President Muhammadu Buhari’s confession revealed a feeling he has kept in his heart about the former president Goodluck Jonathan when he retold the story of how shocked he was when Jonathan made that famous call at 4:45 pm and said, “Good evening Mr. President, I have called to congratulate you and I concede defeat.”
His confession states:
“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?’.”
According to the president’s confession, the reason he was shocked by that call is because for someone who was a deputy governor, a governor, a vice president and a president for six years to concede that easily showed Mr. Jonathan’s “great sense of patriotism.”
Buhari said he was adviced by another former military head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, to visit Mr. Jonathan for his statemanship and decision to save the Nigerian state”.
“Abdulsalam recognized the generosity of Jonathan to concede defeat and said we should go and thank him immediately and that was the first time I came here.”
Mr. Jonathan, he said, belonged to a party that was at the helms of affairs for 16 years and for him to still go ahead and concede defeat was definitely not an easy decision.
He added that during the visit to thank Mr. Jonathan, General Abdulsalami again advised that in order to smoothen the transition process, he should set up a committee to meet with the outgoing ministers of Mr. Jonathan 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.”
He said that on assuming office, he had to begin a reduction process on the number of ministries in government.
“When we came, there were 42 ministries. We cut it to 24.
“We had to do it on our own we found out that government could not continue with 42 ministers and the paraphernalia of office. So, we cut it down to 24. We had to cut down half the number of permanent secretaries and then do some cross postings. The permanent secretaries that were there for the past five to seven years the only thing that they know is how things were done in the previous years.”
The President expressed regret for what some civil servants within the budgetary system did with his first budget for the country, in his confession he said:
“The budget padding was our nasty experience, for me and many ministers who were not in government. For somebody like me, for the first time I heard what is called ‘padding’.
“We had to work day and night to correct the ills and I noticed that some of them were actually losing weight.
“Because we became a mono-economy of oil rich Nigeria, everybody relied on oil and forgot about solid minerals, agriculture, making and exploring things. We recently just found out that we are poor because we don’t have anything to fall back to. This is the condition we found ourselves and this change mantra had to go through hell up till yesterday.”
Speaking briefly about his inability to release the list of those who looted the nations treasury, Buhari said:
“We realized that we can’t talk too much or technicalities would come in and we may realize what we should have realized.”