IMMEDIATE past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has said that he would have won a re-election in 2015 but for the plots of former U.S. President, Barack Obama, and some Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors and leaders, who defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, a few months to the election.
Jonathan, who also stated why he granted late former Bayelsa State Governor, DSP Alamieyeseigha presidential pardon, made the disclosures in his new book, ‘’My Transition Hours,’’ which was launched, yesterday, in Abuja.
For the first time, Jonathan said the 2015 presidential election was flawed and that he had many grounds to challenge the outcome but chose to side-step his personal ambition to avert bloodshed for the sake of democracy and Nigeria’s unity. With a margin of 2.5 million votes, Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election to Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC.
It was the first time an incumbent president lost a re-election in Nigeria. The Obama role in 2015 In the book, a piqued Dr. Jonathan described Barack Obama’s message to Nigerians ahead of the 2015 general elections as overbearing and ‘condescending.’ According to Jonathan, the former U.S. president was very biased during the 2015 elections, by issuing a video appeal to Nigerians and almost advised them on which candidate to vote for.
He 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.”
He berated Obama for saying “all Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear,” but was reluctant to allow the Nigerian security forces drive Boko Haram insurgents away from the Nigerian territories they had been occupying in order to free Nigerian citizens there ahead of elections.”
Also, Jonathan did not spare the former U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, concerning the decision to postpone election in the overall interest of Nigeria. “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. Intense foreign pressure He continued: “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 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 where 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 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.”
Real reasons I lost 2015 presidential election Jonathan revealed how former PDP governors, who defected to the APC because they were “blinded by ambition” and a barrage of “fake news,” cost him his re-election quest. The former President also blamed northern leaders who wanted power returned to their region for sabotaging his re-election bid.
He wrote: “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 strove to be the President. If I contested, none could realise his ambition. This muffled implosion would fully manifest in the build-up 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.” In a twist of fate, Jonathan said that most of the governors and other prominent members of the PDP, who plotted against him were now being victimised in the APC. The former President also said he faced a barrage of opposition from Northern leaders and socio-political groups who felt he was usurping power from the region.
He said these northern power blocs had tried to deny him of his constitutional right of replacing the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in office, in 2010. He said despite the threats and opposition, he was able to win the 2011 election. “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.”
He said in 2015, some northern leaders continued to oppose his Presidency and his bid to seek a second term in office, but a new element was added to the opposition: “Constant fabrication of damaging stories. “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 there were never any sniper 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,” he wrote.
He said he faced unending insults during his tenure, adding that the one that was particularly bemusing to him was the tagging of his Presidency as “clueless” despite a number of firsts the country recorded during his tenure. He said his tenure heralded “phenomenal economic growth” for the country, the most prominent of which was the 2013 declaration of Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa. Jonathan said it was no ordinary diplomatic feat for the country to be elected into the Security Council of the United Nations twice during his tenure.
He added that it was during his administration that a Nigerian, Akinwumi Adesina (his Minister of Agriculture), became the president of African Development Bank for the first time. Why I pardoned ex-Governor Alamieyeseigha One of the albatrosses of the Goodluck Jonathan administration was the granting of state pardon to the convicted late governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Jonathan was the deputy to Mr Alamieyeseigha when he was governor of Bayelsa. Mr Alamieyeseigha who died in 2015 was convicted for money laundering related charges. On March 12, 2013, Jonathan pardoned Alamieyeseigha. The state pardon elicited a barrage of criticism against him.
But in his new book, Jonathan explained that the decision to pardon Alamieyeseigha was reached by his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua, who could not announce it before he died. He explained that in pardoning Alamieyeseigha he merely honoured an agreement reached by his late boss.
“Let me say that after we came to office on May 29, 2007, two major issues that we had to grapple with were the peace process in the Niger Delta and growing menace of terrorism, driven largely by the radical Islamic terror group, Jam’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihd, popularly known as Boko Haram.
“First, our oil production figures were ebbing due to militant activities in the Niger Delta. The federation distributable accrual was dwindling drastically when we took over due to the crisis in the region and president Yar’Adua in seeking urgent solution to increase the revenues of the federation offered amnesty to the militants.
One of their demands was that Alamieyeseigha be released from detention and pardoned by president Yar’Adua. “He accepted their term, mandated me to ensure that my former boss accepted a plea bargain and call the militants to order.
President Yar’Adua promised to grant Alamieyeseigha state pardon if all parties were brought on board to the negotiation table to restore peace in the region. “I immediately carried out his instruction. Unfortunately, he passed on before completely fulfilling his promise.
When I became president, I granted late Alamieyeseigha a state pardon, in fulfillment of late President Yar’Adua’s earlier commitment. “Unfortunately, this was frowned upon by some of my strongest critics and some went berserk and haul all manners of insults at me, including accusing me of being ‘clannish’ for granting state pardon to the former governor because he was from Bayelsa State.
President Jonathan also revealed why he conceded defeat and called President Muhammadu Buhari to congratulate him on his victory, even before the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was able to conclude the collation of results and declare the winner.
He pointed out that the need to prevent massive shedding of blood of innocent Nigerians across the country and his conviction that his aspiration was not worth the blood of any Nigerian propelled him to concede defeat and prevent any form of violence. But Jonathan also descended hard on Buhari for stirring an atmosphere of political strife and tension that eventually caused his defeat and exit from his exalted position as Nigeria’s leader.
Although Jonathan tactically declined to mention Buhari by name, the former President, however, recalled how Buhari had threatened to unleash mayhem and bloodshed in Nigeria if the 2015 presidential election was rigged like that of 2011, even though the international community and world leaders had adjudged it to be free, fair and credible.
The Presidential Election Results Jonathan said of the 2015 presidential election result: “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. Apparently, there were many instances of irregularities. There were series of problems with card readers, resulting from widespread technical hitches leading to the non-uniform application throughout the country.
“For some inexplicable reason, 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 the Boko Haram insurgency but failed to record a similar level of distribution in the South which was relatively more peaceful.
“Social media was filled with all manner of stories, pictures and videos. I was 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. “However, I was heading towards peace. Stopping the election on voting day would have been like detonating an atomic bomb. After we managed to vote upon filling the Incident Forms, I left Bayelsa for Abuja to monitor the elections and collation of results all over the country from the 29th to 31st March, 2015.
“The country was tensed. I had to do something. I could no longer wait for the collation of the 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 worst. I knew it was time to douse the tension. Why I conceded defeat “I was fully informed about the manipulations, intrigues, intimidation and betrayals. The consequences of not conceding were only better imagined. My natural instinct for peace automatically surfaced. I was going to make a decision which reflected my commitment to that ideal. This is the foundation of my essence. In my periodic projections into the future, I did not see how I would be presiding over any kind of chaos.
I was prepared to promote the peace, unity and progress of Nigeria. “This is a huge sacrifice, but I hope my readers believe me when I say it turned out to be one of the easiest decisions I ever took while in office. With my mind made up, I knew it was time to inject peace into the tensed polity, especially before INEC completed collation. “I was in my living room with some ministers, aides and friends. Among them were the Coordinating Minister for the Economy/Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Mr. Osita Chidoka and Waripamowei Dudafa, my Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs.
“They were recommending sundry alternatives, but I was quiet in the midst of their discussion. I hugged my thoughts, 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 here, 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’. “More reports 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 for the telephone and placed a call through the State House operators at about 4:45 pm. A peace I had never felt since my political sojourn, descended on me. It showed me where I had been in the past 16 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 other end of my call to answer.