I watched with utter dismay the recent outburst by businessman and founder of Stanbic IBTC, Atedo Peterside, on Thursday during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, in his attempt to deride the candidature of Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in the forthcoming 2023 presidential elections.
It is also hilarious seeing how seemingly vested he is, in Dr Jonathan’s emergence, even when the latter is yet to formally declare his intention to contest for Nigeria’s top job.
During the interview, Mr Peterside claimed that Dr Jonathan’s approval rating which was 54% in 2015, had dropped to 26% and was currently below 5% according to “a recent poll that he saw”.
Peterside said: “Let me use the data, I said in 2011, Goodluck Jonathan had a 54% approval rating and by 2015 before election, it had collapsed to below 26%, the recent poll I saw, not done by us because we don’t waste time on things that are not all that relevant, his approval rating was below 5%. So, everybody is free to ignore data and come out and do anything they want to do. In fact, I hope that the APCs of this world would make a mistake and bring out people whose approval ratings are very low. You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
While he attributed this to “data”, it is rather appalling that in today’s world, Atedo Peterside, an economist and foremost player in the financial sector, will make bogus and unsubstantiated claims without attribution.
What is the source of this data? At least, so that Nigerians can share in the intellectual insight and reflect on the revelation. Except it was a concoction of his imaginations.
It is no secret that after he left office in 2015, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has since gained even more public trust and approval, not just in Nigeria but across the world. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a global thinktank, described him as having metamorphosed into “a senior statesman” since his concession.
In his peaceful disposition, Dr Goodluck Jonathan (then the incumbent president) handed over to eventual winner, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, instead of clinging to power. He had called Gen Buhari to congratulate him, even before the official announcement of the election results.
The singular act of honour endeared him to people across the world earning him international recognitions as the Hero of Democracy in Africa and numerous awards, including the Martin Luther King Award. Dr Jonathan has also led peace missions with appointments as United Nations Global Crisis Envoy and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Special Envoy to Mali.
With this credentials, one can understand the situation that has made Dr Goodluck Jonathan well-sought after across political parties, with each of the leading two battling for his candidacy. How more prolific can a man be?
Interestingly, various independent polls conducted have also revealed overwhelming public support for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan over many leading aspirants like Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar, Yemi Osibanjo, even while he is yet to declare his interest in the presidential contest. Of the 12,454 votes from the CableIndex poll, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan clinched 52.3% over Atiku Abubakar’s 47.7%.
Another poll organized by Report Afrique received a total of 46,751 votes, out of which Jonathan polled 14,546 votes followed by Peter Obi with 11,545 votes, Yemi Osinbajo with 5,466, Saraki with 5,436, Atiku Abubakar with 3,424, Rotimi Amaechi with 3,232, Bola Tinubu with 2,036, Aminu Tambuwai with 657, Pius Anyim with 311 and Yahaya Bello with 98 votes.
Similarly, when Nigerians across the country, were interviewed for their choice of presidential candidate, Dr Goodluck Jonathan was most preferred. Results of these polls, including video interviews by Fix Naija, are readily accessible and easily verifiable.
While not attempting to dismiss his recent comments, it is worrisome that a businessman like Atedo Peterside will try to discredit a man under whose tenure businesses in Nigeria flourished in a stable economy – the largest in Africa and 23rd in the world, at the time. Through his well-crafted and executed policies anchored on rapid growth and sustainable development, Nigeria’s economy was growing at 6.7% with a GDP well above US$570 billion and an exchange rate of N170/$1, peaking at N230. Today, it trades at N590/$1.
With his keen eye for talent and competence, Dr Jonathan assembled a team of top performing professionals to steer Nigeria’s multi-sectoral economy, one of whom was the same Atedo Peterside, who served as member of the National Economic Management Team and Chairman of the technical committee of the National Council on Privatization (NCP). Does the man also discredit his own credentials?
Peterside had previously described Jonathan as a true democrat who has the interest of Nigerians at heart. I recall during an interview with The Guardian in 2015, how he spoke glowingly about Dr Jonathan’s credentials and the successes recorded during his administration. This easily makes one who watched him speak yesterday wonder as to the inconsistency of thoughts and beliefs.
It is known that within the current political season, politicians employ all tricks and skills in their books, to push their agenda and market their personal and/or party’s choice aspirants and candidates.
However, an even more honourable path would be to do so without seeking to malign other aspirants or candidates of other parties. This is what Atedo Peterside should do, as a respectable citizen and member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He should invest this energy into bettering the fortunes of his party and improving the chances of their aspirants or candidates, at the forthcoming polls, rather than making vituperations masked as informed assertions backed by non-existing data.
Finally, I am challenging Sir Atedo Peterside to conduct an opinion poll on his Twitter handle where he is very vocal on Nigerians’ preferred choice for 2023 presidency if Dr. Goodluck Jonathan will not win the poll with a landslide.
Architect Oladipo Akande is a Public Affairs analyst based in Los Angeles, United States of America. Akande can be reached via Twitter, @OladipoAkande