By Abiola Olawale
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has allegedly revealed how the incumbent Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai and the All Progressives Congress (APC), purportedly spread various allegations and propaganda to denigrate his candidacy during the 2015 general elections in the country.
Jonathan, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said APC succeeded in using the security challenges in the country during his tenure and the numerous corruption allegations against his government to mislead Nigerians, in a bid to support the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari, who went on to win the 2015 presidential election.
Jonathan also recalled how El-Rufai, accused him and the then President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, of being Boko Haram sponsors.
Jonathan, a revered ECOWAS Peace Ambassador said the claims were laughable and extremely ridiculous, adding that he decided to overlook such claims because his government was determined not to pull anyone down.
Former President Jonathan disclosed this in his book, “My Transition Hours”.
According to him, the APC took the opportunity of the freedom of speech enjoyed during his tenure to soil his reputation in the 2015 presidential election, adding that his government was consistently attacked and maligned to ensure the propaganda succeeded.
Excerpts from the book reads, “The President security could quickly have fired at the source of the missiles, thinking it was the insurgents. But we responded differently. I have always said it and meant it. Nothing I wanted was worth the blood of a human being, least of all, the people I had the direct charge to protect, the people I swore to serve. Muhammadu Buhari was in my home state and I proactively ensured that nothing of that sort happened. He was not the president and it would have been easy to return the dubious compliment. There was no shortage of courageous young men ready to carry out such a mission. We could also have denied complicity as they did, but it was not my way. Besides not being so base by nature, I would have reduced an office I held in trust and embarrassed my colleague and many others around the world who hold me to certain standards and values. I encouraged my supporters not to dwell on the issue. When I accepted the PDP nomination for re-elections, I had charged myself and my supporters to campaign in peace with hope in our hearts, on the facts and truth on issues and ideas, on our records of performance, not violence. Ours was a campaign of ideas. We put it behind us and forged ahead with a clean campaign.
Jonathan continued: “The opposition was steeped in negative rhetoric and slurs of all manners. We were not swayed. I campaigned consistently on what we did, what we were doing and what we could still do. My concern was for new ideas and positive ways of doing things. It was essential to purge the do-or-die mentality from our minds. It would take some time but I knew I was making headway in that direction. It showed by the massive drop in politically motivated assassinations. It simply vanished because the leader was not interested in killing to win. They raised a chorus of “Jonathan must go.” They crafted a pseudo activist image. They loaded the campaign space with a lot of unproven corruption. The propaganda exhibited by the opposition was infinitely worse than anyone they could imagine and they imagined plenty. The point was to mislead the ordinary folks against the government. It was even taken to the ridiculous extent of claiming that I was behind Boko Haram. They said I planned it to reduce the number of northern voters. A particular opposition politician, Nasir El-Rufai, who became the Governor of Kaduna State, went to the ridiculous extent of tweeting on August 9, 2014, that the then President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, and I were sponsors of the Boko Haram. He added that Boko Haram members were not Muslims but Christians disguised as Muslims to spoil Islam’s good name. Of course, it was laughable and extremely ridiculous. On the same day, at the Portcullis House in Parliament, London, El-Rufai repeated the same allegations at an event.”
It would be recalled that El-Rufai had alleged that Pastor Oritsejafor and Jonathan were sponsors of the terrorist’s organisation — Boko Haram.
The Governor at several times constantly alleged that Jonathan was using Boko Haram to reduce the voting capacity in the North. He also alleged that Jonathan was using the insurgent to cover up the alleged corruption that went on during his administration.
Additionally, El-Rufai also alleged that Oritsejafor received a sum of N50 billion for Jonathan to illegally procure arms to support the Boko Haram.
Similarly, several corruption allegations were levelled against the former president.
However, five years after President Buhari was sworn in as the President of Nigeria, insecurity has worsened, with many insurgents groups emerging under the APC-led government’s watch.
Banditry, kidnapping, herdsmen crisis, among other insecurity monsters have marred the Buhari-led government.
Many had argued that the evasive rhetorics by the Nigerian government without addressing the dire security situation has further led to the rise of dissidents’ voices across Nigeria, including in the Southwest region of the country, a hitherto safe haven that has never been given to separatist’s tendency often seen in parts of the country in the past.