Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan has said that he was “the most criticised president in the whole world”, but pledged that, with time, he would be more appreciated.
“I’m the most criticised president in the whole world. I can tell this noble audience that before I leave, I will also be the most praised president,” Jonathan told a meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association.
The president, who has faced cricitism over what has been characterised as a complacent approach to the job in the face of a deadly Islamist insurgency and other issues, said his critics were unfairly blaming him for Nigeria’s woes.
He touched on problems such as a lack of adequate electricity supply and other infrastructure issues which pre-date his tenure in the continent’s largest oil producer.
“Sometimes I ask, ‘were there roads across this country and Jonathan brought floods to wipe out these roads?’” said the president, who took charge of Africa’s most populous country in 2010 following the death of his predecessor and won 2011 elections.
“Or, we have power and I brought hurricanes to bring down all infrastructure?”
Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north is grappling with the insurgent Islamist group Boko Haram, blamed for more than 1,400 deaths since 2010. Some say unemployment and poverty in the north have fuelled the crisis.
“So, were there massive irrigation projects in the north where agriculture can thrive and massive farms, and Jonathan brought drought to wipe out these farms (in) under two years?” he said.
The president’s comments come amid an apparent effort by his office to hit back at critics.
In a column published in several national newspapers on Sunday, Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati said the president was “not clueless”, calling him “grossly misunderstood”.
Responding to unnamed critics who have suggested that “Mr. President drinks”, Abati wrote, “alcohol is not served during official duties”, adding “nobody gets drunk around here”.