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Buhari 'Jonathan's phone call to concede defeat shocked me,' President says

He said he kept quiet for a while on the phone before responding.

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, May 30, said former president Goodluck Jonathan's telephone call to him, conceding defeat while votes were still being counted during the 2015 election was unbelievable and shocking.

He said he kept quiet for a while on the phone before responding.

He stated this at the Presidential Banquet Hall, Aso Villa, Abuja, when he hosted the State House Press Corps to a lunch as part of activities marking this year’s democracy day.

“When he made that famous call at 4:45 pm and said ‘Good evening Mr. President, I have called to congratulate you and I concede defeat’, I was silent for quite a while because I was surprised and he said ‘did you hear me?’,” the President said.

Buhari said for someone like Jonathan, who had served as a deputy governor, a governor, a vice president and a president for six years to concede, showed his “great sense of patriotism”.

He said another former military head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, advised him to visit Jonathan for his “statesmanship and decision to save the Nigerian state”.

The President said further that Jonathan belonged to a party that was in power for 16 years and for him to still go ahead and concede “was definitely not an easy decision”.

He added that during the visit to thank Jonathan, General Abdulsalami again advised that in order to smoothen the transition process, he (Buhari) should set up a committee to meet with the outgoing ministers of Jonathan to begin the process of handing over at that level.

"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,” Mr. Buhari said.

The President recounted that when he assumed office he trimmed down the number of ministries from 42 to 24, while many permanent secretaries were also dropped for various reasons.

READ: Buhari inherited bad economy from Jonathan – Onu

He however said, his government was still shocked when it realized that ”those below were still living in the past” which, he said led to the infamous “budget padding.”

“The budget padding was our nasty experience, for me and many ministers who were not in government.

“We had to work day and night to correct the ills and I noticed that some of them were actually losing weight,” he said.

Speaking on why he changed his mind on releasing the list of those who looted the nations treasury, the President said “we realized that we can’t talk too much or technicalities would come in and we may realize what we should have realized."

Buhari advised the reporters covering the state house to always conduct research on those visiting him whenever they plan to ask them questions, ”so that when next they come, they will do some research themselves”.


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