President Muhammadu Buhari has again commended his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, for conceding defeat in the 2015 election.But the president said several factors, including foreign pressure and contributions by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, ensured a smooth transition.
Mr. Buhari said this Thursday at Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja at the Leadership Newspaper annual Awards ceremony.
The president, alongside Mr. Jonathan, and the immediate past chairman of INEC, Attahiru Jega, were honoured by the newspaper as the 2015 Leadership Persons of the Year.
“Those of us who were participating actors in the election were led by the higher ideal of the future of our great country and the well-being of our people rather than a mere desire of politicians to win elections,” the president said.
“It is therefore, our commitment to these ideal, the patriotic zeal of President Jonathan, the patriotism of the electoral umpire, INEC, and exemplary conduct of the political parties, foreign pressure and other actors that collectively disappointed the prophets of doom, who predicted the disintegration of the country after the 2015 general elections,” the president said.
Mr. Jonathan was represented at the event by a former Minister of Special Duties during his administration, Tanimu Turaki.
Mr. Buhari commended the Abuja-based Leadership newspaper for the award.
“Our participation in today’s ceremony is therefore, a mark of confidence to the brand of journalism that is practiced by the Leadership newspapers group,” the president said.
Apart from the three awardees, several other persons, groups and corporate bodies were also recognised.
Gov. Ibrahim Dakwambo of Gombe State was named the Governor of the Year, while, the 218 abducted Chibok Girls were awarded the Leadership Young Person of the year award.
Nigerian singer, Korede Bello, was awarded the Artiste of the Year, while the victorious Golden Eaglets were of 2015 were awarded the Sports Person of the year.
Earlier, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, who gave the keynote address, said most people had expected the then incumbent President Jonathan to use the instrument of power at his disposal to influence the outcome of the election or challenge the outcome in the law court.
“In a moment that stands out as the crowning glory of our democracy, then President Goodluck Jonathan, putting the interest of the nation above his personal or group interest, conceded defeat to the current President Buhari, then of the opposition and now ruling party – APC even before the final figures were tallied,” he said.
Mr. Emmanuel said as Nigerian democracy is consolidated, there is the need to constantly engage the people on what government is doing to address their issues and problems.
“An engaged electorate is an informed electorate and this will eliminate apathy and a feeling of isolation,” he said.
The chairman of the occasion and former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, said Nigeria proved all those who aid the country could not survive the 2015 election, wrong.
Also, the chairman of Leadership Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah, who also contested the 2015 presidential election on the APC platform, paid tributes to Mr. Jonathan and officials close to him who advised him to give up power even before the final results were announced.