Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said Atiku Abubakar was right to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection in February, saying it would be “unfair” to compare Mr Abubakar’s situation to the 2015 election in which he (Mr Jonathan) accepted defeat.
Mr Jonathan said the fundamentals of 2015 election, which saw him become Nigeria’s first incumbent leader to accept election defeat, were “very different” from the 2019 elections.
The 2019 polls were marred by violence and brazen irregularities.
“It is not right for anybody to compare Jonathan’s decision in 2015 with Atiku’s position in 2019 because they are two different scenarios,” Mr Jonathan said in an interview for a PREMIUM TIMES’ special publication on the Fourth Republic 20th anniversary.
The magazine, which explored Nigeria’s pivotal moments between May 1999 and May 2019, is going on sale on June 12, Nigeria’s new Democracy Day.
Mr Jonathan said it would be dishonest for anyone to compare his decision to timely concede the 2015 presidential election to Mr Buhari and Mr Abubakar’s lawsuit over the outcome of the February 23 poll.
The former president said it was his responsibility to ensure a smooth and credible election was conducted under him, notwithstanding the independence of the election commission.
“In 2015, I was a sitting president,” Mr Jonathan said. “Although INEC is an independent body, every structure of government still operates under the president one way or the other.”
“So I was a president and INEC conducted the elections under my watch. Atiku was not a sitting president and if he or the party feels that things were not done right, of course they are at liberty to challenge it in court,” Mr Jonathan said.
Mr Jonathan, who described his presidential tenure as ‘unique’ in Nigeria’s history, also praised his achievements in office, saying he oversaw an economy that was consistently growing.