Former President Goodluck Jonathan has blamed former president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, for frustrating the rescue of Chibok schoolgirls, which contributed to his defeat in the 2015 presidential election.
Jonathan, who stated this in his book, ‘My Transition Hours’, which was launched yesterday in Abuja, said Obama, for some strange reasons, tactically penciled Nigeria and his administration down to fail.
The book launch was part of events to celebrate Jonathan’s 61st birth anniversary.
In the book, the former president gives his own account of the intrigues that heralded and trailed the 2015 presidential election.
The event, which was attended by former heads of state, Gen Yakubu Gowon (rtd) and Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and foreign serving and past leaders also witnessed the unveiling of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.
President Muhammadu Buhari was represented at the event by the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha. Also represented were former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and Gen T.Y. Danjuma (rtd), as well as the family of the late former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
LEADERSHIP reports that in the book, Jonathan said ex-US President Obama, amongst other maneuvres, refused to provide real military backing, including selling military hardware to Nigeria’s Armed Forces to fight Boko Haram as well as rescue the Chibok girls.
The former president, who recounted how an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in 2014 exposed members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement as being APC members, said the protesters carried out their campaigns against his government in anticipation of a reward.
Jonathan wondered why those he tagged “hash taggers and crucify campaigners” against his administration did not ask the Borno State governor why he insisted that the girls must remain in the danger zone.
He said, “The governor of the state (a member of the opposition party) rather than join the federal government in the efforts to rescue the girls opted to stage a cross-continent roadshow in Europe and America, addressing foreign media when the issue that was burning was in his home state and the attention of the world was locked on Nigeria.
“It is instructive that apart from a few habitual agitators and regular activists, some of the leaders of the #bringbackourgirls movement were mostly key members of the opposition who had a view to a future reward. On October 16, 2014, Chief Audu of the APC, who later became a minister, had said on camera at an APC rally at the Eagle Square Abuja, I want to thank members of the #bringbackourgirls group which is being led by members of our party.’”
Fingering Obama for the plot against his administration by some western powers, he said, “We were presented as the problem of Nigeria. For beyond the Chibok issue, they made it a point that they were only interested in regime change. If the Jonathan administration goes and the opposition comes, the security challenges posed by Boko Haram will vanish, the Chibok girls will be rescued and the country will be better off, it was echoed. Of course, it was a deliberate attempt to distort history and build faulty premises to worsen Nigeria’s future.”
On Obama’s role he said, “The tactical attacks by the Obama administration were many. They refused to provide any real military backing for equipment to aid the rescue of the Chibok girls, citing the Leahy Law which they claimed prevented them from supporting any military that was engaged in human rights abuses, but this law did not stop them from assisting the armed forces of Nigeria’s neighbours which had been accused of serious human rights violations.
“Even when the state of Israel expressed the willingness to sell attack helicopters to Nigeria, the gesture was frustrated by the Obama administration that kept waving the same Leahy Law like a banner. I believe one day some of the security experts and actors that were involved in the search and rescue will tell the world the truth about the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls.”
He stated that his administration and a team of international partners and their governments devoted considerable amount of resources in the search and rescue of the girls.
However, in his reaction to the content of the book alleging that the Chibok girls matter was an act of grand conspiracy, Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, said he had not read the book and that he would get a copy of the book last night before deciding whether to respond or not.
“Governor Kashim Shettima has not read the book. I am yet to also read it, but the governor will pick the book this night and after reading it, he will determine whether to react or not,” the special assistant to the governor on communication and strategy, Mallam Isa Gusau, who spoke on his behalf noted.
Earlier, Jonathan and the former first lady, Dame Patient Jonathan, walked into the venue at about 11:42 to the tumultuous applause of a large crowd of guests.
Speaking during the book presentation yesterday, former President Jonathan expressed concern at the increased incidences of vote buying in the country ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He said that vote buying, which was gradually replacing other forms of electoral malpractices, had become scandalous and put the country in bad light.
He pointed out that voter inducement through engraving of pictures of candidates and political party logos on gift items during elections was another rampant strategy for vote buying.
He advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to borrow a leaf from other African countries and create polling centres in public places such as schools where classrooms were used for voting to make it difficult for vote buyers.
He explained that the book he launched was essentially an account of happenings during the 2015 general election and the events that caused him to place the concession phone call to President Muhammadu Buhari, which doused tension and ensured the peaceful transition from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Party (APC).
In his own speech, President Muhammadu Buhari described Jonathan as a leader of the future, saying that he will rise again.
The president who was represented by the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, noted that history will judge Jonathan as a patriotic leader.
The president also commended Jonathan’s statesmanship and sportsmanship, noting that without any pressure, he willingly conceded defeat in the 2015 presidential election even when the collation of results was still ongoing.
He hailed Jonathan’s singular act of placing the country above himself and thanked him for “being a true democrat”.
“That kind of decision can only be taken with a depth of integrity of a man’s heart and the conviction of his soul. And I want to congratulate you for that decision you took in 2015,” Buhari said.
“I therefore recommend this book for all and sundry. I thank you today for all Nigerians, for us and for generations yet unborn. Your excellency, please accept my personal, deep appreciation for what you have done for this country. You are a leader of the past, you are a leader of the now. You are a leader of the future. You will rise again.
“Your Excellency, your singular act of placing a call to me doused and calmed frayed nerves all over the country and I sincerely thank you for being a true democrat and a patriotic Nigerian.”
President Buhari recalled that in the run-up to the election, he and Jonathan were parties to a common purpose, to ensure that the 2015 general elections were violence-free and credible.
“The accomplishment of that objective has placed Nigeria as a leader in the development of democracy in Africa. To underscore his desire for peace and non-violence, Jonathan kept reiterating that no Nigerian blood should be shed for his ambition. With this book being launched today, Nigerians, historians and scholars now have a first-hand account and an insight into what transpired during the transition hours,” he said.
He further urged all Nigerians to imbibe the spirit that guided the 2015 elections so that the 2019 polls would be fair and credible.
“In approximate, 88 days from today Nigerians will be exercising their civic duty of electing new leaders in another general election. I call on all political leaders to see elections as a contest based on principles, programmes and aspirations that will uplift the nation. Elections should never become a declaration of war; rather it should cement our brotherliness and nationhood.
“We must therefore eschew bitterness, violence, hate speeches, falsehood and bigotry. Once again, I thank Dr. Jonathan for documenting his experience and for providing guide for current and future leaders to follow.
On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was chairman of the occasion, hailed Jonathan for his statesmanship disposition, urging him to remain committed to his residual responsibility of continuous service to his immediate community, Nigeria, Africa and beyond.
Obasanjo said there is no substitute to democracy as it unifies the people, even as he noted that Nigeria has the responsibility to unify West Africa, Africa and the black race across the world.
On his part, former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, also thanked Jonathan for conceding defeat in 2015 to save Nigeria from impending war and consolidating democracy, not only in the country but the entire African continent.
He also applauded Jonathan for his role in fostering unity, peace, progress and strengthening democratic rule in Africa, saying “Goodluck Jonathan is a good man and when the history of democracy in Africa is written, his name will be etched in gold”.
Also, former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, said Nigeria is not at war today because of Jonathan’s decision to concede defeat during the 2015 general election.
“We cannot thank you enough for the peace we are having in the country today; for the peaceful transition we had when you freely and voluntarily conceded defeat. By your decision, you have shown that you love your country more than you love power,” he said.
For former president of Ghana, John Mahama, ex-President Jonathan is more of an academic who found himself in politics.
“I was not surprised when Jonathan conceded defeat to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015”, he said.
Mahama said Jonathan approached leadership in a relaxed manner and that was why he left a good legacy worthy of emulation by all leaders in Africa.
For his part, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, said Nigeria was fortunate to have had a selfless leader like the former president.
He said Jonathan’s decision to concede defeat in 2015 had helped to consolidate democracy, not only in Nigeria but on the African continent.
Atiku added that Nigerians and Africans would continue to remain grateful to Jonathan for upholding national interest at the expense of his personal interest.
Also speaking, Senate President Bukola Saraki saluted Jonathan for his statesmanship, sportsmanship and uncommon courage of conceding defeat to Buhari in 2015 when collation was still on.
Saraki said that the act of accepting defeat by Jonathan helped to stabilise the already charged political atmosphere during the elections.
Recalling how Jonathan used to vow that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian, he called on political leaders to toe the same path and should not look at elections as declaration of war as the 2019 polls approached.
Barely minutes into the book review by former Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Justice Alfa Belgore, the chairman of the event, former President Olusegun Obasanjo arrived at the venue, causing much stir.
And about five minutes later, the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole alongside the former Akwa Ibom governor, Sen Goodswill Akpabio entered the venue.
The arrival of the APC chieftains ignited a political tussle at the event which hitherto had the colouration of a PDP affair. Oshiomhole and Akpabio, took turns to shake hands with dignitaries at the event including those of Senate President Bukola Saraki, whom they recently exchange brickbats with.
Other dignitaries at the event include the former chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; former SGF, Yayale Ahmed; former Senate President David Mark, and Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
Others are chairman of Leadership Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah; governors of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal; Delta, Ifeayi Okowa; Taraba, Arch. Darius Ishiaku; Cross River, Professor Ben Ayade; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeweremadu; Sen Ahmed Makarfi; former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Ambassador, Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo and president of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina.
Many members of the diplomatic corps, serving and former Senators, former governors and former ministers were present.
Young Ghanaian Entertains Guests With Live Drawing Of Jonathan
A young Ghanaian, Bright Kpoha, artistically known as Realpen pencil, yesterday entertained guests at Transcrorp Hilton, Abuja, where he did live drawing of the image of Goodluck Jonathan from a billboard, as the former president launched his book, “My Transition Hour”.
Kpoha was being watched in an open space transforming Jonathan’s image into paper from the bill board placed in front of the Congress Hall, venue of the book launch.
He was able to attract attention of some of the people going into the hall as well as those denied entrance for not having formal invitation letter to the book launch.
People gathered to watch Kpoha dramatise his drawing process, with his display of dancing, jumping and other skills, as he drew Jonathan on Paper with pencils.
Kpoha said he was motivated into drawing the former president as part of his contribution to the book launch.
“I just want to present this sketch and present it to former President Jonathan as a way of my contribution to the launching of his book “My Transition Hours”, he noted.
He said that he had been in sketch drawing for the past 13 years and it took him an average of 50 minutes to transform an image on paper.
“I did not check the time that I started this particular sketch but people watching me should know. I am sure this was not up to 50 minutes.”
The young Ghanaian said that his wish was to get one of the aides to the former President to help him present the sketched image to Jonathan as a gift on the day of the book launch.
Kpoha said that he came into Nigeria for a competition about two weeks ago and he decided to still stay to explore his drawing talent in Nigeria.
“I want to explore my talent to the rest of the world, promoting peace with my art work”.
Other highlights upfront of the venue was live band display and sales of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) emblems and tags, as well as those into photography business snapping guests to earn a living.
There was tight security around the venue, with security personnel of the Nigerian Police, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps strategically positioned to maintain peaceful and easy flow of traffic.
Despite the intervention of the men of the FRSC, it took an average of 25 minutes to drive into the hotel car park as dignitaries within and outside the country, including the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, governors, diplomatic representatives and party chieftains honoured the occasion.
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