At His Last FEC Outing As President, Goodluck Jonathan Says Oil Workers Strike Was Deliberate Sabotage Just As He Said For Any Probe To Be Meaningful, It Must Go Beyond His Tenure
Tony Ailemen, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday presided over the last meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) berating those calling for the probe of his administration. This is just as he declared that recent fuel scarcity was contrived to bring the last days of his administration to its knees. Speaking at the valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council, which was attended by almost all the ministers, the President called on the incoming administration to extend any such probes to previous governments before him. Each of the ministers had taken turns to speak on their experience while serving in the administration, where each Minister poured encomiums on the President for the ways he handled the administration while in office. The President, who however noted that his administration did its best, noted the call for the probe of his administration.
While noting that he had nothing against such moves, Jonathan however advised incoming government to extend the probe to past governments so that issues like improper allocation of oil fields could be tackled. According to him, “As a cabinet, we have tried our best; I believe we have done well under very difficult situations. There are a lot of criticisms; people say different things at different times, some of those who make some statements know they are purely political. “I always insist that we have been here for five years and some months including the time I was an acting president. “I have always thrown the challenge that those who criticize us should compare what we have done in the various sectors to what others have done. “Some people are even calling for the probe of this government, I agree.
In Nigeria, there are a number of things that we will probe, very many things. Even debts owed by states and this nation from 1960 up to this time, they say it is Jonathan’s administration that owes all the debt. “I believe that anybody calling for probe must ensure that these probes are extended beyond the Jonathan administration. Otherwise, to me it will be witch-hunting. If you are very sincere then, it’s not just the Jonathan’s administration that should be probed. “A number of things have gone wrong and we have done our best to fix them. “The Attorney General is aware of massive judgment debts. If we aggregate all of them, is almost going to $1 billion.
How did we come to this kind of huge judgment debts? These issues should be probed. How do you allocate our oil wells, oil fields, marginal wells and all that? Do we follow our laws? All these should be probed. And I believe all these and many more areas should be looked at”, he said. The president also regretted that his administration worked under a difficult situation including politicallymotivated workers strikes lasting for months as well as terrorist attacks, leading to the death of many Nigerians. “Though we operated under an extremely difficult situation, maybe because politics in Nigeria is just maturing, we witnessed the longest ASUU strike. I don’t think we have ever witnessed a strike that lasted for six months and we believe that that strike was partially politically motivated.
Otherwise lecturers cannot troop out for six months. “There were terror attacks. We know Boko Haram predates this administration but immediately after the elections, I believe because of local and external factors, they became very vicious, extremely destructive, killing people and destroying properties,” he said. Speaking further on the fuel scarcity, President Jonathan noted that despite the move to blackmail his administration with the last minute fuel scarcity, the nation has reserve that would last over 21 days. “Even this last fuel scarcity; to me one can clearly say it was an act of sabotage.
This government has a few days to go. That is definitely not the time you expect massive strikes, using marketers and unions, unions asking for increase in salaries at a time oil price has dropped and volumes have dropped. “None of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) is increasing salaries but our unions wanted 11 percent increase in allowances and so on and so forth and went on strike.
“There was 21 days reserve in this country. It’s not as if we had no products but they just refused to lift. Diesel was deregulated long ago, so the issue was not the product but people who felt they must bring this government to its knees even when they know that we had few days to leave. But we thank God we are getting over it and God will see us through.” President Jonathan thanked the ministers saying that he had often taken members of FEC by surprise when he made changes to his government but those that survived the changes had the opportunity to reassess their relation with him on the last day. “I recall that even the ministers don’t even know when they are to leave. They will just hear the announcements.
At least, we have the opportunity, we know we are to leave government on the May 29th,” he said. He thanked God that the government had the opportunity to prepare for exit unlike in the past when change came unexpectedly. Jonathan added: “Looking at our political history in this country…you just hear a big gun and you are out. But here we are preparing to exit government on the 29th of May. So, we thank God. We remain grateful to Nigerians for giving us the opportunity to serve.” Vice-President Namadi Sambo led the tribute to the president, thanking him for the confidence reposed in him over the years to serve as Vice- President.
He recalled that he never lobbied to be Jonathan’s running mate both in 2011 and the 2015 presidential elections. He said: “His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan found me worthy to be his running mate twice, first in 2011 when we were returned with an overwhelming majority to emerge victorious at the election and in 2015 where we encountered some electoral misfortunes. “I can recall confidently that I had neither canvassed nor lobbied to be appointed the Vice-President at any point in time except that Mr. President found me worthy to support him in steering the ship of state.
This is a clear demonstration and proof of the confidence Mr. President reposed in me in the discharge of my onerous responsibility of my office to the best of my ability. “I am privileged and humbled to be found worthy to be the Vice-President of this great nation by a great leader, democrat, peace ambassador and patriot of our time,” he said. Noting that he would always be part of the Jonathan’s family and his ambassador, Sambo commended members of FEC for what he said was their monumental service to the country and their collective spirit to serve their fatherland.
He noted that the administration came into being at a difficult time but through the effort of Jonathan especially in electoral reforms, the nation witnessed the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. Sambo said Jonathan’s concession of defeat as an incumbent showed exemplary spirit of sportsmanship. Citing President Jonathan’s expression that his ambition was not worth the life of a single Nigerian, Sambo observed that Jonathan’s action has put Nigeria firmly on the global map of democracy. All the ministers spoke, commending the leadership style of the president as well as for the opportunity he gave them to serve the country.
The Minister of State for Niger Delta, Hauwal Bappa, predicted that Jonathan would return to office in 2019 following the footsteps of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) who returned to office decades after they were heads of state.
According to her, the only difference would be that Jonathan would wait only for four years rather than decades before coming back. Minister of Defence, Major General Aliyu Gusau, in his contribution, concurred with Bappa that Jonathan would indeed be back to office as president soon.