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Buhari probing me-Jonathan

One year after handing over power to President Muhammadu Buhari, former President, Goodluck Jonathan has confirmed he is being investigated for alleged corruption by the present government.
In a major speech he delivered at the Bloomberg Television Centre in London, the United Kingdom, Jonathan also reviewed the political situation in Nigeria and stated that he achieved his aim of ensuring a peaceful transition of power, and that his loss at the 2015 presidential poll was one of his proudest moments.
He said: “Obviously, I’m being investigated. Investigations are going on. I would not want to make certain comments because, when a government is working, it’s not proper for immediate past president to make certain statements.
“I will allow the government to do the work it’s supposed to do. I wouldn’t want to make serious comments on that. After all these investigations, the whole stories will be properly chronicled. I’ve just left office, and I should allow the president and his team to do what they believe is good for the economy.”
While rejecting claims that he was responsible for the nation’s economic crisis, Jonathan said: “You see, the economy of Nigeria, somehow, depends on oil, and any time oil price drops, it affects the economy significantly in terms of its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).”
The former president also denied leaving an empty treasury at the end of his tenure, saying: “That is not true. There is no way he (Buhari) would have inherited an empty treasury and, at the same time, give bailout to the states. It is not possible. Nigeria is a fairly robust economy, but, sometimes, we over-politicise certain issues and make them look so bad. It was not that bad.
“Some people ask questions like I was the president of Nigeria since independence, I was president for five years.”
Speaking on his approach to tackling corruption, Jonathan said: “I cannot say there was no corruption in the country from the beginning of our independence.
“Yes, there has been corruption and I did very well to curtail it.
“We made sure the area of fertiliser subsidies was cleaned up, and the whole corruption there was removed.”
He, however, said his effort to fight corruption in the oil sector was frustrated by some opposition elements.
“I tried to do the same (fight corruption) in the oil industry, but the very people that were accusing us of corruption, were the same people frustrating it, it’s unfortunate.”
Speaking on political developments in the country, Jonathan said he is the first elected Nigerian leader to willingly hand over power through the ballot box to the opposition party without contesting the election outcome.
“It proved to the ordinary man and woman in the country that I was his or her equal.”
The former president also advocated a bill of rights that would guarantee equality and end discrimination as a means of deepening the nation’s growth and development.
Jonathan addressed an elite audience of Nigerian professionals, diplomats, friends of Nigerians and international investors, making out a case for investment in Africa’s most populous nation.
He said: I was true to my word when on March16th, 2015, just after the election, when the results were still being collated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I called my opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to concede, in order to avoid any conflict and ensure a peaceful transition of power. This was without precedent in my country and I am proud that it achieved my goal of no conflict arising from the result of the election.
“Some may think it is ironic that, perhaps, my proudest achievement was not winning the 2015 presidential election. By being the first elected Nigerian leader to willingly hand over power, via the ballot box, to the opposition party, without contesting the election outcome, I proved to the ordinary man or woman in the country that I was his or her equal. That his or her vote was equal to mine and that democracy is the ‘government by the will of the people’, that Nigeria, and indeed Africa, is ripe for democracy.”
Urging Nigerians to work towards consolidating democracy and winning the war against corruption, Jonathan assured that he remained committed to good governance, effective stewardship and transparency.
The nation, he insisted, desperately needed deeply entrenched freedom, peace and unity to make meaningful progress.
“For this to happen,” he suggested “it is imperative that both the executive and legislative arms of government institute a bill of rights. A bill of rights that will end discrimination and tribalism, and promote equality, enabling everyone to work towards the common goal for the development of the nation.
“A bill of rights, which, like the British Magna Carta, some 800 years ago, enshrined the principle of habeas corpus, so that no person is deprived of his liberty without a trial of his peers. A bill of rights, like that introduced by America’s founding fathers, which stated ‘the people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, write, or publish their sentiments;’ and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”
The former president highlighted his administration’s achievements in agriculture, education, youth empowerment, peace building in Africa, among other areas. He restated his commitment to upholding democratic principles and energising citizen entrepreneurship and intra-Africa trade through the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.
Jonathan said he envisioned a “Nigeria where you are judged on your merits and not your origins; a Nigeria where you can get the education you want and the future you choose; a Nigeria whose government serves the people and is not above the law; a Nigeria whose government invests in its resources above the ground and not just the resources below; a place where we all work together, rather than allow ourselves to be divided by tribalism or prejudice.”
The former president also advocated a shift in mindset and a national transformation that would prioritise the rights of Nigerians in reaching government and investment decisions.
“Rather than spending money on resources that will run out, we should be investing it in people who are the key constant elements in the socio-economic transformation of society… Our money must go towards providing education for all, because we know that once our citizens are educated, they have futures.
“Those futures lead to safer cities, stable economies, and more businesses. When a young person does not have access to education, his future is jeopardised and statistics show that they may be prone to antisocial and criminal activities.
“I am proud of the fact that my administration established a federal university in every one of the 12 states that did not previously have them. Now, for the first time in our country’s history, every state has a university established by the Federal Government,” he said.
The nation, he added, needed “to build on these achievements by changing our mindset to investing in the resources above the ground, rather than below the ground. Once we invest in our citizens, it will be our time to confidently enter the international stage. Each one of us will be able to go to any nation and proudly proclaim: I am a citizen of Nigeria. When we have a good mindset, we must also strive for equality. No investment in our people is going to pay off if we are unequal.”
Appealing for patriotism in conducting the affairs of the nation, Jonathan said: “There is a phrase from Cicero going back to Ancient Rome, ‘Civis Romanus sum.’ Meaning, ‘I am a Roman citizen.’ But it meant much more than that. It meant that every Roman was entitled to all of the rights and protections of a citizen in Rome. It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor or even a prisoner, you were still a citizen of Rome and protected by the state.
“Wouldn’t it be good for us to aspire to a Nigeria where we, too, could apply that same principle, ‘Civis Nigerianus sum’? Each of us could say, ‘I am a citizen of Nigeria!’ We would be able to look beyond where each of us comes from, and look past our tribal origins. We would be able to evaluate each other on our merits, rather than our religion, or region.”

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