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Jonathan predicts rough times ahead

By From Mohammed Abubakar and Nkechi Onyedikachi-Ugoeze, Abuja and Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu (Benin City)
11 May 2015   |   2:25 am
President Goodluck Jonathan has peeped into the future and concluded that many of the people parading the corridors of power as his friends would abandon him.

Primate Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev, Nicholas Okoh (left); his wife, Nkasiobi; President Goodluck Jonathan; his wife, Dame Patience, at the First Family Thanksgiving and Farewell Service at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Gwarinpa, Abuja …yesterday PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

• Buhari urges patience • Ranks of my friends will deplete, says President • ‘I hope my wife will not divorce me’ 

WITH the clock ticking closer to the May 29, 2015 date for handover to Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Goodluck Jonathan has peeped into the future and concluded that many of the people parading the corridors of power as his friends would abandon him.

He predicted that the coming days would be rough for him and those who served with him. The president also revealed that his decision to concede victory, taken in the best interest of Nigeria was, however, not welcome by some people, who pretended to be loyal to him.

And in the same vein, as the handover looms, and Nigerians’ appetite for change heightens, President- elect Buhari has reiterated his call on the citizenry to exercise patience and give his administration the opportunity to fix the multifaceted problems bedeviling the country.

Speaking when he received a delegation of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) at his campaign headquarters in Abuja, Buhari explained that the rot in the country worsened by 16 years of misrule under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- led government cannot be dealt with in one fell swoop.

Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Governor-elect of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal yesterday said Buhari would be a president that would preside over Nigeria and not a president that would see himself as that of his party, APC only.

Tambuwal spoke to journalists yesterday in Opoji, Esan Central Local Council of Edo State where he was given a traditional title: The Onosejile (God-sent) of Opoji kingdom by the Onojie of Opoji, His Royal Highness Ehidiamen Aidonojie 1.

But for President Jonathan, it was not all gloom. Speaking at the Thanksgiving and Farewell Service organised for the First Family at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp Gwarimpa, Abuja, he remarked that given the events that shaped his life, he was returning to his village of Otuoke in Bayelsa State, “very happy and fulfilled.”

The service, which was led by the Archbishop of Abuja and Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rev. Nicholas Okoh, was to thank God for His guidance of the President and all that his administration has been able to accomplish for the country.

Reviewing his life’s story, the President, who was accompanied by the First Lady, Dame Patience said: “When I look at the story of my life up to when I became President of this country, it occurs to me that if soldiers and police officers that have not received 0.5 per cent of the benefits that I have received from the state can lay down their lives for this country, then, there is nothing whatsoever I should do in the interest of Nigeria that I won’t, including paying the supreme price.”

Jonathan said he would continue to do his best for the Nigerian state from which he has benefitted hugely. He noted that from his secondary to tertiary levels of education, up to the Master’s degree levels, he had one form of scholarship or the other even to the doctoral degree which he said was sponsored by his employers. “As long as live, I will continue to do my best for the state because the state has helped me as a person.

I have to thank Nigerians, especially my state for giving me the opportunity to serve as deputy governor, and then, the whole country which gave me the opportunity to serve as Vice President and then President, to complete the tenure of the late President and later serve as President in my own right, from which I am exiting now as a very happy and fulfilled man.”

He said his decision to concede victory to Buhari was “a costly decision,” which though has turned people from him, “had to be taken in the overall best interests of the nation.”

According to him: “Some hard decisions have their own costs, no doubt about that. That I have run the government this way, stabilised certain things including the electoral system of this country.

They were very costly decisions, which I myself must be ready to pay for.” He said such decisions did not only affect his relationship with people, but even those who work with him either as ministers or aides, as they would be subjected to rough times ahead.

“Some people come to me and say: ‘Is this person not your friend? Was it not through your government he benefited? But look at what he is saying. “Then, I know that worse treatment will come, if you take certain decision and that even some people, who are very close to you will abandon you at some point. I know that more of my so-called friends will disappear.”

The President likened his decision to the reform brought to South African political landscape by President FW De Klerk which led to the dismantling of the apartheid regime in that country.

He said: ‘‘When De Klerk took the decision to abolish minority rule in South Africa, even his wife divorced him.’’ Turning to his wife, the President smiling, said: “I hope my wife will not divorce me?” to which the First Lady shouted, Noooo!” and a deafening applause followed from the congregation.

The president went on to identify the dismantling of apartheid, as unpopular as it was to some, as the only decision that has made South Africa to still remain a global player till today.

“If we still had minority rule there, by this time, nobody would be talking about Republic of South Africa. If you take certain decisions, they might be good for the generality of the people but might affect some people differently. So for ministers and aides who served with me, I sympathise with them.

They will be persecuted and they must be ready for that persecution.’’ Paraphrasing the late social crusader, Tai Solarins’s October 1, 1964 article, ‘May Your Road Be Rough,’ Jonathan told his ministers and other aides who have served with him: “I wish you what I wish myself. There will be hard times, we will all have hard times. Our ways will be rough.

“But we are happy that the ordinary people appreciate what we did and that is most important. It’s not what the elite or the privileged few talk or say about you but what the majority of the Nigerian public think about your actions and inactions that matter.

We came to Abuja peacefully and we are returning home peacefully.” The President said he would continue to pray for the peace of the country and for the success of the incoming administration, noting, “when the country is in good shape, people will benefit. When things are going well, people are happy.

You don’t need to know Mr. President or Mr. Governor. “The issue is not about Jonathan or Buhari or any other person. The issue is how the government functions.

A stable, buoyant economy that will enable Nigerians to move forward and live happily, that is our interest. That is my prayer point.”

Former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana and Power Minister, Prof. Chinedu Nebo had earlier in their tributes attributed the peace and stability being enjoyed today in the country to Jonathan’s selflessness in conceding victory, “even when it was glaring that the polls were fraught with irregularities.”

Gana described the President as a man who was favoured by God in many ways, thanking God for what He used Jonathan to achieve for the country.

“Jonathan is a man of favour. He is highly favoured by God. We thank God for what He has done for Nigeria through the man. Despite the big positions he occupied in the country, he has remained humble and he has succeeded in deepening democracy in the country. He revived the rail system of transportation.

“He brought back hope to Nigeria and to cap it all he conceded victory to his opponent in a heroic manner,” the former minister said. Nebo also praised the President while reeling out some of his unique qualities and achievements in office.  “He is humane, gentle and unassuming. He has transformed Nigeria. He is not vindictive.

He loved the youths. He empowered, mentored and motivated youths and women. He is a listening leader. He listens to everyone in Council before making judgment.

He fixed the electoral process and brought credibility into it. He is Nigeria’s greatest leader,” Nebo said. Okoh, in his comments, said the President had several reasons to be thankful to God and should consider it a privilege to have been elected to lead the country of 170 million people. “The first one is the privilege to be President of Nigeria.

We are over 170 million. If it was done by the tallest, wisest, strongest, he would not have fit the bill. Having been deputy governor, governor, vice president, acting president and president, God has been good to him. It is a rare privilege which may not come to be appreciated in many years. “We also thank God for your contribution and growth of our country.

Some of the projects you initiated have been completed; some in advanced stage or at foundation stage, whatever stage it may be, generation yet unborn will read about Jonathan than he governed from so, so time to so, so time. It would be studied by our children in history books, so we should thank God.

‘‘Again, you are leaving the Villa alive. Only God knows what would have happened. The scripture says nothing is greater than life. You came in with your family around you and you are leaving with them which is good reason, not just to give thanks but to dance like David.

“Why you should give thanks is because is a command by God to give thanks in all circumstances. “Again, you may look into the future and you may wonder how you will handle it, but things have happened before now and God says He’ll be with you in all circumstances. In Lion’s den, God was with Daniel.’’

The President-elect told the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that some of the problems include the grave insecurity, especially in the North East geo-political zone with its attendant effect on the displacement of women and children, theft of about 400,000 of barrels of crude oil daily on the high seas, fall in oil price, and dearth in infrastructure in education, hospitals and roads.

He lamented that it was unfortunate that the huge sums of money, earned by Nigeria under the PDP-led administration, which is more than what the country earned from the date the north and southern protectorates were amalgamated in 1914, were frittered away with nothing on ground to show for it.

The president-elect who expressed gratitude to the NEF for coming to felicitate with him, said it behoves on them and other opinion leaders like the clerics to go to places of worship to propagate the message of patience to the citizenry who have high expectations from his administration.

Assuring that he would administer the country in a just and fair manner, he noted: “You have to convince your constituencies that we arrived at the wrong time.

We know what they are expecting but they should also temper it with some justice towards the leadership. You have to persuade the people that it is not possible to change the state of affairs now.

It took 16 years of misrule to get to this level.” Nevertheless, the President elect disclosed that he would preoccupy himself with the task of security of the country, revitalisation of the economy, agriculture, solid mineral and the power sector required to provide employment opportunities to the youths that constitute about 65 percent of the country’s population immediately after he is sworn-in on May 29.

Thanking God that the elections were held peacefully, he disclosed that he would assemble a team of experienced persons comprising technocrats that would assist his administration fix the multifaceted problems bedeviling the country.

The Dan Masanin Kano, and former Nigeria’s permanent representative to the United nation’s (UN), Dr Yusuf Maitama- Sule who led the delegation believed that there was a divine hand in Buhari’s victory, adding that if he brings his pedigree to bear in the governance of the country, Nigeria would soon join the comity of developed nation’s of the world. Sule who was accompanied by a cream of retired military officers, technocrats and politicians from the North admonished Buhari to be just and fair to Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religious inclinations as he administers Nigeria.

He noted: “The world itself can never be governed by force. What conquers is the mind; the spirit of justice and fair play. I have always known you to be a man of justice. Please don’t compromise; don’t discriminate against any part of Nigeria. Justice would bring about peace and development which in turn brings about employment opportunities. Do justice to us, to everybody and Allah would reward you.”