My Transition Hours’ launch: Nigerian, ECOWAS leaders celebrate Goodluck’s statemanship
The formal launch of the book authored by former President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja provided an apple opportunity to celebrate the former president for his act of statesmanship during the 2015 general elections.
The former military head of state, Abdulasalmi Abubakar who midwifed the current democratic governance in 1999 stressed that Nigeria was not at war today because of the decision by Mr Jonathan to concede defeat during the 2015 election.
“We cannot thank you enough for the peace we are having in the country today; for the peaceful transition we had when you freely and voluntarily conceded defeat,” Mr Abubakar said.
Mr Abubakar said “By your decision, you have shown that you love your country more than you love power”.
The former president of Ghana, John Mahama, described Dr Jonathan was more of an academic who found himself in politics. “He is not your typical politician,” he enthused.
He noted that Dr Jonathan was in leadership with a “relaxed approach” which was why he succeeded as a leader.
The former Ghanaian said he shared similarities with Dr Jonathan and they became close when as vice presidents, they often met at the African Union summits and other meetings representing their principals.
He also said they both became president after the passing on of their presidents in office.
Former President Mahama described Dr Jonathan as “not talkative, reasonable and level headed in politics”.
“For him politics was not a matter of life and death. His decision in 2015 was not surprising to me at all,” he said.
Mahama also recalled that at the height of vote counting after the 2015 election and because of his closeness to Dr Jonathan, he received lots of calls from members of the international community especially from the UK and USA “asking me to speak to my friend to accept defeat”.
“They were afraid that like a typical African leader he would try to hold on to power.
“But I told them there was no need, Jonathan is a good man and he would do the right thing,” he said.
Mr Mahama further noted that like Dr Jonathan, he lost his bid for a second term in 2016.
“I also graciously called my opponent and congratulated him conceding defeat in the election.
“When the history of Nigerian democracy is written, President Jonathan’s name will be written in gold,” Mr Mahama said.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, heaped prayers and praises on his predecessor, noting that his best days are yet ahead.
He saluted Jonathan’s statesmanship and courage at conceding defeat even while collation was ongoing. “I thank you for being a true democrat,” he said.
Buhari said Jonathan’s action had made him a patriotic leader and earned him popularity before world and African leaders. According to him, “You (Jonathan) are a leader of the past, of now and of the future; you will rise again. I wish you the best you wish yourself.”
Jonathan, in a brief thank-you remark, said the book has words of advice on how best to fight corruption and vote buying. “The question of vote buying is becoming scandalous. We should be careful with inducement of voters,” he stated.
Obasanjo welcomed Jonathan to the camp of authors and congratulated the celebrant for enjoying a peaceful retirement. He charged Jonathan and other former leaders to discharge their “residual responsibility by continuing to serve the people.”
He said: “There is still no substitute to democracy when all is said and done because it unifies.” He warned: “But if democracy gets to the hands of hooligans in politics, it can be abused and misused.”
Before rounding off on his remarks, he tickled the audience by “acknowledging the presence of my former vice president.” Until their recent reconciliation, Obasanjo and the aforementioned, now presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, had been in a cold war.
Dr Jonathan’s vice, Namadi Sambo, who also spoke briefly, said Mr Jonathan helped greatly in consolidating Nigerian democracy.
He also disclosed that Dr Jonathan as president made appointments purely based on merit.
Mr Sambo gave an example by saying he was selected as a vice president by Dr Jonathan at a time he was campaigning for someone else to be selected.
He also said Dr Jonathan appointed former national chairman of Independent National Electoral commission, (INEC) Professor Attahiru Jega, “whom he never met”.
Giving further insight into how Dr Jonathan worked as a president, Mr Sambo recalled that when an outbreak of Ebola virus in Nigeria was announced in 2014, the president, who returned from an official trip to the USA by 5a.m. convened an emergency meeting in his office by 7a.m. where measures were taken to tackle the outbreak.