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Jonathan's My Transition Hours and its controversies.

Deputy Editor, LEON USIGBE, reviews the recent public presentation of 'My Transition Hours' written by former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as well as the controversies trailing the content of the book.

My Transition Hours,' the much anticipated memoir of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was unveiled last week. As was expected, it attracted different reactions. Generally, he got praises for obliging the reading public with his intimate knowledge of events surrounding his ouster from power in 2015. But the controversy he stirred has been immense. While some people have identified and sympathized with his experiences in those lonely hours when it became obvious that he was losing the presidential election, others have knocked him for painting himself as the victim. But of what value is a memoir without controversy?

The event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton, Abuja was significant in the amount and calibre of people that attended it. President MuhammaduBuhari, who was named the special guest of honour, did not show up but was represented by the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha. Observers thought that Buhari's presence would have sent a strong signal that despite all the brickbats between his political camp and Jonathan's, there is no hard feeling. His absence meant that the opportunity was lost, cynics say. However, the president delivered a strong message, saluting the statesmanship, sportsmanship and courage which he said was embodied in Jonathan 'who in 2015, without any pressure willingly conceded victory in the presidential election even when collation of result was still in progress,' a singular act which, according to the president, doused and calmed frayed nerves in the country. Buhari therefore thanked him for being a good democrat and a patriotic Nigerian.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo came late to the venue of the book presentation and caused some pandemonium with his arrival in the middle of the occasion. The attention of the packed hall was immediately focused on him as he had a hard time making his way to the high table because of surging crowd of admirers.

He was closely followed by the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, whose presence apparently caught people by surprise considering his fierce criticism of the former president. The former Edo state governor, however, seized the moment, walking to the high table for a photo opportunity with Jonathan to the applause from the audience. Jonathan was to disclose later that Oshiomhole's name is mentioned twice in the book.

Speaking as the Chairman of the occasion, Obasanjo said Nigeria's democracy was too important to be left in the hands of hooligans and thieves. While congratulating Jonathan for enjoying a peaceful retirement, he said if the book had been launched three years ago, Jonathan would not have mustered the kind of crowd that turned up at the book launch. Illustrating with an anecdote in Jonathan's case, he explained the four seasons in the life of democrats or politicians: 'Campaign to election, when you take up office and came in with high popularity and it starts to dwindle; immediately after you leave office, you lose fair weather friends; when you have weathered the storm and look up again. The post-office life which you are now enjoying is one that we must crave for. It is a life of continued service to humanity.'

Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, on his part, recalled that he was at the African Union (AU) meeting, in 2015 in Ethiopia, while awaiting the result of the elections, saying that the hall was tensed as they thought there would be serious trouble in Nigeria. But when they heard that Jonathan had conceded defeat, there was a huge relief.

Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) AtikuAbubakar, whose presence Obasanjo particularly acknowledged to great applause at the occasion, describing him as 'my Vice President,' disclosed that Jonathan wanted to do the book presentation before now, but because he (Atiku) had a role to play in it, he decided to postpone it till after the PDP primaries so that the former president would not be accused of supporting Atiku.

The Senate President, Dr.BukolaSaraki also described Jonathan's famous phone a great step that protected Nigeria and African democracy.

Former Head of State, AbdulsalamAbubakar, also described the former President as a great leader.

On his part, the former Ghanaian President John Mahama, observed Jonathan was not a typical politician but has a relaxed approach to politics which is responsible for his success in office.

Former Sierra Leone President, Ernest Koroma, thought Jonathan had made his party, Nigeria, ECOWAS and Africa proud and expressed satisfaction that the former Nigerian President is an example of what Nigeria should be.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said the gracious call Jonathan made to Buhari was 'what changed the narrative of where we are now, was what brought our democracy to maturity. Nobody can change that.'

The high point of the book presentation had to be when Jonathan gave the reasons why he thought he lost the poll. By his own account at the book launch, he was ousted from power by the opposition that used the issue of Boko Haram, Chibok girls kidnap and the removal of fuel subsidy against him, saying he does not blame them as he would have probably used the same thing if he were in the position. He recalled how he had been accused of inventing Boko Haram to reduce the population of the North so he could win the 2015 presidential election. Jonathan also explained that he wrote the book, which he said was not his biography, because or pressure from Nigerians at home and abroad who wanted to know why he conceded defeat.

His words: 'I just wanted to make a brief contribution of core things about the election because whenever I travel, even in Nigeria, especially the Diaspora, they start asking me: why did you concede defeat? Why did you make that phone call? Why didn't you go to court? The book centres mainly on the election. But I decided not to mention a few negative things because the life of a government is like the life of an individual - some areas are positive, and there are also some negatives. There are certain things in government that were used against me during the election - the issue of Boko Haram and Chibok girls. In fact, some people said I brought Boko Haram to reduce the voting population of the north so that I could win the election.'

He also observed that vote-buying in the country has become scandalous and made suggestions on how it could be tackled.

Jonathan volunteered: 'My suggestion is that we should begin to look at the way we build polling booths, we should copy other countries that use public buildings like schools for elections. So, one school will be one polling unit and it will be easier for the police to police that unit.'

The presidency has since reacted angrily to some of Jonathan's claims in the book especially his taking possession of the policies of Bank Verification Number (BVN), Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPS) as well as his statement on corruption. A statement issued by byGarbaShehu, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), asked Nigerians to dismiss what it called his 'hollow boast,' wondering 'of what use is the announcement of good policies without the will to implement them?'

Governor Ibrahim Kashim of Borno state whose role in the April 2014 school girls' kidnap in Chibok, Borno state Jonathan questioned in the book.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Nov 26, 2018
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