Former President Goodluck Jonathan, last night, described a former governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, as a despicable fellow, who resorted to lies and half-truths to try to remain politically relevant. Jonathan also called Aliyu a backstabber, in a statement by one of the ex-president’s former aides, Reno Omokri, maintaining regarding Aliyu, “As long as that remains his character trait, he will always be at the back.”
The former president was reacting to claims by Aliyu that the reason Jonathan lost the 2015 election was because all the northern governors resolved not to support him.
But a former governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang, similarly dismissed as untrue the statement credited to Aliyu that the then 19 northern states’ governors had met, deliberated, and decided not to support the re-election of Jonathan in 2015.
Former Jigawa State Governor, Mallam Sule Lamido, also yesterday gave voice to the controversial statement by Aliyu. Lamido denied knowledge of such a meeting where a decision was taken against Jonathan’s re-election.
“I am not aware of any meeting at which such a decision was taken,” the former Jigawa State governor stated. He added, “In fact, it was Governor Babangida, who in one of our NEC meetings at Wadata, implored me to back off my indifferent posture towards Jonathan, which I did and received a very warm applause from NEC members!”
In a related development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Niger State suspended Aliyu over allegations of anti-party activities leading to cracks in the party in the state since 2014.
In a statement exclusively delivered to THISDAY in response to the claims by the former Niger State governor, Omokri, on behalf of Jonathan, said, “Babangida Aliyu is a pathetic fellow. He has become a broken record and, sadly, he feels that is the only way to remain relevant. Let me break his claim down for you in a way that it will be so crystal clear that he is lying.
“There was no such agreement, whether written or oral. Since he says it was written, then let Mr. Babangida Aliyu produce it. If he changes his statement and says it was not written after all, but actually verbal, then I challenge him to name witnesses.”
The statement said, “Mr. Aliyu says the agreement the northern governors had with former President Jonathan was for him to finish off President Yar’Adua’s first term between May 6, 2010 and May 29, 2011, and then contest for only one term between May 29, 2011 and May 29, 2015. If this is true, then how come former President Jonathan lost the votes of Niger State at the Peoples Democratic Party presidential primary of January 13, 2011? How come, also, that former President Jonathan lost the actual presidential election, which held on April 16, 2011 to the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Muhammadu Buhari, in Niger State?
“General Muhammadu polled 652,574 votes to then President Jonathan’s 321,429 in Niger State in 2011. He got more than twice the number of votes secured by former President Jonathan. So, even if we want to say for argument’s sake that there was such an agreement, of which there was no such agreement, wouldn’t Governor Babangida Aliyu have been expected to have kept to his side of the bargain?”
Jonathan maintained, “The truth is that not only was there no such agreement, but Babangida Aliyu is such a perfidious character that does not even know that his current disposition contradicts his earlier statements.
“For example, in Mr. Segun Adeniyi’s book, Against the Run of Play: How an Incumbent President Was Defeated in Nigeria, published in 2017, Mr. Aliyu gave a completely different reason for working against former President Jonathan. According to Mr. Aliyu, the Obama administration had invited 12 governors from northern Nigeria to sound them out on their commitment to the plot to unseat the then President of Nigeria. In that book, the former Niger State governor said, ‘The Americans had resolved not to support Jonathan. They just wanted to size us up for the level of commitment to regime change.’
“Mr. Aliyu revealed in that book that he was an unpatriotic individual, who held meetings with a foreign government to undermine his own home government. He basically admitted to treason. Now, how can such a fellow be taken seriously by people who believe in the unity of Nigeria?”
According to the statement, “Witnesses at that meeting revealed that the statements made by then Governors Aliyu and Murtala Nyako were so dangerous to Nigeria’s unity that it prompted a strong rebuttal from Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who was also present.
“The truth of the matter is that Governor Aliyu Babangida is a backstabber and as long as that remains his character trait, he will always be at the back. What is the level of his relevance today in Niger State? In betraying Dr. Jonathan, did he not also betray himself? What influence does he even command? He lost his state to the All Progressives Congress in 2015, and the Niger State government has been probing his regime.
“The northern government of General Muhammadu Buhari, which he says he helped bring to office, is the same government that is currently prosecuting him for a N1.9 billion fraud at the national level?
“The Niger State House of Assembly on Thursday, August 13, 2015, passed a motion calling for the probe of Aliyu, and the Niger State government has called him a thoroughly corrupt and unreliable fellow. So, I congratulate him on his achievements in bringing this government to power.
“Maybe he feels he can get a soft landing for himself by attacking Dr. Jonathan and making false statements to make the incumbent president feel that he owes his current position to Aliyu.”
Jang, in his own statement titled, “Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu Lied,” equally said as one of the then northern governors, he was never part of any such meeting being referred to by Aliyu, neither was he privy to it, as claimed by the former Niger State governor.
The statement, signed by Jang’s media consultant, Mr. Clinton Garuba, said, “For the avoidance of doubt, despite the perceived shortcomings of President Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Jang believed that President Jonathan was better equipped to rule Nigeria at the time, especially, when his opponent was General Buhari, who Jang did not hide his conviction regarding his (Buhari) inability to resolve the nation’s challenges and sensitivities of the issues at the moment. But, unfortunately, Buhari won, and we are all witnesses to the tales of woe that have followed.
“We view the statement of Dr. Aliyu as an attempt to drag the hard earned reputation of Jang into disrepute. Having served Nigeria as a military officer, later as a civilian governor, and also as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and has discharged his responsibilities without blemish, Senator Jang is not one who speaks from both sides of his mouth. Rather, he speaks and supports only what he believes.
“Little wonder that Plateau State was won by President Jonathan in the 2015 general election, largely due to the hard work of the then Governor Jang.”
Jang stressed that there was no basis for him not to support Jonathan, especially, as the contest was against General Buhari. He advised Aliyu to be weary of false utterances, such as the current one, especially when talking to the public.
Aliyu had in a statement on Friday, defended his role in the ouster of Jonathan, following persistent attack on him by the Niger State chapter of PDP for working against the party’s presidential candidate in the election. He said few months to the 2015 presidential election, PDP governors joined other northern governors at a meeting in Abuja and unanimously resolved not to allow Jonathan win the election. Aliyu, who was Chairman, Northern Governors Forum then, said the 19 northern governors agreed that Jonathan had violated the terms of an agreement he reached with the party and the northern governors not to run for second term in 2015.
The ex-governor had, in the statement titled, “Why We Opposed Jonathan’s Second Term Bid,” said,“Following the sudden passage of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010, the leadership of the then governing Peoples Democratic Party, along with the state governors under the flagship of the party, had series of meetings on the presidency and the future of our great party.
“All the governors in the North under the PDP supported the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to complete the remaining years of Yar’Adua’s tenure and to contest the next presidential election as a sole candidate of our great party.
“However, midway, President Goodluck Jonathan insisted on running for the office in 2015 against the grain of our earlier agreement. Since this was against the grain of our earlier agreement in the party, and which we, the governors in the North felt the North would have been short-changed if Jonathan had succeeded, we rose stoutly to insist on the agreement we all had.”
Meanwhile, the Niger State PDP in a communiqué issued at the end of an emergency stakeholders’ meeting in Minna, last Monday, approved the suspension of Aliyu as a result of six allegations, which the party in Chanchaga Local Government Area of the state, found disturbing and inimical to the party’s progress.
PDP, in a statement titled: “Notice of suspension of Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu from the PDP, Chanchaga LGA,” disclosed that the ex-governor worked against former President Jonathan and the party’s governorship candidate in the state, Alhaji Umar Nasko, by supporting and funding the opposition All Progressives Congress in 2015 with the sum of N450 million to defeat his own party.”
The communiqué, which was made available to journalists, listed the allegations against Aliyu to include “causing disaffection within the party hierarchy even after several peace efforts; strong and verifiable allegations of anti-party activities leading to cracks in the party since 2014 that led to loss of government at the centre and the state levels. This includes disobedience to then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and working against his re-election in 2015.”
The communiqué further condemned the former governor saying, “He supported and funded the opposition APC in 2015 with the sum of N450 million to defeat his own party for personal and selfish reasons.” it said the former governor was suspended due to his “refusal to participate and attend party activities; undermining and working against the resolutions of party organs, especially, the state caucus and causing division that has led to inability to resolve the issues surrounding the position of state legal adviser that has been unoccupied since 2015 in his own local government area.”
Further, the party maintained, “These and many others have led to the immediate suspension of Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu from the Peoples Democratic Party in Chanchaga local government.”