Nigeria’s immediate past president Goodluck Jonathan has kicked against the conduct of Barack Obama, describing the former United States president as overbearing and ‘condescending’ in his message to Nigerians ahead of the 2015 presidential election.
Jonathan said Obama displayed an unusual level of bias during the elections, issuing a video appeal to Nigerians which all but advised them on which candidate to give their mandate.
The former President, who lost the election to Muhammadu Buhari of the APC with over 2.5 million votes, made the claim in a book about his tenure in office titled: “My Transition Hours” launched on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
“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,” said Jonathan in the book.
“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.”
Jonathan became the first incumbent president to lose an election in Nigeria when Buhari defeated him in 2015. He assumed office in 2010 following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, getting his own mandate of four years at the 2011 election.
The 2015 election was postponed to March 28 from its initial date in February. The six-week postponement was greeted with a storm of criticism within and outside the country with Jonathan’s opponents accusing him of plots to elongate his stay.
Reacting to the allegation in his latest book, the former president said he was not the only one responsible for the shift.
He said other former leaders were all part of the decision, which was informed by the security exigencies at the time.
Jonathan berated Obama, who was US president at the time, for saying “all Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear,” but was reluctant to allow the Nigerian security forces drive Boko Haram insurgents away from the Nigerian territories they had been occupying in order to free Nigerian citizens there ahead of elections.
The former President also took a harsh aim at former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying the top diplomat was nonchalant in his attitude towards his government, despite all efforts to make him understand that the decision to postpone election was in the overall interest of Nigeria.
He wrote: “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.”
Although the former President did not say what he did to offend the Western powers, he, however, painted a dreadful image of their attitude towards him in the waning days of his government.