By Ejiofor Alike
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has rejected the allegation by a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell, that the 2011 presidential election won by him was rigged.
In a statement issued yesterday by his spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, the former president stated that “Campbell styles himself as a ‘Nigeria expert’ at the Council for Foreign Relations, but in truth, he is regarded as a figure of ridicule in Nigeria for his postulations, which have repeatedly and consistently proven to be way off the mark.
“How he can continue to make pretensions to be an expert on Nigeria beats our imagination. Besides serving as a diplomat in his country’s embassy in our dear country, what other competences does Campbell possess to qualify as a Nigeria expert?”
Jonathan added that Campbell has continued to deploy “his half-baked knowledge of the nation’s political environment and his closeness to the United States power brokers not only to canvass his ill-conceived political agenda, but to also exploit some Nigerian politicians.
“For instance, because he is not well schooled in the tone and nuances of Nigerian politics, he had no way of knowing that the riots he cited in some cities in the north following the 2011 presidential election had nothing to do with his claims on rigging. Otherwise, why would Bauchi and Kano States, where former President Jonathan had only 16 per cent and 15 per cent of votes, witness the worst riots?”
The former president explained that the 2011 presidential election was adjudged by both local and international observers, including the Commonwealth Election Monitoring Group and even the US contingent of both the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, as the most credible and transparent elections in Nigeria, since the country returned to civil rule in 1999.
Jonathan said the chair of the Commonwealth Election Observer Group, former Botswana President Festus Mogae, had said on April 18, 2011, that the 2011 Nigerian elections discarded the notion that the country can only hold flawed elections.
“Previously held notions that Nigeria can only hold flawed elections are now being discarded and this country can now shake off that stigma and redeem its image,” Jonathan quoted Mogae as saying.
He added that the 2011 elections saw a 75 per cent reduction in election petition cases in Nigeria, adding that the United States Institute for Peace described the elections as the best run election in Nigeria’s history.
“Nigeria’s 2011 general elections—in particular the presidential election—were seen widely as being well-run. This was especially important, given the universally decried elections of 2007,” he stated.
Jonathan also recalled that on December 29, 2011, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared that he was validly elected.
“It is important to note that this was a seven-man panel and there was no dissenting judgment. The verdict had no such precedent in Nigeria’s political history,” Jonathan added.
He said he was known for his ‘one-man, one-vote, one-woman, one-vote, one-youth one -vote’ policy.
Jonathan also recalled that before the 2011 elections, he had said his ambition was not worth the blood of any citizen, adding that he was guided by that creed throughout the electoral process.
He said he was also on record to have publicly called on the members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to even attempt to rig for him, stating that he was a pencil in God’s hands.
“There is no doubt that Nigerians above 45 years witnessed the past six presidential elections in the country- 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 – and are in a better position than Campbell to objectively appraise the processes. Today, our compatriots are focusing on such issues as electronic voting and complete independence of the electoral body INEC, as a way of strengthening our democracy, ahead of the next general elections. Anyone who means well for the country’s democracy should rather focus his attention on perspectives that could illuminate this path, not offer jaundiced and self-serving opinions on a settled past.
“Perhaps this is the time to remind Campbell and other wheeling and dealing consultants like him that Nigerians have placed the 2011 elections behind them and are no longer in a position to welcome those who have nothing but sophistry to offer our citizens! As our own inimitable Fela would say, ‘Mr. Teacher don’t teach us nonsense,” Jonathan said.