President Goodluck Jonathan is certain that persecution and desertion by friends would be his portion after handing over power to the President-elect Major General Mohammadu Buhari on May 29. The same fate, according to him, awaits his ministers also. He said this while reflecting on ‘life after service’ during a thanksgiving and farewell service organized in his honour at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp, Gwarinpa, Abuja on Sunday, May 10.
The persecution will arise from the hard decision his government took to concede victory to Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is the first time in the political history of Nigeria that an incumbent president would be defeated by an opposition candidate. “If you take certain decisions, it might be good for many but it might affect others differently. So, for ministers and aides who served with me, I sympathize with them because they will be persecuted. They must be ready for persecution,” Jonathan said.
He continued on the theme by quoting from the late Tai Solarin’s May Your Road Be Rough: “I say 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 said that victory went to the opposition party in the March 28 election because God wanted it to be so, adding that “even for the election, we had people who supported us all over the country but things went the way they did because God wanted them that way for a purpose.”
He urged Nigerians to continue to pray for the peace of 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 are 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 in terms of stability and a buoyant economy that will enable Nigerians to move forward and live happily. That is our interest; that is my prayer point,” he said.
The President said he believes there are reasons for everything. He said: “That I have run the government this way that stabilised certain things, the electoral process and other things that brought stability to this country. They are very costly decisions which I must be ready to pay for. Some people come to me and say this or that person, is he not your friend that benefitted? Is it not your government that this person benefitted from? But this is what the person is saying. But I used to say that 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.”
President Jonathan recalled that when F.W. de Klerk took the decision to abolish minority rule in South Africa, even his wife divorced him. He, however, noted that it was de Klerk’s decision that has made South Africa to be a global player now.
President Jonathan also used the occasion to thank God for what he has done for him and his family. He said: “I wish to dance more than David, (but) if I try to dance, I miss my steps. I have all the reasons to thank God. Very few of those in my age bracket have been that lucky. All through my education, I was on government scholarship. I have not suffered lack not because I am hard working, but it has been God’s grace.
“When I look at the whole picture of my life up to when I became the President of this country, I say that if soldiers and policemen that have not received 0.5 per cent of the benefits that I have had from the state can lay down their lives for this country, I should do anything in the interest of Nigeria, including paying the supreme price.”
He pledged that as long as he lives, he will continue to do his best for Nigeria because the country has helped him as a person. “I have to thank Nigerians, especially the people of my state (Bayelsa) for giving me the opportunity to serve as deputy governor. I thank all Nigerians who gave me the opportunity to serve as Vice President and President. I had their support to complete the tenure of the late President (Umaru Yar’Adua) and later serve as President from which I am exiting now as a very happy and fulfilled man.”
In his sermon entitled, “Thanksgiving,” the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh said although Jonathan was leaving office as President, the world would still need his services in different capacities.“You have graduated and entered the distinguished class of statesmen and women. In your new office, you are a peacemaker. Nigeria, Africa, the black world and the world will need you. You are relevant; you have just started; you have not expired”
The Primate expressed gratitude to God for the kind of leader Jonathan is adding that his humility saved lives. “There were many people who came and pretended to be your friends, but were sadists. They came with cameras recording, but were disappointed. What God is doing in your life you may not understand, it might take years, but you need to be patient to understand because the deeper meaning of the event will unfold later,” Most Reverend Okoh said.
By Dike Onwuamaeze