Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s answers to questions, after his lecture on youth entrepreneurship at the Oxford Union in the United Kingdom this Monday, have provoked a “war” between his admirers and his critics in the social media.
Jonathan had said the national security adviser during his regime, Sambo Dasuki, couldn’t have stolen $2.2billion as charged by the EFCC. “I don’t believe somebody can just steal $2.2 billion. We bought warships, we bought aircraft, we bought lots of weapons for the army and so on and so forth and you are still saying 2.2 billion; so where did we get the money to buy all those things?” he said.
On corruption, he said the issues were overblown by the media. “You will see that it has become a major topic whenever there is a change of government … I am not saying there is no corruption in Nigeria; there is corruption. If you look at corruption, there is almost no country that is free; the degree varies, the perception varies.”
There have been admirers who have compared the state of Nigeria during his tenure with the state during the current one led by Muhammadu Buhari and awarded Jonathan higher marks.
But there have been critics who have quoted a British magazine that described him as an “ineffectual buffoon”, adding that he slumbered as 54 public servants stole over N1trillion. Some have called him worse names: “moronic zoologist”, “thief”, “drunkard”, and “myopic leader”.
Dasuki has been in detention since December 2015 and his trial is expected to begin soon. Several other people who worked under Jonathan have been arrested, queried and detained over corruption allegations. In the past week alone, three of them have been Femi Fani-Kayode, who was DG of Jonathan’s presidential campaigns; Reuben Abati, his special adviser on media; and Bala Muhammed, former FCT minister.
The “war” provoked by the former leader’s comments, his first major statement since he was ousted 17 months ago, continues across many platforms.
Both the former government and the present government’s camps have paid commentators in the media popularly called “e-rats”. That’s why it’s often difficult to differentiate posts by impartial commentators and posts by sycophants in especially social media.