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President Goodluck Jonathan, in a live media chat, on Wednesday cleared the air on alleged plans to prolong his tenure, saying if the result of the March 28 presidential election does not favour him, he will hand over to whoever that wins.
Before and after the polls were shifted from February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11, there were rumours that the President and the Peoples Democratic Party were nursing a sinister plot not to hand over power.
The rumours were further fuelled by statements credited to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in far away Nairobi, Kenya.
Obasanjo was quoted as saying, “I sincerely hope that the President is not going for broke and saying ‘look dammit, it’s either I have it or nobody has it.”
But Jonathan told a panel of interviewers that he was not desperate to remain in power. He said such “insinuations and wrong information” were meant to discredit him by his political opponents.
He said, “Let me assure Nigerians that a new government will be formed on May 29.They should not be perturbed about rumours that we are planning to send Jega on a terminal leave and other rubbish that is being circulated.
“In 2011, I said I will conduct a free and fair election and that if I lose, I will happily move on and that it should be recorded.
“Then I just concluded the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s tenure. I said I will be happy to go if I lose. I said this nation is more important than anybody. Anyone who wants to hold the office of President and feels he is more important than the nation is not right.
“So if as of 2011, I made a commitment that if I lose I will go, it should tell you more about my stand on free and fair elections.
“But now, Nigerians have given me the opportunity to be here for four good years and so if the elections are conducted and I lose, of course, we will inaugurate a new government.
“The rumour that I will not hand over or that I am scheming to prolong my tenure are insinuations; they are not true. Those are insinuations; it is quite unfortunate that so much wrong information is floating in the system.”