunity and Nigerians voted me into power. I did my best and left. Thank God for Nigeria."

Answering a caller’s question on the possibility of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) continuing its work after the exit of his administration, President Obasanjo said the commission was not established as a personal instrument and should be allowed to continue its work after his exit.

He added that due to the activities of the anti-corruption agency, Nigeria has risen from the second most corrupt country in the world, to 18th.

He said the EFCC has been able to lift Nigeria’s image in the international community and should be allowed to continue its work.

Obasanjo said the EFCC is an independent body and nobody tells them what to do, adding that it will work on any complaint or allegation of corruption as long as it is provided with something to work with.

He said EFCC is supposed to make an annual report to the National Assembly on its activities and for auditing.

According to him, the Act setting up the body stated that when EFCC receives a report on a corrupt politician, the body can go to court to prosecute or present findings of such reports to the executive which can then set up a panel to examine the report.

He said that the recommendations of the administrative panel will be submitted to the government for a white paper which the Independent National Electoral Commission can use.

On the Niger-Delta crisis, the president said the situation is a case of criminality and not a political problem.

He said the situation stemmed from what was encouraged in the past which was rascality and lawlessness.

The president stated that the government was committed to finding an end to the situation by using what he termed, the ‘Carrot and stick’ approach. "This is because the people in the area do not have the skills and training that would enable them to be employed. The government will embark on a massive skills acquisition drive to equip them with the necessary skills and training needed," he said.

The president threatened that the government would use the stick on anyone engaged in the kidnapping as "no responsible government would condone criminality."

He lamented that the issue of kidnappings was a "vicious circle" because the oil companies and foreign countries would not heed the federal government’s advice not to pay ransom.

Obasanjo said that the militants kidnap foreign nationals, get ransom, spend it and go for more kidnaps.

On the state of electricity supply in the country, he explained that it was in the practice of good neighbourliness that Nigeria decided to supply the neighbouring countries with electricity because, according to him, "we are better off than them."

He lamented that the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was at present generating 1,800 megawatts of electricity when Lagos state alone, needs over 2,000 megawatts.

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