Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said Africa could not afford to replace military dictatorship with civilian autocracy. Jonathan warned politicians in the country and Africa as a whole against killing and maiming fellow citizens in the bid to gain power.
He stated these on Saturday at Okada, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State, during the 17th Convocation of the Igbinedion University, Okada (IOU).
The former president, who was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Science by the university, spoke against the backdrop of his observations at the November 16 governorship elections in his home state of Bayelsa and Kogi State.
“Let me plead with my fellow politicians to stop killing people and destroying property because they want to own offices,”he said.
Jonathan said Africa’s survival was currently endangered by what he called an increasing tendency for political coups. He described what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi states at the last governorship polls as heart rendering, saying they fall short of democratic standards.
The former president had been accused by a section of his party, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), of conniving with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State to defeat PDP in the state. He was believed to be venting his anger over the outcome of the party’s primary election that produced Douye Diri as the PDP candidate.
Though, he did not address the allegation of antiparty activities, Jonathan, spoke extempore while addressing some of the alleged irregularities that occurred at the elections even though he had a prepared speech for the occasion.
“What happened in the last governorship elections in my state, Bayelsa, and Kogi State is unacceptable.,” he said. “Especially in Kogi State, where a young lady was burnt alive in her house. This is something that should not happen in any normal society. Something is fundamentally wrong with our political system,” he stated.
Jonathan, who said most African leaders were disturbed by the situation in both states, said, “Only yesterday in Ndjamena, capital of Chad Republic, most of us, former Heads of State, Presidents, former Presidents, Vice Presidents, were discussing the politics of our continent and we came to a conclusion that the way African politics is going, we are merely replacing military coups with civilian coups, which cannot sustain the continent.”
He called on politicians to play politics by the rules in the overall interest of the people.
Jonathan also used the occasion to commend the founder of Iginedion University, the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, for his perseverance in sustaining the institution over the years, adding that government alone cannot fund education.
He sad no nation could develop above its education, emphasising that both private individuals and the government must play their roles to ensure that the educational standard of the country is improved for the socio-economic development of the nation.
He also appealed to Igbinedion to resuscitate his Okada Airline to boost the nation’s aviation sector, saying Nigerians want it back.
The former president told the graduating students to remain focused, as the survival of the country rests on their shoulders. He said he was convinced that the knowledge acquired during their stay at the university would help to prepare them to face the challenges ahead.
Commending Igbinedion for investing in education, Jonathan stated, “Anybody who invests in education is obviously helping to shoulder the responsibility of preparing the country for development and progress. While the venture may become profitable along the line, I have always said that those who invest in education are driven first by an inner passion that is beyond the chase for profit.”
He said Igbinedion’s legacy as a successful African entrepreneur was captured in the story of the birth and growth of the university, which according to him, has continued to dictate the pace for other private universities in the past two decades.
“I can only say that the Esama made this great investment for altruistic and patriotic reasons,” Jonathan said, adding,“As a hugely successful businessman and entrepreneur, Chief Igbinedion did not need an investment in the education sector to validate his place in society. I believe he did that because he wanted to give back to the society, and, by so doing, lay a solid foundation for the future of our country.”
Jonathan urged the youth to deploy their ingenuity and energy to innovations that would improve the society.
He told them, “The innovations you see today on your mobile phones, computers, internet, social media, automobiles and home appliances are all products of diligent research and experiments sometimes carried out by very young people globally.
“The Mark Zukerbergs, the Sergey Brins, the Larry Pages of this world are all celebrated heroes of today’s social media and internet revolution. They got to where they are because they dared to dream and chased their dreams of seeking answers to society’s problems, mainly as undergraduates. They and their inventions should serve as the role models and motivations for the youth.”
Earlier, Igbinedion, who is the university’s Chancellor, said the institution in its first 20 years had graduated over 1,000 doctors.
Deputy Chancellor of the university and former governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, who spoke on behalf of his father, disclosed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Nigeria needed about 237,000 doctors for an efficient healthcare delivery but only 35,000 doctors were available.
He called on the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to increase the admission quota of the institution to be able to meet the health needs of the citizenry.
On his part, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Professor Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah, tasked the students to use the knowledge gathered over the years to shape the country. Abdullah asked them to be promoters of peace and one Nigeria as well as agents of social change, noting that the future of the nation is in their hands.