As Nigerians and the international community continue to praise President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat to his main challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, in the March 28 presidential election, PREMIUM TIMES has received exclusive details of how the president took the decision of making the historic concession telephone call to Mr. Buhari.
Reliable officials, knowledgeable about the drama that unfolded at the presidential villa that March 31, said Mr. Jonathan was pulled by two contending forces: loyalists who kept pressuring him to concede defeat and congratulate Mr. Buhari, and hawks who insisted he and his party should strongly challenge the APC candidate’s victory.
Our sources said even before collation began at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja, Mr. Jonathan had indicated he would accept whatever outcome once the election is considered free and fair.
But while the President was on the verge of keeping that promise, some “hawks” in the presidency and the party rushed to the first family’s official residence to warn him against any “hasty decision”.
“They were telling the president that a lot of options were still open, and that the game was not over,” one of our sources said. “They were doing all manners of analyses, and assuring the president that ultimately, he would triumph.”
“At a point the president became confused and it was clear the forces opposed to the president’s decision to concede victory was gaining control. As some of them were talking to the president in the villa, others who were far away were calling the President on telephone. The president was in a dilemma.”
Another presidential aide said while in that state of confusion, the President invited the Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, to ask his opinion.
Those who overheard the conversation B3tween the two men said Mr. Chidoka begged the president to disregard any contrary counsel and quickly concede defeat.
“Mr. President, I can tell you that by congratulatin
g Buhari, you would have done the unthinkable and history will surely be kind to you,” a presidential aide quoted the aviation minister as saying.
Our sources said as the President and Mr. Chidoka conversed, the Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, arrived.
“He quickly joined Osita (the aviation minister) in appealing to the President to ignore those advising him not to concede defeat,” a witness said. “In fact, I saw Adoke and Osita kneeling before the president in deference and begging him to take the right decision in the interest of the country.”
Our sources said at this point, Mr. Jonathan appeared convinced. But more calls came in from people believed to be opposed to any concession move, and the president became confused again.
At that point, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, arrived, and she quickly joined the party working to convince Mr. Jonathan to make the historic call.
While Mr. Adoke departed shortly after Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s arrival, the finance minister and her aviation counterpart continued to appeal to the President to make the right decision...