President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday during a rally in Enugu said that the All Progressives Congress candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), cannot remember his own mobile phone number, adding that the retired army general wants to rule Nigeria like a medieval king.
Jonathan, whose unscripted address was mostly a response to previous statements made by Buhari, accused the APC presidential candidate of deceiving Nigerians by promising to revive the economy without explaining how he would achieve the feat.
The President wondered how Buhari would develop the country’s economy, a feat he could not achieve while he was in office as head of state between 1983 and 1985.
“Is it now that Buhari cannot even remember his own phone number that he can change the economy of the country.” Jonathan asked.
The Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate said that although he did not like to “go personal during campaigns,” “sometimes circumstances demand that certain things must be said.”
Jonathan said that Buhari belonged to the medieval age, adding that he (the APC candidate) intended to run the Federal Government as a medieval king.
He said, “We cannot run the government as if we are in the medieval age; we cannot run a government where somebody said he would throw people into jail.
“You are not a medieval king – a medieval king can throw you into jail but we have to follow the rule of law because we cannot go back to the old days.”
Jonathan, however, read the speech made by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.) after overthrowing Buhari’s regime through a military coup on August 27, 1985 to justify his claim that the APC candidate does not keep his promises.
Babangida, in the portions of the address read by Jonathan, justified Buhari’s overthrow by pointing out that the latter did not live up to the promises he made to Nigerians when he ousted a democratically elected civilian government headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari in a military coup.
Noting that Buhari “deceived Nigerians” from 1983 to 1985, Jonathan quoted Babangida as saying, “The initial objectives of Buhari’s intervention were betrayed as there was a general deterioration of standard of living in the country.”
The PDP candidate also pointed out that Babangida accused Buhari of being “too rigid in his attitude to national issues” and “became alienated from the people” in the course of his stay in power.
He, therefore, challenged Buhari to tell Nigerians how he intends to revive the economy.
“They are telling young Nigerians that they are going to change the economy but they have not told us how they want to manage the economy more than us.
“If they say they want to change agriculture, they should tell us the weak links in the agriculture value chain and what they want to do about it.
“I said in Lagos that I want to work with young people, not to deceive people. I am not going to run the government based on my habits, I am going to run the government according to global best practices.”
Jonathan also insisted that he was committed to the campaign against corruption. “There is no government that has fought corruption more than we do,” he said, noting that some previous administrations pretended to be fighting corruption while oppressing their enemies.
He recalled that Buhari jailed some prominent Igbo politicians while in office as head of state, including former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and former governor of old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo.
Stressing that Buhari jailed politicians on trumped up charges, Jonathan said, “You can no longer carry people and put them in prison for 301 years.”
The President equally accused Buhari of having a wrong idea of corruption. According to him, Buhari believes that every wealthy Nigerian is corrupt.
“If a Nigerian businessman has a private jet, then you are corrupt but if a South African has a private jet then you commend him.
“If you have a good house, then you are corrupt, if you have a good car then you are corrupt – that is his definition of corruption.”
Jonathan accused his opponent of making spurious claims against him. “They are saying that government is corrupt but they are not telling us what they are going to do to stop corruption. Let them go back to their consultants to coach them, then I will listen to them.
“They should tell us how they are going to manage the economy better than we do. They are saying we stole foreign reserves, nobody can steal foreign reserves – spurious allegations.”
He also reiterated his claim that Buhari did not equip the military while he was the head of state, stressing that he had done more than his predecessors to shore up the country’s defence.
“For 30 years, we had only one frigate, now we have four additional frigates,” he said.
In the same vein, he pointed out that Buhari did not find any woman worthy enough for appointment when he was the military head of state.
The President asked Nigerians to assess him and Buhari by looking at how they performed during their respective periods in office.
He said, “They have deceived us before and they want to deceive us again. Go and find out whether these people are deceiving you or are telling you the truth.
“People are assessing me because I have run this country for some years – they have run this country for two years. They came with promises but immediately they came in, what they did was to jail Jim Nwobodo for 201 years.”