Being excerpts from the book “My transition hour,”recently presented to the public by the immediate past president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan
Presidential Election Day Saturday March 28, 2015
It had been one of the longest six weeks in my memory and it came finally that cool morning of the 28th March. While skeptics and mischief champions pined over tenure elongation, interim government and all that bore, I was already pacing towards the election. I was pacing forward for a "contrary" reason to the normal. I wanted the election to be over and done with, and I had a couple of good reasons for that. Twenty four hours before D-Day, it was already clear to me that winning was not in the cards for Peoples Democratic Party. My I called for the latest intelligence reports. I ran through the reports. The facts were very grave. What was unfolding became crystal clear to me. I was pretty certain in that instance that I could not contest the results and risk the occurrence of a stalemate. No. It was not even a risk. It was a certainty that a stalemate would happen.
Too many people were ready for mindless slaughter. The multiple massacres in memory came alive. I read in my hand once again the gory promise. Was this what the American intelligence community predicted? The disintegration of Nigeria? On my watch. In my hands. The souls of thousands of Christians in the North to be snuffed out, if I took the wrong decision. The certain reprisals! The eventual pulling out. Who would stop that? Who could? Too many things were bound to go wrong! I had every reason to contest the results. These were the facts in my hands, but there was also the question of worth. Was it worth it? I reflected on some details. My country was under colonial rule and our fathers mounted a struggle for freedom from the white man. Without shedding blood, we gained that freedom. Independence
How could I now be a part to the rivers of blood which would flow across the land?
I thought deeply about the hand it has pleased God to use providence to play in my life. My rise to the pinnacle of power in a country of 170 million people, most of who would give anything to be where I had been. What I had been and they never would be that fortunate. I could not have made it if I was rich, and I was not. I have had those things money could not buy! I thought about the economy which we dedicated long hours and hard labour to. Just to make focused companies invest in Nigeria. All those huge investments simply rolling in miles of ruins. Could I sincerely let all those investments go to waste? Where would I be when all this happens? We toiled to make the Nigerian economy the largest in Africa. Could I then watch the destruction of that same economy?
In my capacity as Nigeria's president, I worked with other presidents to resolve the political crisis in some West African countries. In Cote D'Ivoire alone, thousands of human beings were slaughtered in post election violence.
How would I discuss Nigeria's stability with my colleagues from ECOWAS? What do I tell them?
In 1967, Nigeria fought a very bitter civil war for thirty months. Thousands of lives were lost. That civil war was fought on perceived injustice over the leadership of the country. Could I partake in the reincarnation of that war which sent hundreds of thousands to early graves? The war which razed down my own village?
From the interim report before me, youths had been armed and mobilized to unleash mayhem. Provisions of guns, petrol bombs, knives and other incendiary substances had been made in full readiness for maelstrom on a massive scale. As I said earlier, recalling 2011 was too easy, when I won the election but lost so much in lives and limbs. Riots was raging like wild fire despite the fact that there was no genuine dispute about my victory. That victory still ended up tasting like ash in the mouth. The murders were as many as they were so foul. Properties of Southerners were torched. They were worth trillions of Naira.
Ten National Youth Service Corp Members were brutally murdered. Their sin was serving their fatherland as INEC ad hoc staff on election duty. It had stuck to my memory since.
Hundreds of thoughts flashed through my mind in each round of reflection. Could we ever play politics without bitterness in this country? The phrase raised the image of one of our great leaders in my mind. Waziri Ibrahim. His advocacy was "politics without bitterness".
Waziri, the leader of the defunct Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP). He was shown why bitterness must be a permanent component of Nigeria's politics. When he looked at the results of the 1979 elections, he described it as "super rigging". Indeed, he had not even seen super rigging before he coined the phrase. The "moon slide and landslide" victories of the NPN in 1983 qualified more for super rigging. Waziri was unhappy but never bitter. A TENSE NATION WAS AN UNDERSTATEMENT
Nigeria was at the sharp tip of a huge explosion. Many who could afford transportation tickets already sent their families abroad. Those who could not afford it were sending their loved ones to neighbouring countries. The flight from this unseen but impending catastrophe was happening more in cities like Lagos.
I felt so sad for the youth prepped to kill and destroy...
I was sorry for properties worth trillions going up in flames... I regret greatly that my country could no longer be one...
It was at this point that the breakthrough came to me in a "word", a single phrase.
"My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian!"
This was my mantra when I ran for Bayelsa Governor's office in 2006 and it gained a prominent echo during my presidential campaign.
I knew instantly that if I held on to power and moved to right the wrongs and expose the fraud hailed as election, Nigeria as known might be no more. The division along regions, religion and ethnicity was sharp. The positions were firm and decided. It was a very dangerous moment which could now be taken for granted. Why? Because it never happened. I did not allow it to happen. The prediction of the U.S. intelligence community about the disintegration of Nigeria was an additional scare. Those chaps are not to be ignored. Not that all their predictions come to pass, but indicators pointed to a great chance that this one was a correct call.
The spill over scenario of Nigeria's population into the West Coast was always the nightmare of everybody involved in the vigil for peace in the region and far beyond. If our citizens had cause to make a dash for life, we would overrun our neighbours in a desperate refugee crisis and the aftermath of such an unholy exodus would be tragic indeed. I refused to bear that burden. It may come one day, because the stability of this country is extremely fragile, but it would not be under my watch.
SATURDAY MARCH 28, 2015
2015 Presidential Election Results 09:00 HOURS
I knew what was coming the day before I made that call. I had the reports on the polls around the country. It was clear the results were not going to favour me. Apparently, there were many instances of
irregularities. There was the series of problems with card readers, especially with its lopsided distribution. The social media was filled with all manner of stories and pictures. I was settled in my mind that I was not going to be the sitting president pointing out these fluctuations and accusing the opposition. The world saw my ordeal at the polling unit in Bayelsa where the reader refused the card and we tried and tried again. It was a moment I could have used to fight. The open failure of INEC. However, I was heading towards peace.
I had to do something. I could no longer wait for the final results. The pressure on the country was palpable. In Lagos, people were ready to burst loose on the streets and in the North, there was a steady view to a kill. One of my representatives in Lagos was locked in an argument at a collation point. It was a heated contest which lasted over one hour. Everyone was expecting the bang any moment. I knew it was time to prick the burble.
As I said earlier, I was fully informed about the manipulations, intrigues, intimidations and betrayals. All these were effected to win victory off my party. The consequences of not conceding were only better imagined. After my victory in 2011, 500 people were slaughtered in the North and the loss was not limited to that figure.
My natural ties with peace now reigned. I was going to make a decision which reflected my commitment to that ideal. A foundation upon which my whole being was built. In my periodic projections into the future, I did not see how I could be presiding over such chaos. I was going to serve the peace and unity of Nigeria. This is a huge sacrifice in everyday terms, but I hope you believe me when I tell you it turned out to be one of the easiest decisions I ever took in power. My mind made up, it was time to inject peace into this vile pregnancy and it had to be now. Especially before INEC completed the tally.
I was in my living room with some of my ministers and advisors. They were recommending sundry alternatives, but I was quiet in the midst of their discussion. I hugged my thoughts, figuring out how to do that which was best for the country. My personal interest receding rapidly and the interest of Nigeria looming large. I excused myself and left the conference. I walked into my study. Even here, my mantra was a strong circle around me. Supporting and comforting me.
Let the country survive, let democracy survive, my political ambition is not worth...
It was late Tuesday afternoon. The final results had not been called. I was in my study ruminating over Nigeria's moments, now and in the past. The giddiness at the points of power. Lives as a means of exchange at such points. Wrong turns taken by elites in rabid hunger and roaring rage for power and the enigma of the poor folks who kill poor folks for them. Most of the time, not to anybody's benefit beyond themselves and their tightest circle. Now, what does the poor gain after the orgy?
More reports flowed in and I could not wait anymore. The announcement of the final result could take issues out of all our hands. I had to inject peace. I was the only one ordained by God almighty at that point to hold the serum.
I reached for the telephone and placed a call. A peace i had not seen or felt since my political sojourn started, now descended upon me. It told me where I had been in the past six years and where i was then. I had been in a large golden cage. It was large, yes. It was golden, yes. But it was a cage all the same. A glorified prison of power. I thought the process could be made to make inmates feel better doing their time. I smiled at the thought.
I waited calmly for the person at the end of my call to pick.
“Hello...General Buhari here" "I'm calling to congratulate you"
The line was seized by silence for several seconds. Then we had a brief discussion. I could feel his concern too, which travelled on the line to me with some tenseness in his voice. He knew what could have been. Here is a man who had contested three times and lost. Always at the other end of victory. My gesture, may be, humbled him, against his expectations. He thanked me and we talked about the 2011 elections when people were killed.
He expressed gratitude that I was not going to contest the result. We agreed that we would both be blamed if such a wanton destruction were allowed to reoccur.
Everywhere all over Africa, Asia and other parts of the world, numberless deaths have been recorded on the scores of elections and power disputes. We mentioned Cote d'Ivoire earlier, where people died in thousands in post-election violence. African countries are more prone to post-election violence than not, on the scale of 8 in 10. Very few African countries have not tasted post- election violence on a very grand scale or some bitter power tussle coming from tribal or ethnic thoughts. Tenacity of office is another evil which causes these killings on the scary scale we have seen them in Africa.
I hung up the phone, confident that my decision was right for Nigeria and would have a great impact (probably) on Africa. Could this be the beginning of a fresh perspective on power? One which places personal preference at the base of the basket and raises up the wellbeing of women and children in their millions, who were always the ones who suffer most, when we make the wrong call.
IT COULD NEVER BE ABOUT WINNING!
After my chat with General Buhari, which lifted my spirit greatly, I was feeling light and healthy; it was time to break the news to my ministers and aides. I wandered back into the living room. These were people I have come to know over a period. I knew what the response would be. In my newfound calm I stood before them and told them what i just did behind their backs! The elections were over. I had called and congratulated General Buhari on his victory. It was time for all of us to move on. Stunned silence.
After that episode, it was time to address the nation.
Speech By President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan After The Announcement Of The Results Of Presidential Election 2015 April 1st 2015
I thank you all for turning out en-masse for the March 28 General Elections. I promised the country free and fair elections. I have kept my word. I have also expanded the space for Nigerians to participate in the democratic process. That is one legacy I will like to see endure. Although some people have expressed mixed feelings about the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I urge those who may feel aggrieved to follow
due process based on our constitution and our electoral laws, in seeking redress. As I have always affirmed, nobody's ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. The unity, stability and progress of our dear country are more important than anything else.
I congratulate all Nigerians for successfully going through the process of the March 28th General Elections with the commendable enthusiasm and commitment that was demonstrated nationwide. I also commend the Security Services for their role in ensuring that the elections were mostly peaceful and violence-free.
To my colleagues in the PDP, I thank you for your support. Today, the PDP should be celebrating rather than mourning. We have established a legacy of democratic freedom, transparency, eco For the past sixteen years, we have steered the country away from ethnic and regional politics. We created a Pan-Nigerian political party and brought home to our people the realities of economic development and social transformation. Through patriotism and diligence, we have built the biggest and most patriotic party in Nigerian history. We must stand together as a party and look to the future with renewed optimism. I thank all Nigerians once again for the great opportunity I was given to lead this country and assure you that I will continue to do my best at the helm of national affairs until the end of my tenure.
I have conveyed my personal best wishes to General Muhammadu Buhari. May God Almighty continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I thank you all.
As a believer in God I know He was fully involved in all my actions. This I confirmed when one of the true servants of God in our land visited me outside the country months after the elections and told me all the revelations from God to his colleague in America. The Nigerian-born Pastor was hearing directly from God that I would not return as President and that He would minister to me in my closet. God told him He was doing it to preserve my life and save the land from destruction.
The scripture says let every truth be confirmed in the mouths of two witnesses let every truth be confirmed. This excerpt from the interview of Primate Ayodele with Vanguard Newspaper of 14th February,2016 said as much
People who look out for your warnings, what message do you have for them this year?
Generally, we need prayers for President Muhammadu Buhari because he has genuine mission. Jonathan also had genuine mission but he didn't prepare for presidency. But he had done what no Nigerian leader had ever done before.
What was that?
For an incumbent President to leave power just like that? It has not happened before in Nigeria.
Even when he knew that he was defeated by popular votes?
Yeah. But he could have turned things around. He had the pencil and the eraser. Nobody could question him.
Do you agree that God used Jonathan to save Nigeria?
Yes. Nigeria was at the verge of disintegration and you know all the things that had been said about Nigeria breaking. It was not saved by soothsayers or anybody. No. It is God that used him to save Nigeria and so, we should be grateful to Jonathan for being able to avert crisis that could put Nigeria asunder. It is difficult to see somebody like that, a Nigerian who would vacate the seat peacefully the way he did.
“We must develop a democratic culture in which the will of the people will be treated as sacred and be immune to subversion by anti- democratic elements.”