•President not harassing predecessor -Presidency
By Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan has hit at President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of fighting corruption, particularly deploring the de-marketing of Nigeria and Nigerians at international fora by branding citizens of the country as corrupt .
Jonathan also said those accusing him of corruption are more corrupt and are manipulating the media.
The former president’s views are contained in a book titled ‘Against the Run of Play’, written by Segun Adeniyi. The book will be formally presented to the public tomorrow.
Describing the style of going to international fora to label Nigerians corrupt as unhelpful, Jonathan said he could have adopted such style because it meant ridiculing the country before the international community .
President buhari had, shortly after inauguration, attended a forum in London where he agreed to the assertion by then British Prime Minister that “Nigeria is fantastically corrupt.” He made similar comments that painted Nigeria as acorrupt nation in other international fora.
Jonathan said in the book:
“I would not go outside the country and say Nigerians are the most corrupt people because not only is that unhelpful, I am also indicting myself.
Dismissing allegations that he presided a government that was deep in corruption, the former president fired back at his accusers as the real corrupt elements.
He said “By virtue of being President of Nigeria, I have come to know so many things about so many people,” he said.
“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.”
He continued “I have been told that I should have made scapegoats of some 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.
“You know Stella Oduah played a prominent role in my campaign in 2011. But when the investigation I ordered was carried out and the indictment was confirmed , I had to relieve her of her position.” He said he applied the same measure on Prof Barth Nnaji, then Minister of Power who he said had conflict of interests.
He continued: “Up till today, Stella hates me for her removal . No doubt, it was a very had decision for me to take because i seeing her as a friend as I take all the people who work for me , but that was what leadership demanded. That was what was important to me.
“Take the oil industry, we commissioned a report which I believe this administration is using. It deals with under valuation of the crude oil and gas being declared between what was lifted and what was discharged by the vessels. It was a comprehensive report that dealt with the issue of oil theft in Nigeria and how much we lost as a result”.
His style of fighting corruption is different from mine, and since most Nigerians apparently prefer his style, it is okay. There are steps you take that will help in retrieving ill-gotten wealth and punish offenders while restoring confidence in the system . But there are also things you can do to damage the system”, he said.
On the allegations of corruption against the former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke, Jonathan said “look at what we did when the allegations became strident. We established four committees to investigate different aspects of the oil and gas sectors, including the one headed by Nuhu Ribadu . If I had anything to hide, would I do that?
On the allegation by former President that he, Jonathan, never took the war on Boko Haram seriously, he said Obasanjo was also unable to resolve the crisis in the Niger Delta.
He said: “I recall that immediately he won the election in 1999, before he was even sworn in, Obasanjo had visited the Niger Delta to hold meetings . Meanwhile the first time I would be meeting Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom and other militants was years later in Aso Rock at a meeting Obasanjo called to find a solution to the problem at a period I was the deputy governor in Bayelsa . Despite all those efforts , Obasanjo failed to resolve the problem until the late Yar’Adua came with the Amnesty Programme. Should we hold Obasanjo accountable for the Niger Delta problem?”
Meanwhile, the Presidency has distanced President Muhammadu Buhari from allegations made by former President Goodluck Jonathan, that his administration was harassing his family.
It said rather President Buhari was only allowing the law to take its course
The presidency was reacting to a national daily’s publication entitled: BUHARI’S GOVT HARASSING MY FAMILY, SAYS JONATHAN.
The allegation is contained in a new book, “Against The Run of Play”, written by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi.
Jonathan was also quoted as disagreeing with Buhari’s style in fighting corruption.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement said, “We make bold to state, unequivocally, that President Buhari harasses nobody; he merely allows the law to take its course. For the umpteenth time, we say that anybody without skeleton in his or her cupboard, has nothing to fear about the bared fangs of the anti-corruption initiative.
“Fear belongs only to those who have abused trust while in office. Anybody who feels aggrieved is free to approach the courts to seek redress or justice. President Buhari believes in the rule of law and that is why his campaign against corruption is anchored on that plank”, Adesina said.
The presidential spokesman added, “With regard to President Buhari’s anti-graft style, which the former president deprecates, given the scale of revelations and recoveries so far by the anti-corruption agencies, it is obvious that corruption had an uninhibited course during our recent past. In any case, time will give the verdict on whose style of fighting corruption ultimately yielded the most dividends.
“For now, President Buhari is resolute and single-minded in the fact that his crusade against graft is not targeted at any individual or group. He firmly believes that national interest must always be placed above personal interest, no matter who is involved”, he said.