VILLA DIARY With Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
President Muhammadu Buhari against all odds in 2015 defeated the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential elections. In the now famous phone call, Jonathan congratulated Buhari even before the official announcement of the result.
When President Buhari took over power, there were flurry of activities and condemnation of the officials of the Jonathan administration whose members of the present administration repeatedly knocked for looting the common patrimony of the nation.
Also, because of the constant barrage of attacks against the Jonathan administration, the majority of Nigerians feel the relationship between President Buhari and Jonathan will be frosty. However, Buhari laid that notion to rest in his first media chat with State House correspondents.
President Buhari then told us he was shocked when former president Jonathan called him to concede defeat while votes were still being counted during the 2015 election.
When he made that famous call at 4:45 pm and said ‘Good evening Mr. President, I have called to congratulate you and I concede defeat’, I was silent for quite a while because I was surprised and he said ‘did you hear me?’” the president said.
Buhari said he was shocked because for someone who was a deputy governor, a governor, a vice president and a president for six years to concede that easily showed Mr. Jonathan’s “great sense of patriotism”.
Buhari also said Jonathan belonged to a party that was at the helms of affairs for 16 years and for him to still go ahead and concede “was definitely not an easy decision”.
The president added that during the visit to thank Jonathan, General Abdulsalami again advised that in order to smoothen the transition process, he (Buhari) should set up a committee to meet with the outgoing ministers of Mr. Jonathan to begin the process of handing over at that level.
“Jonathan sincerely agreed to the suggestion and I got one of the best bureaucrats, in the person of Ahmed Joda, and told him to look round the country and come up with a team for the task.”
Pointedly, recent events have shown a bromance between the two former head of states. There was a time almost every week Jonathan was coming to brief the president on the political impasse in Mali. He became a regular visitor to the State House.
Also, former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan also visited Mrs Aisha Buhari at the Villa and they were seen talking, laughing and having a good time .
During the 60 years Independence anniversary celebrations at the Eagles Square, Jonathan was conspicuously present at the celebrations.
The relationship between the two leaders led to speculations that Jonathan is being propped up to contest the 2023 presidential elections to complete his second term .
During the week, Jonathan turned 63 and the President in a statement described the former President in glowing terms.
Buhari congratulated him for a life of service that has brought honour and goodwill to the country.
The President noted, with appreciation, the peculiar and remarkable climb of the former president on Nigeria’s political ladder, and dedication that has kept him working most recently as ECOWAS envoy to bring peace to the Republic of Mali.
As the former Nigerian President turns 63, President Buhari prayed that the Almighty God will grant Dr Jonathan longer life, good health and more wisdom to keep serving the nation and humanity.