ADAMS Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, has said Nigeria would have been in danger if ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had continued in office as president.
The former governor, who stated this in an interview published in the current edition of The Interview magazine, said Jonathan was incompetent.
Recalling the 2014 recruitment into the Nigeria Immigration Service, which claimed 20 lives, Oshiomhole stated: “Those people didn’t just kill poor applicants, they extorted and defrauded them, and as far as I know, no step was taken to deal with those involved in it.
“So, I was convinced that Nigeria was in danger if Jonathan continued in office.
“Once I concluded that Nigeria was not in good hands, I also had to do everything possible to ensure that he (Jonathan) was not re-elected and I played my part in the formation of the APC (All Progressives Congress).”
But the Peoples Democratic Party said Oshiomho
le should not be taken seriously, stressing that the former governor spoke from both sides of the mouth.
Oshiomhole, a former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, recalled that when ex-President Umaru Yar’Adua died in 2010, he played a key role in ensuring that Jonathan succeeded him.
The ex-governor said as a member of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, headed by Bukola Saraki, a former Kwara State governor and current Senate president, he was one of those that ensured that Jonathan was made the acting President.
Explaining what happened at a meeting he attended before the 2011 elections, Oshiomhole said he was not in support of Jonathan contesting the 2011 presidential poll.
He stated that the meeting, which was convened by Jonathan’s Chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadomhe, was also attended by Dajuma Goje, a former governor of Gombe State, and Bala Mohammed, an-ex Federal Capital Territory minister.
According to him, Oghiadomhe said the purpose of inviting them was to seek advice on whether or not Jonathan should contest the 2011 election.
He stated: “I think Goje was the first to speak that night. He said it would be a problem for Jonathan to contest because the North would feel short-changed.
“After eight years of Obasanjo, power rotated to the North based on the PDP principle of zoning and Yar’Adua didn’t even enjoy it for two years before he took ill and eventually died.”
He added that Mohammed believed that he didn’t think it mattered whether Jonathan ran or not.
Oshiomhole said: “They asked me and I said they knew I was not in the PDP; so, I was not in a position to offer advice as a PDP member. I said based on Nigeria’s geopolitical reality and sentiment, Jonathan could make huge political capital which he could reinvest later in the future by saying to the country that ‘I have become the president by accident.’’
He said that he advised that Jonathan should complete Yar’Adua’s tenure and hand over to a northerner.”
Dismissing Jonathan’s administration, he said under the former president, basic things were not properly done.
He stated: “It was clear that even the most basic things were not properly done, competence that was expected was not there. The level of fairness was not there. And even if you were to talk about the sentiment of servicing the geopolitical zones, the South-South had nothing to boast of. Even the road to Yenagoa didn’t show that a President came from that area.”
The ex-governor said security assumed a frightening dimension, causing elections to be shifted because the armed forces confessed that they were unable to guarantee the safety of the polls.
Oshiomhole added that when he complained about massive oil theft, he was made a member of a six-man committee of governors.
He stated that he was shocked that for about two consecutive weeks the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s records showed that over 400,000 barrels of crude were stolen every day.
The ex-governor said he noted that the theft must be state-backed because big vessels were carting away our crude.
He explained what transpired between him and Jonathan after the tragic NIS recruitment.
Oshiomhole stated: “I remember very well I met President Jonathan a week after the incident and he said, ‘Adams, why are you comrades like this? Just killing people?’ I replied, ‘Comrade, how?’ Jonathan said, ‘Look at what Comrade Abba Moro did, look at the number of deaths’. I said, ‘No, Mr. President, if it is that one, I am also shocked that the man is still in your cabinet and that nobody is in court as we speak because that is state murder.’
The former Edo State governor recalled that after publishing an advert, which showed how the applicants were duped, Jonathan expressed his reservation about it.
Oshiomhole stated: “In the advert, I said, ‘Vote for Change, vote for Buhari all over Nigeria.’ I used my voice and portrait for the concluding part of the political advert. Jonathan called me and said, ‘What have I done? Why would you do an advert like that even when other APC governors will not put their faces, saying they should vote me out? Haba Adams! You are supposed to be my brother.’ I said, ‘Sir, with all due respect, there is nothing personal. This is purely a partisan thing. I have to campaign for my party the way you are campaigning for your party and I didn’t mention your name. The only name I mentioned in the advert is my own candidate’s name; I did not mention your name’.”
Oshiomhole said President Muhammadu Buhari was fulfilling his promises on security and the anti-corruption agenda.
He added, “On the economy, I know for a fact that the economy had been ruined and battered with huge debts. By the time the PDP left power, the cost of servicing Nigeria’s debt was in excess of N1trn.
“Check the budget of 2015: the cost of servicing our foreign and local debts was already in excess of N1trn. Even at a time when the price of crude was $108 per barrel, the federal budget was 85 per cent recurrent and 15 per cent capital.”
“If you review the comments by Senate and House of Representatives they always complained that the budget did not perform up to 40 per cent even when our oil revenue was $108 per barrel.
“Now, imagine the reality that the price of crude has dropped to $44/$45 per barrel. This year’s budget is $42 or $45; that’s almost 60 per cent or 55 per cent, compounded by loss of volume of crude, this time, not arising from theft but from renewed militancy in the Niger Delta region, which everybody is talking about. But no one is talking about crude oil theft now like it was celebrated two years ago. I think those are huge improvements.
“The economy has gone through much bashing, abuses, looting – with all the revelations that are coming out now, and compounded by low price of crude. If people are thinking there is a miracle to be done, it is to the extent that Buhari attracts much trust and huge expectation from the people.”
He explained that his relationship with a National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was not based on financial benefit.
Oshiomhole stated, “My relationship with our party leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not defined by money; that’s not it. Incidentally in 2007, I think he fought the battle of his life. The PDP was determined to claim Lagos and Asiwaju was transiting, working to get BRF (Fashola) elected. You will not forget that battle.
“What I found very inspiring about Tinubu is his courage to fight and damn the consequences. I already built a lot of that in NLC. But I was new in terms of partisanship because the political system I met was a bit different from the organised labour. I had always maintained a good relationship with Asiwaju even as an NLC leader, because of his radical and progressive views.”
Meanwhile, the PDP, however, asked Nigerians to ignore the former governor of Edo State.
It said the ex-governor talked without reservation, adding that the former labour leader had spoken on issues that it claimed were false in the past.
Dayo Adeyeye, the spokesperson for the National Caretaker Committee of the party under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi, alleged that Oshiomhole had once claimed $6bn was seen in an account of a former government official who served in the Jonathan administration.
He said: “Oshiomhole is known for making unguarded statements and therefore, not worthy of our response.
“But it is better to ask him, why is the APC, which he is praising now, dominated by more than 75 per ent of our members?
“They have won and taken over. But is that why they took the economy into recession? Would Jonathan have done that? The answer is no.
“For more than two years after they assumed the leadership of the country, they have no plan and have no direction. Is that a government?
“Oshiomhole is not a person to be taken seriously. He talks with the two sides of his mouth. So, Nigerians must ignore him.” — Punch newspaper