Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The controversy trailing the recent book authored by former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, My Transition Hour, is showing no sign of abating any time soon with the Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, desribing the publication as a “disaster”.
The top government spokesperson was a guest on THISDAY sister television station, ARISE Television’s News Tonight at the weekend.
He deconstructed the former president’s literary endeavour, saying it should not have been written in the first place.
Though he said he has not read the book, the presidential media adviser, who noted that despite inviting President Buhari to the book launch, the publisher was yet to send a copy to the State House, added that from the snippets he has got from it, it is a controversial book already generating reactions.
“I have read online that some of his former ministers have come out to say that they never said he must not hand over. And of course, we have seen some statements coming from him. So, we have seen a lot of confusions in the publication. And then, was that what he was set out to achieve? I am not sure that anyone will write a book simply to cause confusion,” Shehu reasoned.
According to him, “I think that from all the actions we are getting, I think the only person Mr. Jonathan didn’t blame in that book is his wife. He blamed everybody under the sun for the things that went wrong with his election, for how he lost. So, therefore, I think that book is a disaster. It shouldn’t have been written.”
On Jonathan’s call that the federal government should leave him and his book alone and instead address Transparency International’s statistics showing that Nigeria has made her worst ever retrogression on corruption perception index, moving backwards 12 places, from 136 to 148, 12 times worse than he (Jonathan) left it, whereas he improved it from 144 to 136 in 2014, Garba said any anti-corruption rating a government attains is best measured in what it yields to the coffers of government.
“We shouldn’t hide behind smokescreen. What is Transparency International rating? All nations of the world are striving to get better, so if you are number one this year, some others are trying to displace you so that you become number 10. The real thing is, check the ground reality. We are talking about a situation whereby in all the 16 years of the PDP administration, they have netted only N20 billion in the recovery account of the EFCC. This administration, as we speak has about N400 billion on that account. That is a real difference!
“We are talking about situations in which we have introduced or activated many intentions that they have left on the ground but for lack of capacity and will, they couldn’t implement them. Like the Treasury Single Account (TSA). We are never ashamed to say that we found it in place but it was never implemented. There was no compliance. We are moving to a point where we are 80 – 90 per cent compliant in that respect.
“The whistleblower that we have introduced and so many of their legislations that are either being reformed or newly introduced, all of them designed to create an environment that is not conducive to corruption. I think that is the important thing we are doing.
“I think they just want to be ridiculous about these things. Look at the bottom line. This is about the theft of money. That is the essence of it – that grand corruption by which people will go to the Central Bank, bring out billions of dollars, put it on the table, they share and they take away! That is history in this country!
“So, the point I am making is that I would rather have N380 billion returned to Nigeria treasury than being ranked number 144 on transparency. It is nonsense. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
He confirmed that some Nigerian soldiers were killed in the North-east but said the military authority will give an official statement on the issue after completing official formalities.
“I don’t have their number but I am aware that there was gruesome incident in the North-east and that Nigeria military is making contacts with families that have lost dear ones. This is their own way of doing things and then when they are done with that they will be facing the nation to say this is what happened,” he said.