Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday asked Nigerians and the international community to support the administration of the incoming President, Muhammadu Buhari, to enable him deliver on his promises.
The president made the request as he received members of the African Ambassadors Group, who were on a farewell and solidarity visit.
“The President-elect is not new to governance in Africa so I want you to show the same commitment to him as you have to me. The President-elect knows that our commitment is always to project Africa. I am urging you to extend the same warmth and solidarity you have shown to me to him,’’ he said.
President Jonathan further enjoined African leaders to encourage trade within the continent by building infrastructures and institutions that promote trade and relationships.
The President recalled working extensively for more than five years with other African Presidents to forestall crisis in some African countries, especially in the West African sub-region, and also leading peace efforts in some of the countries like Cote ‘d’Ivoire, Mali and Guinea Bissau.
“I have been involved in solving many problems in African countries for more than five years and I know the enormity and cost of conflicts, especially on the citizenry. We cannot afford that in Nigeria.
“If we were to have a political conflict in Nigeria, I am not sure the sub-region will be able to accommodate our citizens. My commitment is to always put the country before my personal ambition and that is what I have demonstrated,’’ he said.
President Jonathan, who said he would always be committed to strengthening democracy in Nigeria and Africa, noted that his decision to concede victory was to show example to the world that democracy can survive and thrive in Africa without conflicts.
“I believe that character matters in leadership. And it is not just about who becomes the president of a country, but somebody has to be there and the person needs the support of all to succeed. I made a choice to keep the country away from conflict.
“I have always advised other African leaders that we will need to have a country before we can have the ambition to become presidents. We don’t have to expose our people to deaths because we want to stay in power. Some people hold on to power, may be, for fear of the unknown,’’ the President added.
In his remarks, the Dean of Diplomatic Corps in Nigeria, Oubi Bochir, commended President Jonathan on what he described as his high sense of patriotism, statesmanship and transparency in the last general elections.
“Let us make it clear, that within the Nigerian and African context and the example your Excellency has set, there was no loser in the elections but winners. The President-elect by winning the majority of votes, and the incumbent in establishing a long lasting legacy by winning the hearts and minds of all Nigerians and Africans,’’ he said.
Mr. Bochir, who is the Ambassador of Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic to Nigeria, extolled President Jonathan for accepting defeat and saving the country from political conflict. Mr. Bochir said Mr. Jonathan restored confidence in African democracy and left a benchmark for other countries to follow.
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps was accompanied on the visit by eight other ambassadors from Cameroon, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, South Africa, South Sudan, Namibia and Ethiopia.