Former President Goodluck Jonathan has spoken of his state of mind on March 28, 2015 ahead of his decision to concede victory to President Muhammadu Buhari after that year’s presidential election.
Jonathan told his story, last week, during a dinner in his honour by Cercle Diplomatique, Geneva, Switzerland.
“I was actually in that valley on March 28, 2015. I never knew that the human brain had the capacity for such enhanced rapid thinking. One hundred and one things were coursing through my mind every second. My country was at the verge of collapse. The tension in the land was abysmally high and palpable, in the months and days leading to the election. The country became more polarized more than ever before, such that the gap between the North and the South and between Christians and Muslims became quite pronounced.
In fact, it became so disturbing that some interest groups in the United States began to predict that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015. And, indeed, many Nigerians did buy into this doomsday prophesy as they began to brace themselves for the worst. As the President, I reminded myself that the Government I led had invested so much effort into building our country. I worked hard with my top officials to encourage Nigerians and non-Nigerians to invest in our country to be able to provide jobs and improve the lives of our people. We worked hard to grow our economy and to improve and bring Nigeria up as the biggest economy in Africa, with a GDP of about half a trillion dollars.
“Should I then, for the love of power, watch Nigeria slide into a theatre of war, with my fellow country men and women dying, and many more pouring into other nations in Africa and beyond, as refugees?
Should I hang on to power and tussle with my challengers, while the investments of hard working citizens of the world go down the drain? I then said to myself, NO!
“I promised my God that I will not let that fate befall Nigeria under my watch, hence the historic telephone call I put through to congratulate my challenger even when the results were still being tallied. I believe that for a country to be great, both the leaders and the led must be prepared to make sacrifices. This is why, everywhere I go, I always advise that the new generation of African leaders must think differently. We can no longer afford to wilfully sacrifice the blood of our citizens on the altar of dangerous partisan politics. It is not worth it. This reminds me of one of my campaign statements to the effect that my ambition was not worth the shedding of the blood of any Nigerian. Some people took it then as mere political slogan but I knew that I meant it when I said it.