PROMINENT Ijaw groups and elders, yesterday, told former President Goodluck Jonathan, to blame himself for his defeat in the 2015 presidential election.
The leaders asked Jonathan to stop blaming his woes on the North and come clean on the issues that led to his ouster from the Presidency.
They, however, condemned a statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Jonathan was too small for the Presidency, describing it as derogatory and childish.
They also appealed to the youths in the region to desist from issuing renewed threats of bombing of oil installations in the region.
Jonathan was quoted in a new book, Against the Run of Play, written by Segun Adeniyi, as saying that his re-election ambition was frustrated by northern betrayers.
But the two prominent Ijaw groups, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide and the Ijaw National Congress (INC), including some Ijaw leaders, differed sharply with Jonathan’s claims.
The President of IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, said it was belittling for Jonathan, who occupied the highest political position with all security apparatus under his watch, to feign ignorance of conspiracies against him before the election.
He said: “I would like to align myself with statements credited to former Senate President David Mark who said that he told Jonathan that there was a conspiracy against him but how Jonathan could not decipher the information was what he could not fathom.
“Jonathan would not say he didn’t know about the conspiracy. You cannot be the commander-in-chief with all the security at your disposal without knowing of a conspiracy by a region against you. It was a conspiracy that was obvious to all Nigerians except himself. He needs not say it.”.
Also, a famous Ijaw leader and immediate past President of IYC, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, said Jonathan should not blame the North, adding that the former President failed to establish the required machinery before the election to get necessary feedback for the happenings across the country.
He recalled calling on Jonathan at the time to go outside conventional security protocol to gauge the mood of the nation but the former President ignored his advice.
He said: “I don’t see the North as betraying Jonathan. I think the problem was that Jonathan did not have the machinery necessary to give him full feedback of what was happening. It was Jonathan’s fault, not the fault of the North.
“A leader must have a feedback machinery and always have the team that reviews information that comes from the field. As a President, apart from your routine government machinery or security informants, you must have your personal-on-the-ground assessment.
“I remember that at a point as IYC President, I made a publication calling on the President at that time to go outside of security protocol and land at Port Harcourt Airport instead of using helicopter to Yenagoa, and that he would see the neglect of the people by the government.
“I told him that security was only deceiving him and telling him that following the road to Yenagoa was risky. So anytime he was coming to the region, he was flying helicopter, so he could not see how bad the region was until the day we were escorting him to Yenagoa and he almost wept at the state of the East West Road.
“So, it is not the fault of the north. It was Jonathan’s fault. As a President, he should have had a feedback mechanism especially towards election so that he would use it as a buffer.”
Eradiri further contended that Jonathan failed to take hard decisions, including ignoring calls at some point to sack his Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
“Diezani was his minister and he loved her so much. She was doing so well but he shouldn’t have allowed her into the election. All the calls to change Diezani and use some of those offices to appease some parts of the country, he refused to listen and so he shouldn’t blame the north.
“We have all lost this Presidency and we are licking our wounds. Let him not remind us of our painful exit from the Presidency. The Niger Delta people are suffering today because of that loss. The issue that was coming out from the public was corruption,” he said.
Eradiri added that corruption was a major factor that led to the revolution against Jonathan’s administration, adding that there were many cases of graft from the government.
He said: “There were too many corrupt issues in his government. In fact, he was removed because of corruption.
“Disrespecting former Presidents and leaders when you knew you were going into election was bad. Even if you didn’t like what they were doing, you would just pretend.
“France and America were worried just as we were worried in Nigeria about his attitude towards some of the super ministers that he had. Since nobody could advise him, the best that happened was that the entire country had to gang up against him. So let us not try to rewrite history by playing the blame game.”
But the Chairman, INC, Central Zone, Chief Kennedy Odiowei, disagreed with the IYC and Eradiri, saying Jonathan was a victim of betrayal.
“Jonathan was betrayed by the north. That is very bitter truth.
“You could see the pattern of the votes. The whole South East and South South voted for him. Jonathan had the least votes from the north. So they betrayed him”, he said.