Voice of America (Washington, DC)

16 February 2014

Nigeria: President Jonathan 'Strong' in Graft Fight

An adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has dismissed opposition criticisms that the West African country's leader has failed to root out corruption in his administration, despite repeated promises to do so.

Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, special adviser to Mr. Jonathan on political affairs, also says the leader will soon decide whether to be the presidential candidate for the ruling People's Democratic Party, following calls by rank and file members of the group to lead the party in next year's presidential, legislative and local elections.

"It is wrong to say that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is weak to fight against corruption," said Gulak. "It is only under [this] administration that corruption has been exposed in the oil sector, in the pension scheme and all sectors of the government. And the suspects have been arrested and arraigned before the court of law, [and] that is how to fight corruption."

Jonathan sacked some members of his Cabinet after some governors, House of Representatives, and senators from the ruling party defected to the main opposition, All Progressives Congress. The move prompted some opposition groups to conclude the government and the ruling party appear to be in a panic mode.

But, Alhaji Gulak says Jonathan is revamping his administration to improve the lives of Nigerians.

"It is not out of place to rejig the government to also bring in hands that will really deliver the dividends of democracy as promised during the campaign period," said Gulak.

Some observers say Jonathan's government reorganization is a mere publicity stunt aimed to project strength, despite his inability to protect Nigerians from violence carried out by Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram-related violence has killed 3,000 people since 2009, a toll that includes killings by security forces.

Gulak says Boko Haram is engaged in terrorism, a global phenomenon he says should be defeated.

"It is wrong to say that the administration is weak to fight insurgency," said Gulak. "The efforts of the security personnel under the directives of [Jonathan] have been able to uproot some of the camps of the insurgents. The security personnel are on it and on the ground, and the administration is winning the battle."

President Jonathan has yet to officially announce whether to run for a second term. But Gulak says foot soldiers of the ruling party have been calling on Jonathan to lead the party.

"As the president of the country and under our constitution, he has the right to go for second term if he so chooses. But as of now, he has not come out to say he is going to contest," said Gulak. "[The] Majority of the PDP [members] are calling on him to offer himself for election."

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