Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said he was wrongly judged by some of his friends and political opponents before the 2015 presidential election because of his personal convictions and the vision he had for the country.
He, however, insisted that he does not hold any grudge against his detractors for their harsh criticisms.
It would be recalled that the ex-President was widely criticised, before the election, for his approach to alleged corruption in his administration, the perennial problem of insecurity, and the sacking of some top government functionaries within his administration including the former Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, ex-Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, among other.
Speaking in Abuja during the public presentation of a book ‘Dear President Goodluck Jonathan’ written in his honour by Bonaventure Melah, a former Managing Editor of Daily Times, Jonathan said he was judged unfavourably by political leaders who wanted to take power at all cost.
He said much of the criticisms he faced were because of his deep interest in education which was perceived by his political enemies as misplaced at the time.
Jonathan said, “The best way to assess a leader is to look at the philosophy behind his leadership.
“For elected people, political parties are supposed to have ideologies but even within that persuasion, leaders must have their individual visions.
“I always don’t think about leadership at the level of a President or Governor based on infrastructure alone. Anybody who has money and is not a big thief would definitely provide that for the people.
“Apart from that, how else do you assess a leader, his thinking, his vision for leadership?
“My interest was to change the society through education. No matter what we do to elevate Nigeria without education, the society would find it difficult to change. That was my personal view.
“That was also why I intervened in the almajirai case. We needed to elevate them above that level, because of the many social problems they were causing,
“I strongly believe that if there must be a change in Nigeria, we must be competent scientifically and technologically, because technology rules the world today,” he explained.
On the controversial sack of some top functionaries in his administration, Jonathan said: “When a president or a governor sacks a person. Sometimes, what society thinks could be the reason for that decision may be very different from the reality.
“There were insinuations that I sacked Ihejirika because of pressures from the North. Far from it! If somebody is going the right thing, even if you want to split my head, I would not sack the person.
“When my close political allies, advised me to sacrifice Arunma Oteh so that I don’t have problems with the House of Representatives. I said I won’t sacrifice any Nigerian just for me to be in the good books of the lawmakers. Rather, I would sacrifice myself. I took that decision because I was convinced she was not corrupt. If I had sacked her undeservedly that may have been the end of her career with the World Bank.”
The former President further regretted that he and some members of his cabinet was wrongly tagged corrupt at the dawn of the current administration.
He, however, noted that such perceptions about him was gradually changing for the better.
“That is the problem myself and some members of my cabinet are still suffering since the beginning this administration when we were all tagged corrupt people. But I thank God that people can come together to celebrate me today. It is God. Otherwise, I would have been completely buried (politically).”
In his goodwill message, Senator Dino Melaye, who represented Kogi west senatorial district in the 8th National Assembly tendered a public apology to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, for the what he described as ‘blind criticism’ of his government before the 2015 general election that resulted in the loss of the Presidency by the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
He said, “I Senator Dino Melaye, I want to say openly here that after many things that have happened and events that have unfolded in recent times, I want to say openly here that once I was blind, now I can see.
“Despite all I did to the Jonathan administration, I was never arrested and detained overnight by the police. But, in 2017, I was arrested 18 times, there were more times in 2018 and between then and now, I have been taken to court for twelve different cases, and out of those cases, we have wen eleven of them. And the only remaining one borders on attempted suicide.
“I wonder how someone like me who likes cars and love life so well would want to kill himself.
“President Goodluck Jonathan, I want to say that on behalf of all of us who shot blindly, we are sorry. .
”I sometimes wondered that if you had not made that call, be would not be where we are today.
“But after I saw what is happening in America, where President Trump is saying I no go gree, I can now see the reason for that call. There are very few people like you. I pray for that anointing” Melaye said.
In his keynote address, the Governor of Kano, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, described former President Goodluck Jonathan as an angel for conceding defeat without pressures in the 2015 presidential election.
“I agree with those who call you an angel for conceding defeat. I salute you for that. You have made a name not just for yourself, but for Nigeria, Africa, all developing countries, and for democracy. So, I salute you.”
Ganduje also commended Jonathan for revolutionizing the almajiri school system, and for his decision to sack ex-CBN Sanusi Lamido, over his ‘unguarded’ comments about missing public funds.
“Boko Haram succeeded because they had the almajirai base for easy recruitment and indoctrination. But we salute you for what you did in that regard. We are multiplying the new model of almajiri schools in Kano. That is an important legacy you left for us.
‘The removal of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is another legacy you left but it created bad blood in Kano.
“I personally felt he should have spoken to you privately about the issue of the missing public funds is reportedly discovered so that you could look into the matter without alerting the looters or creating unnecessary public outrage.
“But then, Sanusi was appointed Emir not because he was the best man but because Kano wanted to prove a point. They were protests and bonfires against his appointment as Emir but he was able stabilize in Kano with the support of the government.
“However, we had to save the system and the institution when a familiar scenario began to play out in Kano. So, I applied the ‘Jonathan medicine’ (sacking from office) for a similar purpose, on the same ‘disease’ and on the same ‘patient’.
“I can say we are on the same page on that matter. I am sure you are not regretting your removal of Sanusi neither do I regret removing him as emir of Kano,” he said.
In the book review, Dr. Reuben Abati said that the book, “Dear President Goodluck Jonathan, filled the gap in contemporary political history of the Nigeria.
Abati said that the book, which encapsulated the good and rough times of the Jonathan administration, and the unmet expectations of the people.
He also said that the book, which was divided into three parts and 33 chapters, highlighted the betrayals of the former President by some of his close and trusted allies as well as the security agenda of his administration amongst others issues of governance and politics.
Earlier, the chairman of the event, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state, described Jonathan as a hero who always matched his words and action.
Mohammed said that the accomplishments of the former president would remain monumental in Nigerian history, adding that his decision to let the people’s vote count in the 2015 presidential election was a pride to all genuine democrats.
Others that attended the event included Governor Udom Emmanuel, Ex-ministers Tanimu Turaki, Jumoke Akinjide, Labaran Makun, and Edem Duke; Mike Ozekhome (SAN), traditional rulers, some serving and past members of the National Assembly as well as some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).