Reacting to Jonathan’s comments yesterday, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the former president stated the obvious and urged the National Assembly to open the books of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to “unravel the shady practices going on in the Buhari-led administration.” He said: “Every Nigerian knows that the APC-led government of Buhari is the most corrupt in the history of our nation. It is an open secret that despite their claims, a lot of stealing is going on in this government. “So, we are calling on the National Assembly to do a forensic audit of the books of the MDAs to unearth the corruption they have been perpetrating in the past three and a half years. “This government is not only clueless but also has many insatiable appetite for corruption. We thank our amiable leader, statesman and global icon, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for stating the obvious.” I never said stealing is not corruption He also responded to the infamous claim that he tended to downplay raging corruption in his administration by boldly claiming that ‘stealing is not corruption.’ He wrote: “It is important to note that despite the many sensational stories, dramatic arrests, seizures and accusations, many of them false, since I left office, the fact remains that Nigeria has not made any improvement on the TI CorruptionPerception Index since 2014. “In fact, the 2017 CPI released in 2018 by TI places Nigeria as number 148, a retrogression in which the nation went 12places backward. In other words, Nigeria is more corrupt in 2017 than it was when I handed over to Buhari administration in 2015. “Some people may be misledwith smoke and mirrors but the TI Corruption Perception Index relies onunsentimental facts and figures.” Scores his administration high onanti-corruption fight Jonathan hailed the policies and measures hisadministration conceived and implemented to check corruption and financialleakages and raised government revenue during his time. He pointed to theintroduction of the Electronic Wallet Initiative of the Federal Ministry ofAgriculture, which effectively checkmated fertilizer scam and saved the countryup to $192 million in the first year of its application in 2012. He alsopraised his administration for the development and implementation of theIntegrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, which enabled thegovernment to flush out 50,000 ghost federal workers and saved the country N15billion monthly. Jonathan claimed that it was through the effectiveimplementation of the anti-corruption measures by his administration thatbrought positive results to Nigeria in 2014 and made it to receive the bestever ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, whichranked Nigeria 136th out of the 144 countries ranked. “This was an improvementfrom the nation’s previous position of 144th in 2013, 139th in 2012 and 143rdin 2011,” Jonathan noted. Jonathan clarified that he never said that stealing was not corruption, adding that what he actually said and meant was twisted out of context by his enemies just to score political mileage and bring down his administration. “They claim that I once said that ‘stealing is not corruption’.This is not true. Following the constant stigmatization of Nigeria as corrupt, I invited the leadership of the legislature and the judiciary to a meeting. “In attendance were the Senate President and his deputy, Speaker of the House of Representatives, his deputy, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, and six states’ Chief Judges from the six geopolitical zones. “Also invited were heads of the two anti-corruption agencies, viz: the chairman of the EFCC and the ICPC and I presided over the meeting. “My thinking was that the head of the executive arm of government alone could not effectively eradicate the scourge of corruption, hence the need for that meeting. I personally appealed to them and argued thatan all-inclusive approach could bring about tangible successes in theanti-corruption fight. “The judiciary, the legislature and the executive arms of government needed to join forces if we were to end the theft of public resources and stop corruption.” Jonathan said it was on the strength of his presentation that the former CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, acknowledged that he was of the same opinion. According to Jonathan, the CJN told him that he had also discovered, after going through case files in the Supreme Court, nearly all cases, which should have been properly labeled as ‘crimes of stealing’ and the individuals involved charged as such, were simply tagged by the prosecutors as ‘corruption.’ He continued: “It was on the strength of the CJN’s submission that I expounded to say that we should stop calling a spade an agricultural implement. Corruption does not fully capture the act of stealing. A person canindeed be corrupt without stealing a dime. “Those who are incapable of comprehending this elevated thought and the mischievous crowd, go about till date, that I said ‘stealing is not corruption’. They never bothered to even check the context in which I spoke. If you ask many of those clinging to that falsehood and mouthing the malicious misrepresentation, to quote where I said it, they will tell you ‘they only heard.’ “Let me say categorically that I have never said that stealing is good and that people should steal; neither did the CJN. Stealing is stealing ad instead of calling it corruption, let us call the thief by his proper name and not use a blanket word like corruption. He argues:“Corruption encompasses many things.” Quoting Transparency International, Jonathan said: “Corruption is defined as the ‘abuse of entrusted power for private gain. We must not lump everything together and say stealing is corruption. We must isolate stealing and make it as plain as day because Nigerians hate thieves. I abhor jungle justice, but we have witnessed Nigerians show their hatred for suspected thieves by burning them alive.’’ I handed over $500 billion GDP, vibrant economy to Buhari in 2015 Still on his achievements, Jonathan boasted that he still holds his head high, having governed the country very well and left indelible marks, especially a buoyant economy with an unprecedented Gross Domestic Product, GDP of $500 billion. Jonathan said he was particularly proud that he achieved the milestones despite inheriting a country that buffeted by militancy in the Niger Delta and the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East coupled with a weak economic base. In spite of the drawbacks,the former president said he assembled the best crop of Nigerians from allparts of the world to run the government and succeeded in making Nigeria theworld’s fourth fastest-growing economy and the largest in Africa. His words: “I fought insurgency, the worst security challenge in the history of the nation except the civil war. Even with that, we professionally managed and grew oureconomy to become the largest economy in Africa with a GDP of over $500billion.
All my cabinet ministers, government officials and the private sector worked in synergy to build an economy with well-established strong fundamentals. Nigerians were not under threat by their government. We became the fourth fastest growing economy in the world with an average growth rate of over 6%. “That was the economy we handed over to the Buhari administration. Wehad something good to offer to Nigerians. We knew what to do to keep ourcountry afloat even in difficult circumstances. In tough and in good times, it was our duty to keep hopes of citizens of Nigeria alive and we were always conscious not to send negative signals against Nigeria and Nigerians to the rest of the world.’’ Jonathan lamented that shortly after leaving office, the Buhari government allowed the economy to go into recession by scaring away investors through uncouth pronouncements by the president at home and abroad. Buhari’s govt de-markets Nigeria at home and abroad He said: “As leaders ofNigeria, we traveled far and wide. We marketed our abundant natural and human capacity to foreign investors. We wanted them to invest in the most populous nation in Africa that had within its borders, immense talents, resources, and investment opportunities. It paid off because in no time, Nigeria then becamenumber one investment destination in Africa, earning the highest in foreigndirect investment.’’ Although he did not mention Buhari by name, Jonathanaccused his administration of de-marketing Nigeria and causing the economy toslip into recession and creating hardship for Nigerians, thereby erasing thegains made by his government. He said: “Rather than forge a coalition and buildon the momentum we had gathered when they eventually took office, they went ona persecution spree and vengeance mission. That the country slipped into recession soon after we left office was a self-inflicted injury caused by misplaced priorities. The narrative of inheriting empty treasury is a blatant lie. “Also, the excuse of the collapse of world crude prices does not holdwater. This is because the Fourth Republic took off in 1999 with crude oil selling for less than $20 per barrel and a GDP growth at 0.58%, according to National Bureau of Statistics figures. Yet the economy maintained a steady growth from that year, peaking at 15.33% in 2002 when the average crude oil price was about $25. It is also instructive that the oil and gas sector constitutes about 11% of our GDP. There had to be a wider causative factor thanjust the fall in world crude prices. Recession caused by Buhari’s govt, not mindless looting by PDP “It also amounts to standing facts on their heads to continuously claim that recession was caused by so-called mindless looting. The truth is that the opposition, in a bid to undo our government, became its own undoing when it got to power, because of the burden of justifying deliberate misrepresentations. “There is wisdom in the saying that if you win a prize and get the crown, don’t go around destroying the person who previously held that prize; it will lose its value. Even after winning the election and forming the government at the centre, the blame game continued. “When two brothers fight to death, it is the neighbours that inherits their father’s wealth. And we have seen neighbouring nations like the Republic of Benin and Ghana reaping from the capital flight out of Nigeria. “You should never try to slander your political opponents by destroying your country’s economy. Capital flight intensified and companies started laying off staff. In all these, I hope a lesson would belearnt. If you embark on digging a hole for your enemy; you better make itshallow, because you might end up in the hole yourself. How do you attractinvestors you already repelled through your utterances? Investors are an ultra-sensitive lot. Money runs away from unstable societies. Attacks on my ministers, aides, and family members “Most painful have been the attacks on my ministers, aides and associates and even members of my family. There is anattempt to erase our legacy from history. The good thing is that the unending barrage of attacks, deliberate misinformation, and programmed media smear campaigns have failed to sway the opinion of those with a clear view of our beliefs, efforts, and achievements. “There are millions of Nigerians and others around the world who are still impressed with our modest achievements in consolidating democracy and growing the nation’s economy. They will continue to serve as my strength and encouragement. “Sometimes I laugh when certain propagandists attempt to stand logic on its head by maligning my administration as one bereft of ideas and ‘clueless’. In assessing my administration, it is best to focus on facts. I cannot assess myself. I leave that to history. “But I can assess my cabinet and I make bold to say that never in the history of Nigeria, till date, has the nation had such a star-studded cabinet full of achievers and people who got to the top of their chosen fields by merit. “Just consider that my Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammed Ali Pate, is now a professor at America’s Duke University, as well as a Senior Adviser to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation based in Washington DC. My Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, is now the President of the African Development Bank. “My Co-ordinating Minister, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, is the chairperson of the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the African Risk Capacity (ARC). She also sits on the board of Twitter and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, just as she is a Senior Adviser at Lazard and a Director at Standard Chartered Plc in the United Kingdom, amongst others. “My Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, is currently Chairperson of Custodian and Allied Insurance Limited as well as the Global Alliance for Affordable Internet. And it is not just members of my cabinet. Others who served with me in different capacities are also soaring on the world stage.
“A good example is Ms Arunma Oteh, who I appointed the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under her steady and skillful direction, Nigeria’s equity market grew in geometric proportions, and by the time I left office in 2015 the market had tripled in size to $150billion in value. Two months after I left office, Ms. Oteh was appointed a Vice President and Treasurer at the World Bank. “These are reputable individuals whoserved their country meritoriously and who, on the strength of theirperformance as ministers in my government, are now waxing stronger andvaliantly on the world stage with only the sky as their limit. “With such personalities on my cabinet, no one can factually say we were ‘clueless’ or inept. The evidence of performance is simply overwhelming. We gave Nigeria an impressive and steady Gross Domestic Product growth rate at 6.7% per annum. We were officially cited as the third fastest growing economy in the world by CNNMoney in 2014.”