President Jonathan prided himself as taking a hard decision by accepting defeat in the March 28 presidential poll and he has been variously commended from far and near for the decision. But would it not have been a more honourable decision if the president had not contested in the first instance, knowing full well that his decision to run in 2011 ran against the zoning arrangement of his ruling PDP and upturned the political apple cart? IBIDAPO BALOGUN writes…
The encomiums poured on him are yet to die down. President Goodluck Jonathan had conceded defeat in the March 28 presidential election to opposition candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. He picked up his phone, called Buhari and made the concession even when the final results of the election had not been announced. Up till today, many Nigerians are still commending him for the gesture. The praises poured on President Jonathan last weekend at a thanksgiving and farewell service in his honour at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp, Abuja could fill a bucket. “You are now a statesman. From now on, Nigeria will need you, Africa will need you, the Black World will need you,” The Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh, said at the service referring to the president.
Also speaking at the service, former Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana, described Jonathan “as a man of favour who is highly favoured by God. If you seek to understand this man you will fail because he is anointed by God for such a time as this. And therefore, we want to thank God for this opportunity, thank God for what He has done for Nigeria, through this man. A man of honour, a man of character; a man that is godly, a man that has actually held most of the executive offices in the Nigerian constitution. One of the things that I have been tremendously impressed about this man is that his humility is awesome.” Before then, many dignitaries: former Commonwealth-General Emeka Anyaoku, former Heads of State, General Yakubu Gowon and the Chairman National Peace Committee, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, whose committee saw him at the Presidential Villa shortly after he had called Buhari and conceded defeat, have all commended him for saving the country from crisis.
And basking in the euphoria of the accolades, President Jonathan at the thanksgiving service spoke as he had never done before then. He said: “When I look at the whole picture of my life up to when I became the president of this country and I say that if soldiers and police officers that have not received 0.5 percent of the benefits that I had received from the state can lay down their lives for this country. I should do anything in the interest of Nigeria including paying the supreme price. As long as I live I will continue to do my best for the state because it has helped me as a person.
“…I believe there are reasons for everything. Some hard decisions have their own cost, no doubt about that. I ran the government in such a way that stabilised certain things like the electoral process and other things that brought stability to this country and took very costly decisions, which I must be ready to pay for.
“Some people come to me and say look at this person or that person, is he not your friend who benefited from you, has this person not benefited from your government? Imagine what he is saying? I often tell them that worse statements would come. If you take certain decisions, you should know that those close to you will even abandon you at some point. And I tell them that more of my so-called friends will disappear. When FW De Klerk took the decision to abolish minority rule in RSA, even his wife divorced him. I hope my wife will not divorce me. But that is the only decision that has made RSA to still remain a global player by this time. If we still had that minority rule there, by this time, nobody will be talking about RSA.
“If you take certain decisions, it might be good for the generality of the people but it might affect people differently. So for ministers and aides who served with me, I sympathise with them, they will be persecuted. And they must be ready for that persecution.”
While also commending the president, some analysts said, however, that it would have been more honourable if President Jonathan had not contested the election in the first instance, more so when his decision to run in 2011 went against the grains of the zoning arrangement of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
“President Jonathan had ascended the presidential seat based on the doctrine of necessity propounded by the Senate. He rose on the back of public support and goodwill that he was being persecuted as Vice President and should mount the saddle when his boss, President Yar’Adua took ill and eventually died. He said in a leaked diplomatic cable that all he wanted to do is bequeath a legacy of free and fair election on the country. How honourable would it have been if he had done one term as he was alleged to have pledged and left, “Professor of Politics, Adeolu Durotoye, said.
Another analyst, Sam Obiora, wondered why the president did not shun second term if he really wanted to make a sacrifice to the country, “more so when his first term had caused uproar within his PDP and when in fact he was even said to have pledged to do just a term in office”. But all that may not have chipped away from the encomiums being poured on the president for conceding defeat, something unprecedented in Nigeria, nay Africa.