Former President Goodluck Jonathan Monday said he did not leave an empty treasury for President Muhammadu Buhari who took the reins of government from him on 29 May last year.
“It is not true; there is no way that he (President Buhari) would have inherited an empty treasury and at the same time give bailout to the states. It’s not possible,” he told Bloomberg TV.
The former president, who also said he was under investigation apparently by the federal government, pointedly refuted the Buhari administration’s claim that he left behind an economy that was on its knees.
“Nigeria is a fairly robust economy,” Jonathan said, adding: “But sometimes, we over politicise some issues and make it look so bad. It was not that bad. Some people ask questions like I was the president of Nigeria since independence; I was the president for five years.”
The federal government under President Buhari’s watch had blamed the prostate state of the economy on its mismanagement by the Jonathan administration, stating that it met an economy battered by large scale corruption.
Many of the past administration’s senior officials have since been investigated and large sums of money recovered from them even as some others, including the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Close associates of the former president, including his cousin, Robert Azibaola, his Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs Dudafa Waripamo-Owei, are also under arrest and investigation, sparking speculations that Jonathan would soon be taken in.
Jonathan confirmed monday that he was indeed under investigation but refused to give further details. “Of course, obviously, I would be investigated. In fact, I am being investigated. Investigations are going on. I would not want to make certain comments because government is working,” he told Bloomberg TV.
He told the foreign electronic service that he would prefer to reserve further comments in order not to distract the government.
“It would not be proper for the immediate past president to make certain statements. I will allow the government do the work. I wouldn’t want to make serious comments on that.
“After all the investigations, the stories will be properly documented. I have just left office and I should allow the president and his team do what they think is best for the economy,” he said.
Jonathan said there was no big deal in President Buhari’s ongoing war against corruption, arguing that it was a normal past time of a fresh regime seeking legitimacy from the people.
“It is routine in Nigeria,” he said, explaining that from the collapse of the first republic to date every government had blamed corruption for the failure of the preceding administration.
According to him, “When the second republic collapsed, the military blamed corruption. If there is a major change in government, one political party taking over from another one, there must be issues.”
But he said he tackled the ill in his own way. “In the area of fertiliser subsidy, we cleaned up and the corruption was removed. I wanted to do the same thing in the oil industry but the same people who are accusing us of corruption are the very people that were frustrating it,” the former president said.
Earlier yesterday at a lecture he delivered at the Bloomberg Television Centre in London before an elite audience of Nigerian professionals, diplomats, friends of Nigeria and international investors, Jonathan highlighted his significant achievements in office, pointing to the peaceful transfer of power to President Buhari as the most remarkable.