Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that former President Goodluck Jonathan from his first days as President showed he was too small for the office, saying he, Obasanjo, acted more as an opponent of Jonathan than a supporter of Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the 2015 presidential poll.
Obasanjo, who said Jonathan deceived him that he would not give Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke the petroleum portfolio in his cabinet was deceived into believing that he could use money to buy the 2015 presidential election.
Obasanjo in the book, Against the Run of Play: How an Incumbent President was defeated in Nigeria, written by former presidential spokesman, Segun Adeniyi, also revealed that Jonathan was gripped by the fear that Buhari, as president, would jail him or lead him to an early grave.
In the 204-page book, former President Jonathan is himself quoted as saying he could not be held accountable for provocative remarks made by some of his supporters, even as former Senate President, David Mark, is also quoted in the book as alleging that he forewarned the former president about the alleged conspiracy against him in the north but to no avail.
Obasanjo in the book is quoted as saying that following Umaru Yar’Adua’s death in 2010, he endorsed Jonathan for the 2011 presidential election principally to solve the problems of minority agitation in Nigeria.
The former President said: “I saw the emergence of Jonathan as an opportunity to solve the problem of minority agitation. The three majority ethnic groups in Nigeria can always sort themselves out but not so for the minority. A good example is my state here in Ogun.
“Despite the best of intentions, nobody from Ogun West has been able to become governor because of this minority issue and it will take a conscious effort to make it happen. So, it was in the context of that I had to plead with prominent people in the North to allow Jonathan run for a term.”
But in a tone laden with regrets, Obasanjo pointed out that there were certain things Jonathan did that fell below his expectations as a former president. “There were certain decisions taken by Jonathan very early in his administration that pointed to the fact that the office was bigger than him and one of them was the appointment of a petroleum minister,” he said.
According to Obasanjo, he cautioned Jonathan not to appoint Diezani Alison-Madueke to such a sensitive sector but the president ignored his counsel. “Jonathan gave me the impression that he was not going to give her the portfolio but at the end he did and we can see the consequence. He, of course, knew what he was doing,” Obasanjo stated.
The former president also hinted at what riled him against Jonathan and why he parted ways with him in the run up to the 2015 election, a development which has given the impression that he was actively working in support of Buhari’s candidature. But Obasanjo denied any direct support to Buhari.
He said: “I didn’t join them in supporting Buhari; I joined in opposing Jonathan so Buhari was just a beneficiary of my opposition to Jonathan since my position was AOBJ: meaning Any Option But Jonathan.”, Obasanjo explained that Jonathan and his handlers believed that they could buy the last election and that they were so arrogant about it that the PDP would print only one nomination form for him and him alone.
He said: “If he was wise, he would have yielded the ticket to somebody else in the PDP.”