The Presidency has described as “false and irresponsible” reports that former President Goodluck Jonathan was blackmailed to support the governing party, APC, in recent Bayelsa State elections.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, expressed shock that such a story could be considered believable to the point of being given space in some newspapers.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Shehu said, adding: “Our media really must learn to verify whatever they publish. And people who make wild allegations during interviews should be made to produce the facts backing their claims by editors. A newspaper can be sued for granting space to people who belch false allegations against individuals with no proof.”
Shehu said the former president had been out of power for almost five years, without any previous allegations of government blackmail cropping up. He also noted that there were more than enough reasons for Dr. Jonathan to work against his party, PDP, in the just-concluded Bayelsa elections, without interference by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Anyone who has been following the politics of Bayelsa State should be aware of the sour relationship between Dr. Jonathan and the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson,” Shehu said.
“That’s more than enough reason for the former president to decide to work against his party, if indeed he did. We really must stop this habit of blaming President Buhari for everything, including issues that are not his business,” he added.
The presidency disclaimer came after Jonathan himself restated his innocence regarding the allegation that he betrayed the 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.