By Dirisu Yakubu – Abuja
Nigeria’s immediate past President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Monday dared former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido to publicly show evidence linking him to the Malabu Oil scandal as alleged by the latter recently.
Jonathan stated this in a reaction to a media report credited to Lamido wherein he accused the former President of passive interest in the November 16 governorship race won by the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Lamido had in the said interview accused Jonathan of sacrificing the PDP to buy peace from the President Muhammad Buhari-led government which is bent on getting to the root of the controversial oil deal.
In an interview granted a national daily, Lamido was quoted as saying, “The leadership of the APC and the government are blackmailing Jonathan and I think I can say it anywhere that he traded this for his own freedom, ” adding that, “Jonathan worked against his party because he was very, very angry with (Governor) Dickson. It was because he (Jonathan) sure knows his problem with Buhari and his government. And the issue of Malabu, I think, played a key role”.
Reacting on Monday however, Jonathan took Lamido to cleaners, labelling him a man with little or no respect for truth and honour.
In a statement signed by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, the former President said: “It didn’t matter to him (Lamido) that, as a well-respected member of the society, he shouldn’t make such weighty claims against a former President if he was only guessing like he admitted.
“We really do not know why Mr. Lamido, chose to speak like he did, especially with such hostility, contempt and lies against former President Jonathan. However, one thing is clear: In his anger and apparent bile-filled disposition, Mr Lamido, an otherwise astute and erudite politician, obviously dropped the ball by electing not to speak responsibly like a statesman.
“Apparently seized by some inexplicable resentment, Lamido held on to the lie currently being pushed by a few mischief-makers to the effect that former President Jonathan helped the APC to win the last gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State.
“Unfortunately, the former governor jumped into this convenient bandwagon of grovellers without first thinking of the burden of substantiating his claim. What to do? Orchestrate a raft of incongruent drivel of cheap lies to confuse the readers.
“This absurd claim definitely would have gained more traction in the public space if it really made any sense. But it didn’t. What, if we may ask Mr Lamido, the correlation between Jonathan supporting APC because he was angry with Governor Dickson and Jonathan supporting APC to avoid prosecution over Malabu?
“Where was Lamido and his ‘Malabu problem’ when Jonathan campaigned vigorously and helped PDP to win Bayelsa governorship election in 2015, under the same President Buhari? It is important to establish at this point that Mr Lamido probably knows very little about the Malabu case, for which he was not supposed to have commented blindly.
“It bears repeating that the documents relating to the transactions and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabo issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the relevant Government offices, where they are accessible.
“We would like to point out that all the actions taken by the Jonathan administration in relation to activities in the oil industry were legally conducted by relevant Nigerian government officials and were carried out in the best interest of the country
“We call on anyone, including Mr Sule Lamido, who has any shred of evidence linking former President Jonathan to any wrongdoing in the case of the Malabu incident to waste no time in publishing such evidence or forever remain silent”.
While noting that the Malabu oil bloc was sealed during the military regime of late General Sani Abacha, Dr. Jonathan said the scandal was one of global concern and not the exclusive preserve of the Nigerian government.
He continued: “If that is the case, he (Lamido) should also have known that there are at least three other countries outside Africa that are investigating the matter. Assuming without conceding that the former President Jonathan is culpable as Lamido alleged, would a trade-off deal with the Nigerian government also free him from blame in other countries like Italy, United Kingdom and the United States?
“Mr Lamido’s awkward intervention in this matter was deliberately designed as a form of blackmail. Having tried many other ways to discredit the former President to no avail, Mr Lamido is now scheming to project Malabo as Jonathan’s Achilles heel. Here again, he has failed because the true story of Malabo is already very well known to Nigerians.
“Mr Lamido, we believe, is too smart not to realise that when the pot conveniently calls the kettle black, it is a grand design to confuse, deceive and cover up the truth.
“Lamido served as governor of Jigawa State for two terms under the platform of the PDP after which the ruling APC took over his state. Is he then telling Nigerians that he cut a deal with APC, helped the ruling party to procure victory at the polls and take over his state?
“The fact is that it is not only in Bayelsa State that the country had experienced such a situation where PDP or even APC had lost elections to another party. Holding Jonathan responsible for PDP’s loss in Bayelsa without first investigating the issues that determined the fate suffered by the party in the state is not only disingenuous but also detrimental to the image and aspirations of the party.”
The statement further read: “Rather than cast aspersions and throw shades because of pre-existing animosities and prejudices against the former president, what is expected of party leaders like Mr Lamido is to seek to interrogate whatever went wrong in Bayelsa, to avert a repeat in another state.
“We believe that further interrogation of Lamido’s other weird claims is not necessary in this space, lest it gives the unfortunate interview more attention than it deserves.
“However, we feel that it is important to reiterate, as we have always done, that former President Jonathan did nothing wrong as far as the Malabu deal is concerned. He, therefore, doesn’t need to cut a deal with anybody within or outside Nigeria.
“The fact remains that as recent national events continue to vindicate former President Jonathan, and as the world continues to celebrate him, those who are insecure will feed such propaganda to their media agents to serve their narrow interests.
“We have always made it clear that beyond this wave of conjecture, former President Jonathan was not linked, indicted or charged for collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes by any law enforcement body the world over”.