by Stanley Azuakola
In Anambra State yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan validated the position of the ex-minister of Power Barth Nnaji that he did not resign because of any wrongdoing. Nnaji resigned on Tuesday and despite his best assurances that he voluntarily resigned to protect his integrity, there’s been various speculations on the reason for his exit.
Jonathan who spoke at a town hall meeting in Onitsha, explained that although Nnaji accomplished much in the sector, he had to accept his resignation to protect the privatisation process.
Earlier, the president had inaugurated some projects in Anambra State executed by the Peter Obi administration and some by private individuals.
Jonathan told those gathered at the town hall meeting that he was using the opportunity of being in their midst to exonerate Nnaji.
He said: “I have to make it clear that Professor Nnaji is a very competent professor; he is a product of the World Bank, a professor of engineering. He is very competent in the sector but we agree that there are expectations and that is what happens all over the world.
“In all civilised societies when certain things happen, certain questions are raised to make sure that credibility is sustained. That is what happens in a decent society. Because of the issues that took place, and I know that before we started this privatisation, some major stakeholders who had access to me, came to me and said ‘Mr. President we heard all these privatisation of projects in power sector had already been shared amongst the people and we want Mr. President to assure us so that we do not waste our time.’ I said ‘no you can keep faith in the process’.
“In the privatisation process, there are some errors we have made, I don’t normally criticise people. We are all human beings, we make mistakes…I don’t want to oversee a privatisation that Nigerians will not like.
“He (Nnaji) didn’t commit any offense. Definitely we will get another power minister with such competent level.”
Jonathan said that considering the fact that Nnaji had willingly disclosed his relationship with two companies bidding for Afam Power Station and Enugu Distribution Company, it was fair that he resigned in order to safeguard the privatisation exercise.
Jonathan also said Nigerians would begin to enjoy the fulfillment of his campaign promises by next year.
He explained why he included some state governors such as Peter Obi of Anambra State and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State as well as members of the private sector in the National Economic Management Team, saying that this was in order to boost private sector investment in the country.
The projects inaugurated by President Jonathan in Anambra include the N4.6 billion River Port; unveiling the statue of former Biafran leader, the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, as part of efforts to immortalise him; and a multi-million naira soap factory of Orange Drugs Limited, a private company; SAB Miller Breweries and the Roll Over Pilfer Proof (ROPP) Cap Manufacturing plant.