President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday said he conceded defeat to Muhammadu Buhari in the March 28 presidential election because of his desire to keep the country away from conflict.
He said having been involved in solving many problems in African countries for more than five years, he knew the enormity and cost of conflicts and would not want Nigeria to witness such.
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, quoted the President as speaking while receiving members of the African Ambassadors’ Group, who were on a farewell and solidarity visit to his boss at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said he would always be committed to strengthening democracy in Nigeria and Africa.
Jonathan added that his decision to concede defeat was to show example to the world that democracy could survive and thrive in Africa without conflict.
The President said, “I believe that character matters in leadership. And it is not just about who becomes the President of a country, but somebody has to be there and the person needs the support of all to succeed.
“I made a choice to keep the country away from conflict.
“I have always advised other African leaders that we will need to have a country before we can have the ambition to become President.
“We don’t have to expose our people to deaths because we want to stay in power. Some people hold on to power, may be, for fear of the unknown.”
The President recalled working extensively for more than five years with other African leaders to forestall crisis in some African countries, especially in the West African sub-region.
He also said he led peace efforts in some of the countries like Cote ‘d’Ivoire, Mali and Guinea Bissau.
“I have been involved in solving many problems in African countries for more than five years and I know the enormity and cost of conflicts, especially on the citizenry. We cannot afford that in Nigeria.
“If we were to have a political conflict in Nigeria, I am not sure the sub-region will be able to accommodate our citizens.
“My commitment is to always put the country before my personal ambition and that is what I have demonstrated,” he added.
Jonathan then called on the global community and Nigerians to support the incoming government of Buhari.
He said the incoming government would need the cooperation and commitment of the global community and Nigerians to effectively deliver on its promises to the people.
“The President-elect is not new to governance in Africa so I want you to show the same commitment to him as you have to me. The President-elect knows that our commitment is always to project Africa. I am urging you to extend the same warmth and solidarity you have shown to me to him,’’ he said.
The President further enjoined African leaders to encourage trade within the continent by building infrastructures and institutions that could promote trade and relationships.
In his remarks, the Dean of Diplomatic Corps in Nigeria, Oubi Bochir, commended Jonathan’s high sense of patriotism, statesmanship and transparency in the last general elections.
He noted that the President won the heart and minds of all Nigerians and Africans after the elections.