Nigeria’s Jonathan says friends abandoned him after defeat

Outgoing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said Sunday that some of his friends deserted him shortly after he conceded defeat to his rival General Muhammadu Buhari in the March election.

Jonathan publicly conceded defeat to Buhari on March 31, a decision which was commended by local and foreign commentators and doused tension in the country.

“Some hard decisions have their own costs. No doubt about that. It is a very costly decision but I must be very ready to pay for it,” Jonathan said during a farewell church service in Abuja.

Jonathan’s public admission of defeat in the nail-biting election came more than six hours after he rang Buhari to concede, earning him widespread praise for statesmanship.

“If you take certain decisions, you should know that people close to you will even abandon you at some point. I tell people that more of my so-called friends will disappear.”

Many party faithful and erstwhile loyalists of Jonathan have either crossed over to Buhari’s All Progressives Congress or made harsh statements against Jonathan’s party or its leaders.

Jonathan said he was not surprised by the desertions or statements by his former loyalists, adding that former South African president Frederik de Klerk faced a similar situation when he decided to abolish minority rule in that country.

Jonathan said that de Klerk’s marriage to his wife, Marike, broke down after he took that decision.

“But that is the only decision that made South Africa to still be a global player. If by this time we still have minority rule in South africa, nobody would have been talking about South Africa in the present generation,” he said.

He said that ministers who served under him should brace themselves for “persecution” following his loss and his decision to concede defeat.

Buhari, a former military leader, is scheduled to be sworn into office on May 29.

Photo Credits : AFP

Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan publicly concedes election

Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday publicly conceded defeat in the presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari, expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to lead the nation.

“I thank all Nigerians once again for the great opportunity I was given to lead this country and assure you that I will continue to do my best at the helm of national affairs until the end of my tenure,” he said in a statement.

“I have conveyed my personal best wishes to General Muhammadu Buhari.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Nigeria may push back deadline for voter ID handout: INEC

Nigeria’s election body said Wednesday that it may push back the deadline for distributing voter identity cards but denied media reports that the vote itself could be postponed.

The spokesman for Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Kayode Idowu, told AFP that the body may allow voter ID cards to be handed out after the current February 8 deadline.

However he described media reports about a possible election postponement as “completely false”.

The prospect of an election delay was first raised last month by National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki, who said that INEC should look at delaying the polls because of problems in distributing voter cards.

Over the last two weeks, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has repeatedly accused the ruling party of orchestrating a campaign to delay the vote because of fears that President Goodluck Jonathan was facing defeat against rival Muhammadu Buhari.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday maintained that it was not trying to influence INEC on a postponement decision.

“The decisions to postpone or delay the elections ‎are firmly within the purview of INEC,” PDP spokesman Femi Fani Kayode said.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP or anybody else. We have said all along that we believe that it is important that every Nigerian has the voter card.

“The only thing that we can say is to urge the INEC to ensure that (distribution) is done as quickly as possible,” he told reporters.

Several state governors have declared public holidays this week, allowing people to miss work and visit local election offices to collect their cards.

INEC has registered 68.8 million voters but logistical problems have plagued distribution in several areas.

In the northeast, hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the Boko Haram conflict are facing disenfranchisement.

There are currently no plans that would allow displaced people to vote outside their home district and INEC has not yet made clear which parts of the northeast are safe enough to host polling stations.

Meanwhile, fighting in the northeast, an opposition stronghold, is raging at a relentless pace, with troops from Chad crossing onto Nigerian soil to battle the Boko Haram Islamists following a deal between the two governments.

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Nigeria’s Jonathan claims assassination plot

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has claimed that the leader of a home-grown militant group currently serving time in South Africa for terror offences had tried to kill him.

The head of state said in a speech in Lagos on Thursday that Henry Okah, who headed the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had been tasked to carry out the assassination.

He alleged that Okah, whose group fought for a greater share of oil wealth in the 2000s, “was procured by some Nigerians to assassinate me”.

“And Okah bombed Abuja. The attempt was to assassinate me,” he told supporters of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Okah, an engineer, was convicted of 13 counts of terrorism in 2013 and sentenced to 24 years in jail in South Africa, where he has permanent residency.

The charges related to twin bombings at celebrations of Nigeria’s 50 years of independence on October 1, 2010, which killed at least 12 in Abuja, and two other bombings in the southern oil hub of Warri in March that year.

“Intelligence investigation from South Africa intelligence system and Nigerian intelligence system roped him in that plan to assassinate me,” Jonathan told the crowd.

Jonathan has never before said that he was the subject of an assassination plot and despite MEND’s claim of responsibility for the attack, indicated that other forces were responsible.

“People just use the name of MEND to camouflage criminality and terrorism,” he said in a televised interview at the time.

He was responding on Thursday to an apparent statement from the group, which was active in the oil-producing southern Niger Delta region until a government amnesty.

In it, a purported MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, claimed that it was backing opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari in next month’s presidential elections.

Gbomo on Friday challenged Jonathan to reveal the names of those he claimed were behind the plot and explain why they were not arrested, tried and convicted.

Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati was not immediately available when contacted by AFP.

Okah, who claims the terror charges against him were politically motivated, last November began an appeal against his conviction, arguing that the South African court had no right to try him.

Photo Credits : AFP