Former President Goodluck Jonathan has finally admitted that his electoral defeat in the 2015 elections was partly caused by former U.S. President Barack Obama and his officials who made it abundantly clear to him by their actions that they wanted a change of government in Nigeria and were ready to do anything to achieve that purpose.
In an advanced copy of the book, ‘Against the Run of Play – How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria,’ written by the Chairman of the THISDAY Editorial Board, Olusegun Adeniyi, and obtained by THISDAY Tuesday, Jonathan also revealed to the author that the U.S. government “even brought some naval ships into the Gulf of Guinea in the days preceding the elections”.
The book goes on to reveal how the previous U.S. administration undermined Jonathan’s government’s fight against Islamist insurgents in the North-east in order to weaken his government and make it unpopular.
“Applying the law introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy in 1997 on the primacy of human rights record in military operations, the Obama administration blocked the sale of arms to Nigeria, not only from America but also their allies.
“That, quite naturally, made the war against Boko Haram very difficult. Explaining the rationale for the decision, the then American ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, said the human rights situation was key.
“In November 2014, the Nigerian government halted a U.S training of its soldiers to fight Boko Haram. Two initial phases of training had already been completed between April and August of the year, which provided previously untrained civilian personnel with basic soldering skills, while a third session had been planned with the intent of developing the battalion into a unit with advanced infantry skills.
“The decision, according to a top military officer, was taken because ‘it made no sense for them to be training our officers and men, and refuse to sell us the necessary arms to fight. Were we expected to fight with our bare arms? I believe President Jonathan was correct in putting a halt to the hypocritical nonsense’,” Adeniyi wrote in his book.
However, it was not only on the military front that the Obama administration was checkmating Jonathan, the book stated; it did so on the diplomatic front too.
According to the former president, who related some of his observations to the author, “I got on very well with Prime Minister David Cameron but at some point, I noticed that the Americans were putting pressure on him and he had to join them against me.
“But I didn’t know how far President Obama was prepared to go to remove me until France caved into the pressure from America.”
The former president disclosed that he had such a good relationship with Mr. Francois Hollande that whenever there were difficulties with Cameroon over the Boko Haram issue, it was the French president he reached out to.
“On one occasion, following an appeal by Jonathan, Hollande even organised a conference in Paris with all the French-speaking countries within the sub-region.
“But weeks to the election, he had also joined the Americans in supporting the opposition against me,” Jonathan noted.
Asked what the contention with the Americans was, Jonathan said the only issue Obama administration officials kept harping upon was the allegation of corruption in his government.
“There was this blanket accusation that my body language was supporting corruption, a line invented by the opposition but which the media and civil society bought into and helped to project to the world.
“That was the same thing I kept hearing from the Americans without specific allegations,” he said.
On the issue of corruption in his government, Jonathan said that when it comes to the issue of graft, majority of Nigerians, especially those with access to the media love hypocrisy, something he had vowed never to be part of.
He would only say, “By virtue of being president of Nigeria, I have come to know so many things about so many people. Some of the most corrupt Nigerians are the ones who speak most loudly about corruption.
“Once you have access to the media in Nigeria, you have the liberty to accuse others of corruption regardless of what you are doing.”
Jonathan also opined that what those who romanticised the issue forget is that “when you destroy your country, you are also destroying yourself”.
Jonathan believed the campaign against him on the issue of corruption was whipped up by some people in the media and civil society who just wanted drama.
“I have been told that I should have made scapegoats of officials so I would be seen to be fighting corruption but that for me is not right. When I get reports about corruption, I usually subject them to investigations,” he pointed out.
Going back to his electoral defeat, Jonathan informed Adeniyi that he had seen enough to convince him that even if he had been declared winner, the bond of trust had been broken between him and several people within his government.
“I felt really betrayed by the results coming from some northern states. Perhaps for ethnic purposes, even security agents colluded with the opposition to come up with spurious results against me.
“You saw the way the Inspector General of Police, a man appointed by me, suddenly turned himself into the ADC to Buhari immediately after the election,” he said.
The former president said he had projections before both the 2011 and 2015 presidential elections and he was sure of what would happen in each of the zones, yet could still not fathom what happened in some states in 2015.
“How could we have lost Ondo, Benue and Plateau States if our people were committed to the cause? If you examine the results, you will see a pattern: in place where ordinarily we were strong, our supporters did not show enough commitment to mobilise the voters,” he revealed.
Jonathan also expressed disappointment at some former allies, naming some names.
“What happened was very sad not for me as a person, but for our democracy,” he admitted.
“Take for instance, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. I believe he joined in the conspiracy against me. For reasons best known to him, he helped to sabotage the election in favour of the opposition.”
However, in the book, Mu’azu denied the allegation, saying he found it difficult to believe that the former president would level such an allegation against him.
The former PDP chairman described any such suggestion as unkind and absolutely untrue, and vehemently denied claims of the conspiracy involving him in the election and its aftermath.
“That President Jonathan would make the kind of imputation you ascribe to him is very unfortunate indeed,” Mu’azu said.
He went on to add: “It pains me that anybody would want to pin a tag of ethnic or religious bigotry on me because that is what President Jonathan means by his accusation, even if he did not directly say it. I suppose my crime with him is that I am a Muslim and a northerner.”
Hinting at his own side of the story, the former PDP chairman countered in the book that some people wanted him to be abusive to Buhari during the campaign as a show of loyalty to the PDP and its candidate “but I was not brought up to be abusing people, especially those with whom I have no personal problems”.
Recalling the state in which he met the PDP and the effort he said he put in to change the fortunes of the party, Mu’azu expressed confidence that the “majority of Nigerians will remember that I took over a party that was in shambles”.
He added: “Very quickly, I injected a new lease of life into the PDP for which I was hailed as the ‘game changer’. It is convenient to forget all that now.
“But in the build up to the election, some people decided to introduce religion and ethnicity into the campaign in such a manner that not only hurt the PDP in the north but was actually helping to mobilise our opponents against us.”
Mu’azu called on Jonathan to look inwards in order to get at the root of his failure at the polls in 2015, and went further to allege that the presidential campaign was mismanaged by those who thought that stigmatising others would win votes for an incumbent.
He vowed to tell his own story one day, but for now, the former PDP chairman was content to say: “After President Jonathan had accepted defeat, congratulated Buhari and the whole world was acclaiming him, some of our party leaders now wanted me to make a statement that would ridicule me before civilized people and cause serious problems for our country.
“Of course, I refused to do any such thing. If that was the sabotage President Jonathan is referring to, I don’t think I should apologise for that,” he stated.