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Thursday, October 24, 2019

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Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pens must read response to David Cameron’s claim he rejected British help to rescue the Chibok girls

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I read the comments by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his new book, For the Record, in which he accused me and the Nigerian Government, which I headed, of corruption and rejecting the help of the British Government in rescuing the Chibok Girls, who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014.

It is quite sad that Mr. Cameron would say this because nothing of such ever occurred. As President of Nigeria, I not only wrote letters to then Prime Minister David Cameron, I also wrote to the then US President, Barack 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.

How could I write to appeal for help and then reject the very thing I appealed for?

Also, history contradicts Mr. Cameron. On March 8, 2012, when the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus, along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara, in Sokoto, I, as Nigerian President, personally authorised a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, to free the abducted men.

So, having set a precedent like that, why would I reject British help in rescuing the Chibok Girls, if it was offered?

I also authorised the secret deployment of troops from the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel as a result of the Chibok incident, so how Mr. Cameron could say this with a straight face beats me.

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.

In his book, Mr. Cameron failed to mention that I wrote him requesting his help on Chibok. Why did he suppress that information? I remind him that copies of that letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London. He never called me on the phone to offer any help. On the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him.

He accused me of appointing Generals based on political considerations. How could that be when I fired my service chiefs twice in five years, to show that I would not tolerate anything less than meaningful progress in the war on terror.

I was completely blind to ethnic or political considerations in my appointments. In civil and military matters, I appointed people that I had never even met prior to appointing them, based on their professional pedigree. Though I was from the South, most of my service chiefs came from the North.

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 percent 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.

On the issue of corruption, it suffices to say that Mr. Cameron is not as competent as Transparency International, which is globally acknowledged as the adjudicator of who is corrupt and who is not.

During my administration, in 2014, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement. As a nation, we have not made such improvements on the CPI before or after 2014.

In line with these facts, I would urge the public to take Mr. Cameron’s accusations with a grain of salt. I will not be the first person to accuse him of lying on account of this book, and with the reactions in the Uk so far, I definitely will not be the last.

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation and President of Nigeria 2010-2015.

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