Former President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed how some governors elected under the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party worked against his re-election in 2015.
Jonathan in his new book, ‘My Transition Hour,’ which he publicly presented in Abuja on Tuesday, recalled that he was confident of winning the election based on his achievements.
“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.”
Obama influenced 2015 election against me – Jonathan
Jonathan also said a former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, influenced the 2015 presidential election which he lost to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
He recalled how Obama, in a video message directly released to Nigerians, urged them to vote the opposition in the 2015 poll.
According to Jonathan, Obama released the video on March 23, 2015 which was less than a week to the 2015 presidential election.
He recalled that the video came after Obama sent his Secretary of State, John Kerry, to Nigeria “to protest the rescheduling of the election.”
“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,” the book read in part.
He criticised Obama, who was American president from 2009 to 2017, for allegedly saying “all Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear.”
Jonathan also did not spare Kerry, whom he said arrived in Nigeria, on Obama’s instructions, to protest the postponement of the 2015 election on January 25, 2015.
The former President said the top US diplomat was nonchalant in his attitude towards his government despite all efforts to make him understand that the decision to postpone the election was in the overall interest of Nigeria.
He stated, “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 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.”
‘Tambuwal hobnobbed with opposition’
On the crisis of fuel subsidy removal a major development that highlighted his administration, Jonathan said opposition governors saw it as a very good opportunity to bring down his government.
But he singled out the then Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, now the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, as the only one who stood by him in ensuring the implementation of the deregulation policy which he said was originally consented to by all the state governors across the political divides.
He also stated that the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, as then a Peoples Democratic Party’s member and Speaker of the House of Representatives, chose to hobnob with the opposition, APC.
Tambuwal was to later defect to the APC and recently returned to the PDP where he contested the party’s presidential ticket but failed.
Jonathan said, “State Governors of the main opposition party, some of whom were champions of the subsidy removal in our meetings on the matter, made a volte face!
“They saw the subsidy removal as a very good opportunity to bring my government down and clear their path to power. Politics has a way of letting you know the inner recess of the human mind.
“I recall vividly that at one of the meetings we had with the governors at the Council Chambers, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, then the Governor of Edo State, showed his displeasure towards his colleagues.
“To his credit, he was the only opposition governor who stood by what we agreed. He told his colleagues that it was not fair for them to turn against the President when they even wanted the deregulation to have started months earlier.
“The House of Representatives whose Speaker, then Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was hobnobbing with the opposition (he eventually defected to the opposition) did not help matters.
“Thinking that I left the country for South Africa to attend the centenary celebration of the African National Congress, Speaker Tambuwal convened the House to sit on a Sunday just to condemn the deregulation.
“That was the first and only time in Nigeria’s political history that the parliament sat on a Sunday.
“At that sitting an opposition member of the House got up to allege that I had abandoned the nation at such a crucial time to join in festivities in South Africa.
“Unknown to the House, on that same day, while they were sitting, I was at the Eagle Square to launch Mass Transit vehicles my administration purchased to cushion the effect of subsidy removal.
“I had to address the issue by telling the nation that it was untrue that I abandoned the situation at hand to go to South Africa. The country was tense and the public was wondering what would happen next.”
‘Western powers were curious about rescheduling of election’
Jonathan also said that the Western powers were not happy when he shifted the elections.
He particularly noted that Kerry’s visit to Nigeria, commissioned by Obama, was aimed at humiliating him as the sitting President.
He said, “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 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. 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 where the decision to reschedule the elections 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 elections.
“Anyhow, the six weeks served us well. We received the military equipment we were expecting within that period and our Armed Forces commendably 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.”
‘Obama pencilled my administration to fail’
Jonathan also indicated that Obama’s hostility towards his administration was not limited to the political front but extended to the fight against terrorism.
Giving an account of his administration’s fight against Boko Haram in the North-East and the events that followed the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, Jonathan lamented the unwillingness of the Obama-led US government to help Nigeria to tackle the problem.
He said Obama and his administration had pencilled Nigeria and “my administration for failure”.
He said the Obama administration not only refused to give “any real military backing to Nigeria’s Armed Forces” and bluntly refused to sell any military hardware including jet fighters and attack helicopters to Nigeria, the then US President also frustrated the gesture by Israeli government to sell attack helicopters to Nigeria.
He said, “As an aside, while thanking the men and women of the US security services who were deployed in Nigeria and toiled day and night in the Northeast in search of the Chibok girls, my surprise at the role played by the then US President Barack Obama, still calls to doubt his genuine intentions for Nigeria.
For some strange reasons, the Obama Administration had tactically pencilled Nigeria and my administration for failure. Amongst many manoeuvres, was the refusal to provide any real military backing to Nigeria’s Armed Forces.
President Obama and his security adviser, Susan Rice, bluntly refused to sell any military hardware including jet fighters and attack helicopters to Nigeria.
Obama cited the Leahy Law as the reason his regime prevented the American Government from supporting Nigeria in providing weapons to fight Boko Haram.
“Even when the state of Israel expressed the willingness to sell attack helicopters to Nigeria, the gesture was frustrated by the Obama administration that kept waving the same Leahy law like a banner.”