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--Buhari’s govt harassing my family, says Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan believes that his family is being hounded by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

He said he lost the 2015 election because he was betrayed by the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Adamu Muazu and some Northern leaders in the party.

Jonathan, who made his feelings known in a book, “Against The Run of Play”, written by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, said Buhari could still fight corruption using a different style.

He said: “I feel sad about the way my family is being hounded.”

“Society is like a building. You build it one block at a time. If every president decides to go in to dismantle what his predecessor did, society will never make progress. I expected President Buhari to correct whatever mistakes I may have made and then carry on from there.

“But a situation in which people go into exile for political reasons is not good for us.”

“His style of fighting corruption is different from mine and since most Nigerians apparently prefer his style, it is okay. There are steps you take that will help in retrieving ill-gotten wealth and punish offenders while restoring confidence in the system. But there are also things you can do to damage the system.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) got the court to freeze $5,842,316.66 (about N1.7billion) belonging to Mrs Patience Jonathan in Skye Bank.  Justice Mojisola Olatoregun on April 6 unfreezed the account. The EFCC appealed but yesterday  withdrew its application for a stay of execution of the judgment.

On the 2015 poll, Jonathan said: “I felt really betrayed by the result coming from some northern states. Perhaps for ethnic purposes, even security agents colluded with the opposition to come up with spurious results against me. You saw the way the Inspector General of Police, a man I appointed, suddenly turned himself into the ADC to Buhari immediately after the election.”

“How could we have lost Ondo, Benue and Plateau states if our people were committed to the cause? If you examine the results, you will see a pattern: in places where ordinarily we were strong, our supporters did not show enough commitment to mobilise the voters.”

“What happened was very sad not for me as a person, but for our democracy.”

“Take, for instance, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. I believe he joined in the conspiracy against me. For reasons best known to him, he helped to sabotage the election in favour of the opposition.”

 He said he lost the 2015 elections   to local and international conspiracies. He named the United States, Britain and France as the conspirators.

He blamed it all on former United States President Barack Obama, ex-British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande for aiding President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory.

Dr. Jonathan also said he was disappointed by the conduct of the immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, in the weeks preceding the elections.

He said he conceded defeat to avoid bloodshed in view of a similar experience after the 2011 poll.

He, however, claimed that he did not take disciplinary action against ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke because the evidence against her was weak.

He said: “President Barack Obama and his officials made it very clear to me by their actions that they wanted a change of government in Nigeria and we’re ready to do anything to achieve that purpose. They even brought some naval ships into the Gulf of Guinea in the days preceding the election.

“I got on well with Prime Minister David Cameron but at some point, I noticed that the Americans were putting pressure on him and he had to join them against me. But I didn’t realise how far President Obama was prepared to go to remove me until France caved in to the pressure from America.

“But weeks to the election, he had also joined the Americans in supporting the opposition against me.

Asked of Obama’s grouse against him, Jonathan added:  “There was this blanket accusation that my body language was supporting corruption, a line invented by the opposition but which the media and civil society bought into and helped to project to the world. That was the same thing I kept hearing from the Americans without specific allegations.”

The ex-President expressed disappointment with the former Chairman of INEC for allegedly acting American’s script.

Jonathan said: “I was disappointed by Jega because I still cannot understand what was propelling him to act the way he did in the weeks preceding the election.

Although Jonathan faulted the results of the 2015 presidential election, he said he conceded defeat to avoid bloodshed.

He added:  “Go and check the results from Kano. The Presidential election and that of National Assembly happened on the same day and same time. The National Assembly result reflected that about 800,000 people voted but that of the presidential reflected a vote of about 1.8 million. I had reports of what happened but I decided that for such to be accepted, it meant that those who called themselves my supporters must have colluded. I was betrayed by the very people I relied on to win the election.

“In 2011 when Buhari did not campaign anywhere and could not have won the election, there was a spontaneous violent reaction that led to the death of several innocent people, including Youth Corps members.”

“I asked myself: what would happen in a situation in which there was already internal and international conspiracy in his favour? I could not bear the thought of anybody dying, so I told myself I had only one option and that was to concede.”

On whether or not his renege of a one-term agreement accounted for his defeat, Jonathan said he never made any such commitment to anybody or party.

He said his comments in Addis Ababa in February 2011 on tenure were grossly misinterpreted.

He added: “I had made a proposition for a single term of seven years. That was the context in which I spoke in Addis Ababa that if the idea was accepted, I would not run again. It was not the context of a second-term of four years.

“Of course, at that period, the issue of one term was brought up several times at different meetings and some people took it upon themselves to pledge on my behalf but I never said I was going to spend only one term…the question was always usually randomly asked and I never made any such commitment to anybody.

“In any case, you can make a political promise and change your mind, so long as it is within the law.”

The ex-President denied shielding a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke from being accountable for the alleged rot in the oil and gas sector when she was in charge.

He said he investigated allegations against Mrs. Alison-Madueke and others but there was no fool proof evidence.

According to the former President, the report of the Nuhu Ribadu Investigative Committee was “discredited”.

He said: “We commissioned a report which I believe this administration is using. It deals with undervaluation of the crude oil and gas being declared between what was lifted and what was discharged by the vessels. It was a comprehensive report that dealt with issues of oil theft in Nigeria and how much we lose as a result of it.

“Look at what we did when the allegations became strident. We established four committees to investigate different aspects of the oil and gas sector, including the one headed by Nuhu Ribadu. If I had anything to hide, would I do that?”

“On the day the report was being submitted, there was open disagreement between Ribadu and Steve Oronsaye. How could we use a report that was discredited by its own member?”

“I am from Niger Delta, I have no single oil block and my government never gave out any. Nor did we allocate the marginal fields. In the agricultural sector, I blocked the fertiliser trade. These areas one could make easy money and I blocked those loopholes.”

Jonathan said he was not weak in fighting corruption but he chose to investigate allegations against his ministers or public officers before acting.

He said when the allegations against former Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah were confirmed; he removed her.

He said: “I have been told that I should have made scapegoats of some officials so I would be seen to be fighting corruption, I usually subject them to investigations.

“You know Stella Oduah played a prominent role in my campaign in 2011. But when the investigation I ordered was carried out and the indictment was confirmed, I had to relieve her of her position,” he added

“Up till today, Stella hates me for her removal. No doubt, it was a very hard decision for me to take because I see her as a friend as I take all the people who work with me, but that was what leadership demanded.”

”We live in a country where people fabricate stories about even those they don’t know, where rumour mongering is a national pastime. I have heard stories about me that I find very shocking, stories that are untrue. Therefore, as a leader, it is my responsibility to verify stories before I act. That is why I am deliberative in what I do. The main problem I had was that the media and the civil society had conspired against me.”

On the abduction of  the Chibok girls, Jonathan maintained that he did his best but admitted that there was a better commitment against Boko Haram insurgency now.

He said: “What is happening now with regards to Boko Haram was the same thing that happened to me regarding Niger Delta militants in 2007.

“I did my best and so did the military, though I can understand if there is greater commitment to the fight now than in the past. In my time, Boko Haram said they were fighting an infidel government. That naturally has to change since they cannot also call Buhari an infidel.

“There is a feeling of ‘our man is there now’ that you cannot discountenance. It was the same feeling with me with the Niger Delta militants at the initial stage in 2007.

“I recall that immediately he won the election in 1999, before he was even sworn in, Obasanjo had visited Niger Delta to hold meetings. Meanwhile, the first time I would be meeting Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom and other militants was years later in Aso Rock at a meeting (Obasanjo) called to find a solution to the problem at a period I was Deputy Governor in Bayelsa State. Despite all those efforts, Obasanjo failed to resolve the problem until the late Yar’Adua came with the Amnesty Programme. Should we then hold Obasanjo accountable for the Niger Delta problem?

”The allegation that I didn’t care was false. Immediately I was alerted, I called the military and security chiefs for a briefing after tasking them to get to the root of the matter. Information was initially hazy and there were things that did not add up”

“More than 200 girls were reportedly abducted from different hostels and then put on an open trailer that had no railings. In the same trailer, according to reports, Boko Haram fighters loaded foodstuff. The girls were said to have been abducted by people claiming to be soldiers. The military people were on ground and I relied on the information I could get from them. Of course I cared and charged them to find the girls but every effort we took was twisted against me to score cheap political points.”

Jonathan debunked insinuations that he said stealing is not corruption.

He said he was never the author of the statement ascribed to him.

He said: “I invited the leadership of the National Assembly and the Judiciary as well as heads of anti-corruption agencies. I recall that aside the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the President of the Court of Appeal and Chief judge of the Federal High Court (were also present). I also invited Chief Judges from one state in each of the geopolitical zones. I specifically requested for Lagos and Anambra to represent their zones. My choosing Anambra was because that is one state where every political aspirant goes into election with at least two court orders in his pocket. You cannot fight corruption without dealing with such issues.”

“That was what the then CJN said which I was explaining, but the opposition latched on to it. A prominent member of the opposition who is now a governor of his state even sponsored someone to write a book titled, ‘Where stealing is not corruption’. The book was supposed to be launched in the days preceding the election though for some reasons, that never took place but I have a copy of the book where I was lampooned and called all sorts of names.”

“That was what was important to me. I would not go outside the country and say Nigerians are the most corrupt people because not only is that unhelpful, I am also indicting myself. Take the oil industry.

”Yet, people make all the noise about corruption. If the problem is that I failed to label Nigerians as fantastically corrupt, then I don’t think I should apologize for that.

Jonathan said that what those who romanticize the issue forgot was that “when you destroy your country, you are also destroying yourself”.

While dismissing the allegation of “Ijawnisation” of his administration, Jonathan said he will soon disclose the nature of his relationship with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“That is the same accusation President Obasanjo levelled against me in his letter. In my memoir, I am going to reveal the nature of my relationship with President Obasanjo, beginning from 2007 when he nominated me to be running mate to the late President Yar’Adua to 2011 when I wanted to run and the real roles he actually played before, during and after the 2015 election.

”How many Ijaw people were in my government? One thing people forget is that Ijaw may be a minority ethnic group in Nigeria but Ijaw people actually straddle six states: Ondo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Edo and Cross River.”

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