President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the parents of the Abducted Chibok girls and all Nigerians that the girls are still alive and his government was doing everything possible to rescue them.
The president who spoke when he appeared on a Live Discussion programme on an African Independent Television (AIT), Kaakaki monitored in Abuja hinged his optimism on the assumption that had the girls been killed, the terrorists would have publicly displayed their corpses in order to induce fear.
n the over one hour programme, President Jonathan who was appearing on a Nigerian Television station for the first time apart from the government owned Nigerian Television Authority spoke on a wide range of issues including his chances of being re-elected in the forth coming election.
President Jonathan admitted during the programme that government under rated the capacity of the Boko Haram sect and this explains why they are so entrenched.
According to the President, with the increased capacity of the military which has taken possession of more than 65 percent of the platform needed to prosecute the war, the remaining territories still under the control of the terrorists would soon be recaptured.
Speaking on why the girls have not been recovered despite the gains recorded by the military, the president said its is because “reasonable territories are still in the hands of Boko Haram.
“We promised that we must get the girls. The good story is that they have not killed them because the terrorists, when they kill, they display. They use it to intimidate the whole society. They girls are alive. We will get the girls. Luckily, we are narrowing down the area of their control. So, we will get them” he said.
President Jonathan said “at the beginning, probably we did not really (correctly) estimate the capacity of Boko Haram. It is obvious. Boko Haram started as a non-violent group led by Yusuf, limited to around Maiduguri area, Yobe. They did not even get to Adamawa.
“Just like every group of youths or young people is inclined to criminality, over the period, they expanded their network and linked up with other terrorist organizations like in the North Africa like Al-Qaeda and other similar brands in the world.
“So, they continued to build their capacity and it got to point to know that for you to tackle them in the kind of environment they operate, you need some specialized equipment to use and we don’t manufacture these equipment now. That is why the movement has changed. So, it is not deliberate,” he said.
Speaking on the forthcoming election, President Jonathan admitted that he is facing a stiffer opposition than he faced in 2011 but expressed confidence that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will be victorious.
He said: “I agree with you it was easier (in 2011) but PDP is still the dominant party. There is no polling unit in Nigeria where you don’t have members of the PDP.
“Yes, for one reason or the other, within the party people get angry and may even vote against PDP but in terms of membership of the PDP, there is no party that has that spread.
“So, PDP still has the most formidable structure, PDP has better chances of winning a national election.”
“Even the opposition will tell you if they are realistic. Who has strengthened the opposition? Are they not the PDP elements? If you remove the PDP elements from the opposition, they will just crumble like a pack of cards.
“Why are people aggressive towards the PDP to the extent that even the presidential convoyed is stoned? Why do you show that aggression? If you are comfortable, you will not do that” he said.
He however added that what he is facing is not unusual because globally, second term election is more challenging.
“Globally, it is more challenging for a president to secure a second term than the first tenure,” because people get disappointed when there expectations are not quickly met by those they voted for.
PDP still has an edge over the opposition.”
On the fuel scarcity being experienced in some parts of the country, President Jonathan said government has taken necessary steps to bring it to an end.
“For the fuel scarcity, we are doing everything humanly possible to ensure it is taken care of. It is very temporary. Of course, there issues of payment being addressed and we believe that within one or two day, this will completely go” he said.
He blamed the lack of refining capacity in the country for the perennial fuel scarcity, noting that “Until we start refining our crude oil to get our own products here within the country, we cannot get out of some of these. It is even really the policy of government. When you continue to export raw materials, you are actually exporting jobs.”
The president denied accuisation by the opposition All Progressive Congress that the recent reduction in the pump price of petrol was politically motivated.
“It is not politically motivated. Pump prices are not constant but are based on changes in the international market.
“When I came as vice president in 2007, the price of crude oil at the international market dropped to about $40, there was a day it dropped to $38 per barrel and we dropped the pump price to N65 per litre. And we had to keep it up to N97 when the price went up to about $111 per barrel at the international market.
“The cushioning gap was because the subsidy became unbearable to government. So, we had to push it up to N97 per litre. Now that the international crude oil price has dropped back to about $60 or so, it would not be fair for you to still ask Nigerians to pay N97 except you want to deregulate completely” he said.