… As Abdulsalam-led Nat’l Peace Committee Opens Up On Hearsays Which Had Festered For Too Long
By ‘Dotun Akintomide
For over three years, the Nigerian media has been awashed with sundry narratives of how President Goodluck Jonathan was prevailed upon by certain elder statesmen to concede defeat to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari who won the 2015 presidential elections, something which Jonathan’s critics had used to further blight his popularity. But a new revelation had emerged to the contrary that the former helmsman performed the act willy-nilly and that it was out of his own volition.
The New Diplomat recalls that with the tide turning against Jonathan after the announcement of poll results in the afternoon of March 31st, 2015, a palpable climate of fear had enveloped the nation with local and foreign observers worried that the tinderbox may soon explode being the first instance that an opposition party defeated the ruling party in Nigeria’s nascent democracy. However, it never did as news broke out that Jonathan at exactly 5:15pm, had reached out to Buhari who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, conceding defeat to him.
Making the revelation on Monday, the National Peace Committee led by General Abdulsalam Abubakar said Jonathan conceded defeat in the election and subsequently congratulated the winner, Buhari, without its knowledge.
This came as the committee said, but for his decision citing national interest above any other, the then President Jonathan, who was a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would have arrested, prosecuted and possibly jailed key members of the then opposition APC, including Buhari and ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, for commiting treason againt the Nigerian state after they issued threats to form a parallel government if they didn’t win the election.
According to the 51-page document, Jonathan jettisoned the plan “in the interest of peace and national stability.”
The Committee made the disclosure in a report which it unveiled Monday, in Abuja, after holding a peace meeting with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mamood Yakubu, heads of security agencies, and representatives of the country’s 91 political parties to advocate for peace and transparency in the conduct of the 2019 nation-wide elections.
In the report tagged: “2015 General Elections: The Untold Story”, published by The Kukah Centre, the National Peace Committee said it didn’t convince Jonathan to concede defeat to Buhari as reported by the media.
The committee which said its primary concern “has always been how to get the defeated candidates to accept the outcome of the election by conceding promptly and unequivocally” so that the winner would naturally have a much easier task to be magnanimous in victory, disclosed that “the committee in the evening of March 31 requested audience with President Jonathan at the Villa.”
Revealing further, the committee, in the report said: ”As it awaited confirmation for the meeting with the president, the Committee Chairman, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, GCFR also put a call through to General Buhari who informed him that President Jonathan had only minutes earlier called to concede the elections.
“He particularly asked the Committee to please convey his good wishes to President Jonathan for his great act of statesmanship,” it added.
“Shortly after that, members of the committee who were greatly relieved, headed to the Villa where they met privately with President Jonathan and thanked him for his great courage.
“At this point, the Buhari Campaign team were yet to address the press on the historic development and as such, many Nigerians got the news of the concession from General Abubakar’s brief media scrum with State House Correspondents which perhaps helps create the wrong, but widespread impression that the committee sat with President Jonathan at the Villa as the results came in and had directly prevailed on him to concede.”
Part of page 13 of the report read: “A meeting with Jonathan was held at the Aso Rock Villa in the afternoon of Wednesday, March 25, 2015. At the meeting, he (Jonathan) raised some issues concerning the state of the nation, the threat of violence by the opposition (APC then) based on allegations that he (Jonathan) and his party were planning to rig the elections.
“He (Jonathan) noted that he took very seriously the threat by leading members of the opposition to form a parallel government in the event that they didn’t win the elections, but that he chose not to react to such apparent treasonable acts in the interest of peace.”
The report also detailed series of meetings held with leaders of the two major political parties in 2015 — the APC and PDP.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had in January 2018, acknowledged former President Jonathan’s act of statesmanship while addressing a gathering of APC Chieftains at the Presidential Villa.
“The PVCs (Permanent Voters Cards) worked well in 2015. That was why when the former president rang me, I went temporarily into a coma,” Buhari confessed.
According to him: “I will never forget the time. It was quarter past 5pm and he said he called to congratulate me and that he had conceded.
“He asked if I heard him, and I said yes. I thanked him for his statesmanship.
“The truth is after being a deputy governor, a governor, vice-president and president for six years, and he took that decision is great. He could have caused some problems. He had stayed long enough to cause problems,” Buhari said.