By Omeiza Ajayi
Jonathan told me oil business, too oily -Saraki
ABUJA—IT was another period of evaluation of Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency in Abuja, yesterday, as dignitaries, including the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and governor of Borno State and Chairman, Northern Governors Forum, Kashim Shettima, berated the former president for squandering his goodwill on the altar of inexperience and tribal politics.
Both men spoke at the unveiling of the book, “On a Platter of Gold – How Jonathan Won and Lost Nigeria,” written by an ex-Minister of Youths and Sports in the Jonathan administration, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.
Shettima, who chaired the occasion, was the first to fire a salvo, saying in spite of “Jonathan’s fairytale rise to power, his sheer display of bad governance, lack of political sagacity and will power, he squandered the array of goodwill he commanded and subsequently got humiliated out of office.”
Shettima also took a swipe at the ex-president for surrounding himself with religious bigots and tribal warlords who made him believe that the Chibok girls’ abduction was a hoax.
“Sadly, Borno was the epicentre of the crisis that engulfed the Jonathan administration. This is the second book I am reading on the Jonathan saga.
‘’I think President Jonathan is essentially a decent person, an unsophisticated country politician caught up in the vortex of power politics in Nigeria.
“When the Chibok girls saga started, they made the president to believe that there was no abduction; that the Chibok girls were kidnapped by the governor of Borno State ostensibly to embarrass the Jonathan administration and he believed that line of story.
Jonathan wanted me out, surrounded himself with bigots
“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 another 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.
Jonathan told me oil business, too oily -Saraki
On his part, Senate president, Bukola Saraki, said while Jonathan was not essentially a bad man, his lackadaisical attitude to issues of governance gave him away as one who took governance with unseriousness.
“I like to share one or two things that will probably summarize the former President Jonathan. I remember when I was then senator and I came across this issue of fuel subsidy and the way the country was losing close to N1.3 trillion.
“In the history of this country, I don’t think of any singular kind of level of corruption as huge as that. I had a motion already that I wanted to present on the floor of the Senate but I felt as a member of the ruling party at that time, it was only proper I discussed it with the President (first) maybe some action could be taken so that I could step down the motion.
‘’I booked an appointment to see Mr. President. I went with my paper and I started with the background of how people bring in petroleum products. I said Mr. President, in the past people used to get award letters from NNPC to bring in PMS, DPK, and make 10, 20 per cent profit.
‘’I said sir, they have taken it to another level, now; they get an order to bring in products, they do not want to make 10, 20 per cent any more. They will get an offer to bring in a cargo of 20,000 litres they will bring in 5,000 to be stamped for 20,000 and instead of making 10 per cent, they make ten times the amount.
“I was telling the President, thinking the President will get very agitated, but he said, ‘Senator Saraki, you know, this oil business is very oily.’
“I was stunned and taken aback but in a way, that was Jonathan; in a sad way that was who he is.”
And if you look at the second encounter I will recollect was the day I decided I was going to contest to be President.
‘’I felt that I did not want Jonathan to hear it as news, I booked an appointment to 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 that day but that again sums up Goodluck Jonathan.
‘’I think it is we, Nigerians, that produce the kind of leaders we get. No matter what you say about him, 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 I keep on saying, we all know the right things but we don’t do it, we find ourselves sometimes blaming individuals, blaming others than ourselves.”
National chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on his part, expressed optimism that the book would provoke more discourse with regards to the events of the ‘Jonathan years’.
Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, said: “Nigerians often overlook history. Nigeria’s history, like others, often repeats itself. The actors might differ, plots might change, the triggers different, but we need to comprehend the phase of our history as captured by Bolaji Abdullahi, for in doing that, we get a strong awareness of what is to come”.
Author of the book, Bolaji Abdullahi, who is currently the National Publicity Secretary of the APC said, the 12-chapter “On a Platter of Gold is part history, part political thriller, answered many of the often-asked questions about Jonathan’s incredible rise to the highest political office in the land and his unprecedented electoral defeat in 2015″.
The event attracted other dignitaries including a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore, seasoned journalists, lawmakers and members of the academia.