Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s immediate past President, has responded to an allegation by Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), that he started the practice of “vote buying”.
According to Jonathan, the claims by Oshiomhole may be as a result of “psychological strain” associated with his efforts at defending “the already floundering ship of his administration”.
Recently, a civic group, SERAP has dragged the electoral commission, INEC to court over the commission’s failure to do something about the allegations of vote-buying, the practice of paying voters to compel them to vote for particular candidates during an election; a hot-button issue ahead of the 2019 general elections.
In a bid to absolve his party from the allegations, Oshomole in an interview on Channels Television Monday blamed Jonathan, for introducing vote-buying into Nigerian politics during the 2015 general elections “where he churned out naira and dollars”.
In a swift response, the former president in a statement Wednesday through his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, described the former Edo state governor’s remark as “misleading falsehood”.
He rather accused him (Oshomole) of introducing the vote buying trend during his stint as Edo governor in 2016.
Goodluck then described Oshiomole as someone suffering from multiple personality syndrome and has a Jekyll and Hyde Schizophrenia citing Oshiomhole’s recent ‘flip-flops’ which he said may not be unconnected ”with the pressure he is going through in his new office”, according to PremiumTimes.
In his words according to the statement, “It appears that Mr Oshiomhole’s psychological strain may have reached boiling point.
“His recent flip-flops where he praised Governor Samuel Ortom and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso one day only to denounce them the very next day, is enough evidence of his fragile psychological state. Not only is he content on squabbling with members of the opposition, we note the self-destructive tendencies of Oshiomhole who is locked in a feud with members of his own party including the minister of labour, Chris Ngige, and a host of APC Governors.”
He said vote-buying phenomenon became prominent during the 2016 Edo State governorship election, ”one year after he (Jonathan) left office as president.
The former president also noted that Mr Oshiomhole was one of those who praised him over the numerous credible elections his government conducted including the 2011 and 2015 general elections ”as well as Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo and Edo gubernatorial elections”.
“On the vexatious issue of ‘vote-buying’, which has unfortunately found its way into our election lexicon, this is what we know: It is obvious that the shameful development in our democratic experience became very glaring during the 2016 gubernatorial elections in Edo State; an exercise that took place more than one year after President Jonathan had left office.
“It is therefore disingenuous for any politician or group to link the former President with the anomaly, no matter how they want to stretch the now-failing blame game.
“While in office as president between 2010 and 2015, Jonathan conducted many elections including the 2011 and 2015 general elections, and many off-season gubernatorial and parliamentary elections in some States like Anambra, Ekiti, Ondo and Edo; and not for once did the issue of vote buying come up in the assessment of those elections.
“It is instructive that in each case, the former president was given a clean bill, with both local and international observers commending him for having supervised a credible and transparent process.
“One of those who gave the former president a clean bill of health, was Mr Oshiomhole himself who on July 16, 2012, said: ”What the Edo election has confirmed is that when the President and Commander-in-Chief puts the country first and he conducts himself as a statesman not just as a party leader, credible elections are possible”.
“When you juxtapose the above statement with Mr Oshiomhole’s current statement, it becomes obvious that the APC Chairman is suffering from multiple personality syndrome and has a Jekyll and Hyde schizophrenia,” Mr Jonathan said.
“It may be that Mr. Oshiomhole’s false accusations against Dr. Jonathan stem from his own guilty conscience arising from the unenviable behaviour he exhibited during the September 2016 gubernatorial election in his state, when his bid to anoint his successor pushed him into desperate measures and a win-at-all-cost mentality that introduced flagrant vote merchandising in our polity, thereby making Edo State the clear starting point of that cankerworm.
“After observing the Edo 2016 gubernatorial election, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) a coalition of over 400 civil society organisations spread across the country, said the following about the exercise: “The most frequent reported incidents (of electoral irregularities) are vote buying/voter bribery. The trend was later to spread to Ondo, Anambra and Ekiti States governorship elections, all taking place after Jonathan had left office as President.
“What also changed was that Oshiomhole’s emergence as the national chairman of APC and the burden of ‘delivering results to his party’, has pushed him into exporting and escalating this vote buying dexterity to other states, as recently witnessed in Ekiti governorship poll.
“The fact is that inducement as a tool in the hands of politicians is an old malaise that no Nigerian can be proud of. It is bad enough that this has been allowed to fester and morph into the ugly trend that is today called vote buying. Given this circumstance, you would expect a statesman of Oshiomhole’s standing to offer perspectives on how to solve this problem that is already making our country an object of scorn in the eyes of the international community.”
The ex-president while urging Mr Oshiomhole to shun the blame game, also chided the APC-led government.
“That Oshiomhole only resorted to blame game rather than offer any useful suggestions to the election management bodies on how to solve this shameful problem, in the cited television interview, is a sad commentary on the quality and character of today’s political leaders. A government that continues to blame its predecessor rather than show its scorecard, less than one year to the end of its four-year tenure, is only giving the impression that it is already at its wit’s end,” he added.