Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said former President Goodluck Jonathan, was not ready for the presidency job when fate bestowed on him the leadership of the country.
On his part, Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, while narrating his ordeal during the last regime, said the ex-president sought to remove him as governor but was advised against it by some of his aides.
He said Jonathan and others in his administration actually thought he (Shettima) kidnapped over 200 abducted Chibok girls.
Saraki who yesterday in Abuja at the book launch titled: ‘On a platter of gold’ written by the former Minister of Sport and the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said despite what people said about the former president, he did not see him as a person desperate for power.
“I don’t think he was someone who was desperate for power, he was not someone that was prepared for leadership, yes by misfortune or fortune, he got there,” he said.
While recounting some of his experiences with Jonathan, Saraki said in 2011 he mustered courage to go and inform him about his intention to run for presidency against him.
According to Saraki, what he got in reply totally put him off, because rather than frown at the idea, Jonathan shook his hands and wished him luck.
“What I will recollect was the day I decided I was going to contest presidency. I felt that I didn’t want Jonathan to hear it as news, I booked an appointment to go and see him- I didn’t know what I was thinking that day. I went to the Villa, he said ‘come in, come in, how can I help you?
“I looked at the president of a third world country and said Mr. President I came to tell you that I am going to be contesting for your seat. Jonathan looked at me and said ‘oh, okay, good luck, good luck.’ If it were any other person may be I would not have left the Villa but that again sums up Jonathan.”
Saraki also painted another picture of Jonathan’s attitude to the fight against corruption, saying he once went to the former president to tell him about his discovery concerning the level of scam going on in petroleum product import business but was unsettled at his apparent nonchalant response.
He said: “I booked an appointment to see the president, I went with my paper, I started with the background of how people brought in petroleum products. I said Mr. President, in the past, people used to get award letters from NNPC to bring in petrol, kerosene, and make 10, 20 per cent profit.
“I said sir, they’ve taken it to another level; now, they get an order to bring in products they don’t want to make 10, 20 per cent any more. They will get an offer to bring in a cargo of 20,000 litres they will bring in 5,000 to be stamped for 20,000 and instead of making 10 per cent, they make ten times the amount.
“I was telling the president thinking he will get very agitated, he said, ‘Senator Saraki, you know this oil business is very oily,” he said.
On his assessment of the book on Jonathan, Saraki described the author as a man with great intellect, adding that the book is a very intelligent narration of events that took place in the last administration.
While speaking at the book launch, Shettima described Jonathan’s era as one of the most turbulent period in our national life.
Though he said Jonathan is an honest man, he said he lacked depth in leadership as against his mentor, former. President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“This is the second book I am reading on the Jonathan saga. I think President Jonathan is essentially a decent person, an unsophisticated country politician caught up in the vortex of power politics in Nigeria.”
“If you look at Obasanjo, hate him or love him, you have to respect Obasanjo for not only believing in the Nigerian project but by surrounding himself with men of quality
The governor who also shared his thoughts on the Chibok girls’ abduction, accused the former president of wanting to remove him at all costs on the grounds that he was behind the girls’ abduction.
“There was a time he wanted to remove me at all costs. In the Federal Executive Council, they were all speaking in the same tone that this Borno State governor must be removed for embarrassing the government; that I was the problem. Two Nigerians stood up.
“He sought the opinion of Mohammed Adoke Bello, the then Attorney General. Adoke told him that ‘Mr President, you have no power to remove even an elected councillor’.
Then he sought the opinion of other Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN in his team, the Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki. And Turaki also told him that ‘Mr President, you have no power to remove a sitting governor’. And that was how the matter died.”
While commenting on the agitation for restructuring, Shettima, said focus should be on delivering good governance instead of the clamour for restructuring.
In his remarks, the author of the book, and the APC spokesman said the motive behind his decision to venture into writing his experience on what transpired during the Jonathan’s administration was essentially to try and set the records straight on some of the perceptions built around his personality.
Many personalities graced the book launch including the national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, members of the National Working Committee as well as other top politicians from all political shades.
But responding to Shettima’s allegation, Jonathan challenged him to publish his WAEC results so that Nigerians would know the real simpleton between him and the former president.
In a statement issued on his behalf by his aide, Mr. Reno Omokri, the ex-president described Shettima as a typical sycophant, who was saying what he could not say before 2015, adding that when the current set of actors quit the scene, Shettima would likewise direct his lying tongue at them.
The ex-president said it was unfortunate that Shettima allowed hatred to blind his objectivity.
“President Jonathan was not humiliated out of office. Sure, he lost the 2015 presidential election by two million votes. If that is what Shettima means by humiliation, it must mean that he never understood what Jonathan meant when he said ‘my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.’
Could a person, who was humiliated have called to concede, while the votes were still being counted and yet to be declared? It is the pettiness of Kashim that has blinded him to the fact that by conceding so quickly, Jonathan became the ‘Face of Democracy in Africa’ as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described him. Hundreds of people died when other people lost elections, but no one died when Jonathan lost,” Jonathan explained.