By Bode Olagoke
Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, yesterday admitted that former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is not a desperate politician.
He, however, said the ex-president was not prepared for the position of leadership like presidency.
But in his own assessment, Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima, who alleged the ex-president plotted his removal, stated that Jonathan and others, actually thought he (Shettima) kidnapped the over 200 abducted Chibok girls.
The duo spoke in Abuja at the public presentation of “On a Platter of Gold: How Jonathan won and lost Nigeria”, a book written by former Minister of Sports and current National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi.
In his remarks, Saraki said, “no matter what people say about the former president, I don’t think he was someone who was desperate for power. He was not someone that was prepared for leadership, yes by misfortune or fortune.”
While narrating some of his experiences about Jonathan, he said: “The second encounter I will recollect, was the day I decided I was going to contest to be President. I felt that I didn’t want Jonathan to hear it as news, I booked an appointment to go and see him – I didn’t know what I was thinking that day. I went to the Villa; he said ‘come in, come in, how can I help you?”. I looked at the President of a third world country and said, Mr. President; I came to tell you that I am going to be contesting for your seat. Jonathan looked at me and said, ‘oh, okay, good luck, good luck.’ If it were any other person, may be, I would not have left the Villa. But that again sums up Goodluck Jonathan.
“Within the short time of his ascendancy, Jonathan went from a man who controlled the populace to the clueless from the most followed president on Facebook in the world, to the most cursed president.”
“Dr Jonathan’s political profile rose within a short time, and in a spectacular manner to the poor handling of the most important issues affecting Nigeria at the time such as the fuel subsidy scandal, the Boko Haram insurgency and the general feeling of insecurity, particularly with the abduction of the Chibok school girls, the crisis in the then ruling party- the PDP, left much to be desired.
“Although his manner of conceding defeat earned him a lot of praise and hero status, even his most ardent supporters knew he should have ended in a much better circumstances.
“It goes beyond reasonable doubt that the leadership of President Jonathan represents a turbulent period in our national life, has and will continue to shape group good or bad the fortunes of our country.”
Shettima recalls Chibok girls’ travails
Also speaking, Governor Shettima said, “there was a time he wanted to remove me at all costs. In the Federal Executive Council, they were all speaking in the same tone that this
Borno governor must be removed for embarrassing the government; that I was the problem. Two Nigerians stood out.
“He sought the opinion of Mohammed Adoke Bello, the then Attorney-General. Adoke told him that ‘Mr. President, you have no power to remove even an elected councillor.’ Then he sought the opinion of other Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, in his team, the Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki. And Turaki also told him that ‘Mr. President, you have no power to remove a sitting governor.’ And that was how the matter died.”
Drawing a sharp contrast between Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo whom he described as a pan-Nigerian, Shettima said Jonathan did not surround himself with patriots but ethnic and religious champions.
He, however, lauded the former president for conceding defeat and sparing the nation of needless crisis that would have trailed his loss of the 2015 polls.
Shettima, who chaired the event, told the audience how Jonathan mismanaged the abduction of Chibok girls by Boko Haram.
“Instead of acting, Jonathan ordered that the Principal of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, should be locked up by the then Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Yusuf.
“Sadly, Borno was the epicentre of the whole crisis that engulfed the Jonathan administration. This is the second book I am reading of the Jonathan saga, the first written by Olusegun Adeniyi.
“I see former President Jonathan essentially as a decent person, an unsophisticated country person caught up in the power politics in Nigeria
“When the Chibok girls saga started, they made the President to believe that there was no abduction and that they were kidnapped by the Governor of Borno State to embarrass the Jonathan administration and he believed that line of story. I was in Chibok, my wife was in Chibok, there was global outcry about the abduction, but he was in a world of his own, created by the clowns and misfits around him.
“I wasn’t invited to Abuja until nearly three weeks later and even when I was invited, I was happy that at last, I was getting the attention of my leader. I was asked to come to Abuja with the Commissioner of Police, the DPO in Chibok, the Commissioner of Education, the military commander in Chibok and the Director of SSS in Borno.
“We were all ushered in to the Villa and sadly when the president came in, he was still in the world of make-believe. He started threatening the principal that he should tell him where the girls were. He was shouting, ‘principal, you must tell me where those girls are, Commissioner of Police, you must tell me where the girls are.’
“He immediately ordered the arrest of the Principal, the DPO, the Commissioner of Police and the Director of SSS, that they must produce the girls. In this very unfortunate saga, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, the Inspector-General of Police arrested them, took them to the police headquarters and told them he cannot hold onto them because he was a man of conscience. He let them go on self-recognition,” Shettima recalled.
Continuing, the governor said, “I was quite taken aback because I thought the solution was going to be found to a very grave national challenge. Instead, the president was still of the mindset that those girls were not abducted.
“That goes to show the quality of leadership in this country. Incidentally, the Brigade Commander in Chibok was an Ijaw man and because they know that the president is such a very unsophisticated person, but such an honest man, they knew that if they brought his kinsman, they could have gotten him confused.
“So, they deliberately refused to bring the Brigade Commander in Chibok and that denied the president from getting a true perspective of the issues at stake. But we have to give it to him that by conceding defeat, he saved the nation from the precipice.”
…Thumbs down restructuring
While commenting on the agitation for restructuring, Governor Shettima, who lambasted its proponents, said in its place, good governance should have been demanded.
“People are talking about artificial intelligence, other nations are talking about nano-technology or robotics engineering, but unfortunately, the topical issue in Nigeria is restructuring, restructuring my foot; to hell with restructuring. Let us improve on governance, let us work for the people, invest in education, and create jobs for our people,” the governor contended.
In his remarks, National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, while congratulating the author, expressed the hope that Abdullahi “will one day tell the story of how APC NWC under his leadership as the national chairman, contributed to the stability of government.”