President Muhammadu Buhari has said the successful outcome of the April 2015 elections disappointed those who had earlier predicted Nigeria’s breakup.
He said “the patriotic zeal of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the impartiality of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the exemplary conduct of the political parties, foreign pressure groups and other actors collectively disappointed the prophets of doom who had predicted the disintegration of the country after the 2015 general elections.”
Buhari, who said this at the Leadership Annual Awards and Conference of Leadership Newspapers, held in Abuja, added that the 2015 elections was a watershed in the political history of Nigeria.
While Buhari and Jega were present at the event, Jonathan was represented by a former Minister of Special Duties, Taminu Turaki.
American and Western European experts had predicted that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015. They based their prediction on the political desperation and frenzy that characterised the political campaigns of presidential election.
Buhari, Jonathan and the former chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega were awarded “Leadership Persons of the Year.”
“The events of 2015, which Leadership has chosen to bring to the fore today, marked a watershed in the political history of our country. Our democracy has been strengthened by the outcome of the 2015 elections as our people now have more faith in the electoral system in the sense that their votes would count when choosing political leaders at various levels. We, the political class should build on the experience of the 2015 elections to nurture our democracy,” the president said.
Buhari said his presence at the event was a public acknowledgment of the contributions of the media to his administration’s agenda to defeat terrorism and violent extremism in the country, fight corruption and diversify the economy in order to create jobs.
Former military leader, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (retd), who was chairman of the occasion, said Nigeria had good reason to be grateful and celebrate because of the outcome of the election.
He said considering political violence in other African countries, it was important for Nigerians to celebrate that the nation did not go up in flames.
Abubakar, who commended the roles played by Buhari and Jonathan in the elections, said, “our efforts would have been in vain if President Buhari and former President Jonathan were not willing to cooperate with us and think about Nigeria first, or if Prof. Attahitu Jega had failed to perform his statutory role well.”
Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel said Nigeria was at a crossroads.
“Our nation is at a crossroads. We are challenged by daunting economic and political problems that are surmountable. We must all resolve to work together. That is what we need.
“We must develop a national narrative. It can be done, it should be done because we are exceptional people,” he said.
The governor, who also stressed on the importance of leaders being accountable to the people, said the nation was in need of who are doing good, not only leaders that are doing well.
“We can’t be running a country where the SUVs on the road are more than the tractors on the farms. We should build institutions that will outlive our generation.
“The problems are not always with the leadership, the people around the leadership are also their problems,” he added.
In his welcome address, Chairman, Leadership Group Limited, Sam Nda-Isaiah said the event was organised to celebrate democracy because there were a lot to celebrate.
He said it was easy to forget the panic that preceded the last election and the prediction that it would lead to the end of the country.
While commending Jonathan for conceding defeat, Nda-Isaiah said the former president reportedly told some people, including Senator Ben Bruce, Governor Seriake Dickson, Osita Chidoka and Mr. Ita Ekpeyong that if he did not do so, 10,000 Nigerians would die that day.
“Jonathan conceded victory and set standard for future election. While history will continue to remember some people for third term, Jonathan will be remembered for this.
“Jega did his job well and showed courage. He has set standard,” he said.