Former President Goodluck Jonathan has revealed how he was pressured not to accept defeat in the 2015 election.
Noting that the election was laden with some irregularities, including the difficulty he faced before he could vote in his native Otuoke, Bayelsa State home, Jonathan said he conceded defeat principally because it was his belief that his ambition should not lead to loss of lives and property as it was the case in previous elections.
He said contrary to some narratives that members of the international community prevailed on him to accept his defeat and congratulate the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the decision came naturally to him as he was aware a day before the announcement of the results that his party was bound to lose.
The revelations are contained in the former President’s book, “My Transition Hours”, which was presented in Abuja yesterday on his 61st birthday.
The book records the last-minute intrigues and political manoeuvres that defined his last moments with top aides and ministers in the Presidential Villa and the relief he felt after he congratulated President Buhari in a telephone conversation.
Jonathan said he rebuffed the advice by the then Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister Mohammed Bello Adoke; Aviation Minister Osita Chidoka, who was a compere at the book launch; and his Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, Warpamowei Dudafa.
He writes: “They were recommending sundry alternatives, but I was quiet in the midst of their discussions. I hugged my thought, 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 there, 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.”
On how and why he called to concede victory to Buhari, he wrote: “More results 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.
“I reached out for his telephone and placed a call through the State House operators at about 4:45pm. A peace I had never felt since my political sojourn descended on me. It showed me where I had been in the past sixteen 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 end of my call to answer.
Buhari: “Hello Your Excellency.”
Me: “Your Excellency, how are you”
Buhari: “I am alright, Your Excellency.”
Buhari: “Thank you very much Your Excellency.”
With that, the deed was done. Peace like the flow of a soothing river enveloped his heart, Jonathan said.
He continues: “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.
Elsewhere all over Africa, Asia and other parts of the world, countless deaths have been recorded on the scores of elections and power disputes. l mentioned Cote d’Ivoire earlier, where people died in their thousands during 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 elections violence on a very grand scale or some bitter power tussle fed by tnbal 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 coversation with Muhammadu Buhari, which lifted my spirit greatly, I felt better and lighter; it was time to break the news to my Ministers “Id mdes. I wandered back into the living room. These are people I came to know over 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 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 through a red hot piece of iron had been dipped in a bowl of water. Thereafter, I addressed the nation.”
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