Nigeria’s ex-president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan [2010-2015] has reacted strongly to accusations by ex-British PM David Cameron [2010-2016] that he was responsible for the failure to quickly rescue the 278 kidnapped school girls abducted by the terror group, Boko Haram, from their school hostels in Chibok in April 2014.
In a recent memoir titled ’For The Record’ which Mr. Cameron published reviewing his time in office, he said he felt “depressed” at the kidnap of the Chibok girls and that British government “sent spy planes” to search for the girls, but that Jonathan “was asleep at the wheel” and “refused” British help to rescue them after they were located.
He accused the former Nigerian leader of putting “politically appointed generals” in charge of the military who were unable to participate in the rescue operation organized then by the US and UK military forces.
But in a strongly-worded rebuttal, an unusually combative Goodluck Jonathan said he was “sad” at the comments of Cameron, saying “how Mr Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me”.
Jonathan said on the contrary, he “wrote letters to the then Prime Minister David Cameron, then US President, Barack Obama, then French President, François Hollande, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appealing to them for help in rescuing the Chibok Girls. How could I write to appeal for help and then reject the very thing I appealed for?”
He reminded Mr. Cameron that he had previously in his presidency authorised “a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army” to free a British and an Italian expatriate abducted in Sokoto.
The former Nigerian suggested that Mr. Cameron had “long nursed deep grudges” against him and he tried to make a connection to it with his ideological opposition to the gay rights movement being championed then by the British PM.
David Cameron, he said, boasted that he “wants to export gay marriage around the world” and consequently, he “came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron administration to pass legislation supporting LGBTQ Same Sex marriage in Nigeria”.
Jonathan retorted that he appointed his military hierarchy “blind to ethnic or political considerations”, most of who “came from the north” and he defended his government’s record on corruption saying that Nigeria’s rating with Transparency International Corruption Perception Index under his watch moving from 144 to 136 – an 8 point improvement, was the country’s best “improvement on the CPI before or after 2014”.
During the time of the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, most Western countries, particularly the United States which cited the Leahy Law, blocked selling arms to Nigeria to fight the terrorists, effectively crippling the administration’s capacity to route out the insurgents.
Few observers also doubt that the United States and Britain had less than a favorable disposition to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) which ultimately won the elections and had elements of Mr. Obama’s administration as advisers to the campaign of current President Muhammadu Buhari.
Four years after Jonathan left office however, several more abductions have taken place in Nigeria, and only 88 of the Chibok school girls have been rescued and several others escaped leaving about 112 girls still in captivity.
The remembrance of the 2000th day since the Chibok abduction was held by members of the Bring Back Our Girls Movement at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, yesterday 5 October 2019.