osita chidoka 1

From Ejike Chinedu

The minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka says President Goodluck Jonathan is committed to conducting a credible election devoid of violence.  The minister gave the assurance while responding to questions on a BBC  programme, Hardtalk.

Mr. Chidoka said President Jonathan hasn’t been given enough credit for his stance in dowsing political tension as well as addressing major issues of poverty and corruption.

What stood out throughout the less that 25 minutes interview was the minister’s calm disposition in  approaching the questions thrown at him by the interviewer. His clarity and infectious understanding of what issues are was outstanding.

When asked why the Federal Government is making moves to remove the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Mr. Chidoka smiled and told his host that the President has repeatedly said that he has no intention of removing Prof. Jega. For emphasis, the interviewer asked “so he will supervise the election?” and he replied, with a conviction that could be felt with bare fingers, “yes, he will conduct the elections”.

The Aviation minister insisted that President Jonathan has nothing to lose by ensuring that the country is given a credible polls.

“He (Pres. Jonathan) conducted a credible elections in 2011 and this time he will still do it. If he wins, he will remain President, but if he loses, he will become an international statesman. He does not have any incentive not to conduct a credible election”.

On corruption, the Aviation Minister stressed that President Jonathan has made it possible that Nigerians can now ask questions and get answers by virtue of the Freedom of Information Bill signed into Law by Dr. Jonathan. Such oppurtunity now deprive public officials of any hiding place.

Mr. Chidoka gently but firmly insisted that the Nigerian Military, currently dislodging Boko Haram insurgents from areas it had occupied was the same military that fought on behalf of the world in Sierra-Leone and Liberia. He informed or reminded his host that when the International community led by the US found it convenient, it depended on the same army to lead peace keeping and counter insurgence operations in Mali and other countries in Africa.

“Our military is not under trial” he maintained.

He was emphatic in declaring that the threat posed by the insurgents can be contained even as there is a new collaboration between Nigeria and her neighbours in the fight against the terrorists.

What came like the interviewer’s “straw that will break the Camel’s back” came with the question about the kidnap of the School girls from Chibok.

Mr. Chidoka’s mastery was manifest when he moved attention from the crux of the question to the comparison between the size of Borno state and Scotland ensuring that his host pondered over the massive area in question. Though he had admitted that may be, the girls will not be found.

In another instance, the Aviation Minister told the interviewer that the west has been very unfair to the people and government of Nigeria. He stressed that the west is typical in its disposition to creating and dealing with the “African Big man like the colonial paramount ruler puppets.

In all, this is the first time in a long while that a Nigerian government official held his ground while fielding questions from International media. From Labaran Maku to Doyin Okupe; Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to President Jonathan, the trend is obvious. Nigerian functionaries usually lose their cool and compromise their composure and then wobbling and fumbling through very critical interviews.

From what this interview came out to be, it might be a test-run of future image making strategy of the government. That is if March 28 becomes favourable to the government of the day.







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