Former President Goodluck Jonathan has restated his innocence regarding the allegation that he betrayed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the recently held governorship election in Bayelsa State in order to cover up his alleged complicity in the controversial Malabu oil and gas deal. Dismissing the allegation as cheap blackmail, Jonathan insisted he did nothing wrong as far as the Malabu deal was concerned; therefore he “doesn’t need to cut a deal with anybody within or outside Nigeria.”
The former president was reacting to allegations by former Adamawa Governor, Sule Lamido, that Jonathan traded PDP’s victory in the governorship election in Bayelsa State to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to escape being prosecuted in the controversial Malabu oil deal.
“It is important to establish at this point that Mr. Lamido probably knows very little about the Malabu case, for which he was not supposed to have commented blindly. In the first place, the Malabu oil block was not given out by Jonathan. It was a deal that was sealed during the time of late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha,” Jonathan said, in a statement by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze. Jonathan argued that Lamido’s comments were a grand design to cover up the truth by confusing and deceiving the public.
“We feel that Mr. Lamido is in a position to know that the business of oil exploration has an international dimension, as such, it is clear that it is not only the Nigerian government that is looking into the Malabu case. If that is the case, he should also have known that there are at least three other countries outside Africa that are investigating the matter. Assuming without conceding that the former President Jonathan is culpable as Lamido alleged, would a trade-off deal with the Nigerian government also free him from blame in other countries like Italy, United Kingdom and the United States?
“His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan is convinced that Mr. Lamido’s awkward intervention in this matter was deliberately designed as a form of blackmail. Having tried many other ways to discredit the former President to no avail, Mr. Lamido is now scheming to project Malabo as Jonathan’s Achilles heel. Here again he has failed because the true story of Malabo is already very well known to Nigerians.”
The former President recalled that PDP lost Jigawa State, where Lamido held sway as PDP’s governor for two terms, to APC. “Is he (Lamido) then telling Nigerians that he cut a deal with APC, helped the ruling party to procure victory at the polls and take over his state? The fact is that it is not only in Bayelsa State that the country had experienced such a situation where PDP or even APC had lost elections to another party. Holding Jonathan responsible for PDP’s loss in Bayelsa without first investigating the issues that determined the fate suffered by the party in the state is not only disingenuous but also detrimental to the image and aspirations of the party,” Eze added.
“It is true that Jonathan who is a former deputy governor and governor of Bayelsa States as well as former vice president and president of this country is well loved and respected by his people. However, it will be tantamount to playing God for anybody to expect that the former President should command a vice-like grip on every Bayelsan in all the local government councils in his state.”
“Rather than cast aspersions and throw shades because of pre-existing animosities and prejudices against the former President, what is expected of party leaders like Mr. Lamido is to seek to interrogate whatever went wrong in Bayelsa, to avert a repeat in another state. We believe that further interrogation of Lamido’s other weird claims is not necessary in this space, lest it gives the unfortunate interview more attention than it deserves.”
Eze in the rebuttal said: “For the umpteenth time, we restate the following facts to proclaim Dr. Jonathan’s innocence: “Former President Goodluck Jonathan did not ask for or collect any bribes over the Malabu deal, neither has he been charged for asking or collecting bribes, neither will he ever be charged with asking for or collecting bribes, because such never happened. The fact remains that as recent national events continue to vindicate former President Jonathan, and as the world continues to celebrate him, those who are insecure will feed such propaganda to their media agents to serve their narrow interests.
“We have always made it clear that beyond this wave of conjecture, former President Jonathan was not linked, indicted or charged for collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes by any law enforcement body the world over. It bears repeating that the documents relating to the transactions and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabo issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the relevant Government offices, where they are accessible.
“We would like to point out that all the actions taken by the Jonathan administration in relation to activities in the oil industry were legally conducted by relevant Nigerian Government officials and were carried out in the best interest of the country. We call on anyone, including Mr. Sule Lamido, who has any shred of evidence linking former President Jonathan to any wrongdoing in the case of the Malabu incident to waste no time in publishing such evidence or forever remain silent,” adding that “we really do not know why Mr. Lamido, chose to speak like he did, especially with such hostility, contempt and lies against former President Jonathan.
“However, one thing is clear: In his anger and apparent bile-filled disposition, Mr. Lamido, an otherwise astute and erudite politician, obviously dropped the ball by electing not to speak responsibly like a statesman. He actually came off the interview sounding like a sulking skunk, to whom logic or reason meant nothing. It didn’t matter to him that, as a well-respected member of the society, he shouldn’t make such weighty claims against a former President if he was only guessing, like he admitted. Hear him: ‘And the issue of Malabo, I think, played a key role. So, hugely pathetic!’”