French President, Francois Hollande, gave the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, a phone call yesterday.
The telephone is said to have been an invitation for Buhari to come to Paris for discussions on the expansion of trade between France and Nigeria. A statement by the French Embassy in Abuja said the French leader congratulated Buhari on his success and noted the peaceful and fair electoral process which had enhanced Nigeria’s democracy.
“The French head of state assured the President-elect of France’s wish to continue the close relationship that existed with his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, and reiterated France’s support for Nigeria and its neighbours in their efforts to combat the terrorist sect, Boko Haram,” the statement added.
Hollande also expressed his wish to expand trade between France and Nigeria and invited his Nigerian counterpart to Paris. Meanwhile, more government officials on Thursday trooped to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to solidarise with President Jonathan, two days after he lost his re-election bid.
Those who met the President in his office included ministers, heads of government agencies and Peoples Democratic Party chiefs. Others were Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State; Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State.
While Akpabio and Suswam met the President in his office, Lamido met Jonathan inside his official residence in the evening. The governor arrived when the President was breaking his fast with some clergymen who were led by his Chaplain, Venerable Obioma Onwuzurumba.
In a related development, Akpabio, who is also the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum, has commended President Jonathan for accepting the result of the March 28 presidential election.
A statement signed by the Commissioner of Information, Mr. Aniekan Umana, in Uyo on Thursday, hailed Jonathan for his statesman-like disposition in congratulating, in real time, the President-elect.
“With this, President Jonathan has destroyed the sit-tight syndrome associated with African leaders and placed Nigeria as a beacon of true democracy to the rest of African and indeed, the global community,” he said.
Akpabio also congratulated the President-elect and urged him to institute an inclusive government that would give a sense of belonging to all Nigerians, irrespective of gender, ethnicity or religion.
He asked all the PDP faithful to remain united and to display their strength by returning over 20 PDP governors into office in April 11. Also, a former Petroleum Minister, Chief Don Etiebet, congratulated Buhari for his resilience.
He said Buhari’s resilience was an indication that he is a true patriot, a man who placed the love of his country above every other thing. Etiebet also commended the sportsmanship attitude which President Jonathan displayed in accepting the defeat.
He added that Jonathan’s attitude had shown that there were leaders in the country who would not risk the unity of Nigeria for their personal interests.“Kudos to President Jonathan for being such an exemplary statesman. Nigeria is proud of you,” he said.
He, however, stated that the actions of the two leaders demonstrated a new beginning in Nigeria. He said this was bound to take the country on new paths of democracy and development as the alternation of political leadership brings about true democracy and good governance based on the competitiveness of their performance.
According to him, Nigerians love Jonathan and that the new government will not forget the roles he played and the transformation agenda he put in place. He noted that the action had also proven to the rest of the world that Nigeria is, indeed, the biggest democracy in Africa.