Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former President of Nigeria, was in a position in 2015 in which many leaders usually drag their nations into war. Nigeria’s election cycle usually drives tension to an explosive point at the presidential election. That was Nigeria’s state of affairs in March 2015 when Jonathan, as the incumbent president, was not expected to concede defeat.
Pitched against him was the current President Muhammadu Buhari and other lesser recognized presidential candidates. It was perhaps Nigeria’s greatest electoral battle drawn in which it was unlikely that either of the two leading contestants was ready to concede defeat.
A smooth transition between two opposing parties in a tensed political atmosphere was ruled out.The world watched and waited for what was unfolding as Nigeria’s darkest hours.
Then came a moment of history when the result of the election was announced – the incumbent – President Jonathanwas unseated. It was the first time in Nigeria’s history to have a sitting president defeated in an election conducted under his watch,but so it happened in March 2015.
Moving against the usual trend of rejecting election results and protests that often plunge nations into crisis, Jonathan diffused heated tension overnight by taking an early step to concededefeat.This was a historic step that saved the nation from disintegration that had earlier been predicted from highly respected international quarters.
It was one singular act by one man that saved the day for the whole nation. By calling his opponent to congratulate him, Jonathan moved against the norm in African politics. With that, he took Nigeria’s democracy to a pleasantly surprising high level to the cheer of Africa and the world. He became the man that made possible for the first time a smooth transition between opposing political parties in Nigeria.
Ethnic clashes, party feuds and legal contests that were in anticipation were quelled suddenly by his concession speech that political analysts spoke of as having put out the flames of war. Nationally and internationally, Jonathan has been recognized as the saviour of that point in time for Nigeria.
The former President was seen to have acted as the father of the nation by turning into action his words that his political ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian. “I can’t be happy If so many Nigerians are Killed because of me”, he said. He preached unity for the nation, worked for credible elections and ensured a peaceful political transition.
His ideals are consensus building, conflict resolution and peace building. Sacrificing his personal ambition, he put the interest of the nation first. There must be a nation first before any ambition, he said when asked the reason for accepting the result of the presidential poll. In his view, the consequences of not checking his ambition would have been dire for Nigeria and Africa.
As President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Jonathan made major contributions to the political, economic and social development of Nigeria through his Transformation Agenda. He promoted democratization through the observance of the rule of law, enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, electoral reforms and non-interference in electoral outcomes.
He expanded the economy and increased agricultural and industrial production and supported and elevated the creative industry sector. He promoted social advancement through gender inclusion and equity and expanded access to education through the establishment and expansion of specialized and tertiary institutions. He grew the economy to be the largest in Africa with a GDP of over half a trillion dollars.
In addition, he worked remarkably well with his colleagues particularly Heads of States in the ECOWAS to resolve political crisis and stabilize democracies in the sub region and Africa; especially in countries like Cote d’lvoire, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso and Togo. His commitment and passion to bringing peace and stability to Africa within his five-year tenure gave Nigeria more recognition in the United Nations Security Council. Nigeria was nominated twice, a feat very rarely achieved by non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. Dr. Jonathan was also given the highest national honour by several African Presidents of their countries equivalent to the GCFR in Nigeria for his commitment to stabilizing democracy in the ECOWAS.
His accomplishment is counted a giant stride for Africa where poor democratic practices, particularly unfair elections, continue to pose one of the greatest threats to peace and development in the continent.
The feats accomplished are speaking loudly for him as Nigeria’s true ambassador of peace. The former President has received great attention and recognitions by many international organisations as the right and proper person to lead peace initiatives in Africa and beyond.He has been recognized as “Peace Loving Global Citizen” by the Universal Peace Federation.
Since leaving office as President in 2015, Jonathan has had the good fortune of leading election observation missions to many countries, including Liberia, Tanzania, Sierra leone, Zambia and South Africa.
In Tanzania where he led the Commonwealth Observer team – a 33-nation observer mission to monitor elections his track record spoke for him as he easily earned the respect of the candidates, parties and all other stakeholders in the country. Having lived by example, he has become a voice to be respected as he called contestants in Tanzania to hope for the best but accept the outcome of the polls even if unfavourable.
In 2016 Jonathan succeeded Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, in delivering a keynote address at the year’s Hope Global Forums Conference in Atlanta, the Unites States. The annual event attracts thousands of world leaders from many countries.
The organisers noted that Jonathan was chosen in recognition of his leadership and vision in Nigeria and abroad. They observed in their letter that it is important for Nigeria’s former president’s influential voice and perspective be included to aid a global conversation.
Among many recognitions, the Diplomatic Circle in Geneva, Switzerland, honoured Jonathan for his democratic credentials and for upholding human rights in Africa. The award, affirmed that the former president has indeed become a global icon.
The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) has been established to provide the platform for the youth empowerment and peace advancement programmes of the former president. It is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization set up for the advancement of peace and prosperity in Africa. It is working towards achieving peace and prosperity at global level beginning in Africa.
The foundation gives a practical expression to Jonathan’s commitment to peaceful political transitions and private sector empowerment. It is driven by a conviction that individuals, communities and nations can achieve sustainable greatness when transparent, peaceful political transition becomes the norm and economic opportunities are expanded for the benefit of the poor.
It recognizes upholding of democratic principles as the prerequisite for national prosperity. It sees lasting peace and stability as the enabling environment for Africa to sustain economic transformation.
The foundation pursues its vision for a world of peace and prosperity by working with electoral bodies to improve the electoral process, forging strategic partnerships to extend the reach and broaden the impact and promoting online platforms and convening signature dialogues, meetings and conferences that share data, lessons learned and best practices.