…..Says He’s Sad by Attempts to Undermine Legacy, Hounding of His Ministers Former Nigerian President, Mr Goodluck Jonathan has accused former US President, Barack Obama of interfering in the 2015 presidential election. Also fingering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), then led by Prof Attahiru Jega, as partly responsible for his defeat, he’s particularly saddened
…..Says He’s Sad by Attempts to Undermine Legacy, Hounding of His Ministers
Former Nigerian President, Mr Goodluck Jonathan has accused former US President, Barack Obama of interfering in the 2015 presidential election. Also fingering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), then led by Prof Attahiru Jega, as partly responsible for his defeat, he’s particularly saddened by conceited efforts to undermine his legacy and the hounding of his ministers, aides and family members.
Jonathan who contested on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), lost the 2015 presidential polls to incumbent, Mr Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) with Jonathan, revealing in his new book, ”My Transition Hours” that Obama’s interference in the election was humiliating.
He said the first black American President placed huge pressure on his government and his roles were counterproductive to his returning as Nigeria’s president.
“I can recall that President Obama sent his Secretary of State to Nigeria, a sovereign nation, to protest the rescheduling of the election. John Kerry arrived in Nigeria on Sunday January 25, 2015 and said “it’s imperative that these elections happen on time as scheduled”.
“How can the US Secretary of State know what is more important for Nigeria than Nigeria’s own government? How could they have expected us to conduct elections when Boko Haram controlled part of the North East and were killing and maiming Nigerians? Not even the assurance of the sanctity of the May 29, 2015 handover date could calm them down. In Nigeria, the constitution is very clear. No President can extend his tenure by one day.”
“On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians..telling them how to vote. In that video, Obama urged Nigerians to open the ‘next chapter’ by their votes. Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the opposition to form a new government. The message was so condescending, it was as if Nigerians did not know what to do and needed an Obama to direct them.”
“In his message, he said “all Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear,” yet his government was vehemently and publicly against the postponement of the elections to enable our military defeat Boko Haram and prevent them from intimidating voters. This was the height of hypocrisy!”
Jonathan revealed that the foreign pressure on the issue of election rescheduling was excessive, as he suggested that the “the curious posture” was of one who had been “deceived before and therefore had every reason to cede no credence to our position. But there was no reason to have such a posture”.
He also disclosed that David Cameron, then the UK prime minister, called to express his concern about the election rescheduling, “just as John Kerry came from the United States to express further worry… In fact, John Kerry did not accept our reasons for the rescheduling”.
The former president said it was “unbelievable” because “we knew why the agitation was beyond what meets the eyes. There were deeper political interests”.
“In attendance at the meeting of the Council of State where the decision to reschedule the election was taken were almost all the living former heads of state of this country. That should have convinced John Kerry of the good intentions of the government. He cannot claim to love and defend Nigeria more than all our former heads of state present at the meeting. I have stated earlier how Kerry’s visit was designed to humiliate a sitting Nigerian president and clearly take sides in the country’s election,” Jonathan wrote.
The former President also said that a vast conspiracy by the Independent National Electoral Commission then led by Prof Attahiru Jega, partly cost him his re-election in 2015.
Mr Jonathan said INEC’s biased distribution of voting credentials to the electorate precipitated his defeat at the March 28, 2015 general elections.
“For some inexplicable reason, the INEC had been able to achieve near 100% distribution of Permanent Voter Cards in the North, including the North East, which was under siege with Boko Haram insurgency but failed to record a similar level of distribution in the South which was relatively more peaceful,” the former president wrote in the book he launched in Abuja Tuesday afternoon.
As the election got underway, Mr Jonathan said he paid stern attention to reports of irregularities as amplified in the media, but he was reluctant to ride on such excuses to reject the results.
“Social media was filled with all manner of stories, pictures and videos. I had settled in my mind that I was not going to be the sitting president pointing out these infractions and accusing the opposition and the very INEC I helped to strengthen”.
“The world saw my ordeal at the polling unit in my community in Bayelsa State, where the card reader refused my PVC even after we tried repeatedly during accreditation.
“And it was the same with my wife and my mother. It was a moment that exposed the shortcomings of INEC,” Mr Jonathan said.
Mr Jonathan said even though he conceded defeat on personal principles he had long held, he was even more conscious of past predictions of the United States intelligence that Nigeria would break apart, as well as an infamous comment by Mr Buhari that “dogs and baboons” would be “soaked in blood” if 2015 elections did not go the way he desired.
“I knew what was coming the day before I called General Muhammadu Buhari. I had reports on the polls around the country. It was clear the results were not going to favour me,” Mr Jonathan said. “There were series of problems with card readers, resulting from widespread technical hitches leading to the non-uniform application throughout the country.”
“However, I was heading towards peace. Stopping the election on voting day would have been like detonating an atomic bomb,” he said.
Mr Jonathan said shortly after he finished voting on March 28, he departed Bayelsa for Abuja to monitor the rest of the exercise from March 29 until he made concession call on March 31.
The former president also mentioned places he expected violence to break out had he delayed in placing the call to finalise the election.
“The country was tensed. I had to do something. I could no longer wait for the collation of final results. The pressure on the country was palpable.”
“In Lagos, people were ready to burst loose on the streets and in the North, the stage was set for envisaged violence. One of my party’s agents at the INEC National Collation Centre in Abuja, Elder Godsday Orubebe eventually got into a heated argument with the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
“That further raised the tension in the country. Everyone was expecting the worse. I knew it was time to douse the tension,” he said.
Mr Jonathan listed former Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Attorney-General, Mr Bello Adoke, former Minister of Aviation, Mr Osita Chidoka, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Bello and his domestic affairs assistant, Waripamowei Dudafa as being amongst those present when he placed his concession call at the State House, Abuja.
Mr Jonathan scored 12,853,162 (44.96 per cent) while Mr Buhari polled 15,424,921 (53.96 per cent).
Jonathan says he laughs anytime people try to run down his administration as a clueless one.
He said, “Sometimes I laugh when certain propagandists attempt to stand logic on its head by maligning my administration as one bereft of ideas and clueless. In assessing my administration, it is best to focus on facts.”
“I cannot assess myself. I leave that to history and I make bold to say that never in the history of Nigeria till date has the nation had such a star-studded cabinet full of achievers and people who got to the top of their chosen fields by merit.”
Jonathan said the only thing that saddened him was the hounding of his former ministers by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He, however, said he was happy that many of his ministers and former appointees had become leading world figures today like Adewunmi Adesina and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Jonathan added, “Most painful has been the attacks on my ministers, aides, associates and even members of my family. There is an attempt to erase our legacy from history. The good thing is that the unending barrage of attacks, deliberate misinformation, and programmed media smear campaigns have failed to sway the opinions of those with the clear view of our beliefs, efforts, and achievements.
“There are millions of Nigerians and others around the world who are still impressed with our modest achievements in consolidating democracy and growing the nation’s economy. They will continue to serve as my strength and encouragement.”