President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed confidence in the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega and that he has no intention of removing him from office before the March 28/April 11 general elections.
This is even as he dismissed claims in some quarters that he influenced the postponement by INEC, of the 2015 general elections from February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11.
President Jonathan, who spoke today on Presidential Media Chat in on Radio and Television stations across the country said: “I appointed Jega. If I feel that Jega is not good for obvious reasons, I have the power to remove him and I have not told anybody that I will remove him.”
President Jonathan said that he was not consulted by either INEC or the security chiefs before the poll shift was announced last Saturday night by INEC Chairman, Professor Jega.
“I was not consulted and I do not want to be consulted.”
He recalled an incident in 2011 when INEC postponed the presidential election by two weeks, adding: “I was already in my village in Bayelsa for the election when the postponement was announced and I had to return to Abuja. INEC did not consult me. If it did, I would not have wasted my time going to the village.”
Jonathan expressed the confidence that Boko Haram would be driven out of the occupied parts of the country before the new dates for the elections in keeping with the promise of the security chiefs who requested for the poll shift on security grounds.
“I am not saying that Boko Haram will be wiped out before the election but a lot of advances will be made in the next six weeks.”
He assured that the elections would definitely hold on the rescheduled dates, adding: “Nobody is saying that we will wipe out Boko Haram before we hold the elections. Boko Haram is not a regular army. Afterall, Boko Haram was there when we held elections in 2011.”
Jonathan raised hopes on the rescue of the Chibok school girls who have been in Boko Haram’s captivity since April last year.
“On the fate of the Chibok girls, now that we are working with Chad and other neighbours, I believe that in the next few weeks the story of the Chibok girls will be different and we will rescue them. Of course, we will recover them alive; we do not want anyone to be killed.”
The President expressed confidence that the polls would be peaceful and allayed fears that it would lead to war. [myad]