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Goodluck Jonathan Unilaterally Saved Nigeria from Imploding!

Thu, 9 Apr 2015 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency would be known for generations to come more by the man’s salutary and unprecedented phone call conceding defeat to his rival Muhammadu Buhari than by any economic or social achievements that his administration has chalked since his ascendancy to the presidency in the aftermath of the death of his former boss Umaru Yar’Adua in May 2010. In fact, this political transition will be the first from one democratically elected administration to another for Nigeria. My heart is full of joy for Nigerians for showing the rest of the world that something good can come out of Africa.

In a country that has seen one despotic head of state after another, one brutal regime after another, Jonathan’s phone call to his challenger was historic, unprecedented, brave, and unequalled in the history of Africa’s most populous nation. Although Muhammadu Buhari would have to tackle a compendium of problems facing the hoi polloi when he is sworn into office in May 2015, putting out fires, rebuilding damaged roads and infrastructure, rounding up anarchists, and deploying soldiers to keep the peace will not be on this to-do list.

Concession speeches are vital for several reasons: establishing the legitimacy of an incoming administration, promoting national unity, and reminding citizens that no one person is bigger than a nation and, hence, that nation’s democratic process. But even more astounding is the fact that Jonathan’s phone call to his rival preceded the official declaration of the election results by the Nigerian election authority! This singular act of statesmanship will go down in the history of Nigeria as one of the most selfless and applaudable! Indeed, contrasting this turn of events with Ibrahim Babangida’s cancellation of presidential election results in 1993 that Moshood Abiola was poised to win is quite informative: Nigeria has in an instant shed the garb of mediocrity when it comes to its embrace and understanding of the democratic process sweeping across the African continent.

What Buhari does with the political capital he has suddenly been given by the Nigerian electorate is his choice, but I hope that he governs well because Nigerians have had to deal with the unequitable distribution of resources since their country became an independent nation-state in 1960. Regional conflicts, oil-related tumults, religious disturbances and, more recently, a chthonic Boko Haram insurgency have all plagued this oil-rich nation for much of its existence.

Is this the dawn of a new day in Nigeria? Only time will tell. With Buhari’s reputation as a no-nonsense, incorruptible politician during his first stint at the helm of state affairs, perhaps Nigerians can look forward to better days – days that bring with them the peaceful co-existence of Muslims and Christians in both the Muslim-dominated North and the Christian-dominated South.

If Ghanaians can learn just one lesson from Nigeria’s giant strides at the recent polls, it is simply this: no Ghanaian lives or limbs are worth sacrificing for any politician. Just as Nigerians have shown that they are capable of managing their own affairs without resorting to bloodshed and mayhem, so Ghanaians should be able to continue their interminably peaceful journey of democratic governance that they collectively began about 25 years ago. After all, a poorly performing leader can be absolutely certain he has no more than four years to (mis)rule the country. This is what democracy is all about, and this is what Ghanaians, through the ingenuity of its Fourth-Republican leaders and the good intentions of the indefatigable Kwadwo Afari-Djan, have done since 1992, when the country was freed from the tyrannical claws of former military strongman Jerry Rawlings and ushered into an era of political epiphany.

Buhari and Jonathan reportedly signed a peace pact before the 2015 presidential election, which showed each man’s commitment to preserving the nation’s peace irrespective of the outcome of the election. I pray that Mahama and Akufo-Addo will do the same next year.

Shortly after congratulating Buhari, Jonathan would remind Nigerians and the rest of the world that he had kept his word by delivering a free, fair, and peaceful election. What an honorable man!

© Daniel K. Pryce, Ph.D., is a criminologist by profession. He may be followed on Twitter: @DanielKPryce. He invites the reader to join the pressure group “Good Governance in Ghana” on Facebook.com. “Good Governance in Ghana” is a group that emphasizes the preservation of democracy, justice, equity, and law and order in Ghana; its 395-plus members are all permitted to start discussions that promote the national interest.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.