Former Head of State and Chairman of National Peace Committee, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, said he and members of the committee were ‘spell bound’ by the unprecedented display of President Goodluck Jonathan in conceding defeat to the All Progressives Congress candidate Muhammad Buhari.
Abubakar said the president by conceding defeat ahead of the formal declaration of the winner of the March 28 presidential election had demonstrated spirit of sportsmanship rare in this clime.
The President is a great statesman who has the interest of the country at heart, Abubakar, who led members of the National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections to the State House on Tuesday, said.
He spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting.
Members of the committee present at the meeting were the Chairman of Aliko Group of Companies, Aliko Dangote; former Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh; former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Priscilla Kuye; former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd); and the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan. The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, who is also a member of the committee, was absent.
Abubakar said members of the peace committee were surprised that President Jonathan had called Buhari to congratulate him ahead of his declaration.
The former Head of State said the President had fulfilled all the promises he made to all stakeholders about the elections. Abubakar said his group had no choice than to visit the President and thank him for making sure the entire process was credible and peaceful.
He said, “The elections have been very peaceful despite the hitches here and there. “At the end of the elections, at the counting, that there were a lot of upheavals that have happened, but thankfully they have all been contained.
“We were at the middle of a meeting with the international observers to try to see how we can still water the tension down, when gladly I called Gen. Buhari that we are going to see him, he told me that Mr. President had called him at about 5:15pm and congratulated him and conceded defeat. “We were spell bound and the reason we have come here is to thank President Jonathan for this statesmanship.
“In the history of Nigeria, I think this is the first time a contestant has called his rival to congratulate him and through this point, President Jonathan maintained a point that his ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. He has proved that he is a man of his word because during our interaction on this peace committee he has always maintained that he is going to accept the result of the elections whichever way it is done.
“And he has proved this. “And I think we need Nigerians, all of us to join hands in making sure we assist him in the peaceful handing over. And I will appeal to all politicians those who are celebrating and those who are sorrowing to please give peace a chance to be moderate. In any contest, there is always going to be a winner and President Jonathan has accepted that he lost and we want to thank him.
“On behalf of Nigerians I want to thank President Jonathan for being the statesman that he is, he has approved that he is a statesman and he has the love of this country in his heart. “So Nigerians should please help him to ensure this is real.
“For any Nigerian who is aggrieved, the electoral law has procedures for seeking re-address, so if anybody has any grievance he should apply through the law. I appeal again to our youths, to everybody to please give peace a chance and accept that the chief contestant himself has accepted.
“So nobody should go and raise any eyebrow and cause any destabilisation of this country. ”
Abubakar, therefore, called on Nigerians and politicians to support the President to hand over peacefully.