“If it is in the hands of thieves and hooligans, they can abuse and misuse it as weapon. We should ensure hooligans don’t get it.”
Fred Itua and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has warned against electing thieves and hooligans as leaders.
He spoke in Abuja, yesterday, at the presentation of a book written by former President Goodluck Jonathan, titled ‘My Transition Hours.’
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Obasanjo who was the chairman, said Jonathan’s decision to concede defeat in 2015, saved the country from crisis and called on him to continue to contribute his quota to national development.
He identified four seasons in the life of a democrats or politicians: Campaign to election, when you take up office and came in with high popularity and it starts to dwindle, immediately after you leave office you lose fairweather friends, when you have weathered the storm and look up again.
“The post-office life which you are now enjoying is one that we must crave for. It’s a life of continued service to humanity,” he told Jonathan who was marking his 61st birthday.
At the last general election, Jonathan had called President Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), to concede defeat before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announces the final tally.
Obasanjo said past leaders, both in Nigeria and outside Nigeria, have residual responsibilities to continue to serve people and God.
“Your birthday is being celebrated with the launch of the book. I must congratulate you for a peaceful retirement. Let me welcome you to the camp of authors.
“You came in with high popularity; that is why you were able to win elections. If you had launched this book three years ago, you wouldn’t have mustered the kind of crowd you mustered today.
“You have enjoyed a life of continued service to the nation. Because of what God has made us, we have the residual responsibility to continue to be of service to your community, your state, Nigeria, west Africa, Africa and the world.
“There is still no substitute for democracy when all is said and done. It fosters peace. It builds and does not destroy. It unifies rather than divide. But all these can only happen if democracy is in the hands of democrats. If it is in the hands of thieves and hooligans, they can abuse and misuse it as weapon. We should ensure hooligans don’t get it.
“Nigeria has responsibilities beyond its borders: for West Africa, Africa and the black race over the world.
“Like Koroma said, Nigeria has responsibility beyond its borders, for west Africa, Africa and for the black race.
“Atimes, when we do things and we get worried, but like Butrus Ghali said, when he was asked where he will like to be if not Egypt, he said Nigeria. When asked why Nigeria of all places, he said, ‘You will wake up in Nigeria and it will be as if heaven will fall but before you go to bed, it will be cool and calm. Let’s continue to make it cool and calm.”
He saved Nigeria from bloody crisis – Gowon
Also speaking at the event, former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon recalled that he was at the African Union meeting, in 2015, while awaiting the result of the elections.
“…Everybody was concern that there will be serious problem after that election; and fortunately, the news came that President Jonathan has conceded defeat and had rang to congratulate the winner. There was such a jubilation at the AU meeting. You did something that nobody has done and you saved Nigeria from a bloody crisis. God will bless you for that…
“Many people said you should not accept the results but you went ahead because you did not want anybody to die and you saved Nigeria and Nigeria’s democracy. Well done Mr. President. What you have done has saved Nigeria and Nigerians will forever be grateful to you.”
Abdulsalami: Ex-president brought peace by accepting defeat
Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar said by conceding defeat, Jonathan demonstrated that he loved Nigeria more than power.
Abubakar said with his acceptance of defeat in 2015, Jonathan brought peace to Nigeria and earned commendation from many people.
According to him, the former Bayelsa governor has has become an example not just in Nigeria, but also in Africa.
“We congratulate you for putting pen to paper to document your transition. We cannot thank you enough for the peace we have in the country through the peaceful transition when you honourably conceded in 2015. “By your action, Your Excellency, you brought peace to this country and you became an example not just to Nigeria but also to Africa. You showed that you love your country more than you love power. I wish you well and many happy returns.”
He didn’t surprise me, says Mahama
John Mahama, former president of Ghana, said he was not surprised when Jonathan conceded defeat.
“(To him it was) not a life and death situation. It was not surprising to me at all. I took a lot of advice from him.”
Also speaking, Bashir Yuguda, a former minister of state for finance, said Jonathan chose a path of honour.
“We are here to celebrate a man of peace, a true Nigerian and a democrat par excellence. I have to say a kind word that is deserving of this great man. The president chose a path of honour and resigned, that is why we are here today.
“You said ‘your ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigeria’. Mr President, you have kept your word.”