…Explains why he congratulated Buhari on election victory
…Defends record on curbing corruption
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, defended his government’s record on fighting corruption and denied his successor’s assertion that the country’s Treasury was left empty when he handed over power last year. Jonathan, 58, was succeeded in May 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari, who accused the previous administration of looting billions of dollars and leaving the country’s finances “virtually empty.”
“There’s no way he would have inherited an empty Treasury,” Jonathan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in London, adding “It’s not possible.” Nigeria’s economy is contracting after a decline in the price of Brent by about half since the middle of 2014.
Crude exports accounted in 2014 for as much as two-thirds of government revenue, with most state budgets relying on monthly handouts from the federal administration.
Kemi Adeosun and implementation of 2016 budget
Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, said last month that a long-delayed 2016 budget might not be fully implemented. The cash crunch has dampened optimism around the election of Buhari who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, beating Jonathan in the first election victory by an opposition candidate in the nation’s history.
In a bid to plug the gap in the finances of Africa’s biggest economy, Nigerian authorities have gone after corrupt officials, recovering more than $500 million in cash so far. Investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have brought top officials of Jonathan’s government under scrutiny, such as his National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and then-spokesman of his political party, Olisa Metuh.
Asked if he was being investigated for corruption, Jonathan said, “of course, obviously, they investigated and I’ve been investigated.”
My administration did very well —Jonathan
He declined to say what those investigations might reveal. Jonathan said his administration did “very well” in the fight against corruption. Former President Goodluck Jonathan expressed confidence that the authorities could reach an agreement with militants in the Niger Delta to stop their attacks that had slashed production of Africa’s biggest oil producer.
“Definitely, it will be resolved,” Jonathan, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s offices in London on Monday. “Yes, government can always overcome restive movements and so on, but the Niger Delta is too delicate. The level of damage will be too much for the government to bear. We used dialogue.” Jonathan was vice-president when Nigeria’s government offered an amnesty and monthly stipends to militants to end years of instability, which had cut oil output.
Cancellation of security contracts by President Buhari
In February, Jonathan’s successor Muhammadu Buhari reduced the stipends and canceled security contracts with former militant leaders. A militant group known as Niger Delta Avengers has claimed attacks on facilities belonging to companies, including Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Agip Oil Co., causing Nigeria’s output to drop to an almost 30-year low of about 1.4 million barrels per day.
The violence has deepened the crisis facing Africa’s largest economy, which is already reeling from a slump in crude prices. Nigeria gets as much as two-thirds of its revenue and more than 90 percent of foreign income from oil.
On why he conceded defeat in the elections, Jonathan said that having helped to stabilise democracy in four other West African countries, including Niger, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cote d’Ivoire, he decided to leave a stable country by ensuring peaceful transition of power in his belief that his “political ambition was not worth the blood of one Nigerian.”
Refecting on Nigeria’s future
His words: “Since leaving office one year and one week ago, I have had the luxury of time to reflect on the future of my great country, Nigeria.
‘’So, today (yesterday) is not about my personal memories or a litany of ‘what ifs’. No! Today, I would like to share with you what I believe are the key lessons from my experiences for the future of democracy not only in Nigeria but also across the entire continent of Africa.
Conceding defeat and congratulating President Buhari
“I said before the last election that my political ambition was not worth the blood of one Nigerian. I was true to my word when on March 30, 2015, just after the election, when the results were still being collated by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, I called my opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari, retd, to concede, in order to avoid any conflict and ensure a peaceful transition of power.
“This was without precedent in my country and I am proud that it achieved my goal of no conflict arising from the result of the election. “Some may think, it is ironic that perhaps my proudest achievement was not winning the 2015 presidential election.
“By being the first elected Nigerian leader to willingly hand over power via the ballot box, to the opposition party; without contesting the election outcome, I proved to the ordinary man or woman in the country that I was his or her equal.
“That his or her vote was equal to mine and that democracy is the government by the will of the people, and that Nigeria, and indeed Africa is ripe for democracy. It is my sincerest wish that democracy is being consolidated in the continent of Africa and it will even get better.”