By Okey Ndiribe
ABUJA — President Goodluck Jonathan has described majority of those lobbying for appointments into ministerial positions and boards of federal parastatals as selfish people who do not have the interest of the Nigerian masses at heart, saying only about 10 per cent of such lobbyists have done so based on patriotic considerations.
President Jonathan made these remarks yesterday at a lecture organised at Abuja by the 2011 Presidential Inauguration Committee as part of activities for his swearing in ceremony on Sunday.
The President further identified the bane of the nation’s development as human greed instead of the widely cited corruption.
He asked: “How can one man amass wealth which even his great grandchildren cannot exhaust at the expense of the entire nation?”
President Jonathan further stated that 60 per cent of the names that have been published by the media as likely members of his proposed new cabinet were false, adding that speculations by the media was for the purpose of selling their newspapers.
Commenting on the lecture that was delivered by Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun entitled: “A Transformation Agenda for Accelerating National Development,” Jonathan advocated that Nigerians in top public positions should be allowed to serve for a reasonable length of time before they are removed, adding that this would give them enough time to understand the dynamics of their offices before they can discharge their duties creditably.
He said for the nation’s executive arm of government to succeed, it needs to partner with the National Assembly. According to him, the nation required a law to back the implementation of the Vision 20-20-20 agenda to avoid a future government reversing what has already been achieved in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.
Commenting on the just concluded general elections, he remarked that the number of election petitions that have been filed so far had declined by 80 percent compared to that of 2007. He predicted that by the next general elections in 2015, the number of petitions filed by aggrieved contestants would have decline by 95 percent.
He further stated that the first step towards the process of national transformation, was that of electing capable people into office.
The President further stated that on assumption of office when he made a commitment to ensure the 2011 elections would be free and fair, he wasn’t bothered whether he would lose or win the poll.
Said he: “ I knew that either way, I would have made a name. If I win, my name would go down in history as a President who organized a free and fair election; if I lost, my name would have still gone down as the first Nigerian incumbent President to lose an election”.
In his opening speech, the Chairman of the occasion and former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon(rtd) congratulated President Jonathan on his victory at the last election adding all Nigerians were heroes and heroines for achieving the feat. Obviously referring to the youth corpers who were killed during the post_election violence that rocked some states in the northern part of the country, Gen. Gowon expressed sadness that they had to sacrifice their lives for democracy to take root in the country.
He thanked President Jonathan for his declaration after the election that there was “no victor and no vanquished”.
Gen. Gowon advised the President to focus more on provision of power and security of lives and property of Nigerians in his fresh term in office adding that the MDGs should also receive close attention by the in_coming administration.
Prof Ladipo Adamolekun who delivered the main lecture urged the President to consider the convening of a Sovereign National Conference as a possible option towards ending the intermittent orgy of violence which has erupted in some parts of the country.
He also urged the President to publicly declare his assets, that of his wife and also compel his ministers to do the same as a practical way of demonstrating his resolution to continue the war against corruption.
Prof. Adamolekun said that for democracy to be beneficial to Nigerians, President Jonathan should be accountable to the people adding that the masses should also demand accountability from his administration.
Other prominent dignitaries who attended the occasion were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, Head of Service of the Federation, Prof. Oladipo Afolabi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Odein Ajumogobia (SAN) and Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayat Ahmed Rufai.
Members of the diplomatic community were also well represented.