President Goodluck Jonathan
By Chuks Okocha and Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Presidency Tuesday defended the integrity of President Goodluck Jonathan who in the last few days, has been excoriated by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) presidential candidate, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
It dismissed Buhari’s assertion that Jonathan, along with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, was responsible for the corruption in the nation’s oil sector.
It also described ACN’s attacks on Jonathan following his Monday speech at the general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as “illogical, untruthful and irresponsible.”
Jonathan, during the conference, had described his presidency as the most criticised in the world and had queried why he was being held responsible for the state of insecurity, power failure, decaying infrastructure, even though his administration inherited these problems.
Buhari, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, had also on Monday said that corruption had prevailed in the oil sector during the Obasanjo, Babangida and Jonathan era, because they had the mindset to cheat the people.
But Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, carpeted Buhari for including Jonathan among Nigerian leaders responsible for the rot in the oil sector.
He said: “General Buhari made a great mistake in including President Jonathan among presidents that had killed the oil industry with corruption.
“That president has successfully put together the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that is acceptable globally as best for industry practice and as a great achievement on the part of the present administration.
“It is also under this administration that the perennial fraud in the oil subsidy was exposed. So Buhari made a great mistake by including President Jonathan among those who superintended over the corruption in the petroleum sector.”
Speaking on comments made by Buhari calling on leaders to keep their word to the citizenry, Okupe accused the former head of state of double standards.
“One cannot but remember while in office, Buhari flouted the laws made by his administration in the controversial 53 suit cases scandal and the visit by the young Idiagbon to Mecca, whereas the administration made a law banning underage children from visiting Mecca,” he said.
Okupe said instead of including Jonathan among those that killed the oil sector, Buhari should have commended him for his forthrightness in the development of the sector.
According to him, “The president has kept his promise as evidenced by developments in the power sector, where there is over 4,000 Megawatts of electricity being generated.
“It is on record that there have been free and fair elections in the country, especially in Edo State, even to the detriment of the president’s party.”
On the accusation by the ACN that the president’s comment at the NBA conference that he is the most criticised leader because of rising insecurity, which the party described as despondency on the part of the president, Okupe said: “The ACN interpretation is jaundiced and a total misrepresentation of the facts of what the president said.
He said contrary to the perception of the Jonathan administration by the opposition, some world leaders have given him a good rating over how he has been handling the nation’s economy.
Quoting a representative of the United States President Barack Obama in the just-concluded Trade and Investment Summit, Ambassador Eunice Reddick, Okupe said: “President Barack Obama said that the economic team of President Jonathan remains the best in the world and that Nigeria is the next economic miracle and giant being launched in the world.”
In spite of the presidency’s effort to defend the president, the opposition launched another attack on Jonathan, describing his approach to the challenges of leadership as highly demoralising and incapable of stirring up the inert potentials of Nigerians to be able to reach great heights.
The ACN, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, said rather than engage in mere lamentation over criticisms by the opposition, the president should try to inspire confidence amongst the people.
The party said that what a nation expects from a president even in a time of crisis are words that would inspire the citizens and give them confidence that the helmsman is on top of the situation and not the kind of words credited to President Jonathan.
According to ACN, such lamentations are only capable of demoralising the citizenry and telling them that things are out of control and that he is completely at a loss as what to do.
“What Nigerians expect from their leader are uplifting words, words of inspiration that can bring out the hidden potentials of its citizens, words that will galvanise Nigerians to positive action and imbue them with self esteem and not the kind of lamentations of President Jonathan that have served only to confirm that the ship of state has no helmsman and everyone is at peril,” the party said.
ACN described the president’s complaint as an admission of failure, incompetence and unpreparedness to govern.
“Hasn’t anyone told President Jonathan that the buck stops on his desk? Hasn’t anyone told President Jonathan that an administration inherits both the assets and liabilities of his predecessors in office?
“Hasn’t anyone told President Jonathan that his responsibilities as president include clearing the mess left by his predecessors in office while at the same time leaving his own legacies? Does President Jonathan expect sympathy from the citizens by this open admission of incompetence and resignation to failure,” the party queried.
On their part, the All Nigeria Peoples Party and Congress for Progressive Change Tuesday decried the complaints by the president over the criticism that has dogged his administration.
Reacting to the president’s speech at the NBA conference, ANPP’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Emma Eneukwu said the reason for the mounting criticism against the regime of President Jonathan stemmed from his inability to leave up to expectations.
“This is correct because his policies are unpopular. He has not been performing. People gave him an overwhelming victory at the last elections thinking he will perform but he has failed and that has elicited criticism from the opposition parties and Nigerians who are disappointed by his non-performance and unpopular policies,” ANPP said.
In the same vein, the National Publicity Secretary of CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said compared to the years of experimenting with military and civilian regimes, there was never one more wanting in patriotism and honour than the Jonathan administration.
“He came into office out of the expediency of regional balancing and by default; not necessarily out of sheer competence. In the history of Nigeria, that is, aggregating the years of experimentation with military and civillian regimes, there had not been any that is more wanting in patriotism and honour as the Jonathan regime.
“In financial recklessness, it is unparalleled. In budgetary imprudence, it is unrivalled. In decadent administrative incompetence, it has n unassailable lead over others. In paucity of ideological depth and initiative, it is the numero uno.
“In terms cluelessness and a blinkered understanding of statecraft, it is the champion. What about festering corruptive tendencies with the attendant ethno-centric justifications? This regime transcends all others before it.
“A regime that spent N2.67 trillion as against the budgeted N240 billion on fuel subsidies has no rival (in terms of demonstrable impunity) in Nigeria’s history!” CPC stated.