…3 former African leaders grace occasion
…Nigeria not at war today because Jonathan concede defeat- Abdusalam
…He is a pillar and icon of democracy, says PDP
Tuesday was a day of glory for the immediate past president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, as three former African leaders, former Nigerian leaders, leaders of both leading political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), captains of industries stormed the nation’s capital city of Abuja to launch a book written by Jonathan in commemoration of his 61st birthday.
The Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton venue of the launch of the book ‘My Transition Hours’ was turned to a political gathering as leaders of opposing parties embraced and exchanged pleasantries.
President Muhammadu Buhari was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, while former Presidents of Ghana, Benin and Sierra Leone were also present.
Also present were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the national chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, and Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar
Other notable persons at the event were the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, and former Senate President, David Mark.
In a brief remark, former Military Head of State, Abdulasalmi Abubakar, said Nigeria is not at war today because of the decision by Jonathan to concede defeat during the 2015 election.
“We cannot thank you enough for the peace we are having in the country today; for the peaceful transition we had when you freely and voluntarily conceded defeat,” Abubakar said.
The former military head of state said: “By your decision, you have shown that you love your country more than you love power”.
Former President of Ghana, John Mahama, said Jonathan was more of an academic who found himself in politics. “He is not your typical politician,” he said.
Mahama said Jonathan approached leadership with a “relaxed approach” which was why he succeeded as a leader.
He said he shared similarities with Jonathan and they became close when as vice presidents, they often met at the African Union summits and other meetings representing their principals.
Mahama described Jonathan as “not talkative, reasonable and level headed in politics”.
“For him, politics was not a matter of life and death. His decision in 2015 was not surprising to me at all,” he said.
The former Ghanaian leader also recalled that at the height of vote counting after the 2015 election and because of his closeness to Jonathan, he received lots of calls from members of the international community especially from the UK and USA “asking me to speak to my friend to accept defeat”.
“They were afraid that like a typical African leader, he would try to hold on to power.
“But I told them there was no need, Jonathan is a good man and he would do the right thing,” he said.
Former Vice President Namadi Sambo said Jonathan helped greatly in consolidating Nigerian democracy.
He also said Jonathan as president made appointments purely based on merit.
Sambo gave an example by saying he was selected as a vice president by Jonathan at a time he was campaigning for someone else to be selected.
He also said Jonathan appointed former national chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, “whom he never met”.
However, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Uche Secondus, stole the show at the public presentation as Oshiomhole shook hands with, and embraced Secondus.
The APC National Chairman was also seen exchanging pleasantries with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which attracted attention in view of his fierce criticisms of the former president.
Oshiomhole arrived the venue at the same time with a former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, who were both coming from another book launch in honour of former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, at the Shehu Muda Yar’Adua Centre also in Abuja.
Also present at the book launch was President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina and some governors elected on the platform of the PDP.
Dignitaries that attended the event include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); former Vice President Namadi Sambo;
Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd); and former CJN Alfa Belgore.
Other dignitaries include former Governor of Niger State, Muazu Babangida Aliyu; Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Diskson; Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa; former Governor of Kastina State, Ibrahim Shema; Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, among others.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the former President as an icon and pillar of contemporary Nigeria democracy, whose patriotism and personal sacrifices ensured the unity, stability and corporate existence of the nation, particularly given the circumstances of the 2015 general election.
The party said: “Dr. Jonathan remains a true Nigerian leader, whose administration is known, not only for good governance and landmark development projects across the nation,
but also for the entrenchment of democratic values, rule of law, equity and justice, respect for separation of power and constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens as well as engendering harmonious coexistence of all interests in our nation.
“In all, President Jonathan amply demonstrated that the true essence of leadership and statesmanship is the application of the virtues, opportunities and authority therein for the good of others rather than self, and for that our party and indeed Nigerians celebrate him”.