Former President Goodluck Jonathan has refuted claim by a former British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, that his administration rejected an offer by the United Kingdom to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls, who were kidnapped in April 2014 by Boko Haram.
Jonathan, who disputed the statement in a Facebook post, said there was no truth in what the former British Prime Minister said, adding that the only reason Cameron was after him was because he disapproved of same sex marriage, which he (Cameron) and his other western allies had prevailed upon him to embrace the same sex marriage proposal, which he turned down in good conscience.
But commenting on the exchange between Jonathan and Cameron, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said the former president shouldn’t have responded to Cameron’s allegation, because Nigerians already knew the story of Jonathan’s habitual negligence to importance matters of state.
This, however, came at a time a group, Enough Is Enough in conjunction with the Bring Back Our Girls Family, marked 2000 days yesterday that the remaining 112 Chibokgirls had remained in the captivity of their abductors.
Cameron in his new book, ‘For the Record’, had faulted Jonathan’s handling of the operations to rescue the Chibokgirls by Boko Haram in 2014.
He accused Jonathan of “sleeping on the wheel” while the terrorists struck in Borno, noting that his administration also rejected the British offer to help in the rescue of the Chibokgirls, while at the same time, accused the Jonatha administration of corruption.
But Jonathan had immediately disputed Cameron’s claim, saying, “It is quite sad that Mr. Cameron would say this because nothing of such ever occurred” and urged that the allegation should be discountenanced, because it was patently false.
“As President of Nigeria, I not only wrote letters to then Prime Minister David Cameron, I also wrote to the then US President, Barrack Obama, and the then French President, François Hollande, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appealing to them for help in rescuing the Chibok Girls.”
He said he could not have appealed for help and at the same time turned around to reject the same from the British government.
He said to demonstrate his commitment to rescue the girls, he took some extra-ordinary steps, including authorising a secret deployment of troops from the UK, the U.S, and Israel.
“So, how Mr. Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me,” he wrote, noting that he was not disturbed by Cameron’s account, because he had been publicly discredited by his successor in office, Mrs. Theresa May.
“Moreover, on March 8, 2017, the British Government of former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a widely circulated press statement, debunked this allegation and said there was no truth in it after Mr. Cameron had made similar statements to the Observer of the UK,” he stated.
Jonathan however maintained that Cameron’s animosity towards him began after he resisted the pressure to pass a law promoting homosexuality in Nigeria.
“I do, however, know that Mr. Cameron has long nursed deep grudges against me for reasons that have been published in various media. On July 24, 2013, while celebrating the passage of the United Kingdom’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, 2013, Mr. Cameron said ‘I want to export gay marriage around the world.
“At that occasion, he boasted that he would send the team that successfully drafted and promoted the Bill, to nations, like Nigeria, saying inter alia: ‘I’ve told the Bill team I’m now going to reassign them, because, of course, all over the world people would have been watching this piece of legislation.’
“As President of Nigeria at that time, I came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron administration to pass legislation supporting LGBTQ Same Sex marriage in Nigeria. My conscience could not stomach that, because as President of Nigeria, I swore on the Bible to advance Nigeria’s interests, and not the interest of the United Kingdom or any foreign power.
“As such, on Monday, January 13, 2014, I signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law after the Bill had been passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Nigeria’s parliament, in line with the wishes of the Nigerian people.
“This happened shortly after a study of 39 nations around the world by the U.S. Pew Research Center came up with a finding which indicated that 98 per cent of Nigerians were opposed to the idea of Gay Marriage.
“Immediately after I took this patriotic action, my government came under almost unbearable pressure from Mr. Cameron, who reached me through envoys, and made subtle and not so subtle threats against me and my government.
“In fact, meetings were held at the Obama White House and at the Portcullis House in Parliament UK, with the then Nigerian opposition to disparage me, after I had signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law.”
But,in its intervention, the APC, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said while Jonathan was entitled to a right of reply, he shouldn’t have bothered about Cameron’s allegations, not to talk of denying it.
“Nigerians already know the story of Jonathan’s habitual negligence to matters of state. The Chibok schoolgirls abduction and his “sleeping behind the wheel” is not a story to deny, as it is already part of our national history. We may disagree on a number of issues in Nigeria, but there is a national consensus on the fact that PDP elevated corruption to a national culture.”
The ruling party said what is important was for Jonathan to explain to the families of the abducted schoolgirls why as president he did nothing for two weeks after the Chibok girls abductions.
The ruling party said Jonathan has still refused to take responsibility for the tragedy up till now but continues to blame the Chibok abductions and other failings of his administration on the so-called grand conspiracy against him as he laboriously tries to state in his response to Cameron.
APC stated that the current administration’s reactions and actions after the similar and unfortunate Dapchi schoolgirls kidnapping is a pointer to how a responsive government should act.
“Denying or arguing against the truth is not going to change anything at this stage. The stories of outlandish corrupt practices under the PDP are still unraveling,” it stated, adding that the bit that claimed the Jonathan government was corrupt was actually half of the story, adding that the full story was that corruption was the hallmarked of the successive 16 years administrations under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
APC noted that it was shameful that anyone was even defending the PDP, stressing that corruption was the party’s political ideology, noting that it was a fact already cast in stone and that Nigerians did not need Cameron or anyone else to tell them how corrupt and ineffectual the PDP era was.
Meanwhile, the Bring Back Our Girls Family, Saturday, spent a minimum of one hour each at designated centres in Lagos and Abuja for a sit-out to mark the 2000 days in captivity of the remaining 112 Chiboks and other abductees by the Boko Haram sect.
Explaining the significance of the sit-out, a statement by Gbenga Omotayo, Programmes and Media Lead at EIE, reiterated that, “The fight for the Chibok Girls is a fight for safe schools, for safe communities, for a safe country! It is a fight for the soul of Nigeria!
“The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ families in Abuja, Lagos, New York & Washington, DC call on our Local, State and Federal Governments to accelerate the actions necessary to bring back the rest of our Chibok Girls, Leah Sharibu and all other victims of kidnapping, especially schoolchildren, to their distressed families and an anxiously waiting nation.”