Less than three weeks before he leaves office, President Goodluck Jonathan has said he expects his ministers and aides to be “persecuted” after his tenure.
Mr. Jonathan, whose administration witnessed several corruption scandals, stated this on Sunday at a thanksgiving service organized in his honour at the Anglican Church, Life Camp, Abuja.
He said he believes he lost some allies as well as the March presidential election because of “certain decisions,” he took.
“It (the decisions) might be good for the generality of the people but it might affect some people differently,” the president said. “So for ministers and aides who served with me, I sympathize with them, they will be persecuted. And they must be ready for that persecution.”
Mr. Jonathan said he expected that he and his ministers would have a hard time after he leaves office.
“To my ministers, I wish you what I wish myself,” he said. “They will have hard times, we will all have hard times. Our ways will be rough.”
Indications that some officials of the Jonathan administration would be investigated for corrupt activities emerged after the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari- vowed to probe the ‘missing’ $20 billion in the state oil firm, NNPC. The money, which was first made public by the immediate past Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, remained an albatross on the neck of the Jonathan administration which repeatedly claimed its officials did nothing wrong.
However, an audit commissioned by the government and released after much pressure by the pubic and after Mr. Buhari’s statement showed that officials of the highly secretive NNPC and other relevant authorities frustrated the work of the international auditors, PWC. One of those expected to face a major probe is the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, whose tenure witnessed several scandals in the oil sector, apart from the $20 billion.
Mr. Jonathan, who became the first incumbent to lose an election in Nigeria, also said the “hard decisions” he took probably cost him his re-election.
“Some hard decisions have their own cost, no doubt about that,” he said. “That I have ran the government this way that stabilized certain things, the electoral process and other things that brought stability into 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 benefited. Is it not your government that this person benefited 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.”
The president compared his unpopularity based on his ‘decisions’ to that of the last apartheid ruler of South Africa.
“When F.W. 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,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan, then said he hoped his wife, Patience Jonathan, would not desert him for accepting defeat in the election, to which she replied “Nooooo” which evoked an applause from worshippers at the church. The event was the first public one for the first lady since her husband lost and accepted defeat in the elections.
Despite expecting to lose friends and to be persecuted, Mr. Jonathan, however, said he is leaving office a fulfilled man.
He thanked Nigerians and Bayelsa residents for granting him the opportunity to serve in elective positions.
“When I look at the whole picture of my life up to when I became the President of this country. And I say that if soldiers and police officers that have not received 0. 5 per cent of the benefits that I have received from the state can lay 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 the late President and later serve as President from which I am exiting now as a very happy and fulfilled man,” he said.
The President thanked Nigerians for their support and urged the church and other religious groups to pray for the success of the incoming administration, stating that what matters is not the person in charge of government, but the dividends of democracy.
Mr. Jonathan said he believed majority of Nigerians still support the actions he took while in office.
“We are happy the ordinary people appreciate what we did and that is most important,” he said. “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.”
The president called for more prayers for Nigeria saying “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.”
Speaking earlier, former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana described Mr. Jonathan as man who is “favoured by God” in many ways.
“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.
The Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo, also praised the president while reeling out some of his achievements in office.
“He is humane, gentle and unassuming. He has transformed Nigeria. He is not vindictive. He loved the youth. He empowered, mentored and motivated youth 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,” Mr. Nebo said.