President Goodluck Jonathan and his family members have started moving their personal belongings out of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, few days after the President lost his re-election bid, Saturday PUNCH can authoritatively report.
Our correspondent sighted some buses loaded with travel bags moving out of the President’s official residence at about midday on Friday.
One of the buses, a white 18-seater Hiace bus marked PF 6244 AL, was still being loaded with bags of different shades and sizes at the time of filing this report.
It was not clear at press time where the buses were heading for.
A source said the early removal of the personal effects of the first family might have been necessitated by the need for the renovation of the residence ahead of the May 29 handover date.
For renovation work to commence on time, the President may have to be operating from outside the residence in the days ahead.
Saturday PUNCH also learnt that the Presidency had commenced a discreet investigation into how a recording of the telephone call by the President to Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on March 31, congratulating him on his victory at the last Saturday’s presidential election was leaked.
The recording which revealed details of what transpired between the two leaders went viral on the Internet on Thursday.
The audio of the conversation credited to one ENDS.ng @EveryNigerian was titled, “Historic congratulatory call from President Goodluck Jonathan to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on March 31, 2015.”
A government official, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent on Friday that the Presidency was embarrassed by the leaked recording.
While saying that a thorough investigation is underway, the security source said the first step was to ascertain whether the recording was leaked from the Presidency or was made public from the President-elect’s camp.
He said it was only if it was discovered that the recording was leaked from the Presidency that further investigation would be conducted to ascertain those behind it in order to mete out appropriate punishment.
He, however, refused to talk on how long the investigation will take.
“Definitely, unauthorised release of a raw recording of the President’s telephone conversation, if from our (Presidency’s) end is a security breach that cannot go without being investigated,” he said.
The President also promised on Friday to break his silence on his experience in office and other sundry issues at the appropriate time.
He, however, did not give any indication on when the appropriate time will be.
Jonathan made the promise when State House correspondents approached him for interview at the end of the Good Friday Service organised by the Aso Villa Chapel.
“Don’t worry; I will talk to you at the appropriate time,” the President said amid smile as he made his way from the chapel to his official residence.
He was accompanied to the three-hour service that featured the Seven Words of Christ on the Cross by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christians Pilgrims Commission, Mr. John Kennedy-Okpara.
The seven short exhortations that accompanied the seven lessons all centred on the sacrifice the preachers said Jonathan made to keep the county united.
They likened Jonathan’s decision to concede defeat in the last Saturday’s presidential election and congratulate the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) of the All Progressives Congress to the sacrifice Jesus Christ made to save mankind.
All the preachers agreed that the bold step taken by the President at the appropriate time was commendable.
They urged him to remain focused because his future is in the hands of God.
“This man (Jonathan) said here that he is the most criticised President and he prophesied that by the time he will be leaving, he will be the most celebrated President. That has come to pass with the way he is being celebrated worldwide for conceding defeat,” one of the clergymen who led intercessory prayers said.
The service also featured renditions of special hymns as well as intercessory prayers for the President, for peace and for the country at large.
Apart from Dickson and Kennedy-Okpara, the Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission, Mrs. Joan Ayo; Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria, Mr. Ima Niboro; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali, also attended the service.
Wife of the President, Patience; and his mother, Eunice, were however absent. Both of them have hitherto been accompanying Jonathan to such service.
The poorly-attended service saw only the first three rows of both sides of the chapel occupied by worshippers.
Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, on Thursday evening admitted that the Peoples Democratic Party had not been able to properly manage its successes.
He said in the last 16 years of being in charge of the country, the party made what he described as “very very costly mistakes.”
Lamido made this position known to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governor, whose state is one of the states where Jonathan lost the March 28 presidential election, however did not give details of the mistakes he claimed the party made.
He said, “I am sure if you know the party’s history, what it went through in the last 16 years, it has the capacity to bounce back.
“And more with the elections with pains and the anger, PDP made some mistakes.
“I have been saying so, the party made very very costly mistakes and we have not been able to properly manage our successes. But to me, I don’t think quitting PDP is the answer.”
Reacting to the result of the election that produced Buhari as the President-elect, the governor said whoever becomes the President is a Nigerian President and not a President for a particular region. On the belief that PDP governors who lost their states to opposition did not work hard enough, Lamido warned against going into blame game.
“We won’t go into blame game. In what way will this blame change the attitude of the crowd? Leadership is a very huge burden and is normal for followership to stick in other to look at things from their own perspective,” he said.
Lamido said Nigerians had spoken in very loud and unmistaken ways and so their choice and rights should be respected.
He commended Buhari for his hard-earned victory, while adding that the victory belongs to the nation.
“We praise Buhari for being able to take the ticket from the PDP even though I am not happy, but it’s Nigeria that won, not Buhari.
“None of them lost but Nigeria won and enough of the anxiety, enough of the worry and the fear in Africa,” he added.
While admitting that there is a tendency of the bandwagon effect of the presidential and National Assembly elections rubbing off on the April 11 governorship election, the governor said it was up to PDP leaders to work.
Buhari defeated Jonathan in the March 28 presidential election believed to be the keenest in the political history of Nigeria.
Though pockets of violence were recorded in some polling units in the country, the presidential election was adjudged to be credible.
President Jonathan had congratulated Buhari on his victory in the poll. He was also said to have asked the Peoples Democratic Party not to challenge the outcome of the poll at the election petition tribunal.
Two days before the conduct of the election, Jonathan and Buhari were made to renew their peace accord they signed on February 14 which committed them to credible and violence-free election.
The renewing of the peace accord was initiated by the Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee on 2015 Elections.
President Jonathan had, however, met with some members of the House of Representatives elected on the PDP platform.
It was learnt that the meeting was part of the efforts aimed at resolving the post-primaries crisis in the party.
It was further learnt that the meeting was also meant to avert the impeachment moves against the President by some aggrieved lawmakers.
The meeting which was held inside the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja was also attended by the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu; and the National Deputy Chairman, Uche Secondus.
The lawmakers were led to the meeting by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha; and the Majority Leader, Mulikat Adeola-Akande.
Apart from Ihedioha who was driven to the venue in his official car, others were driven to and from the venue in two Coaster buses.
None of them spoke with journalists after the meeting.
The President later met with security chiefs in continuation of efforts to tackle insecurity currently being witnessed in parts of the country.