It is no more news that former president Goodluck Jonathan celebrated his 61st birthday yesterday with the launch of his book, titled ‘My Transition Hour,’ in an event that brought together political heavyweights from both the ruling party and the opposition. The guest list included former presidents of Nigeria, former presidents of some African countries, the national chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and Former Vice President Namadi Sambo
Other notable persons at the event are the Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, former Senate minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, former Senate president, David Mark, and PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus.
President Muhammadu Buhari was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
Since its release, Jonathan’s new book has generated a lot of discourse in the public sphere with some of its controversial and interesting content. Today’s Echo presents 5 of the controversial revelations in the book:
- Obama contributed to his loss in the 2015 presidential election
Jonathan accused former American president, Barack Obama of bias towards the 2015 election. He described Obama as overbearing and ‘condescending’ in his message to Nigerians ahead of the 2015 general elections.
“On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but 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.”
Jonathan also describes America’s heavy criticisms of the election postponement as unfair.
“How can the U.S. 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 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,” Jonathan said.
- INEC worked against him in the election
Jonathan also alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission under Prof Attahiru Jega worked against him in the 2015 election.
“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 at Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja Tuesday afternoon.
As the election got underway, 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.
- Those who advised him not to quit
Goodluck Jonathan’s new book also revealed those who advised him not to quit. According to the former president, they include former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Former Attorney-General, Mohammed Adoke, and former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka.
He writes: “They were recommending sundry alternatives, but I was quiet in the midst of their discussions. I hugged my thought, figuring out how to do that which was best for the country. My personal interest was receding rapidly and the interest of Nigeria looming large. I excused myself and left the sitting room. I walked into my study. Even there, my mantra was a strong circle around me, supporting and comforting me. Let the country survive. Let democracy survive. My political ambition is not worth people being ‘soaked in blood’.”
On how and why he called to concede victory to Buhari, he wrote: “More results flowed in and I could not wait anymore. The announcement of the final result could take issues out of all our hands. It was time for me to take action and bring peace to the nation. I felt I was destined by God at that point in time to inject the peace serum and douse the palpable tension in the country.
“I reached out for his telephone and placed a call through the State House operators at about 4:45pm. A peace I had never felt since my political sojourn descended on me. It showed me where I had been in the past sixteen years and where I was then. I smiled at the thought of what I was about to do. I waited calmly for the person at the end of my call to answer.
“My Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, sought my permission to tweet my phone conversation with Buhari. I obliged and he did. The country was no longer waiting for the declaration of the election results. The nationwide tension automatically dissipated as through a red hot piece of iron had been dipped in a bowl of water. Thereafter, I addressed the nation.”
- How some PDP governors betrayed him
In the book, Goodluck Jonathan narrated how some governors elected under the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party worked against his re-election in 2015.
“We were confident that victory was ours. We were sure of the states where we would certainly have a clear lead. We knew the states which we had a 50-50 chance and finally the states we would have the required 25 per cent to satisfy the provisions of the law,” he said in the book.
He added, “Obviously and with the benefit of hindsight, I have come to be aware of the intrigue that played a significant role in costing my party and me the election.
“For instance, there were governors elected under the banner of my party, the Peoples Democratic Party, who did not wholeheartedly campaign for me and adamantly refused to allow campaign posters with my picture and theirs to be printed and circulated.
“In fact, a particular first term governor in the North openly said his ideal scenario was to have him re-elected and my opponent elected President.
“This same governor told his aides that I would be removed in a coup. Unfortunately for him, his wishes did not come to pass and he ended up not being elected.”
Jonathan also said that there was a tremendous measure of religious pressure on members of the party in the north.
While saying it was not a fresh factor, he however warned that “it is one militating against entrenching the ethos of democracy. For as long as people could be persuaded or harassed into falling in line by deploying religion as an instrument of politics, our goals for promoting democracy pull prove difficult.”
- How APC propaganda led to the recession.
Jonathan implies that the APC were so desperate to get him out that they were not mindful of the damage they were doing to the country’s economy.
In his words:
“Recall that the opposition and their sympathisers and campaigners, both local and international, with their malicious propaganda, tore our economy to shreds, threatened our stability and existence as a nation and intimidated our citizens, all in the bid to take over power.
“Rather than forge a coalition and build on the momentum we had gathered when they eventually took office, they went on a persecution spree and vengeance mission. That the country slipped into recession soon after we left office was a self-inflicted injury caused by misplaced priorities. The narrative of inheriting empty treasury is a blatant lie.
Also, the excuse of the collapse of world crude prices does not hold water. This is because the Fourth Republic took off in 1999 with crude oil selling for less than $20 per barrel and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth at 0.58 per cent, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) figures. Yet, the economy maintained a steady growth from that year, peaking at 15.33 per cent in 2002 when the average crude oil price was about $25.
It is also instructive that the oil and gas sector constitute about 11 per cent of our GDP. There had to be a wider causative factor than just the fall in world crude prices.
“It also amounts to standing facts on their heads to continuously claim that recession was caused by so-called mindless looting. The truth is that the opposition, in a bid to undo our government, became its own undoing when it got to power, because of the burden of justifying deliberate misrepresentations.
There is wisdom in the saying that if you win a prize and get the crown, don’t go around destroying the person who previously held that prize; it will lose its value.
Even after winning the election and forming the government at the centre, the blame game continued. When two brothers fight to death, it is the neighbour that inherits their father’s wealth. And we have seen neighbouring nations like the Republic of Benin and Ghana reaping from the capital flight out of Nigeria.”
He said with the calibre of people he had in his government, no one could say they were clueless.