By Abayomi Adeshida – Abuja
Chairman Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Former President Goodluck Jonathan, has implored African political leaders to imbibe the attitude of selfless service for the betterment of their compatriots even if it includes having to die or be imprisoned for the welfare of the people.
He further charged leaders in the continent to always follow the rule of law in all spheres of their lives so that leadership can make positive impacts on the people.
The former President who was widely quoted to have said that his political ambition was not worth the life of any Nigerian made these comments when he declared open a two days consultative retreat for political party leaders on the draft constitution for the government of The Gambia.
President Jonathan has remained the first sit-in democratically elected Nigerian leader to have conducted an election in which he was defeated and he handed over power peacefully to his successor during the 2015 round of general elections.
While speaking during the retreat, he thanked delegates to the meeting, “for your selfless service and acceptance to come and go through this very important process with us here in Abuja.
“That is a great indication that you are true leaders and the reward will be a resounding one for your political parties and your country.
“I want to seize this opportunity to implore you to know that as political leaders, you should be ready to give some compromise in a few of the changes to the constitution.
“So many politicians have had to sacrifice a lot for great countries to emerge.
“Some gave their lives and some even went to prison just because they were selfless in their service to their country.
“But I want to assure you that for what we are here to do today, nobody will die and nobody will go to prison.
“We are here to present before you all the additions and removals so that all the political leaders can see that what we are doing is not to favour any side.
“We are aware that even the punctuation marks are very important so much that when we go through it together, we have a common document for the good of all the citizens of your country.
“We appreciate the fact that both the Majority Leader of your Parliament and the Minority Leader of the Parliament are both here so that our works will be easy.
“Once the presentations are made, kindly note areas where you want us to adjust so that we can make progress,” President Jonathan submitted and declared the event open
Meanwhile, the event was preceded by a dinner in honour of the delegates to the meeting on Monday night in Abuja.
A statement made available to the media by the spokesman to President Jonathan, Dr Ikechiukwu Eze reads:
“In continuation of his effort to assist with facilitating a conversation towards a consensus on the making of a new constitution for The Gambia, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is hosting a three-day brainstorming session with leaders of the country’s main political parties in Abuja.
“The engagement which opened on Monday has as participants, leaders of 15 political parties, and the leadership of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), an intergovernmental organization that is providing technical support for the consultations.
“Dr Jonathan has been supporting the country’s ongoing constitutional review process to forge a workable national consensus since December 2020.
The session is to afford Dr Jonathan and the party leaders in attendance an opportunity to undertake a collective review of the progress that has been registered since the inter-party dialogue began in December 2020, with some specific recommendations carried forward to January 2021.
“During the brainstorming session of 22 to 24 February 2021, party leaders will be invited to share thoughts and exchange views on the proposed agenda for the third mission to Banjul which the former President will be carrying out in the course of the first half of March 2021.
“The methodology of work to be adopted for ensuring that the third mission in March 2021 enables the party leaders to finalise an agreement on the way forward will also be considered.
“Furthermore, the session will also consider any outstanding issues that could be included in the agenda of the session scheduled to hold in Banjul in March 2021 for full discussion by the party leaders, in preparation for the planned adoption of a new constitution for the country.
“At a welcome ceremony on Monday night in Abuja Jonathan registered his “appreciation to the government and people of The Gambia for the moral support offered to the inter-party dialogue to date”.
“He also thanked the Gambian stakeholders including lawmakers and party leaders for “the commitments which each and every one of them have demonstrated, and the roles they played in the progress recorded so far with the constitutional review process”.
“Finally, Dr. Jonathan thanked International IDEA for its technical support to the dialogue process and for underwriting the costs of the exercise. He also acknowledged the support role played by members of staff of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.
The planned March trip would be Dr Jonathan’s third visit to The Gambia since December 2020 when he was invited as a respected eminent personality to support the process of building a national consensus and backing for the ongoing constitution review process in the country,” Eze wrote.
Delegates to the deliberation include the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia, Mr. Dawda Jallow; the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Hamat Bah and the Secretary-General & Party Leader of United Democratic Party, Former Vice President and former minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Ouseiniu Darboe.
Others include the Majority Leader, Hon. Kebba K.K. Barrow; the Minority Leader of the Parliament, Hon. Samba Jallow among other delegates that represented all the registered political parties in The Gambia.
The coordinator of the meeting was the Regional Director for Africa and West Asia of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Professor Adebayo Olukoshi while the dinner was attended by The Gambian High Commissioner-designate to Nigeria, Ambassador Muhammed Musa Njie.