By Clifford Ndujihe
FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan has picked holes in claims by former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell, in a recent media report that the 2011 presidential election was rigged.
In a recent article on political developments in Nigeria, Campbell claimed that the 2011 presidential election won by Jonathan was manipulated.
Countering the claim yesterday, Jonathan said Campbell’s comments have been ”dis-proven and discredited”
In a statement by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, the former president said: ”Mr. Campbell styles himself as a ‘Nigeria expert’ at the Council for Foreign Relations, but in truth, he is regarded as a figure of ridicule in Nigeria for his postulations, which have repeatedly and consistently proven to be way off the mark.
”He has continued to deploy his half-baked knowledge of the nation’s political environment and his closeness to the United States power brokers not only to canvass his ill-conceived political agenda, but to also exploit some Nigerian politicians. For instance, because he is not well schooled in the tone and nuances of Nigerian politics, he had no way of knowing that the riots he cited in some cities in the North following the 2011 presidential election had nothing to do with his claims on rigging. Otherwise, why would Bauchi and Kano states, where former President Jonathan had only 16 per cent and 15 per cent of votes, witness the worst riots?”
Dr Jonathan contended that ”the 2011 Nigerian Presidential elections were adjudged by both local and international observers including the Commonwealth Election Monitoring Group and even the US contingent of both the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, as the most credible and transparent elections in Nigeria, since our great nation returned to civil rule in 1999.”
He continued: ”Secondly, the 2011 elections saw a 75 per cent reduction in election petition cases in Nigeria and the United States Institute for Peace described the elections as the “best run” election in Nigeria’s history, saying, inter alia, that “Nigeria’s 2011 general elections—in particular the presidential election—were seen widely as being well-run. This was especially important, given the universally decried elections of 2007.”
Thirdly, on December 29, 2011, the Nigerian Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared that then President Jonathan was validly elected. It is important to note that this was a seven man panel, and there was no dissenting judgement. The verdict had no such precedent in Nigeria’s political history.
Former President Jona-than is known for his ‘one man, one vote, one woman, one vote, one youth one vote’ policy. Before the 2011 elections, he said “my ambition is not worth the blood of any citizen” and was indeed guided by that creed throughout the process. He is also on record to have publicly called on members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, not to even attempt to rig for him, stating that he was a pencil in God’s hands.
”There is no doubt that Nigerians above 45 years witnessed the past six presidential elections in the country- 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 – and are in a better position than Campbell to objectively appraise the processes.
Today, our compatriots are focusing on such issues as electronic voting and complete independence of the electoral body INEC, as a way of strengthening our democracy, ahead of the next general elections. Anyone who means well for the country’s democracy should rather focus his attention on perspectives that could illuminate this path, not offer jaundiced and self-serving opinions on a settled past.”