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My fears before I conceded to Buhari: Jonathan

By The Rainbow

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has spoken of the tensed moments he

faced on March 28, 2015 ahead of his decision to concede victory to

President Muhammadu Buhari after that year's presidential election.

“I was actually in that valley on March 28, 2015”, he said.

Jonathan also narrated why he relinquished power to Buhari, saying he

did not want Nigeria to slide into a theatre of war, with his fellow

county men and woman dying, and many more pouring into other nations

in Africa and beyond, as refugees.
“I never knew that the human brain had the capacity for such enhanced

rapid thinking. One hundred and one things were going 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 leading to the

election. The country became more polarised more than ever before,

such that the gap between the North and the South and between

Christians and Muslims became quite pronounced”, the former President

said.
“In fact, it became so disturbing that some interest groups in the

United States began to predict 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”.
Jonathan told his story, last week, during a dinner in his honour by

Cercle Diplomatique, Geneva, Switzerland. The former President also

spoke about his foray into politics, the allure of power and future

plans.
He began: “ As you can see, I have not come here with a prepared

speech, since what I consider appropriate for this occasion is to just

thank you all, members and everyone else in attendance, in a few

words, for the dinner and the award, in order not to make the evening

look boring. But having said that, I am still tempted to note that if

I were to present a written speech, the title, would probably have

been “Power Tussle in Africa: A Stumbling Block to Economic Growth.”

When Mr. Robert Blum, your President, made his very interesting

opening remarks, he introduced me as the former President of Nigeria.

He was absolutely correct.
My foray into politics
“However, I believe that not many of you here know that the story of

my foray into politics has a peculiar ring to it. I entered politics

in 1998 and, barely one year after, I got elected as the Deputy

Governor of Bayelsa, my state. I later became Governor, Vice President

and eventually got elected as the President of my country. I remain

the only leader in my country to have travelled that route.

As the President, I served out my first term but, as Mr. Blum had

pointed out earlier, I lost the bid to be re-elected. I am encouraged

by the fact that many of you here appreciated my decision not to

reject or contest my loss at the polls, not even in the courts as many

people had expected.
The allure of power
“Again, I have to agree with Blum that it was not an easy decision to

take. This is because the allure of power and the worries about what

would become of you after leaving office constitute an irresistible

force. It has an attraction so controlling and powerful that it takes

a man who has the fear of God and who loves his people and nation to

relinquish power so easily in Africa.
Alone in the valley
“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.

Posers I had to contend with
“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!
Resisting the lure of power
“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.

We must all fight for the enthronement of political stability in

Africa, for in it lies the panacea for sustainable growth and

development. For Africa to record the kind of advancement that will be

competitive and beneficial to our citizens, we must have stable states

supported by strong institutions. That appears to be the irreducible

minimum that is common to all developed societies. Africa's political

odyssey can distinctly be categorised into three eras, and probably

another that would later signpost its classification as a developed

continent”.
Challenges
“Some may doubt this, but it is no fluke that Africa is growing and

rising. However I will admit before you here that we still have

challenges. That is why people like us did all we could to ensure that

Nigeria, the biggest black nation on earth, would not drift into

anarchy because such a situation would have spelt doom for the rest of

the continent. It would have affected not just Nigeria alone, but the

GDP and economy of the entire West Africa. And if the economy of West

Africa crashes, it would definitely affect the performance of the

economy of the whole of Africa. As you know, the GDP of Africa is less

than three trillion dollars, with only six African countries able to

boast of nominal GDP above $100 billion. Even for those in this

'elite' category, you can't really say that they are rich countries.

Apart from maybe South Africa that has an industrially competitive

economy, the rest are still mainly commodity exporting countries. Even

the case of that of South Africa is not very encouraging, because we

have a situation which we could refer to as a first world economic

performance, yet the ordinary people live the life of the people in

the so called third world.
In the case of Nigeria which is even the biggest economy on the

continent, the reality is that we have an unenviable per capita GDP of

$3,203, which is the World Bank average for a period covering

2011-2015.
Africa's future is bright
“Even then, I still believe that Africa has a bright future; a

promising prognosis that is supported by the fact that the continent

remains a very fertile and attractive territory that yields

irresistible returns on investments. I believe that in the next few

years many more big investors will be jostling to come to Africa, if

only we will do the right thing. The process of getting it right has

already started with a democratic and increasingly democratising

Africa. But we have to deepen and strengthen our democratic

credentials through regular, free and fair elections. This will in

turn bring about the stability necessary to improve the infrastructure

that promotes rapid economic growth. These are the guarantees that

would lead us into the next period which I would like to call the era

of a developed Africa. I have no doubt in my mind that we will get

there some day.
My future plans
“I will be applying myself diligently to two key areas. First, is to

work for good governance by promoting credible and transparent

elections. This will bring about the strengthening of our institutions

and the enthronement of stability. I also believe that there is the

urgent need to create jobs for our
teeming young population. This is another area that will be receiving

my attention. I recall that the Vice President of your association

made reference in his speech to my achievements in that regard through

what we called Youth Enterprises with Innovation (YouWin) and the

Nagropreneur programme which encouraged young people to go into

agriculture. I believe more programmes like that should be established

to promote youth entrepreneurship. That way, we reduce their reliance

on paid employment. We will not only teach them to become

entrepreneurs, they will also acquire the capacity to employ other

people. We will be paying special attention to this segment of our

society, especially young people and women. We will develop programmes

that will inculcate in them business skills to be able to set up

micro, small and medium enterprises. We shall assist them to access

take-off grants when they acquire the relevant skills and capacities.

There are many areas that they can go into; food processing, light

manufacturing and the services sector are just some of them. I can

tell you from experience that this works. As we speak, Our

Nagropreneur programme, to promote youth involvement in agriculture

value chain, is being scaled up by the African Development Bank

presently. It is already being replicated in 19 African countries

because of the success of the programme in Nigeria. I invite all of

you here today, cabinet ministers, diplomats and private sector people

to remain committed to the cause of improving lives, especially those

lives in Africa, and making our world a better place. For those of you

that will be sharing in this vision for Africa, I assure you that you

will not be disappointed. I am very optimistic that if we encourage

young men and women in this continent to develop businesses of their

own, the story of Africa will change within 10 years”.

Vanguard newspaper


Remember your creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come
By: joseph effiong