Opinion: Conceding for Unity: How Weah and Jonathan’s Actions Safeguarded Africa’s Political Landscape


By Ibrahim Kegbegbe

Conceding defeat after an election in Africa is crucial for fostering political stability, and democratic maturity, and avoiding potential crises. The cases of George Weah and Goodluck Jonathan highlight the significance of this practice.

The concession of defeat by Goodluck Jonathan and George Weah has raised significant concerns, as they were not ordinary candidates but rather incumbent presidents of their respective countries.

President George Weah on Friday conceded election defeat to opposition leader Joseph Boakai after a tight race, ending a presidency marred by graft allegations but helping to ensure a smooth transition of power in the once volatile African nation.

George Weah’s graceful concession in Liberia reflects a commitment to democratic principles. By accepting the election results and urging others to do the same, Weah contributes to a smooth transition of power, setting a positive example in a region often plagued by political instability.

“A few moments ago, I spoke with president-elect Joseph Boakai to congratulate him on his victory,” Weah said on national radio. “I urge you to follow my example and accept the results of the elections.”

This action fosters faith in democratic processes and distinguishes Liberia’s political landscape from areas where military coups and election-related disputes are more common.

Similarly, Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to concede defeat in Nigeria’s 2015 election showcases a commitment to democratic norms and a desire to set a new standard.

Speaking at the 6th edition of the African Ambassadors Interactive Forum, AAIF, and dinner, organized by African Third Sector Resource, ATSR, in Abuja, Mr. Jonathan noted that by conceding defeat before the 2015 election result was declared, he wanted to set a new standard for the nation’s democracy and prove a point that election-related litigation should no longer define Nigeria’s democracy.

According to a report published by Vanguard, Mr. Jonathan was also presented the “African Leadership and Achievement Award,” at the event.

“I always say that I reformed the democratic process as President in order to consolidate democracy in Nigeria and the sub-region,” he said. “I conceded defeat without a fight because I wanted to set a standard for our democracy, going forward.

“My aim then was to change the narrative and prove that election-related litigations should no longer define Nigeria’s democracy. People must not always go to court and obtain judgments before elections in Nigeria are declared complete.

“We don’t get to hear about such court cases in mature democracies. I wanted us to get to that point in our democratic experience. I thought that it won’t be out of place if we got to that stage where those who lost elections will be able to congratulate those who won.”

His proactive concession, before waiting for court judgments, aimed to redefine Nigeria’s democracy, reducing the reliance on post-election litigation. This not only contributed to political stability but also helped prevent potential crises, demonstrating foresight in safeguarding the nation’s unity and economic interests.

Both leaders recognized the potential consequences of contested elections, understanding the need to protect citizens, investments, and regional stability. Their actions demonstrate a level of political maturity uncommon in some African nations, where power transitions are often fraught with tension and uncertainty.

In the broader global political sphere, the attitudes of Weah and Jonathan exemplify a commitment to democratic values and a willingness to prioritize national interests over personal or party agendas.

Their actions contribute to the narrative of peaceful transitions of power, reinforcing the idea that conceding defeat is not a sign of weakness but a testament to a leader’s dedication to the greater good.

Posterity in Africa will never forget the attitudes of George Weah and Goodluck Jonathan in conceding defeat as it underscores the importance of political maturity, democratic stability, and the avoidance of potential crises in Africa and the broader world. Their actions set a positive precedent for future elections in the region, emphasizing the significance of prioritizing the well-being of citizens and the stability of the nation.


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