ByÂ Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€”ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, rounded-off his five-day working visit to the United States of America, USA, with an appearance as a guest at the Centre for Global Development, CGD, in Washington DC, where he acknowledged the sterling contributions ofÂ Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the founding Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
He also raised an alarm that Africa is fast becoming a dumping ground for arms and ammunition for the rest of the world.
Hails Ribaduâ€™s Contributions
While acknowledging the contributions of Ribadu, the ex-boss of the anti-graft agency, (which drew applause from the audience), Jonathan promised the international community that the government would further strengthen EFCC to be able to effectively carry out its anti-corruption campaign.
He agreed with the audience that the commission has not been as vibrant as it used to be in the days of Ribadu but reassured that theÂ government would not relent in fighting corruption at all levels of government.
Present at the breakfast dialogue included Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, Governor of Edo State; Hon. Rotimi Ameachi, Governor of Rivers State; ChiefÂ Godswill Akpabio, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Alhaji Mahmud Shinkafi, Governor of Zamfara State and Chief Ikedi Ohakim, Governor of Imo State.
Others in the Acting Presidentâ€™s entourage were Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Olusegun Aganga, Minister of Finance; Mrs. Dieziani Allison-Madueke, Minister of Petroleum Resources; Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, Special Adviser on Petroleum Matters; Mr. Martins Uhomoebhi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Professor Ade Adefuye, Nigerian Ambassador to US;Â Mr. Ima Nibor, Jonathan’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and a host of top government functionaries.
Condemns arms dumping in Africa
The Acting President questioned manufacturers of these arms why the continent of Africa has helplessly become the victim of arms proliferation, asking that â€œwhy must Africa be the dumping ground for small arms and light weapons? We must impress on the UN to move against the free flow of these arms. This must stop;â€ stressing further that â€œthese is why things go the way they go in Africaâ€.
Jonathan blamed the free flow of small arms and light weapons as been responsible for the social political crisis in the African continent saying it that has been responsible for the underdevelopment of Africa.
According to Jonathan, the violence as well as the political disorder witnessed across Africa can be directly linked to the free flow of small and light weapons, lamented that the international community, especially manufacturers of these arms see Africa as a dumping ground for these weapons.
He maintained that the time has come for the international community to put hands together to legislate on these issues so that the African continent can have peace and democratic stability.
â€œThe free movement of small arms and light weapons is the bane of underdevelopment of Africa. It is the major challenge and the major cause of violence and retrogression in Africa,â€ the acting president emphasized.
Jonathan challenged the United Nations (UN) and the United States (US) to particularly raise their voices in moving for the prohibition of these weapons noting that if the western world is allowed to continue to flood the continent with such weapons, the social political crisis bedeviling the continent will continue unabated.
FG Resolution on Power Sector
Speaking on the determination of the government in tackling the problem of power, Jonathan told the audience that the Nigerian government was resolved this time around to tackle head-on the problem of epileptic power supply so that the country can attract quality direct foreign investment.
He noted that Nigeria since independence has not invested much in power but said that quality investment began to flow into the sector after the coming of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.
â€œThere is no reason why we must not have light considering the volume of gas we flare everyday because if we have to convert that gas to power we would not have problemâ€ he said lamenting however that the International Oil Companies (IOC) in Nigeria kept changing the â€œgoal postâ€ on the deadline for the flaring of gas in the country.
Asked why there is little improvement in the sector despite the huge amount of money spent so far on power by the government since 1999, Jonathan said because of the critical situation at the time, the government embarked upon too many projects in the sector that it could cope with financially and noted however that unlike roads construction and other sectors, power generation and distribution was a complex process that if one component is missing the circle cannot be complete.
He pleaded with Nigerians both home and in the Diaspora to bear with the government promising however that the government was going to operate a committee with him as the chairman for three months to test if there would significant progress in the sector.
The acting president said thereafter he would appoint a competent hand who be the minister to continue to oversee the affairs of the minister for effective coordination assuring that in no distant time the problem of light will be a thing of the past.
He could however not give a timeline when Nigerians would enjoy steady power supply.
On the forthcoming election in 2011, Jonathan told the audience that he has no fear that the 2011 elections will be credible. â€œI have no fear of conducting a clean election in 2011â€ he said.