Jonahan recalled how he was advised by his associates, including an African leader, not to leave office.
He said after the results of the 2015 Presidential election were revealed, and it turned out that he had lost to President Muhammadu Buhari, he started getting calls from different people, asking him not to accept the outcome, but he chose otherwise because he did not join politics for personal gain but to serve.
He said: "As African leaders, we must now be ready to set standards so that other people would begin to emulate us. In Nigeria, it is almost taken for a granted that anybody who contests for any office would always go to the tribunal to challenge an outcome that doesn’t favour him. What that suggests is that nobody loses election in Nigeria. That tradition must also change.
"As a sitting president, I presided over an election in which I contested but I lost. Yes, INEC is an independent body but you and I know that the activity of any agency is under the supervision of a president. Some people were telling me to go to the tribunal or even stop the elections, citing cases of irregularities. But I rebuffed such advice. If INEC that was under me, and assuming the officials allowed cheating during elections as was claimed, why will I go to the tribunal to complain? If I did that, I would not be setting the right example. It would then mean that all I suffered to build would come to nothing.
"The point I am making is that people should always be prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of their country. We need to evolve that culture and imbibe it in our consciousness that we don’t have to go to court each time we lose elections.
"Let me tell you a story that will shock you. When the results of the elections were declared and I got almost 13 million votes, while the incumbent president won with over 15 million votes, I recall one African leader telling me that if I decided to leave office, it would only be because I must already be tired of remaining in office. The implication of that statement was that many other leaders in my position would have stayed put, but that is just not me. My place in governance was to do my best and quit and not to sit tight and destroy everything I had built."
Jonathan was honoured in Switzerland by an association of international diplomats, the Cercle Diplomatique, based in Geneva, for the roles he played during the smooth transition of power in 2015.