President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he was dumbfounded when his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan called to accept defeat in the last 2015 general election.
It will recalled that Jonathan reached out to his rival while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was still compiling the result of the election.
The act, which is the first of its kind in the history of the nation, has earned Jonathan accolades within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
However, speaking when he hosted state house correspondents at the presidential villa on Monday, Buhari said Jonathan’s action shocked him.
He described his successor as a generous fellow whose good intentions were “rubbished” by his ministers who refused to work with the transition committee in preparing the handover notes.
Buhari said: “This is where I pay my respect to former President Goodluck Jonathan. This is actually a privileged information for you (journalists)
“He called me at a quarter past five in the evening. He said ‘Good evening your excellency’, and I said “Good evening your excellency’. He said I have called to congratulate you that I have conceded defeat. Of course there was dead silence on my end because I did not expect it. I was shocked.
“I did not expect it because after 16 years in government, the man was a deputy governor, a governor, a Vice-President and was President for six years. For him to have conceded defeat even before the result was announced by INEC, I think that was quite generous and gracious of him.”
Buhari said Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former military head of state, advised him to pay visit to Jonathan and thank him for conceding the election.
He revealed that when he subsequently met Jonathan in the company of Abdulsalami, the former head of state, suggested he should set up a committee to smoothen the transition process.
Buhari said Jonathan agreed with the idea, which meant that the then outgoing ministers will meet with the committee to begin the process of handing over at that level.
He said: “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. However, when Jonathan told his government this is what I have decided, they simply refused and said how can you hand over to Buhari when he has not been sworn in. That was the end of that good intention.”