Is Jonathan’s Concession Heroic? By Jude Feranmi
Defeat may serve as well as Victory, to shake the soul and let the glory out – Edwin Markham
The singular act of President Goodluck Jonathan of calling the now President Elect Muhammadu Buhari to concede defeat and wish him the best has generated so much debate that I consider it necessary to lay some historical precedents and also add my voice. Before I start to say whether Goodluck Jonathan’s act of conceding is heroic or noble or civil or necessary that he couldn’t have done otherwise, whichever side you belong, let me say that about four other incumbent African Presidents have been listed to have done such and as such, those who claim that the incumbent President of the former biggest party in Africa is the first to have done such will be ignorant of President Jonathan’s predecessors.
They are Aden Abdullah Daar of Somalia who was the first African President to hand over to a democratically elected leader in 1967 after ‘just’ 7 years of his tenure. As at that time, Nigeria’s First Republic had already been truncated in the infamous 1966 coup. Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia comes in second in 1991 after having been president since 1964. You can do the math. Like Nigeria, there was an oil crisis in 1973, a slump in export revenue, an economic crisis, followed by a multi-party election. He also ‘surprised’ the world by stepping down in 1991 for Frederick Chiluba. Bwezani Banda also of Zambia comes in third after he stepped down in 2011 after Michael Sata defeated him. Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal conceded after a second round of voting to opposition candidate Macky Sall who won with a wide margin on the 25th of March, 2012. We still have Julius Nyerere of Tanzania in 1984, Nelson Mandela of South Africa. . . Now comes in Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan who recently lost to Muhammadu Buhari in a controversially competitive election. Mr President’s phone call of concession came before the Independent National Electoral Commission officially declared the winner of the elections.
Now to the question of whether Goodluck Jonathan’s act was heroic or not, I have only a few questions to raise. 1. What else would he have done? Some say he could have incited his followers to violence and the next question is 2. Which followers? The same ones that rigged in SS and SE under “SPECIAL CONDITIONS” and then the violence will be against who exactly? Will it be against the northerners who didn’t vote in the SS OR SE or the Ndigbo who didn’t vote in the North or my South Western people who will not even fight for themselves talkless of an Ijaw man who gave them money some weeks to election? It would seem that we all have put Mr President in the position of someone who had all the state powers to do and undo while forgetting that he was the only president that witnessed a nationwide shut down for a protest against subsidy, not even close to a popular election. We also forget that he has helped to develop the political space to accommodate people’s voices unlike we used to have and as such, any act other than conceding would have been a case of feeding a tiger fat so it could kill you one day.
More so, maybe we should check out the list of those who had refused to step down and what ended their lives. I am convinced of Jonathan’s inner personality and subject to my observation, he would not have thought in his wildest dreams that he was smarter than Laurent Gbagbo, Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak and the likes that he would be able to seize a better ending with a civilian mandate than they did with military might. If you were in the President’s shoes, what will you have done? Maybe if we have all the information that Jonathan did have, we would be thinking differently.
On a final and unfortunate note, Goodluck Jonathan would not be remembered for having served Nigerians with his meek and noble heart, nor will he be remembered by the works or policies or monuments or as a matter of fact his economic policies, the final question to ask is, Will he be remembered for this heroic act of honorably stepping aside to let those who will work take the mantle? Whether Nigerians will remember can be debated, As for the Mo Ibrahim foundation who dole out monetary incentives for African Presidents who leave when their time is up, they will have his name recorded in one of their record books and then, soon to be ex-president Goodluck Jonathan can then wisely build a library or a recreation centre in his name in Otuoke with the Monetary Incentive handed to him.