Jan 27, 2013 – CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Interviews Nigeria’s President Jonathan (Video & Transcript)
We are talking here of CNN interview, not NTA Presidential Debate, where the moderator must spend about 30 minutes of the 2 hours to introduce the President. So, Amanpour spared us the razzle-dazzle and got down to throwing President Jonathan the first salvo.
By the way, idiotic as l am, l think it is amazing how stone-hearted Nigerians can be! In the interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, President Jonathan mentioned, with blithesome wit, the far-reaching progress (in his own opinion) his administration has made in tackling the numerous problems bedevilling Nigeria, even as other problems mountaineer up. But instead of hailing the President and breaking into spontaneous applause, Nigerians hissed…..
As President Jonathan reacted one-by-one to Amapour’s hot questions, more Nigerians hissed….Not sure why they were hissing, Amanpour herself, too, must have joined in the hissing after the interview- off-air though! And if l were President Jonathan, l would call out my cabinet Ministers and top government officials on a long-drawn-out strike. Or do you think government too cannot go on strike? Even after our very President attended the interview with nagging headache and came back with more serious headaches?
If the camera had swept to President Jonathan’s fingernails as he answered Amanpour on Wednesday January 23, it is entirely predictable that we would have seen even his fingernails sweating, in spite of the freezing cold. That sultry Wednesday, our very President endured nearly 10 minutes ‘cross-examination’ over the rot which has insidiously wended its way into Nigeria, making President Jonathan’s entire countenance look like it was carefully constructed to scare away laughter from the face of the earth.
President Jonathan agreed that Boko Haram could pose an existential threat to his country and so, he added with wet sentimentality: “If Boko Haram is not contained, it would be a threat not only to Nigeria, but to West Africa, Central Africa and of course to North Africa,” he said. “Elements of Boko Haram link up with some of al Qaeda in northern Mali and other North African countries.”
Towards achieving that, he said his government is “totally committed” to working with friendly nations to help contain problems in Mali. Like many other world leaders, Jonathan said the problem there has been aggravated by the free flow of weapons out of Libya since the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
President Jonathan admitted that initially Boko Haram caught Nigeria off guard; now, he said, the country has been making progress to contain “the Boko Haram saga (for where?).” He said his government was working day and night to make sure that the deadly attacks on an Algerian oil field do not happen in Nigeria. “If you look at the last six months, incidents of killing started dropping,” President Jonathan contended, insisting that the government was gaining control.
Amanpour painted the picture of the war-devastated children you see on TV during the war in Afghanistan when she referred to the suggestions from the U.S. State Department that the Nigerian government has conducted a large quantity of arrests and killings that have been indiscriminate, possibly driving more people into the hands of Boko Haram.
I couldn’t help but notice the way President Jonathan frowned at that point, like someone who had perpetual headache. If Amanpour were not a serious-minded person, she would have laughed, or at least smiled at President Jonathan’s entire visage. Amanpour herself knows the truth! But then, laughter at that serious moment would have spelt decadence and diabolical frivolity. Besides, President Jonathan would have asked her: ‘Ms Amapour, why are you crying?’
Jonathan’s answer to Amanpour’s above suggestion was a veiled attempt to prove CNN’s rolelessness and get Amanpour to shut up: “The United States of America is completely wrong,” he told Amanpour. “No security agency arrests anybody just for the love of arrest. We have intelligence that enables us to arrest the people who have been arrested.”
President Jonathan also insists that poverty and unemployment are not fueling the violent rise of Boko Haram – citing religion as the primary motivation of this jihadist group. As part of a counter terrorism effort, President Jonathan’s national security adviser has sought to engage in dialogue with Boko Haram. Jonathan told Amanpour that the discourse has helped the situation, and that he will continue to pursue this strategy.
Amanpour was the first journalist who interviewed President Jonathan when he assumed the presidency in April 2010. One focus of that conversation was about the endemic electric outages that average Nigerians face. Three years later, despite continued problems and a report by Nigeria’s Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission that says 60% of Nigerians are without access to power, Jonathan said that the country has made significant strides, thus succeeding in stealing Nigerians’ brains with a stunning success.
Even when Nigerians are still queuing up for electricity, hear our President:
“That is one area where Nigerians are quite pleased with the government – that our commitment to improve power is working. I promise you before the end of this year, power outages will be reasonably stable in Nigeria.” I am sure that Jonathan was not prepared for the jolting indictment Amanpour hurled at him and his administration, so he answered off-the-cuff, trying to cover up the improvisation. But l cannot resist the temptation to mutter 7 ‘Nigeria We Wail Thee’ to President Jonathan’s indiscretion on that point.
At this ‘junction’ (as my Police Corporal friend would gorgeously put it), l must also point out that President Jonathan’s response to the issue of Corruption revealed a shard of hypocrisy. Even the EFCC officials themselves must have stuffed wing-feathers in their ears so as not to hear. “You cannot change the mindset of people by waving your hand.
You must take means to make sure that you don’t create an environment where everyone will be corrupt and we are doing it very well,” Jonathan said, in a manner somewhat defiant, like someone countering an accusation. At least, Jonathan applied finesse while saying that- the mendacity of the statement notwithstanding. I am sure that were it to be the EFCC Chairman, the sinfully handsome man would have merely said that in an off-putting manner, while at the same time sucking his teeth free of an enrobing ‘Ogunfe’ meat.
President Jonathan multiplied examples, citing the previous elections as signs of success against corruption. Forget that international observers, the African Union, and the Independent National Electoral Commission all praised the polling. That, in itself, is not poignantly sufficient to say that Jonathan’s administration is near to winning the war against corruption. President Jonathan cannot pretend not to know the thieves who have stolen, and are still stealing Nigerians’ money, while throwing their two legs up, laughing like a neigh- as they know no one will raise an eyebrow.
Who is not aware that Nigeria is suffused with many top government functionaries who punch the computer keyboards with insulting ease and eat millions? Okay, since l am not allowed to appear in court, let me make my sense clear and say merely that there is widespread corruption in the oil industry. Last April, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that 400,000 barrels of oil a day were looted from the country in just one month. Corroborating her standpoint was the International Energy Agency which said that $7 billion dollars a year is lost annually to oil theft.
“Frankly speaking, I want the international community to support Nigeria because this stolen crude is being bought by refineries abroad and they know the crude oil was stolen,” Jonathan told Amanpour. “The world must condemn what is wrong.” Is it the world that must condemn what is bad for us? What discernible, routinely-enforced steps are we taking to ‘condemn’ it first, Mr. President?
Well, who am l to fault our President’s judgement? Where l live is contiguous to a military barracks, where a few military tanks are pouring timidly away. So, ask me if l am opposed to the President’s policies, and instead of answering that question honestly and straightforwardly, l would ask back:
‘What do you think?’ I have learnt that the polite was of saying ‘No’ is ‘I will think about it’. Are you getting warm? Mr.President, pardon my rudeness, l think this is the first time in my born days we are experiencing savage directionlessness in governance!
Watch the video below:
Video: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Interviews President Jonathan
[Report By Big Glaww, Video Credit: In-depth Africa]