Former president Goodluck Jonathan has blamed fake news and plots by former president of America, Barack Obama, as major reasons he lost presidential election as incumbent to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
He also pointed that “blinded ambition” of some of the then governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), played no little role in his sack from power in 2015.
He did not leave out the alleged role played by northern leaders, even in his own party, PDP, who wanted power returned to their region and as a result sabotaged his reelection bid.
He made these claims in his new book launched this Tuesday in Abuja and titled “My Transition Hours”. The book talks about Jonathan’s tenure in office.
Jonathan had won the election of 2011 with overwhelming support of Nigerians. However, during his re-election bid in 2015, many Nigerians who supported him four years ago, dumped him for Buhari who came into the election with ‘Change’ mantra. As a result, Jonathan lost that election with over 2.5 million votes.
Explaining what happened in the book he said, “This time around, there were governors who were rounding off their eight years tenure and were blinded by ambition. Some governors wanted to be Vice President whilst others strived to be the President. If I contested none could realise his ambition. This muffled implosion would fully manifest in the buildup to the 2015, which each ship-jumper calculating how much he or she would take from the PDP or the most opportune moment to cause maximum damage and based on that, plot their exit.
“As they jumped ship in preparation for the 2015 elections, only very few of these lots, if any at all, bothered about what the PDP did or did not do in terms of delivering our campaign promises. Their opposition to my re-election was principally driven by personal ambition. They therefore played up the issue of where I come from and the faith, I professed to fuel their burning ambition. My performance mattered quite little, if it mattered at all.”
The former President however noted that in a twist of fate, most of those governors and leaders of the PDP who then plotted against him are now being victimised in the APC.
The former president pointed that the opposition from northern leaders and socio-political group who felt he was usurping power from the region, was also serious factor against his re-election bid.
He recalled how these northern power blocs had earlier tried to deny him of his constitutional right of succeeding the late president Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in office, in 2010.
He said, “In spite of the threats and provocations to make the country ‘ungovernable’ for me, I had the overwhelming support of Nigerians in the run-up to the presidential election in 2011. I was able to win the election to the grace of god and the love of Nigerians. The election was all but won even before the whistle was blown for some strong factors. To mention a few, the pressure to preclude me from contesting in 2011, met with solid indignation from majority of Nigerians.”
On what happened in 2015, Jonathan said that aside continued to oppose his second term by northern leaders that a new element was added to the opposition – “constant fabrication of damaging stories”.
He said, “Many reasons make the onslaught in this context very suspect especially as it was being managed by foreign experts mostly from the United States.
“Throughout my tenure in office as President, there was constant barrage of what Donald Trump has now termed ‘fake news’ coming from a well-oiled media propaganda machine. I can say as a matter of fact that were never any snipers in training or already trained. There were no lists of political enemies to be taken out.
“There was no missing $49.8 billion and more importantly I can say that even those who made these and other allegations knew that they were false. This probably explains why many of these allegations died a natural death even as the echoes of my retreating footsteps still resounded nationally and globally.”
Noting that he was barraged by all manner of insults during his tenure, Jonathan said surprised him most of all the insults was the dubbing of his presidency as “clueless” not minding a number of firsts Nigeria recorded during his administration.
On Obama’s role, Jonathan described the former United States President as domineering and ‘condescending’ in his message to Nigerians ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Further accusing Obama of displaying an unusual level of bias, Jonathan wrote, “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.
“The message was so condescending, it was as if Nigerians did not know what to do and needed an Obama to direct them.”
He pointed how Obama had at that time said, “All Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear.”
He wondered how Obama, who was reluctant to allow the Nigerian security forces drive Boko Haram insurgents away from the Nigerian territories they were occupying, so to free Nigerian citizens of elections, could be making such statement.
Another Jonathan faulted the role he played in his defeat is the former U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry.
“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,” he said.
Jonathan, who did not say what his offence against foreign leaders was, was also not happy with the role played by the United Kingdom.
“The foreign pressure on the issue of election rescheduling was intense. They maintained the curious posture of one who had been deceived before and therefore had every reason to cede no credence to our position. But there was no reason for such posture.
“The United States and the United Kingdom were especially agitated. David Cameron, then the U.K. Prime Minister, called to express his concern about the election rescheduling, just as John Kerry came from the United States to express further worry. It was at best unusual and sobering.
“In fact, John Kerry did not accept our reasons for the rescheduling. It was unbelievable because at the back of our minds 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 were the decision to reschedule the election was taken were almost all the living former Heads of State in 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.
“Anyhow, the six weeks served us well. We received the military equipment we were expecting within that period and our Armed Forces commendable dealt a deserving blow on the terrorists and repossessed all territorial areas of Nigeria previously occupied by the terrorists. Boko Haram was deflated up to the point I handed over to my successor on May 29, 2015.”
By Ebere Ndukwu …