By Ola Ajayi
IBADANâ€” PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan declared in Ibadan, Oyo State, yesterday, that he took a great risk by not removing the service chiefs against advice from several quarters when he was the Acting President. He added that it was a personal sacrifice he made in the interest of the nation.
President Jonathan, who spoke at the thanksgiving service at the Molete Baptist Church to mark the 60th birthday of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala during his official visit to the state, expressed reservations over the spate of impeachment threats across the country and urged politicians to play according to the rulesÂ to ensure a stable democratic process.
He said: â€œWhen I took over from my boss and swore in the Vice President is an indication that the politics has come to stabilize.
I remember when I was made the acting President, so many people advised me to remove the Service Chiefs because they would remove me the next day. I told myself that we have this beautiful thing that Nigeria has stabilized politically.
â€œIf I remove the service chiefs, of course, I can remove them as an acting President just by mere pronouncement.
But, if I remove them, my conscience would begin to prick me and I would not be comfortable that as a nation we are stabilized.
Let me leave them even at the expense of my own position. And if by Godâ€™s grace, it succeeds, then Nigeria can say, we have stabilized politically as a nation.
â€œI just returned from France where I spoke to Nigerians that only one thing we can say we have achieved for the past few years. By the grace of God, not 100 per cent because only God knows the best. It is that under the turmoil we passed through these few yearsÂ politics has stabilized.â€
On impeachment threats across the country, President Jonathan said: â€œWhat is happening now – impeachments across the country, political fight does not really give Nigerians hope that we the key actors donâ€™t trust ourselves and we are not running a stable system. We, that God has given the privilege to hold offices, are holding it in trust for the people.â€
While urging politicians to play according to rules and have trust for one another, he noted that the position of a deputy governor appeared to be very unattractive politically.
President Jonathan said: â€œOrdinarily, a deputy governor is supposed to be a learning position where you hope to take over from your boss.
But, in Nigerian political history so far, even from the Second Republic to date, deputy governors that became governors are by the people. It is only in Zamfara State that by design the deputy governor became the governor. That means we politicians are yet to trust ourselves.â€
Those who received the President included the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Governors of Ogun, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Osun, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Ekiti, Engr. Segun Oni.
Among the traditional rulers that gave the President a warm reception were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and many others.
Millions of people including students in the state defied the early downpour to give the president a rousing welcome.
President Jonathan thanked God for Governor Alao-Akala for attaining the age of 60 in a country where the average life span is significantly below 50 adding that benevolence of God on him became double fold when he was made the state governor.
The President later commissioned some road projects in Ibadan.