Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said that his administration resolved a four-month old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in one day.
“The society we are managing is complex, now we are talking about ASUU strike, during my time too, ASUU had four months of strike, different committees were meeting and meeting and nothing was working.
“I said how can our children stay out of school for four months. So I had to call a meeting of all the leadership of ASUU.
“I presided over the meeting with my vice president, the Attorney General was there, I said that that night we must solve the problem”, the former president said.
He disclosed this Wednesday in Abuja at the 70th birthday celebration of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, organised by The Kukah Centre, even as ASUU’ s current strike enters its sixth months indefinitely.
“The Attorney General was there, Secretary to the Government of the Federation was there, the minister of education was there, the labour and finance ministers were there, everybody that has to do with it.
“And I thought that my being there would help us to do things quickly. But we spent the whole night, before we finished was like 5:30am. Before we concluded, and the strike was called off, so there were issues”.
He noted that Bishop Kukah despite his friendship with leaders also bashes them when he feels they are not doing some things right, including himself.
The former president said it is not surprising that the theme of the conversation is focusing on what the organisers identified as ‘Nigeria’s Unfinished Greatness: Next steps’.
Said Jonathan, “I cannot agree more. Nigeria is indeed a work in progress and until that work is done people like Bishop Kukah who God has positioned as the conscience of the nation will continue to be around to constantly hold the mirror of our progression, to our national face.
“In the course of the last few years since I left government, I have been involved in the work of promoting democracy, credible elections and peaceful transitions across Africa, which is the focus of my foundation, The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF),” he said.
The former president said that from what he knows and have seen, he can confidently say that the experience and struggle for development are similar in many parts of Africa.
According to him, Nigeria may not be where everyone wants it to and should be, but everyone should not give up or lose hope by focusing on only the negative side. He said, “Judging from where we are coming from since independence in 1960, we may have been moving slowly in our journey of nationhood, but it is a journey of progress, all the same.
“Our greatness is still work in progress because we have not been able to adequately deploy the enviable human and natural resources that God gave us, to full advantage. It is a task we will continue to work on and improve.”
Jonathan added that many people, especially the youths are becoming increasingly disillusioned about the nation’s politics and its democracy. “However, we must remain on the democratic path because it is the only practical way of effectively managing our diversity, developing sustainably and recording progress as a nation.
“The task before all of us is not to lower our guard, lest the democracy we cherish today, succumbs to threats and recedes into fascism tomorrow.
“Towards this goal, we are again faced with a good opportunity of choosing our leaders as the nation prepares to go to the polls next year. Let us choose those that will take us to the desired destination and the promised land,” he said.
Expressing joy over active participation in 2023 politics by Nigerian youths, Jonathan lauded the youths. He noted that according to the latest figures from INEC, youths constitute the majority of the 96.2 million registered voters, in the build-up to the next election.
That is a good sign. My charge to all the youths that have registered ahead of the 2023 elections is to endeavor to walk their talk by making sure they come out to vote on election day.
“They should, by all means, resist the machinations of unscrupulous politicians who would wish to exploit them by luring them to commit acts of violence or disrupt the process of free and fair elections.
“Our recent experience with the heightened youth interest in politics shows how desirous they are participating directly in the governance process. They now know better not to lend their youthful energy to unpatriotic acts, during elections,” he said.
He said that patriotic citizens must contribute through great intellection to guide those running the affairs of state without making their intervention look so adversarial and confrontational.
“A country grows on the hope and fervent aspirations of the citizens. We have a country to build and one of the key instruments is to focus on democracy and how to make it thrive and deliver on equity, justice and sustainable development,” Jonathan said.
Also, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, described Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, as man with undying love for the country.
Tambuwal, who chaired Kukah’s 70th birthday celebration, reiterated the Catholic bishop’s unwavering belief in the possibility of a new Nigeria.
According to Tambuwal, though Kukah’s critique of the country’s governance have been controversial, he (Kukah) believes Nigeria can and will come out of the woods of failed political leadership.
Tambuwal, who was represented by former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, said: “His (Kukah’s) writings over the years have become controversial and have drawn the ire of powers that be, but what is not in doubt is his undying love for Nigeria and Nigerians, and his belief in the possibility of a new Nigeria where justice and equity reigns.”