Nigerians Still Owe Jonathan For Conceding Defeat In 2015, Says Abdulsalami

1 year ago Ogunsuyi Roland 0

A former military ruler, Abdulsalam Abubakar, has suggested that ex-president Goodluck Jonathan has not been given enough credit for conceding defeat after the 2015 presidential election. Mr Jonathan in 2015 became Nigeria’s first incumbent president to lose re-election.

He promptly accepted defeat to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and congratulated him. Mr Abubakar’s stance is contained in an interview in the latest edition of ‘Nigeria Now’ Newspaper. He was interviewed in commemoration of Nigeria’s 20th year of democracy.

“People keep harping on the role of our Peace Committee in convincing President Goodluck Jonathan to concede defeat to Muhammadu Buhari. Nigerians have not given adequate credit to President Johnathan because he took the decision out of his own volition to concede and congratulate Buhari in 2015,” Mr Abubakar said.

He admitted that although the Peace Committee – a national mediation committee of ex-presidents which he heads – spoke with political contestants when the election results began to trickle in to caution their supporters, “but we did not sit down with Johnathan to dictate to him, he conceded out (of) his conviction.”

Abdulsalam Abubakar Mr Abubakar as military head of state ensured the transfer of power to an elected president in 1999. He led Nigeria from June 8, 1998 to May 29, 1999, and is Nigeria’s 8th and last military Head of State. One of his promises after succeeding late Sani Abacha, who died mysteriously in office, was to hand over power to civilians.

On May 29, 1999, he kept his promise after a general election that ushered in Olusegun Obasanjo as president. He told ‘Nigeria Now’ what transpired in the buildup to Nigeria’s transition to civil rule.

Mr Abubakar claimed he inherited a divided Nigeria, whose armed forces particularly were concerned about jostling for power than safeguarding the land. So, he said, his government had a mandate to “change this perception and attend to the prevailing political unrest.”

“The (Nigerian) military was a victim of its interference in governance as most of its brains got deployed into administering the country at the expense of professionalism and our management training,” Mr Abubakar recalled

He said a 9-month transition programme was drawn to brace the country up for civil rule. To this end, Mr Abubakar added, a constitution review committee, headed by late Niki Tobi, was set up. Eventually, the committee delivered the 1999 Constitution. Also, the Independent Electoral Commission was set up, headed by late Ephraim Akpata, who oversaw registering of political parties that met the stipulated criteria.

The process of this transition was still underway when Moshood Abiola died in government custody. Asked how he died, Mr Abubakar refused to comment beyond ascribing Abiola’s death to fate, which he termed “unfortunate”. He further said what happened would be made known at the “appropriate time” when his book is out.

Moving on, with the backing from the international community, who were interested in seeing “how Nigeria progressed”, Mr Abubakar said, he was able to help Nigeria broker possible investment deals at various international fora and lift the sanctions slammed on the country after several military regimes.

“Recall that the Commonwealth had suspended us and the African Union was keeping us at arm’s length. With me on board as the new head of state, therefore, they saw a chance in engaging me as a new military leader and see if I could keep promises. So, we had interactions in London, United States of America, France, Europe and so on, where I would say, we want all the sanctions imposed on us removed and needed help with our transition programme,” Mr Abubakar said. After the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo as president, Mr Abubakar was accused of aiding Mr Obasanjo’s emergence.

He downplayed this, saying every privilege Mr Obasanjo enjoyed — from release from prison to sponsoring of medical checkups — from his government was a joint privilege aimed at everyone due for the privileges, and not Mr Obasanjo alone.

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