By Wealth Ominabo Dickson
Five years after leaving office as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has continued to shine bright as a distinguished African statesman, peacemaker, and nation builder. He has been actively engaged in many international assignments, including leading peace missions and different Election Observer Missions to various African nations including Tanzania, Zambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Mozambique.
His story is compelling, intriguing, yet a complex tale full of moral lessons and footnotes. Lessons of patience, democracy, hope, faith, unity, love, peace and tolerance. Indeed, there are no limits to the lessons which the character and persona of Dr Jonathan espouses to Nigerians, Africans and the rest of the world. Every aspect of his life is an unfolding plot of humanitarian lessons.
From being born without a silver spoon, to his meteoric rise to power as deputy governor, acting governor, governor, vice president, acting president and president to the solemnity of his exit from the presidency speaks volume of Jonathan as a man of many lessons, and a man for all seasons.
“I was not born rich, and in my youth, I never imagined that I would be where I am today, but not once did I ever give up. Not once did I imagine that a child from Otuoke, a small village in the Niger Delta, would one day rise to the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“My story holds out the promise of a new Nigeria. My story is the story of a young Nigerian whose access to education opened up vast opportunities that enabled me to attain my present position.” Jonathan said in one of his testaments.
No doubt, his story is that of hope, unity, faith and progress. In and out of power, Jonathan continues to represent these virtues. He wields great influence among great patriots and statesmen; not through might but through the overflowing luxury of his character: his obsession to the pursuit of peace and his predilection to nurture and grow Africa democracy makes him a man for many seasons.
Recently, he undertook the assignment to serve as ECOWAS Special Envoy to Mali, to mediate between the different stakeholders and return the country to the paths of peace and stability following weeks of nationwide unrest that led to military takeover in the country. His choice for the assignment according to the President of ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou was based on his “position as the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the great role and contributions your tenure offered to the maintenance of peace, security and stability in our region.”
True to the expectation of Africans and ECOWAS people, Jonathan and his team after, months of mediation and engagement with the different stakeholders, were able to procure peace on the table of mediation with the successful inauguration of a transitional government headed by Mr. Bah N’daw
Commenting on the commitment of Dr Jonathan and his team for their role in resolving the political stalemate in the country, the Malian leader Mr. Bah N’daw was full of gratitude to ECOWAS and Jonathan.
He said : “My gratitude goes to ECOWAS for its constant concern for our country. I also thank ECOWAS mediator, former Nigerian President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for the wise advice he has been giving to his Malian brothers and sisters since June this year. He is one of us now.
“I welcome his presence and I would like to assure him of the determination of the Malians to lead a stable, peaceful and successful transition, under the agreed conditions and deadlines.”
“I assure him (Jonathan) and ECOWAS that I am ready to make any sacrifice that will bring peace to Mali and make my country recover from its challenges. I will organize the election on schedule and will not go outside the letters of the Transition charter.” This is the second time that Dr Jonathan has been involved in resolving political tension in Mali, the first was in 2012, when he was a serving president.
As chairman of the International Summit Council of peace Africa, Dr Jonathan has been mobilising serving and past African leaders towards peace unity and progress of the African continent.
“Africa must do something radical to tackle the challenges occasioned by this pandemic. We can’t continue to wait for other nations to come build our lands. So, Africans, it is time to build a newer world, “Jonathan said in a dialogue forum organised by ISCP to proffer solutions to the debilitating effects occasioned by the pandemic.
As a thought leader in the continent, Jonathan is not reticent to forge alliances with other global leaders and organisations with a view to advancing the course of humanity. This informed his choice to accept the responsibility to serve as a member of the Kofi Annan Elections Integrity Panel of Senior Figures with members such as Madeleine Albright, former U.S Secretary of State and Chair of the National Democratic Institute, Joe Clark- Former Prime Minister of Canada, Laura Chinchilla, Former President Costa Rica. Part of his initial task was to join the league of global personalities to write an open letter on why democracy should not be a silent victim of the pandemic.
Through the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Dr Jonathan has set in motion mechanisms on how to minimize and resolve elections related crises in West Africa as a way of stabilizing the region’s democracy, through the establishment of the West African Elders forum.
The forum will involve eminent personalities and past leaders in the region who will be saddled with the responsibility of advocating and mediating with different political stakeholders in various countries in order to build consensus, hope, peace as well ensure democratic justice and legitimacy in the region.
Jonathan’s charismatic qualities have continued to attract him local and international honours. The Igbinedion University Okada(IUO) and Edwin Clark University awarded him with honorary doctorate degrees last year. Their reasons? Jonathan is a political icon that deserves to be celebrated. They say they want to change the culture where a prophet is without honour in his land. For IUO they went a step further to rename the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences after Jonathan in a bid to preserve and instill the values of humility, peace, justice and truth to the students. Just last week Nigeria in Diaspora Organisation, Europe Chapter (NIDOE), bestowed on Jonathan Leadership Service Award, this is the latest of numerous awards that Jonathan has received since living power.
Born in the rustic community of Otuoke 63 years ago, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has become a totemic figure in contemporary African politics. Not through might or celestial power but through grace. Through the pursuit of peace and happiness, through service, patience and love Jonathan has become the face of modern democracy in Africa.
Today, many who misunderstood his meekness and peaceful democratic disposition as weakness have come to know better; that the strength of man lies in his humanity- the ability to subdue his ego, and align with the will of the people. While some have openly apologized, others regret in the shadow of their conscience, admitting in unison that the Jonathan era was indeed an era of hope, love and freedom. The memories of this era Nigeria, Africa and the world celebrate today as we celebrate the life and person of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who is 63 years old today.
Jonathan’s sojourn on earth is “a life of service that has brought honour and goodwill to the country” President Muhammadu Buhari says in his goodwill message to him. At 63 we can boldly say Dr Jonathan is a man for all season, a political Melchizedek with no limit to his glory, honour and reign.
Happy birthday Your Excellency.
* Ominabo is the Communications Officer at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation