According to reports, the Chairman of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Transition Committee, which interfaced with former President Goodluck Jonathan’s team, Ahmed Joda, has revealed that a major undoing of Jonathan when he was in office as president was that he gave presidential approval to virtually everything his aides came to seek from him.
Speaking recently with select journalists in Yola, Adamawa State, the retired permanent secretary regretted that this even extended to the affairs of state which ought to have been handled independently of the Presidency’s consent.
He stated that despite the perfidy committed by some persons during the administration, then Finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, always sought presidential approval, pointing out that such tactfulness from her made it difficult for anyone, including the EFCC, to be able to link her with fraud.
The elder statesman stated this while responding to a question on whether or not Buhari could bring back the likes of the former Finance Minister to help the administration fix the economy.
According to him, “Okonjo-Iweala is a professional and she guarded herself, if you look at what she did. Whenever, they said this happened she was able to produce papers to say, ‘look oh!’ We had a meeting, presided over by the President and attended by the National Security Adviser and others. And we agreed.
“And she would go back and write the President and say, ‘I have received a request to release so many billions in accordance with our minutes. Your Excellency, if you will approve.’ And His Excellency would approve it. So, she covered herself, thus you can’t pin anything on her.”
Joda stated that he was surprised that the recession in the country was not as worse as envisaged, given the “character of the country which consumes without producing.”
His words, “We were pretending, given our character as a consumer country, even the oil and gas we are not producing; if we are to tell ourselves the truth. We have four refineries. We can’t refine; we are importing. We don’t have enough facilities to import the quantity of fuel that we require. We are badly managing our affairs, we are destroying our economy.
“I’m not surprised that we are in this situation. I’m only surprised that we are not even worse.”
He held that the current economic challenges bedevilling the country should not necessarily be blamed on the immediate past administration and that the problem was traceable to “What we failed to do as a nation.”
According to him, no one can excuse himself from the blame.
While maintaining that Buhari’s presidency as a civilian was bound to face some governance challenges because democracy was a different terrain, Joda said, “When he (Buhari) was a military president, he could jail people and order people to queue up. But today he can’t; because he didn’t come through the bullet, he came through the ballot box.
“And this ballot box says okay, Mr. Buhari you are no longer a General, if you like you can call yourself Alhaji or Mallam. But here are the courts, here is the National Assembly and this is the way you are going. You cannot jail anybody or even lock them up for even one hour. You have to follow due process,” he added.