The gale of post-election congrats

*Jonathan is not the one that started it, but Fayemi

It is no longer news that the outgoing president, Goodluck Jonathan, conversed with the President-elect, Muhammad Buhari, for five minutes on phone and congratulated him for winning the 2015 presidential election.

Ordinarily, the phone conversation could not be more than just five minutes but the effect on the Nigeria polity is profound not only on the person of Jonathan but on the course of politics and democratic development in the country.

In that conversation, Jonathan conceded victory to Buhari, his major rival and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, even before the final collation of results was completed, thereby boosting his status, nationally and internationally, as a statesman whose love for the country surpasses personal ego and selfish interest.

A group in a congratulatory message where the unprecedented action was commended, described Jonathan as the newest statesman on the continent of Africa and former Defence Minister, General Yakubu Danjuma placed the president in the context of Nigeria’s recent history and concluded that the late Biafra warlord, Emeka Ojukwu, could have earned a bigger place in history if he had taken similar step.

For a country that was almost on the edge of the precipice as a result of the beating of drums of war by certain sections, the apprehension that the election year may signal the beginning of disintegration and the do-or-die postures of some players in the political field, Jonathan’s action became a soothing balm on frayed nerves.

And coming only a few hours after former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe had that public altercation with Professor Atahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which was like a glimpse into a crisis that the country could be plunged into, Jonathan’s conversation with Buhari cleared a new path of peace for the nation to follow.

Refreshingly that noble gesture is gradually permeating the politics of Nigeria as defeated candidates, instead of heating up the polity with allegations and threats, are now congratulating the winners in a manner that is redefining the country’s democracy along the lines of nobility.

When it was clear that Ortom was coasting home to victory in the contest, Terhemen Tarzor and incumbent governor Gabriel Suswam of the PDP were on hand to congratulate him.

Same story also goes for Jimi Agbaje of Lagos. In a statement where he disclosed that he was done with contesting for the number one seat in Lagos, he offered a hand of fellowship to Ambode and wished him well in the task of governing the state.

In Oyo State, moments after Senator Abiola Ajimobi was declared the winner of the Saturday exercise, former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala was quick to congratulate him.

The same scenario played out in Kaduna State where defeated incumbent governor Ramalan Yero sent a letter to congratulate Nasir El’Rufai, the APC candidate that was declared by INEC as the winner of the poll.

In the same vein, former anti-graft boss, Nuhu Ribadu who lost the governorship contest in Adamawa also congratulated the winner, Jubrilla Bindow.

Even the chief Servant of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu despite his travails and the misfortunes of the PDP in his state, was quick to congratulate Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello of the APC.

This gale of congratulatory messages is already blowing fresh air into Nigeria’s political space and many are describing it as a good milestone in the country’s journey towards perfect democracy and in the words of the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, while commending Agbaje for congratulating Ambode, “a good democrat must accept result of a free and fair election.”

The development is however going to affect the lucrative business of post-election litigations and not a few lawyers who handle election petitions and the multi-million portfolios attached to them, would be elated about it.

However, let us not forget that it was former Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi that started the practice of conceding defeat when he called to congratulate the loquacious Fayose. So, he started it.

Jonathan only followed suit and improved upon it by conceding defeat even before the votes were fully counted. Jonathan reasoned that mathematically, it was impossible to win the election with only two states left. Thank you Fayemi for teaching us a fundamental lesson on democratic practice. Or what do you say?

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