President Goodluck Jonathan has defended his decision to concede defeat to Muhammadu Buhari in the March 28 election, saying he was concerned about allowing his personal ambition scuttle a democratic system he helped nurtured, with the likely consequence of a “collective tragedy”.
Mr. Jonathan said Thursday that he needed to check his ambition, as the consequences of not doing so may have been dire not only for Nigeria, but Africa.
The president made the remarks during separate meetings with the new ambassadors of France, Senegal and Ethiopia. He was responding to commendations for his decision to promptly accept defeat after it became clear Mr. Buhari had won the polls.
“Democracy has to be nurtured to grow. Strong democratic institutions are the backbone and future of our democracy. They must be protected and nurtured. As for me, as a matter of principle, it is always the nation first,” Mr. Jonathan said.
“You need to have a nation before you can have an ambition. It should always be the nation first. You don’t have to scuttle national progress for personal ambition.
“Since I assumed duty, I have been involved in quelling political crisis in some African countries and I know what they passed through and what some are still going through. If you scuttle a system for personal ambition, it becomes a collective tragedy,’’ President Jonathan declared.
Mr. Jonathan urged world leaders and international institutions to give their fullest possible support to the incoming administration of Buhari.
He also called on all Nigerians to do their utmost best to help the incoming president succeed in leading the country to greater heights of accomplishment.
The president appealed for patience, understanding and cooperation, which, he said, Mr. Buhari will need to move the country forward to greater, peace, security and progress.
Speaking with the new French ambassador, Denis Guaer, President Jonathan urged France to extend the support and assistance it gave to his administration to Mr. Buhari’s government.
“President Francois Hollande was our guest in Nigeria during the celebration of Nigeria’s centenary. He has been very supportive of the country in the fight against terrorism. I expect that the same warmth and goodwill will be extended to the incoming government. I expect that France will continue to work with the new administration, especially on issues of terrorism.
“The United Nations has been supportive as well. Our troops, supported by regional forces, have done very well in fighting the terrorists in recent times. What we need now is support to help our people get back their lives,’’ he said.
The ambassadors commended President Jonathan for setting a record of humility, patriotism and courage in safeguarding the democratic process in Nigeria and Africa.
“Nigeria is not only an economic power in the world today, but also a great democratic example. And it is all by your effort, Mr. President. The last elections and your response was truly a great achievement and you will always be remembered for it,” the French ambassador told the President.
Mr. Guaer, the new Ambassador of Senegal, Baboucar Sambe, and the new Ambassador of Ethiopia, Samia Zekaria Gutu, who were at the Presidential Villa to present their letters of credence to President Jonathan, also assured him that they will do their best to strengthen relations between Nigeria and their countries during their tenure.