One Of The Hardest Decisions I Ever Took While In Office Was Handing Over To Buhari - Goodluck Jonathan

One Of The Hardest Decisions I Ever Took While In Office Was Handing Over To Buhari - Goodluck Jonathan
ClevloadedJul 26, 2020Read original

One of the hardest decisions Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, ever made while he was still in office was handing over to Muhammadu Buhari.
He stated this in a publication titled ‘My Transition Hours.’

Jonathan who had been a political office holder for more than a decade lost his re-election bid under the Peoples Democratic Party platform to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress.
Losing the 2019 general elections made Jonathan the first incumbent president in Nigeria’s history to lose a second tenure. However, this could be viewed as a sigh of relieve for Buhari who had contested three Presidential elections and lost.

Jonathan said conceding defeat to Buhari which was one of the hardest decisions he had ever made, turned out to be the easiest.

With rising insecurity, especially the Boko Haram insurgency and massive corruption, Nigerians seemed to have lost faith in the Goodluck-led government.

Even though there were allegations that the 2015 general elections were marred by irregularities, violence and rigging, Jonathan thought it wise to hand over in order to promote peace.

Goodluck Jonathan said:

“I was fully informed about the manipulations, intrigues, intimidation and betrayals. The consequences of not conceding were only better imagined. My natural instinct for peace automatically surfaced. I was going to make a decision which reflected my commitment to that ideal. This is the foundation of my essence. In my periodic projections into the future, I did not see how I would be presiding over any kind of chaos. I was prepared to promote the peace, unity and progress of Nigeria.

“This is a huge sacrifice, but I hope my readers believe me when I say it turned out to be one of the easiest decisions I ever took while in office.

“With my mind made up, I knew it was time to inject peace into the tensed polity, especially before INEC completed collation.

“I was in my living room with some ministers, aides and friends. Among them were the Coordinating Minister for the Economy/Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Mr. Osita Chidoka and Waripamowei Dudafa, my Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs.

“They were recommending sundry alternatives, but I was quiet in the midst of their discussion. I hugged my thoughts, figuring out how to do that which was best for the country. My personal interest was receding rapidly and the interest of Nigeria looming large. I excused myself and left the sitting room. I walked into my study. Even here, my mantra was a strong circle around me, supporting and comforting me. Let the country survive. Let democracy survive. My political ambition is not worth people being ‘soaked in blood’.

“More reports flowed in and I could not wait anymore. The announcement of the final result could take issues out of all our hands. It was time for me to take action and bring peace to the nation. I felt I was destined by God at that point in time to inject the peace serum and douse the palpable tension in the country.”

Prior to the final collation of votes and final declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Goodluck Jonathan did the unexpected. He reached out to Buhari and congratulated him as the next President-elect.

Jonathan continued;

“I reached for the telephone and placed a call through the State House operators at about 4:45 pm. A peace I had never felt since my political sojourn, descended on me. It showed me where I had been in the past 16 years and where I was then. I smiled at the thought of what I was about to do. I waited calmly for the person at the other end of my call to answer.

Buhari: “Hello Your Excellency!”

Me: Your Excellency, how are you?”

Buhari: “I am alright, Your Excellency”

Me: “Congratulations!”

Buhari: “Thank you very much, Your Excellency …”

“For several seconds the line was seized by the loudest silence I have ever known. Then we had a brief discussion. I could sense his relief too. He knew what could have been.

“Here is a man who had contested three times and lost. Maybe my gesture humbled him against his expectations because he thanked me and we talked about the handing over processes.

“Everywhere all over Africa, Asia and other parts of the world, countless deaths have been recorded on the scores of elections and power disputes. I mentioned Cote d’Ivoire earlier, where people died in their thousands during the post-election violence. A similar scenario had unfolded in Kenya. African nations are more prone to post-election violence than other parts of the world.

“Only very few African nations have not experienced post-election violence on a very grand scale or some bitter power tussle fed by tribal or ethnic sentiments.

“I hung up the phone, confident that my decision was right for Nigeria and would probably have a great impact on Africa. This may well be the beginning of a new perspective to power; a perspective which places national interest above personal preference. It should not always be about winning.

“After my conversation with Muhammadu Buhari, which lifted my spirit greatly, I felt better and lighter; it was time to break the news to my Ministers and aides. I wandered back into the living room. These are people I came to know after a period of time. I anticipated what their response would be.

“In my new found calm, I stood before them and told them what I had just done. The elections were over. I had called and congratulated Muhammadu Buhari on his victory. It was time for all of us to move on.

“Stunned silence greeted the room for some time and after they overcame their shock, they all congratulated me.

“My Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, sought my permission to tweet my phone conversation with Muhammadu Buhari. I obliged and he did. The country was no longer waiting for the declaration of the election results. The nationwide tension automatically dissipated as though a red hot piece of iron had been dipped in a bowl of water.’’

Relationship Between President Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan
Speaking after the meeting with newsmen, Jonathan described his relationship with his successor as okay.

He said, “You have been seeing me coming and I have been having friendly conversations, so, our relationship is ok.”

Jonathan also used the opportunity to appreciate Buhari for completing major railway projects in the country.

He continued:

“Let me use this opportunity to commend Mr. President publicly. I’ve already sent a letter to appreciating. It’s a good gesture.

“And completing the railway programme is good. It shows that the President is doing, is going on with the legacy projects of the previous administrations. That is the way to go.

“I sent a letter to him. I commended him verbally too but you are asking me now. Let me also do it publicly. I appreciate it, I thank Mr. President, the Minister of Transportation and others that made it possible.”

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