President Goodluck Jonathan together with four other presidential candidates participated on Sunday, March 22, in the presidential public debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG). The APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, failed to attend the debate.
The parties that took part in the second session of the debate were the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the National Conscience Party (NCP), the United Democratic Party (UDP), KOWA Party and the United Peoples Party (UPP).
During the last lap of the debate, Jonathan and others were asked questions on issues of insecurity, corruption, education and agriculture, among other issues.
The president promised that this year’s general elections will start on Saturday, March 28, as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the governorship, National and state Assembly elections would as well be held as scheduled.
Read the main issues covered by the president during the debate:
1. Jonathan seeks for more time to consolidate
He urged Nigerians to vote for him because of the progress that has been made over the last four years. He believes that his government will further consolidate achievements in different areas. He gave as an example the changes in the security architecture in the northeast, which included the use of drones to monitor the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists in this area.
According to the president, apart from the government’s commitment to ensuring that the country was freed from the terrorists, the government has put in place measures to reconstruct the northeast and to rehabilitate the people affected by the insurgency.
2. Jonathan plans to rebuild north-east region
He stated that apart from the normal budgetary provision of funds to reconstruct the areas affected by the insurgency, the government has set up the Presidential Initiative for the northeast and the safe School Initiatives in order to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the area.
3. Jonathan wants not only to enforce the existing laws but also to prevent from the beginning any corruption
President Jonathan acknowledged that corruption remains one of the major problems in the country. However, he emphasised that enforcement of existing laws on corruption only was not enough to check the trend.
“Corruption is a major issue. People think that enforcement is the only way to check it. Enforcement alone does not work. Armed robbers have been caught and killed but this has not stopped armed robbery in the country. Prevention is better. We will ensure that nobody has access to steal funds. We will strengthen the institutions so that they can fight corruption,” he added.
4. Jonathan's government will develop a technology that would check the stealing of crude oil
To bring in more transparency to the petroleum sector, Jonathan's administration would focus on the proper management of the upstream sector by strengthening the regulatory capacity of agencies in charge of the sector. He also disclosed that his government was working on developing a technology that would check the stealing of crude oil.
The planned liberalisation of the sector reportedly would bring in more transparency, and the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the national assembly would address other problems in the sector.
5. Jonathan said he will sustain the achievements his administration has recorded in the agricultural sector by ensuring that there is greater mechanisation, availability of fertiliser to farmers and full processing of agricultural products.
6. President Jonathan promised that his government will continue to fund education in order to ensure that Nigerian graduates and scientists compete well with their counterparts in other parts of the world.
According to him, Nigerian universities had been equipped to compete with their foreign counterparts.