Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s kinsmen, mainly from Ogbia, Bayelsa State, on Monday rose in his defence insisting that any plan to tarnish Jonathan’s rising international profile would be resisted by his people.
They spoke yesterday in Yenagoa, the state capital, against the backdrop of allegations by some former militant groups, that Jonathan was the mastermind behind the violent Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) which has vowed to cripple the country’s oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
The Ogbia Brotherhood, one of the most influential groups from the axis, described the insinuations that the ex-president was behind the bombings as malicious, spurious, baseless and unwarranted.
The leader of the group, Chief Benson Agadaga, a former commissioner in the state, called on security agencies to unravel the masquerades perpetuating the economic sabotage and the smear campaign against the ex-president and put a halt to the propaganda currently going on.
Jonathan’s kinsmen described the recent attack by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) on the person of the erstwhile president as ‘sinister,’ noting that no amount of mud thrown at the former president would erase his democratic credentials.
At the press conference, the National Chairman of the body, who spoke on behalf of the executive members, said the allegations were not only false, baseless and mischievous but equally wicked.
He urged the purported spokesman of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA), perceived as the propaganda arm of MEND to look elsewhere for its persistent campaign of calumny against Jonathan.
According to them, “The criminal and devilish intention and cheap propaganda” to rubbish the political status of the former president cannot be concealed with the hypocritical excuse of non performance and failing to develop the impoverished Niger Delta region.
“It is unthinkable that the former President by an iota of imagination could be linked with sponsoring or even establishing an armed outfit like the NDA to antagonise the federal government where he has just served as President by the goodwill of all Nigerians.
“May we add in unequivocal terms that the allegation lacks substance and does not bear true reflection or semblance to the nature, original beliefs and intent of the prominent son of Ogbia who holds the revered title as Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigerian (GCFR).
“The Ogbia people, for instance, are not historically known for fanning the ember of war or reckless shedding of blood for any reason. Jonathan appears to have inherited his political disposition from our political father, Chief Melford Okilo of blessed memory,” the Ogbia Brotherhood stated.
They described the former president as an embodiment of peace and stability, adding that from his antecedents, pedigree and actions, the former president exudes peace and was a firm believer in the sanctity of life and the unity and prosperity of Nigeria as an indivisible entity.
While cautioning against the demonization of Jonathan by people who have selfish interests, the group noted those working to frustrate the former president should desist henceforth.
“The Niger Delta cannot benefit anything by eliminating or frustrating Jonathan, our only national and international voice.
“Jonathan’s commitment to the sanctity of life is further demonstrated by the fact that throughout his tenure as Governor of Bayelsa State and as president of the country; there were no reported cases of extra-judicial killings and high profile assassinations.
“If MEND is in existence and wants to emancipate the Niger Delta, as the name implies, then surely the right way to go is not through sinister moves to pull down and eliminate the divinely given and anointed personalities of their own region”, they advised.
Calling on the “ faceless” group to stop persecuting and blackmailing the former president, the brotherhood said that Jonathan remains an embodiment of peace, stability and a firm believer in the sanctity of life.
Flanked by his Secretary-General, Chaplain Ogiriki Ebutu, Chief Agadaga stated that Jonathan would never sponsor an armed group against the Nigerian state after intentionally relinquishing power.
The youth wing of the body had earlier rallied their support for the former president over his face-off with the militants trying to link him with the NDA.
The National President, Ogbia Brotherhood Youth Wing (OBYW), Dr. Laguo Gilbert, had described Jonathan as a man of peace and father of modern democracy in Africa.
“History has it that even from his youth, Jonathan has been a humble peace-lover who values good and quality education. This is why with such great thoughts he was able to grow to this current political position, not minding his background.
“Moreover, Jonathan’s political activities from deputy governor to president were in line with his true thoughts and characters which anchor on peace, integrity and drive for quality education. Truly, this was demonstrated in the last 2015 general election,” the youths said.