IT APPEARS we are in a season of landmark high-profile books. One is thrilled to find out that the landmark publications are biographical and focused on Nigeria’s contemporary political history, an area where we seldom find suffiet materials that will topically engage an inquisitive reader on contentious developments that regularly dot national discourse.
Only last Monday, former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, marked his 61st birthday with the public launch of a remarkble book entitled, ‘My Transition Hours’. Friday, November 23, 2018, another book entitled , ‘Honour To Serve: Enugu State In The Sullivan Years’ by former governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime will be the subject of a public launch at the KOBB Event Centre, Polo Park Mall, GRA Enugu.
Jonathan’s biographical new book, entitled, ‘My Transition Hours’ which debuted in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja amid pomp and ceremony with the attendance of the creme de la creme of Sub-Sahara African political leadership, was as much an impactful intellectual offering by the former scholar-turned-politician as the grandiose event that marked its public presentation.
Beyond the former presidents of Nigeria and other African countries, leaders of Nigeria, erudite scholars and diplomats who attended the book launch at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, with ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo as chairman of the occasion the event’s real grip was the book’s engaging content.
Therein, Dr. Jonathan raised a lot of thought-proking thrusts about the last days of his reign. One among them was the conduct of the then president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, whom he described as overbearing and ‘condescending.’ He cited a very intrusive message Obama made to Nigerians weeks ahead of the 2015 general elections.
According to Jonathan, Mr. Obama displayed an unusual level of bias during the 2015 elections by issuing a video appeal to Nigerians which actually skewed the polls by implicitely advising the Nigerian electorate to ditch him and give their mandate to his opponent.
Excerpt from ‘My Transition Hours’: “On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote. “In that video, Obama urged Nigerians to open the ‘next chapter’ by their votes. Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the opposition to form a new government.”
According to the book, Obama even went farther to make a direct video broadcast to Nigerians.
“The message was so condescending, it was as if Nigerians did not know what to do and needed an Obama to direct them,” Jonathan recalled of the video message.
Jonathan eventually lost the 2015 presidential elections to current President, Muhammadu Buhari, marking the first time an incumbent president would lose reelection.
‘My Transition Hour’ dwells on the circumstances around his presidency in the last months or two preceding the keenly contested 2015 election which was initially scheduled to hold on February 14, 2015 but was postponed for six weeks to March 28, 2015.
The postponement which was due to unavoidable national situation was equally manipulated against him. Hence it drew outrage in some quarters of the local and global community. As Jonathan’s opponents at home accused him of plots to perpetuate himself in office the authorities in such countries as the U.S.A. and United Kingdom rattled him in their own ways. Yet, according to the former president the decision to shift the polls’ dates were not only his but one which he took alon with former leaders of Nigeria, following security information at the time.
Jonathan noted the cold shoulder or somewhat open disdain his government got from the then U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who, despite all efforts to make him understand that the decision to postpone election was in the overall interest of Nigeria kept mounting pressure on Nigeria and friends of the country to ensure the holding of the poll.
“How can the U.S. Secretary of State know what is more important for Nigeria than Nigeria’s own government? How could they have expected us to conduct elections when Boko Haram controlled part of the North East and were killing and maiming Nigerians?
“Not even the assurance of the sanctity of May 29, 2015 handover date could calm them down. In Nigeria, the Constitution is very clear: No President can extend his tenure by one day,” Jonathan stated.
“The foreign pressure on the issue of election rescheduling was intense,’ he further wrote. “They maintained the curious posture of one who had been deceived before and therefore had every reason to cede no credence to our position. But there was no reason for such posture.
“The United States and the United Kingdom were especially agitated. David Cameron, then the U.K. Prime Minister, called to express his concern about the election rescheduling, just as John Kerry came from the United States to express further worry. It was at best unusual and sobering.
“In fact, John Kerry did not accept our reasons for the rescheduling. It was unbelievable because at the back of our minds we knew why the agitation was beyond what meets the eyes.
“There were deeper political interests. In attendance at the meeting of the Council of State where the decision to reschedule the election was taken were almost all the living former Heads of State in this country. That should have convinced John Kerry of the good intentions of the government.
“He cannot claim to love and defend Nigeria more than all our former heads of state present at the meeting. I have stated earlier how Kerry’s visit was designed to humiliate a sitting Nigerian president and clearly take sides in the country’s election.
“Anyhow, the six weeks served us well. We received the military equipment we were expecting within that period and our Armed Forces commendable dealt a deserving blow on the terrorists and repossessed all territorial areas of Nigeria previously occupied by the terrorists. Boko Haram was deflated up to the point I handed over to my successor on May 29, 2015,” noted Jonathan.
One factor that came out clearly from Dr. Jonathan’s new book is that there was a heavy foriegn interference with Nigeria’s internal affair during the 2015 presidential election. Another issue was that Jonathan was aware of some mischief makers around his Presidential Villa and took notes long before he lost the election and made record as the first incumbent president to lose re-election in Nigeria.
Like former president Jonathan, the former governor Chime is also revealing things in‘Honour To Serve: Enugu State In The Sullivan Years’. As gathered from his preview interaction with journalistsin Enugu he slices into such vexed issues as the regular hue and cry over Igbo marginalisation and restructuring of Nigeria.
The latter he waives away as an issue which those who use it for politics have failed to recognise as purely one that requires a rewrite of Nigeria’s constitution which may not be easy to achieve.
On Igbo marginalisation in Nigeria he comes so provocative that it is better to quote him. Excerpts:
“Igbo enjoyed all the plum positions under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We have been President, Senate President several times, Deputy Senate president, juicy ministerial positions and there is nothing to show for it. Let the PDP explain to us why they did not implement all their promises to Ndigbo.
“Buhari never experienced Igbo support, yet he has improved on electricity, road projects and others. If I have a president from Cameroun who will provide the zone with infrastructure, I will vote for him because politics is all about development and not plum positions that amount to nothing. We should be interested in what we can get as a people and not about appointments. Igbo do not like one another. You see, APC inherited a lot of problems in governance. You do not expect the government to perform magic overnight.
“South East Governors, then, complained in all the meetings we had with the PDP Federal Government on poor infrastructure in the zone, but nothing happened.
“PDP has not changed. The same people that killed PDP are still in charge.”.
Edited by Tony Onyima, ‘Honour To Serve: Enugu State In The Sullivan Years’ which will be presented by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo comes across as a book that will be interesting to read, at for Mr. Chime’s angle of Nigeria’s recent political developments.
Sure, like Jonathan’s, Chime’s is heavily steeped in partisan politics. But what no one can take away from the new books is that they offer vital information in an area that we have little or no well documented narratives on except hear say eve in this modern age.. So, for me what I give to the two high profile new authors is appreciation. Their literary efforts mark the beginning of God’s answering of our prayers. I continue that prayer point in hope that it will draw more persons who currently operate or have operated in high places to step up and document their memoir for public consumption. The venture will redeem Nigeria.