Former President Goodluck Jonathan has challenged a former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, to publish evidence linking him with the controversial $1.6b Malabu Oil (OPL 245) scam.
Lamido, in an interview at the weekend, accused the ex-president of trading off the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The APC dislodged the PDP in the state, which had been a stronghold of the PDP since 1999. Bayelsa is Jonathan’s home state.
In the interview, Lamido was quoted to have said: “The leadership of the APC and the government are blackmailing Jonathan and I think I can say it anywhere that he traded this for his own freedom.”
Lamido added: “Jonathan worked against his party because he was very, very angry with Governor Seriake Dickson. It was because he (Jonathan) sure knows his problem with Buhari and his government. And the issue of Malabu, I think, played a key role”.
“So, the election was won and lost by the PDP. PDP history, PDP tradition and Jonathan were behind him. That I can say anywhere because the issue of Malabu is an issue I know very well. I had cause to discuss it with him.
Hitting the ex-President further, Lamido said: “To me, Jonathan is a creation of an accident hoisted by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Nigeria. I don’t think in terms of looking at the Nigerian landscape, I don’t think you can rate him as a leader outside the office he occupied.”
But in a statement yesterday by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, the former President described Lamido as “sulking skunk” to whom logic or reason meant nothing.
Stating his position on the Malabu oil deal, Jonathan said he did not ask for or collect any bribes over the Malabu deal, neither has he been charged for asking or collecting bribes, and that neither will he ever be charged with asking for or collecting bribes, because such never happened.
Jonathan said: “Rather than cast aspersions and throw shades because of pre-existing animosities and prejudices against the former president, what is expected of party leaders like Mr. Lamido is to seek to interrogate whatever went wrong in Bayelsa, to avert a repeat in another state.
“We believe that further interrogation of Lamido’s other weird claims is not necessary in this space, lest it gives the unfortunate interview more attention than it deserves.
“However, we feel that it is important to reiterate, as we have always done, that former President Jonathan did nothing wrong as far as the Malabu deal is concerned. He therefore doesn’t need to cut a deal with anybody within or outside Nigeria.
“The fact remains that as recent national events continue to vindicate former President Jonathan, and as the world continues to celebrate him, those who are insecure will feed such propaganda to their media agents to serve their narrow interests.
“We have always made it clear that beyond this wave of conjecture, former President Jonathan was not linked, indicted or charged for collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes by any law enforcement body the world over”.
Jonathan said: “It didn’t matter to him that, as a well-respected member of the society, he shouldn’t make such weighty claims against a former President if he was only guessing, like he admitted.
“We really do not know why Mr. Lamido, chose to speak like he did, especially with such hostility, contempt and lies against former President Jonathan. However, one thing is clear: In his anger and apparent bile-filled disposition, Mr. Lamido, an otherwise astute and erudite politician, obviously dropped the ball by electing not to speak responsibly like a statesman.
“Apparently seized by some inexplicable resentment, Lamido held on to the lie currently being pushed by a few mischief-makers to the effect that former President Jonathan helped the APC to win the last gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State.
“Unfortunately, the former Governor jumped into this convenient bandwagon of grovellers without first thinking of the burden of substantiating his claim. What to do? Orchestrate a raft of incongruent drivel of cheap lies to confuse the readers.
“This absurd claim definitely would have gained more traction in the public space if it really made any sense. But it didn’t. What, if we may ask Mr. Lamido, is the correlation between Jonathan supporting APC because he was angry with Governor Dickson and Jonathan supporting APC to avoid prosecution over Malabu?
“Where was Lamido and his ‘Malabu problem’ when Jonathan campaigned vigorously and helped PDP to win Bayelsa governorship election in 2015, under the same President Buhari?
It is important to establish at this point that Mr. Lamido probably knows very little about the Malabu case, for which he was not supposed to have commented blindly.
“It bears repeating that the documents relating to the transactions and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabo issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the relevant Government offices, where they are accessible.
“We would like to point out that all the actions taken by the Jonathan administration in relation to activities in the oil industry were legally conducted by relevant Nigerian Government officials and were carried out in the best interest of the country
“We call on anyone, including Mr. Sule Lamido, who has any shred of evidence linking former President Jonathan to any wrongdoing in the case of the Malabu incident to waste no time in publishing such evidence or forever remain silent”.
The former President clarified that the Malabu oil block was not given out during his administration, pointing out that it was a deal that was sealed during the time of the late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Noting that it’s not only the Nigerian government that is investigating the Malabu deal, he said the investigation has an international dimension to it.
“If that is the case, he (Lamido) should also have known that there are at least three other countries outside Africa that are investigating the matter. Assuming without conceding that the former President Jonathan is culpable as Lamido alleged, would a trade off deal with the Nigerian Government also free him from blame in other countries like Italy, United Kingdom and the United States?
“Mr. Lamido’s awkward intervention in this matter was deliberately designed as a form of blackmail. Having tried many other ways to discredit the former President to no avail, Mr. Lamido is now scheming to project Malabu as Jonathan’s Achilles heel. Here again he has failed because the true story of Malabu is already very well known to Nigerians.
“Mr Lamido, we believe, is too smart not to realise that when the pot conveniently calls the kettle black, it is a grand design to confuse, deceive and cover up the truth.”
“Lamido served as Governor of Jigawa State for two terms on the platform of the PDP after which the ruling APC took over his state. Is he then telling Nigerians that he cut a deal with APC, helped the ruling party to procure victory at the polls and take over his state?
“The fact is that it is not only in Bayelsa State that the country had experienced such a situation where PDP or even APC had lost elections to another party. Holding Jonathan responsible for PDP’s loss in Bayelsa without first investigating the issues that determined the fate suffered by the party in the state is not only disingenuous but also detrimental to the image and aspirations of the party”, Jonathan added.