In this interview with Mike Odiegwu, Chief Richard Perekeme Kpodoh, a kinsman of former President Goodluck Jonathan; former Special Adviser on Security in Bayelsa State and founding member of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, speaks on Jonathan’s recent statement that PDP will return to power in 2019. Excerpts
FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan recently said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would bounce back to reclaim power at the centre in 2019. Do you share his line of thought?
Jonathan should bury his head in shame. It is shameful, insensitive and irresponsible for him to have made such a statement. He should realise that when we elected him as the President of Nigeria, the only thing he did was to disappoint everybody. Jonathan should realise that throughout his tenure, he wasted a lot of money and brought upon us this current hardship. In fact, the entire PDP should hide in shame. Imagine the level of corruption, profligacy and thievery, broad day robbery they perpetrated in this country in the name of governance. Theirs is kleptocracy. You are a witness to a number of high ranking PDP members who have returned money they stole in previous government. Others are making plans to return their loots, our common heritage while many of them are having their days in court. All these happened under Jonathan. The doors to our commonwealth were opened to a few people and they stole us blind.
Do you support the call in some quarters that Jonathan should be arrested and prosecuted?
As far as I am concerned, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has not started investigations and prosecutions. What they have done is a tip of the iceberg. If they go deeper, Nigerians will weep and persons shouting foul will cover themselves with blankets. The EFCC should arrest Jonathan. I don’t know why they are not doing that? Jonathan should explain to Nigerians how all these trillions disappeared under his watch as a President. What was he presiding over? Nobody is above the law. We are practicing democracy and it is the same democracy that the people abroad are practising. You have heard past leaders of foreign countries who stood trials and were jailed for fraud. Nigeria cannot be exempted. Jonathan should be arrested and prosecuted.
Jonathan killed this country. He failed to protect Nigerians. Where are we now? Imagine the suffering of the people today. Everything you see happening about this economy was caused by Jonathan and his party. Nigerians should not be deceived. They should not be cajoled to blame the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammdu Buhari. I am angry that Jonathan is talking of 2019. Does he think that Nigerians are stupid; that after creating these problems, he and his PDP kleptomaniacs will ride on the back of this same problem to return to power in 2019? If I were Jonathan, I would have gone to a very quiet place to sit down and observe sober reflections of my administration. Coming to tell us about 2019 is like adding salt to our injury.
But people are arguing that during Jonathan and the PDP, the exchange rate was lower, food items were more affordable despite the alleged corruption.
People should not be deceived. This difficulty started from Jonathan. Look at the amount of money that was embezzled. If Jonathan had remained there till today, this country would have ceased to exist. The country would have scattered, shattered and battered. Do you know why it seemed as if things were good then? It was a smokescreen. Stealing was going on and people were scattering money; they destroyed the value of money because most people were spending proceeds of stealing.
They were spending their future today and they were living a false life. When you spend money anyhow, you can get some comfort today, but you will suffer tomorrow for a long time especially when the source is no longer buoyant. But thank God that there is a different sheriff in town and a different party. Now everybody knows the value of money. Nobody spends money carelessly any longer. It was only in Nigeria in Jonathan’s era that people threw caution into the wind, flying up and down even in chattered choppers. But people are prudent now.
Jonathan should just go and sit down because it was a shame. He is a shame to Bayelsa. Look at Bayelsa State where Jonathan came from. Where is the federal presence here because east or west, home remains the best? Instead of allowing his home state to at least feel his impact, he and his wife only made all the money.
It is not true that Federal Government has abandoned Bayelsa. It was Jonathan that abandoned Bayelsa. They gave him Presidency on a platter, what did he do for Bayelsa? Nothing! Is there any legacy project in Bayelsa that can be attributed to Jonathan’s days in the Presidency? It is a pity that after occupying such an exalted position, Bayelsa has nothing to show for it. There is no road, no water and no electricity. Look at electricity in Bayelsa today. Who owns the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company? The fact remains that Jonathan did not just fail Nigeria, he failed Bayelsa. There is no federal presence in Bayelsa. He even cheated his own village, Otuoke. There is no road to Otuoke today. It is an eyesore and wickedness. Because he had money and could fly helicopter, he cared less about his people and ordinary Nigerians. Jonathan and his wife should be prosecuted.
So, you do not take seriously PDP’s efforts to regain power in 2019?
Let them first return all our money they stole. If it is possible for them to turn the hand of the clock back to when our reserve was huge, both foreign and local, they should do it and then we can begin to talk. It is criminal for them to be talking about 2019 when we are still trying to recover from the problems they plunged us into. The country is bleeding and people are suffering. Women are using their children as collateral for common garri. Parents can no longer pay their children’s school fees. Is it not affecting you because it is affecting me as a businessman?
People are going to bed hungry. People on the streets are behaving like mad people. Everywhere you go people are lamenting what Jonathan did against their collective interests. And here he is talking about 2019 when he is supposed to be hiding in shame. As a President of a country, people surrounding him, his cabinet, were so corrupt that they stole and hid in their farms and homes, monies that belonged to everybody and you looked the other way. People were burying monies like dead bodies. They built special bunkers and burial grounds to hide money that they were supposed to use to develop this country. If all these monies the PDP members stole had been in our treasury, are we would not be lamenting as we are doing today?
But the wife of Jonathan said the money seized from a certain account belonged to her and had even taken the EFCC to court to reclaim it
Where did he get the money from? Where and where had she worked in her life? Which business had Patience Jonathan ever done in her life? If she said it was a gift, the onus is on her to reveal the identities of the givers and their reasons. We got information that they used Presidency as a tollgate where people pay money to enter the villa and perhaps see the President. It was the highest level of corruption. So, who gave her the money? In fact, Patience and Diezani, they are all the same. Despite all these monies, Diezani did nothing to help her poor people in Bayelsa here. They are self-centred. She doesn’t even know her village.