What has saved the nation the agony of violent protests from the elections of March 28 was the decision of President Jonathan to play the role of the statesman that he truly is
It was a milestone in the political history of our great country, Nigeria, when for the first time an elected President handed over political authority to another elected leader of the country who is from a different political party.
At the unprecedented ceremony at Eagle Square, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan who was the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) performed the symbolic duty of ushering in Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It is indeed significant that the process that led to the historic ceremony was largely peaceful. Nigeria did not break up contrary to the predictions by doomsday prophets in and outside the shores of this country. Apart from isolated skirmishes recorded during the campaigns, the process recorded no major crisis. It was far different from the previous two elections which Buhari, the winner of the 2015, lost then.
But it is not because there were no threats to peace and stability of the country. The elections were not perfect. Its outcome which was also very controversial was a huge threat to the peace and stability of the country. The irregularities were enormous.
They were even worse than in the previous elections whose outcome Buhari, the present winner, rejected and which led to bloody protests in some cities in the Northern parts of the country at that time. What has saved the nation the agony of violent protests from the elections of March 28 was the decision of President Jonathan to play the role of the statesman that he truly is. He chose to concede defeat despite the obvious imperfections of the process and the controversial outcome of the elections.
He even went ahead to congratulate Buhari before he was officially declared winner of the polls. It is noteworthy that he did not handle the matter otherwise. If he had done so, the tension that had then enveloped the country ominously on the day of the announcement of results would have exploded into a crisis of a proportion that would have made the handover impossible. In other words, the change of political baton would have been impossible.
That is the reason many people in and outside the country, including such eminent individuals and groups like President Barack Obama of the U.S, David Cameron, British prim e minister, Ban Kimmon, UN secretary general and ECOWAS leaders as individuals and as a group, leaders of other European and African countries have all commended Jonathan’s statesmanship.
The collective verdict that has prevailed since then is that President Jonathan saved the country from collapse and for this reason leaves the stool of Nigeria’s number one citizen as a man of history. A hero indeed he is. And we at The UNION join these eminent leaders from all over the world in saluting the courage of the out-gone President in opting to take a stand on the side of peace and the survival of the country than bow to the demands of personal ambition.
We also pray God to grant him good health to continue to serve the country and the world in other capacities in future. His contributions as President of the country will continue to speak eloquently for him and Nigerians, whatever side of the national political divide they may belong, will no doubt continue to appreciate his contribution to the country. And to Buhari who has taken over as President, there is the need to heal the nation.
We know Buhari is a man of great personal conviction and discipline. We know that he has come into government with a huge amount of experience, having been military head of state in the past. We have no doubt that he understands what the country requires at this point in time to walk the path of development which Nigerians are craving for.
We trust that he can do the job and urge him to deploy this character of personal discipline and experience to bring about all the changes that his party promised the country.
CHANGE, the mantra which the APC popularised during the campaigns has, no doubt, heightened the expectations among Nigerians of the new government. These expectations have become a kind of burden which the new government cannot afford to sidestep. We urge the Buhari government to quickly settle down to work. Nigerians cannot wait to see the changes promised beginning to happen.
But Nigerians must show a lot of understanding on the speed at which they expect dividends of performance from the new government. They should also be ready to endure the pains that come with change. The change process can be both sweet and painful.
Whatever comes their way in the process, they must bear it as a necessary sacrifice they must make as citizens and ultimate beneficiaries of the change. But government, the initiator and agent of the change must not leave the people in doubt about the benefits of the change for which they are required to swallow some bitter pills.