- Tells ministers, aides to expect persecution
Barley 18 days to the end of his administration, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday looked into his post-tenure era and declared that those who claim to be his friends will desert him once he is no longer in office.
He also told his ministers and aides to expect persecution from various quarters from May 29 when they would no longer be in active public service.
The President, however maintained that whether in or out of government, he would continue to give his best to the country even if it means laying down his life for Nigeria’s greatness.
President Jonathan spoke at a thanksgiving service organised in his honour at the Anglican Church, Life Camp, Abuja. He said that Nigeria had given him a lot right from his primary school till the very time he is bowing out as a “very happy and fulfilled man.”
He said he had every reason to thank his home state of Bayelsa and the country at large for all the opportunities he had to serve, saying not many Nigerians of his generation had been fortunate as he had been in his political career.
President Jonathan recalled that he had gotten everything from the country on a platter of gold, having attained primary and secondary education as well as first and second university degrees on government scholarship. He added that he didn’t even have to pay for his PhD course because his then employers did.
The President said if soldiers and police officers who do not earn anything close to him die while protecting him and other Nigerians, it won’t be too much if he also sacrifices all he has, including his life for the country.
“When I look at the whole picture of my life up to when I became the President of this country, I would say that if soldiers and police officers that have not received 0.5percent of the benefits that I have received from the state can lay down their lives for this country, I should do anything in the interest of Nigeria including paying the supreme price.
“As long as live, I will continue to do my best for the state because the state has helped me as a person. I have to thank Nigerians, especially my state for giving me the opportunity to serve as deputy governor and the whole country gave me the opportunity to serve as Vice President and then President; first was to complete the tenure of late President Yar’Adua and later serve as President from which I am exiting now as a very happy and fulfilled man,” the President said amidst wild applause from the congregation.
The President said before he was a able to clean up the country’s electoral process and achieve other reforms, he had to take certain hard decisions which may have caused him re-election.
He recalled the story of the last ruler of apartheid South Africa who was divorced by his wife for accepting to abolish minority rule in the country, saying jocularly that he hoped his wife will not also divorce him for accepting defeat in the last Presidential election.
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan who had accompanied her husband to the ceremony, replied with a resounding “Nooooo” which drew wild applause from the worshippers.
“I believe there are reasons for everything. Some hard decisions have their own cost, no doubt about that. That I have ran the government this way that stabilized certain things, the electoral process and other things that brought stability to this country. “They were very costly decisions which I myself must be ready to pay for. Some people come to me and say this or that person, is he not your friend that benefitted? Is it not your government that this person benefitted from? But this is what the person is saying. But I used to say worse statements will come. If you take certain decisions, you should know that those close to you will even abandon you at some point. And I tell them that more of my so-called friends will disappear. When FW De Clerk took the decision to abolish minority rule in South Africa, even his wife divorced him. I hope my wife will not divorce me. But that is the only decision that has made South Africa to still remain a global player by this time. If we still had that minority rule there, by this time, nobody will be talking about South Africa.
If you take certain decisions, it might be good for the generality of the people but it might affect some people differently. So for ministers and aides who served with me, I sympathise with them, they will be persecuted. And they must be ready for that persecution.
“Quoting Tai Solarin, may your ways be rough. To my ministers, I wish you what I wish myself. They will have hard times; we will all have hard times. Our ways will be rough.”
The President thanked Nigerians for their support and urged the church and other religious groups to pray for the success of the incoming administration, saying what matters is not the person in charge of government, what matters according to him are the dividends of democracy.
The President continued: “But we are happy the ordinary people appreciate what we did and that is most important. It’s not what the elite or the privileged few talk or say about you but what the majority of the Nigerian public think about your actions and inactions that matter. We came to Abuja peacefully and we are returning peacefully.
“I thank the church and Nigerians because they stood by us at our most difficult times.
Even for the election, we had people who supported us all over the country but things went the way they did because God wanted it that way for a purpose.
“We will continue to pray for the peace of the country and for the success of the incoming administration. When the country is in good shape, people benefit. When things are going well, people are happy. You don’t need to know Mr President or Mr Governor. The issue is not about Jonathan or Buhari or any other person. The issue is how the government functions. Stability, buoyant economy that will enable Nigeria to move forward and live happily is all I am interested in. That is our interest; that is my prayer point. All religious groups should pray for the country.
Earlier, former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, described the President as man who was favoured by God in many ways, thanking God for what He used Jonathan to achieve for the country.
“Jonathan is a man highly favoured by God. We thank God for what He has done for Nigeria through the man. Despite the big positions he occupied in the country, he has remained humble and he has succeeded in deepening democracy in the country. He revived the rail system of transportation. He brought back hope to Nigeria and to cap it all, he conceded defeat to his opponent in a heroic manner,” the former minister said.
Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, also praised the President while reeling out his unique qualities and achievements in office.
“He is humane, gentle and unassuming. He has transformed Nigeria. He is not vindictive. He loved the youths. He empowered, mentored and motivated youths and women. He is a listening leader. He listens to everyone in Council before making judgement. He fixed the electoral process and brought credibility into it. He is Nigeria’s greatest leader,” Nebo said.