Jean-Jacques Cornish

After peaceful Nigerian transition, anything is possible


by Jean-Jacques Cornish

One could be forgiven for rubbing one’s eyes and thinking it was an April fool’s joke.

A Nigerian president democratically unseated.


Ironic too, given that the last time the new leader Muhammadu Buhari came to power was via a coup.

I have covered elections in Britain where the arrival of the removal van at the backdoor of Number 10 Downing Street to collect the good of the defeated premier filled one with envy.

This was not the way things went back home in Africa.

We were lectured by US diplomats after Barak Obama’s presidential victory.

There was not mention of a power sharing agreement, they said, referring to the all-too-often solution brokered after African polls in Africa.

We simply had to swallow it.

On Tuesday night Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat even before the official results of Nigeria’s election were announced.

On Thursday morning he promised Muhammadu Buhari a peaceful transition, saying: “Nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.”

I delve into my store of expressions from those times when we idealistically believed the world could actually change and find: Right on!

Buhari may celebrate today, but he is under pressure to deliver.

He must defeat the Boko Haram insurgency.

He must shake loose the corruption hamstringing Nigeria.

He must take tough economic measures to balance the books skewed by the falling oil price.

An unenviably stacked in-box.

But one no has reason to believe that in a country now run by a military leader turned avowed democrat, anything’s possible.


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.