Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday lambasted the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for claiming that massive vote buying started under his (Jonathan’s) tenure as president of Nigeria. Refuting the claim by Oshiomhole, Jonathan who recalled the local and international accolades he has received since he left office in 2015, added that the issue of vote buying didn’t come up for assessment in all the elections conducted under his tenure, including the 2011 and 2015 general elections, and many off-season gubernatorial and parliamentary elections in some states like Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo and Edo. The former president, who alluded to Oshiomhole’s tendency to commit flip flops on issues, lamented that a government that continues to blame its predecessor rather than show its scorecard, less than one year to the end of its four-year tenure, is only giving the impression that it is already at its wits end.
Jonathan, in a statement by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, said he doesn’t know the real reason for this misleading falsehood, at this point in time, adding that he could only guess that Oshiomhole, is “currently operating under tremendous stress in the bid to steady the already floundering ship of his administration as the new leader of his party, may have got himself entangled in a voyage of tactless desperation.”
The former president said he was responding to Oshiomhole when he said, “President Jonathan started this massive vote buying in Nigeria and the Media must play back and do proper interview and proper investigation to discover the origin of vote buying”, while featuring on a Channels Television programme, Roadmap to 2019 general elections.
Jonathan said, “His recent flip-flops where he praised Governor Samuel Ortom and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso one day, only to denounce them the very next day, is enough evidence of his fragile psychological state. “Not only is he content on squabbling with members of the opposition, we note the self-destructive tendencies of Oshiomhole who is locked in a feud with members of his own party including the minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, and a host of APC governors. It appears that Mr. Oshiomhole’s psychological strain may have reached boiling point.
“On the vexatious issue of ‘vote-buying’, which has unfortunately found its way into our election lexicon, this is what we know: It is obvious that the shameful development in our democratic experience became very glaring during the 2016 gubernatorial elections in Edo State; an exercise that took place more than one year after President Jonathan had left office. It is therefore disingenuous for any politician or group to link the former President with the anomaly, no matter how they want to stretch the now-failing blame game.
“While in Office as President between 2010 and 2015, Jonathan conducted many elections including the 2011 and 2015 general elections, and many off-season gubernatorial and parliamentary elections in some states like Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo and Edo; and not for once did the issue of vote buying come up in the assessment of those elections. It is instructive that in each case, the former President was given a clean bill, with both local and international observers commending him for having supervised a credible and transparent process. “One of those who gave the former President a clean bill of health, was Mr. Oshiomhole himself who on July 16, 2012 said: “’What the Edo election has confirmed is that when the President and Commander-in-Chief puts the country first and he conducts himself as a statesman not just as a party leader, credible elections are possible.’” “When you juxtapose the above statement with Mr. Oshiomhole’s current statement, it becomes obvious that the APC chairman is suffering from multiple personality syndrome and has a Jekyll and Hyde schizophrenia.”
Jonathan recalled that in November 2017 he received commendations from a United Nations delegation led by Ambassador Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, and Chairman of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC) for reforms to enhance peaceful and credible elections. The former president also said he received plaudits from the visiting UN team over his conduct of the same 2015 elections which “Oshiomhole had casually singled out for condemnation.”
This was how Ambassador Chambas verdict differed from Mr. Oshiomhole’s jaundiced assessment: “’What we noticed in 2015 was that there was a display of maturity in the way the elections were handled. There was hardly any major incident between the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). The problems were mostly internal to parties’.”“It may be that Mr. Oshiomhole’s false accusations against Dr. Jonathan stem from his own guilty conscience arising from the unenviable behaviour he exhibited during the September 2016 gubernatorial election in his state, when his bid to anoint his successor pushed him into desperate measures and a win-at-all-cost mentality that introduced flagrant vote merchandising in our polity, thereby making Edo State the clear starting point of that cankerworm.
“After observing the Edo 2016 gubernatorial election, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) a coalition of over 400 civil society organisations spread across the country, said the following about the exercise: “’The most frequent reported incidents (of electoral irregularities) are vote buying/voter bribery’.” The trend was later to spread to Ondo, Anambra and Ekiti states governorship elections, all taking place after Jonathan had left office as President. “What also changed was that Oshiomhole’s emergence as the national chairman of APC and the burden of ‘delivering results to his party’, has pushed him into exporting and escalating this vote buying dexterity to other states, as recently witnessed in Ekiti governorship poll.
“The fact is that inducement as a tool in the hands of politicians is an old malaise that no Nigerian can be proud of. It is bad enough that this has been allowed to fester and morph into the ugly trend that is today called vote buying. Given this circumstance, you would expect a statesman of Oshiomhole’s standing to offer perspectives on how to solve this problem that is already making our country an object of scorn in the eyes of the international community.“That Oshiomhole only resorted to blame game rather than offer any useful suggestions to the election management bodies on how to solve this shameful problem, in the cited television interview, is a sad commentary on the quality and character of today’s political leaders. A government that continues to blame its predecessor rather than show its scorecard, less than one year to the end of its four-year tenure, is only giving the impression that it is already at its wits end.
“We believe that it is high time Mr. Oshiomhole began to put a leash on his unhelpful, ill-conceived comments and tumultuous style of leadership, to enable him offer quality service to the party he currently leads,” the former president said.
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