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Jonathan did not favour his kinsmen

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HRM King Owaba D. Charles Obhanoban Of Ogbia Kingdom, Bayelsa State
Ogbia Kingdom in Bayelsa State is a riverine and agrarian community, known for massive production of yam, plantain, cassava and fish.It is in one of the villages in this kingdom that former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was born.

The reigning monarch in this ancient kingdom is 67-year-old Owaba D. Charles, who is the Obhanoban of Ogbia Kingdom. He ascended the throne in March this year. Recently, The Palace Watch had an interview with him.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan is from this kingdom. What type of man would you say he is and how do your people perceive him?
Former President Goodluck Jonathan is a very good man, and a gentleman by every standard, no matter what anybody might say. And take it or leave it, Jonathan it was, who consolidated the present democratic experience we are now enjoying in Nigeria. The reason(s) for this claim are not far-fetched. It is certainly novel in Africa for a president who contested and lost an election, to voluntarily and peacefully handover power to an opposition party. This credit can never be taken away from Jonathan.

What do you have to say about his wife, Patience Jonathan? Did her conduct help Jonathan, while in office?
Whatever way people might want to look at her conducts, my belief is that Mrs. Jonathan believed strongly in her husband and did her very best to make sure he succeeded in office.

Jonathan recently complained about harassment of his immediate family members. Do you think this is proper, if indeed the ex-president’s allegation is true?
It is within former president Jonathan’s right to complain, if the current government is harassing his immediate family members. However, what I would want to say is that Buhari’s administration needs to be more sincere and open in its fight against corruption, if this government wants to be taken seriously. As everyone can see, the present fight against corruption is sectional. I humbly suggest that all the people involved in corrupt practices in the country should be investigated and taken to court to account for their deeds, whether they are in PDP or APC. Once this is done, people will no longer complain.

If President Buhari honestly wants to be taken seriously, there should be no hiding place for all corrupt persons in Nigeria. The present approach, whereby people from one political party are the ones being investigated and prosecuted for corruption, is not helping matters. Once the right thing is done, the government will appear genuine to all in its fight against corruption.

During his campaign in 2015, President Buhari pledged that his government would tackle three areas: security, corruption and economy. It’s been two years since he assumed office. How do you rate his performance?
Government is continuous, and there is no one person or administration that can solve all the problems in Nigeria. While President Jonathan was in office, he did his very best to put some structures in place. These are some of the structures President Buhari is presently building on. It will, therefore, be wrong for the Buhari’s administration to now begin to appropriate all the good works that have been done in the country over the years.

Former President Obasanjo came to office and did his very best. He left office after eight years. From where he stopped, President Yar’Adua later continued, though unfortunately he died in office. Jonathan continued from where Yar’Adua stopped. Buhari will, therefore, be expected to do his utmost best and leave the rest for whosoever will take over from him.

Buhari’s administration is working and doing its best to make Nigeria a better place for us all. We must commend him for what his government is presently doing.

In your opinion, was ex-President Jonathan really as corrupt as people presently perceive him to be?
Arrant nonsense! Show me whoever has occupied a high government office in this country, whether military or civilian that came out clear of corruption. It is wrong for anybody to be pointing accusing fingers at Jonathan, and alleging all manner of corrupt practices against him. Jonathan deserved more respect for what he has done to keep this country going without crises. If we continue to behave this way, people will be very scared of handing over power peacefully in future. They will be afraid of being maltreated and persecuted after leaving office. How we treat Jonathan today, will act as a pointer to other people.

What would you say your kingdom benefitted from Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency?
His presidency made my people to be very conscious of government activities, both at the state and federal levels. My people are now much more are aware of the happenings around them. This cannot be quantified in terms of money.

My people are now very much aware that the country has not been treating us well. Even though we had a president from here, these areas of the country are still very backward in terms of infrastructural development. Oloibiri, where oil was first discovered in Nigeria, is in my kingdom. The crude oil money made it possible for many areas of the country to be developed today. The oil wealth from these areas also made it possible for people across the country to send their children and relatives to good schools in and outside the country. So, it is just and proper that people from my kingdom are given proper treatment. Part of the treatment we are asking for are good infrastructures.

Oil companies and the government at the centre should make it a point of duty to come and develop this part of the country. Once this is done, we will not complain. We are peace-loving people.

If I must put it straight, even while Jonathan was still in government, there were so many things we could not get, just because he was a president from a minority tribe in Nigeria.

What specific things did Jonathan do in Ogbia kingdom, while in office?
Although he did not build any industry here in Ogbia Kingdom, but we are very happy as a people that Jonathan sited a Federal University in Ogbia. During his tenure, some of our sons and daughters were appointed into offices in government at the centre, of which we are very appreciative. He also ensured that some of our children were given scholarship.

The Local Content Organisation headquarters is located in Ogbia land, courtesy of Jonathan. He also made sure the East West Road passed through Ogbia land to other parts of Niger Delta region.

A large number of the Ogbia people are very pleased with Jonathan’s performance in office. But as you know, no matter his efforts, you don’t expect everybody to be pleased with him. What is important, however, is that a majority of our people are happy with him.

Do you ever see another Ijaw man or woman becoming the President of Nigeria?
Jonathan becoming the President of Nigeria was nobody’s making. It was the Lord’s doing. We never expected that an Ijaw man would become the President of Nigeria. The God that made Jonathan’s presidency possible is still on the throne. So, I say ‘Yes,’ another Ijaw person will one day become the President of Nigeria. It is will only take some time.



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