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‘Nigerians Should Appreciate President Jonathan For Conceding Defeat’

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Ofehe- image source Twitter

Ofehe- image source Twitter

Comrade Sunny Ofehe, a Dutch-Nigerian activist and founder, Hope For The Niger- Delta Campaigns (HNDC) speaks about the just concluded presidential election, Buhari’s victory, and other issues.

How did those of you in Diaspora receive the news of General Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the March 28 Presidential election?
I cannot speak for every Nigerian in Diaspora, but I can confidently say that if the election has been conducted in the Diaspora, Buhari would have won landslide.

It was clear that the popularity of President Goodluck Jonathan plummeted to a record low since after the Chibok girls were abducted. Gen. Buhari and his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo spent the last months of their campaigns addressing Nigerians and the international community of their determination and reasons why they are the best choice for the country.

They engaged in constructive and productive meetings with top international politicians, government officials, and civil society organizations. Take for example the much-publicized Chatham House meeting in London.

Meanwhile, President Jonathan’s media moguls were busy fighting a detrimental war with the opponents.

When I observed that the popularity of Buhari was growing more than that of the President Jonathan, I tried many times to raise this with some people I know in the government or close associates of the President but they ignored my warnings.

You had the privilege to meet President Goodluck Jonathan on several occasions, how will you describe him?
The President is a very good person. He is humble and very respectful of everyone irrespective of your social status.

Those who have met him will attest to this. He is also a very shy person who will always smile and make friendly gesture whenever he is around strangers. Unfortunately, many people around him particularly those in his inner circle took advantage of his simplicity.

Majority of them became demi-gods, egoistic, arrogant and power drunk, their actions brought the good President many enemies even from the Niger Delta region.

I have heard many people say President Goodluck Jonathan is too corrupt, I stand here to say without fear or favor that Goodluck Jonathan was never corrupt and has never been and is not materialistic either.

I agree when people say he surrounded himself with very corrupt people and the fact that he couldn’t manage them well-affected public perception about him.

What do you think was responsible for President’s loss in the just concluded presidential election?
President Goodluck Jonathan was a very popular person among Nigerians and that reflected on his winning card in the 2011 presidential election.

I was one of the unpopular voices from the South-South who felt President Jonathan should have allowed the North to complete the Yar’Adua term particularly when it became controversial and led to a national debate.

I think President Jonathan was misled by those who saw his Presidency as an opportunity to enjoy political affluence. It was from that moment he fell out with a few powerful forces from the North, and even in the Southwest and that played a major role in his overwhelming rejection at poll in Southwest and North this time.

On the issue of corruption, he didn’t really impose himself on it and his administration was plagued with so much corruption.

He was never a part of it, but he never took any drastic action to convince anybody he was the answer to our quest to eradicate corruption in the country.

He also made some questionable decisions that portrayed him as a president encouraging corruption.

But do you think his government did well on the issue of Boko Haram insurgency and the abducted Chibok girls?
The insecurity in the Northeast of the country caused by Boko Haram made him very unpopular, particularly after the abduction of the Chibok girls.

I wouldn’t say he was affected because he didn’t defeat Boko Haram or release the girls, it was the way he managed the crisis that contributed to his loss. It took him a long time to meet the families of the girls.

He waited until few weeks to the election before he made a daring visit to Maiduguri to meet with our gallant soldiers. It was seen by many as a political gaffe.

Just like a friend told me, “it was a great move that came too late.”

I never saw any Nigerian fallen soldier getting a heroic and national burial like what we saw in France after the terrorist attack that left four police officers dead.

What is your view on how the President Jonathan’s campaign was managed?
Lastly and even most importantly his administration lacked competent media management.

In any administration, it is the public relations that you maintain with your people and the international community that determines your rating.

Take for example the roles played by Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe, there was no discipline in their public utterances.

They made conflicting public statements and their handling of the proposed Boko Haram Amnesty and even the Chibok girls was woeful. This left a permanent scar on the administration.

Many people lost confidence in President Jonathan’s administration, and demanded for a change.

Let us look at the management of the election campaigns particularly from when Chief Femi Fani Kayode (FFK) was introduced. The choice of FFK in the first place was a mistake.

This was a man who had defected to the opposition and blasted the PDP and President Jonathan in public interviews.

What credibility does he have to market the image and reputation of the same party and same President he slaughtered while temporarily being on the other side of the fence?

Also, their strategy of attacking consistently the opposition candidate personally was wrong. The issue of Buhari’s certificate, the issue of his health and what he did and did not do as a military Head of State was baseless. At a time when Nigerians were hungry and unemployed, these topics became meaningless.


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