By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has refuted reported claims by Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, that the ex-president offered him huge sums of money and other inducements ahead of the 2015 presidential election.
In a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, yesterday, the former president dismissed the claims as lies, adding that he (Jonathan) did not need Okorocha to garner votes in the South East, which he described as his political stronghold.
Jonathan insisted that he never had any conversation with Okorocha ahead of the 2015 elections.
The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Governor Okorocha, and published by a national newspaper on September 27, 2017, where he was quoted to have said that former President Jonathan offered him an influential ministry and huge sums of money to dump his party ahead of the 2015 elections, which he rejected. We offer to quickly dismiss these claims as lies, because we are clear in our minds that such conversation never happened.
“We are wondering whether this truly came from the governor because we are sure that even Okorocha himself did not believe that anybody would accept these claims. In the first place, it sounded irrational and absurd. Besides, it was obvious to all and sundry that the South East, being Dr. Jonathan’s political stronghold, the ex-President did not need Okorocha to win in the zone.
“However, to set the records straight, we make bold to say that former President Jonathan never made any contact with Okorocha, ahead of the 2015 elections.
“The claim of an offer of ‘an influential ministry’ is also quite surprising because the former President was not in the habit of making frivolous promises, especially pertaining to government positions and offices. All those who had either worked closely with him in any capacity, or served in Dr. Jonathan’s administration can bear testimony to the fact that idle talk is not his style.
“Since we know that the only proof the purveyors of this bribery allegation could offer is to probably claim that the transaction happened in a dream, we can only offer the governor sincere advice, to avoid rumours, twaddle and get down to the business of result-oriented governance.
“Governor Okorocha would have served his state better, if he directed his enormous drive to creating growth and development opportunities for the good people of Imo State, rather than allowing himself to be drawn into dissipating his energy on platitudes and propaganda.”