Arguing that Nigerians already knew the story of former president Goodluck Jonathan’s habitual negligence to importance matters of state, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in an unprecedented display of Nigeria’s dog-eat politics, ripped Jonathan over claims by former British prime minister, David Cameron that the Jonathan administration rejected an offer by the United Kingdom to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls, who were kidnapped in April 2014 by Boko Haram.
“Nigerians already know the story of Jonathan’s habitual negligence to matters of state. The Chibok school girls’ abduction and his “sleeping behind the wheel” is not a story to deny, as it is already part of our national history. We may disagree on a number of issues in Nigeria, but there is a national consensus on the fact that PDP elevated corruption to a national culture,” APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said in a statement; adding that while Jonathan was entitled to a right of reply, he shouldn’t have bothered about Cameron’s allegations, not to talk of denying it.
Cameron, in his new book, For the Record accused Jonathan; Nigeria’s president from, 2009 till 2015, of “sleeping on the wheel” while terrorists struck Borno, noting that Jonathan also rejected the British offer to help in the rescue of the Chibok girls, while accusing the Jonathan administration of corruption.
But Jonathan, who disputed the statement in a Facebook post, said there was no truth in what Cameron said, adding that the only reason Cameron was after him was because he rejected same sex marriage, which he (Cameron) and other western leaders had pressured him to embrace, which he turned down in good conscience. He said his government had requested help from the UK, US, Israel and France. “He (Cameron) never called me on the phone to offer any help; on the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him.” Jonathan said he could not have appealed for help and at the same time; reject the help he appealed for, from the British government.
“It is quite sad that Mr. Cameron would say this because nothing of such ever occurred. As President of Nigeria, I not only wrote letters to then Prime Minister David Cameron, I also wrote to the then US President, Barrack Obama, and the then French President, François Hollande, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appealing to them for help in rescuing the Chibok Girls.” Jonathan said Cameron was a pathological liar, noting “that copies of that letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London.”
Jonathan said history contradicts Cameron because the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus, along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara, in Sokoto on March 8, 2012 and he authorized a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army.
In the book, Cameron also accused Jonathan of appointing security chiefs based on political considerations. Jonathan, however, refuted the claims, saying he fired the country’s service chiefs twice in five years, to show his intolerance to anything less than meaningful progress in the war on terror.
“I was completely blind to ethnic or political considerations in my appointments,” Jonathan said, adding that his government appointed people he never met based on their professional pedigree.
Jonathan said; to demonstrate his commitment to rescue the girls, he took some extra-ordinary steps, including authorizing a secret deployment of troops from the UK, the US, and Israel. “So, how Mr. Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me,” he wrote, noting that he was not disturbed by Cameron’s account, because he had been publicly discredited by his successor in office, Mrs. Theresa May. Moreover, on March 8, 2017, the British Government of former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a widely circulated press statement, debunked this allegation and said there was no truth in it after Mr. Cameron had made similar statements to the Observer of the UK,” he stated.
Jonathan accused Cameron of keeping grudges against him because he did not pass legislation supporting same sex marriage in Nigeria. “I came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron,” Jonathan said. “I swore on the Bible to advance Nigeria’s interests, and not the interest of the United Kingdom or any foreign power.” Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law on Monday, January 13, 2014. He said Cameron thereafter reached him “through envoys, and made subtle and not so subtle threats against me and my government.”
On corruption, Jonathan said “Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement. As a nation, we have not made such improvements on the CPI before or after 2014.”
But commenting on the exchange between Jonathan and Cameron, the APC said the former president shouldn’t have responded to Cameron’s allegation, because what is important was for Jonathan to explain to the families of the abducted schoolgirls why as president he did nothing for two weeks after the Chibok girls’ abductions. The ruling party said Jonathan has still not taken responsibility for the tragedy but continues to blame the Chibok abductions and other failings of his administration on the so-called grand conspiracy against him. APC stated the Buhari administration’s reaction after the similar and unfortunate Dapchi schoolgirls kidnapping is a pointer to how a responsive government should act.
“Denying or arguing against the truth is not going to change anything at this stage. The stories of outlandish corrupt practices under the PDP are still unraveling,” it stated, adding that the bit that claimed the Jonathan government was corrupt was actually half of the story, adding that the full story was that corruption was the hallmarked of the successive 16 years administrations under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). APC noted that it was shameful that anyone was even defending the PDP, stressing that corruption was the party’s political ideology, noting that it was a fact already cast in stone and that Nigerians did not need Cameron or anyone else to tell them how corrupt and ineffectual the PDP era was.
Meanwhile, the Bring Back Our Girls Family, Saturday, spent a minimum of one hour each at designated centers in Lagos and Abuja for a sit-out to mark the 2000 days in captivity of the remaining 112 Chibok girls. Explaining the significance of the sit-out, a statement by Gbenga Omotayo, Programs and Media Lead at EIE, reiterated that, “The fight for the Chibok Girls is a fight for safe schools, for safe communities, for a safe country! It is a fight for the soul of Nigeria!
“The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ families in Abuja, Lagos, New York & Washington, DC call on our Local, State and Federal Governments to accelerate the actions necessary to bring back the rest of our Chibok Girls, Leah Sharibu and all other victims of kidnapping, especially schoolchildren, to their distressed families and an anxiously waiting nation.”