Jaiyeola Andrews in Abuja
Tells ministers to be ready for persecution
Barely 18 days to the expiration of his administration, President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said either in or out of government, he was as prepared as ever to lay down his life for the greatness of Nigeria.
Jonathan spoke at a thanksgiving service organised in his honour at the Anglican Church, Life Camp, Abuja.
The president noted that the country had given him a lot right from his primary school days to the present moment when he is bowing out as a “very happy and fulfilled man.”
Jonathan told the congregation that he had every reason to thank his home state of Bayelsa and the country for the opportunities given him to serve.
He said the fortune that smiled on him in his political career was rare to come by.
President Jonathan recalled that he had gotten everything from the country on a platter of gold, having attained primary and secondary education as well as first and second university degrees on government scholarship. He added that he didn’t even have to pay for his PhD programme because his then employers paid.
“When I look at the whole picture of my life up to when I became the president of this country, and I say that if soldiers and police officers that have not received 0.5 percent of the benefits that I have received from the state can lay their lives for this country, I should do anything in the interest of Nigeria including paying the supreme price.
“As long as live, I will continue to do my best for the state because the state has helped me as a person.
“I have to thank Nigerians, especially my state, for giving me the opportunity to serve as deputy governor and the whole country for giving me the opportunity to serve as vice-president and then president. First, was to complete the tenure of the late President and later serve as president from which I am exiting now as a very happy and fulfilled man,” Jonathan stressed.
He told the congregation that he took hard decision in cleansing country’s electoral process and achieve other reforms, which probably may have denied him his re-election bid.
The president who gave insight into what he is expecting after leaving office, noted that his cabinet members and aides would be persecuted, just as more of his ‘fiends’ would also desert him.
Jonathan recalled the story of the last ruler of apartheid South Africa who was divorced by his wife for accepting to abolish minority rule in the country, adding jocularly that he hoped his wife would not also divorce him for accepting defeat in the last presidential election.
His wife, Patience, who did not take the joke lightly, shouted, “Nooooo!!” which drew another applause from the worshippers.
Jonathan added: “I believe there are reasons for everything. Some hard decisions have their own cost, no doubt about that. That I have ran the government this way that stabilised certain things, the electoral process and other things that brought stability into this country.
“They were very costly decisions which I must be ready to pay for. Some people come to me and say is this or that person not your friend that benefitted from your government?. Is it not your government that this person benefitted from? “But this is what the person is saying. But I used to say worse statements will come. If you take certain decisions, you should know that those close to you will even abandon you at some point. And I tell them that more of my so-called friends will disappear.
“When FW De Clerk took the decision to abolish minority rule in South Africa even his wife divorced him. I hope my wife will not divorce me. But that is the only decision that has made South Africa to still remain a global player by this time. If we still had that minority rule there, by this time, nobody will be talking about South Africa.
“If you take certain decisions, it might be good for the generality of the people but it might affect some people differently. So, for ministers and aides who served with me, I sympathise with them, they will be persecuted. And they must be ready for that persecution.”
Quoting Tai Solarin’s ‘may your ways be rough’, the president said: “To my ministers, I wish you what I wish myself. They will have hard times, we will all have hard times. Our ways will be rough.”
He thanked Nigerians for their support and urged the church and other religious groups to pray for the success of the incoming administration, saying what matters is not the person in charge of government, what matters according to him are the dividends of democracy.
“We are happy the ordinary people appreciate what we did and that is most important. It’s not what the elite or the privileged few talk or say about you but what the majority of the Nigerian public thinks about your actions and inactions that matter. We came to Abuja peacefully and we are returning peacefully.
“I thank the church and Nigerians because they stood by us at our most difficult times.
“Even for the election, we had people who supported us all over the country but things went the way they did because God wanted it that way for a purpose.
“We will continue to pray for the peace in the country and for the success of the incoming administration. When the country is in good shape, people benefit. When things are going well, people will be happy. You don’t need to know Mr President or Mr Governor. The issue is not about Jonathan or Buhari or any other person. The issue is how the government functions.
“Stability, buoyant economy that will enable Nigeria to move forward and live happily is all I am interested in. That is our interest, that is my prayer point. All religious groups should pray for the country,” Jonathan said.
Earlier, former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana, described Jonathan as a man who was favoured by God in many ways, thanking God for what he used him to achieve for the country.
“Jonathan is a man of favour. He is highly favoured by God. We thank God for what He has done for Nigeria through the man. Despite the big positions he occupied in the country, he has remained humble and he has succeeded in deepening democracy in the country.
“He revived the rail system of transportation. He brought back hope to Nigeria and to cap it all, he conceded defeat to his opponent in a heroic manner,” Gana said.
On his part, the Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, said of Jonathan: “He is humane, gentle and unassuming. He has transformed Nigeria. He is not vindictive. He loved the youths. He empowered, mentored and motivated youths and women.
“He is a listening leader. He listens to everyone in Council before making judgement. He fixed the electoral process and brought credibility into it. He is Nigeria’s greatest leader.”
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