• Friday, February 23, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Is the “Jonathan Effect” gaining momentum in West Africa?

Is the “Jonathan Effect” gaining momentum in West Africa?

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s concession in the 2015 to the Nigerian polls marked a significant moment in Nigeria’s democratic history. His decision to concede to Muhammadu Buhari demonstrated a commitment to democratic values and a peaceful transfer of power, setting an important precedent for political transitions in Nigeria.

The concession was a testament to Jonathan’s statesmanship, as he prioritized the nation’s stability over personal or party interests. This act contributed to the consolidation of democratic norms and the avoidance of post-election conflicts that had plagued previous transitions in Nigeria. It is an unwritten rule in Nigeria that the incumbent should win, do his second term irrespective of his performance in office. Jonathan’s government was dogged by insecurity in the North West of the country so Nigerians were desperate for a change at that time and President Jonathan wasn’t going to truncate their aspiration.

Read also: Goodluck Jonathan votes, calls for end to off-cycle elections

Jonathan applauded by Nigerians for stepping down:

Nigerians, for the most part, reacted positively to Jonathan’s concession. Many saw it as a mature and patriotic move that spared the country from potential post-election violence and instability. The acceptance of the election results by the outgoing president helped to promote a sense of unity and national cohesion.

Many pointed to the fact that Jonathan’s journey to the Aso Villa was a peaceful one and it was thoughtful of him to depart same way. His mature gesture promoted him to the pantheon of respected Nigerian Statesmen.

Jonathan in the eyes of the world:

Internationally, the reaction was also largely favourable. The global community commended Jonathan for upholding democratic principles and respecting the will of the people. This incident showcased Nigeria’s commitment to democratic governance, which had a positive impact on the country’s image abroad.

In summary, President Goodluck Jonathan’s concession in the 2015 polls was a pivotal moment for Nigerian democracy. His decision was a reflection of political maturity, fostering national unity and garnering praise both domestically and internationally for upholding democratic ideals.

George Weah following the footsteps of Jonathan:

According to the Associated Press ,,(AP) Liberian President George Weah concedes defeat after provisional results show challenger won the runoff George Weah conceded defeat after provisional results from runoff vote showed challenger Joseph Boakai beating him by just over a percentage point.

Elections officials said that with 99.58% of ballots counted from the election, Boakai was in the lead, with 50.89% to Weah’s 49.11%. The results were a dramatic reversal from the election six years ago when Weah easily beat Boakai in the second round.

“The Liberian people have spoken and we have heard their voice,” Weah said in an address to the nation, adding that Boakai “is in a lead that he cannot surpass.” he said “I urge you to follow my example and accept the result of the elections,” adding that “our time will come again” in 2029.

The concession speech given even before official results were announced in Liberia comes at a time when there have been growing concerns about the decline of democracy in West Africa. The region has seen a spate of military coups over the last several years, including one last month in Sierra Leone.

Weah said he had “the utmost respect for the democracy process that has defined our nation.”

The 57-year-old former international soccer star won the 2017 election after his promise to fight poverty and generate infrastructure development. It was the first democratic transfer of power in the West African nation since the end of the country’s back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed some 250,000 people.

But Weah has been accused of not living up to key campaign promises that he would fight corruption and ensure justice for victims of conflict.

Lessons from the Liberian Elections:

The elections shows leaders even in Africa can be removed from office if they don’t listen to the wish of the people.

The new crop of leaders are ready to relinquish power , go to the drawing board and return to power to correct their errors and serve the people. Weah while asking his supporters to respect the verdict of the people promised to return in 2029 to fight for office again.

Read also: This West African country prepares to export its first-ever crude oil

Despite the high degree of accuracy of exit polls in the western world, two speeches are usually prepared by the campaign’s speech writer . One accepting victory and the other conceding the election to the opponent. Our politicians should take a cue and do what is appropriate instead of causing mayhem while their families are sent to safe havens in Europe and the United States before the elections. Elections are not a do or die affair.

Jonathan conceded in 2015 in Nigeria. George Weah in 2023 in Liberia. Who is next ? We hope the Jonathan Effect is here to stay. Let’s rebrand West Africa as the region of democracy and not the coup corridor of the continent.

 

Michael Umogun is a Chartered Marketer with interest in public policy and Advocacy.