Why I feared Buhari will persecute my people — Former president

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed why he feared that then-incoming President Muhammadu Buhari would go after his supporters, saying that even if that was not the intention...

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed why he feared that then-incoming President Muhammadu Buhari would go after his supporters, saying that even if that was not the intention of the new president, those around him could have pressed for it for their own interests.

President buhari jonathan
Buhari and Jonathan smiling

He stated this in his just-released book, “My Transition Hours,” where he revealed that he had several discussion on the issue with Buhari before the All Progressive Congress (APC) flag bearer took over power.

Writing under the chapter, “The Change Game Begins,” he said: “My concern was whether the incoming administration would go on a persecution spree of those who supported me or focus on nation-building.

“Initially, the concern was not necessarily on the incoming President because having been a Governor and a President, I was very much aware that many unfortunate tendencies and measures come from different camps, especially those with strong connections to the corridors of power.

“Sometimes, the intentions of people around you are unclear and they take advantage of certain situations. I tried to have several discussions on this very subject directly with President-elect Buhari in our various meetings.”

The former president also spoke about the tensions that accompanied his preparations to handover as members of the APC appeared to want to probe his government even when he had not left office.

He said he stood his ground and insisted on doing what he considered the appropriate thing which led to the smooth handover of power.

He narrated: “Though we were from different political parties, the major undertaking for me after the election was to demonstrate that our country was far more important than partisan considerations and to ensure there was a smooth transition from my administration to the in. coming Buhari administration.

“My top priority was a peaceful Nigeria. We needed to relate in the interest of the country to have a peaceful handover in 2015.

“Former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar, was most supportive. He encouraged both of us to meet on different occasions with the sole intention of putting Nigeria first.

“By having these meetings, we had to create a concerted platform before the formal handover.“Unfortunately, what was to follow after the new government took charge was different.

THE HANDOVER

“The handover was just a formal ceremony. Our initial meetings centred on moving the country forward. We managed to have some friendly productive talks.

“As part of the handover programme, the incoming and outgoing governments set up transition teams designed to work together.

“Initially, there was a misunderstanding. The incoming team wanted to bring in consultants to work with them. I declined the request, assuring them that when the handover takes place, Permanent Secretaries and Directors would not leave with me since they are civil servants and will be available to brief the staff of the incoming President on all details.

“I passionately opposed the idea knowing that it would send the wrong message and appear like they were investigating my government while I was still the President.

“Incidentally, I found out days later that the request did not come from President-elect Buhari, but rather from overzealous party members.

“Subsequently, both teams worked together effectively. It took weeks to gather all the data and statistics from the numerous Agencies and Departments of Government.

“One may wonder if the transition was difficult for me having been President for five years. It was a mixed bag. I had no ill feelings because I meant well and wanted to do the best for my country.

“Yes, there were some human errors along the way as is the case with all humans.  I was glad that I handed over peacefully.”

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