Fifty-eight years ago, former President Goodluck Jonathan was born in Otueke, a predominantly fishing community, presently in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
On that fateful Wednesday of November 20, 1957, baby Jonathan was born into the family of Mr. Lawrence Jonathan. His mother is Mrs Eunice.
Rising from what he (Jonathan) has always described as a journey from ‘grass to grace,’ the son of canoe makers, rose from a Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State to becoming Nigeria’s President, the highest office in the country.
Jonathan, who held sway as the country’s No. 1 citizen for 60 months/24days (5 May 2010 – 29 May 2015) is many things to many people.
For instance, recently, Jonathan who led the Commonwealth international observers team to monitor the Tanzanian general election held on October 25, 2015, was described as ‘a hero of free and fair election in Africa,’ having contributed largely to the successful conduct of the election which was declared peaceful, free, fair and credible by international observers.
Basking in the euphoria of the high respect they have for Jonathan, particularly for making that unusual and unprecedented sacrifice to concede defeat to his opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari (now President), The Daily News of Tanzania, in an editorial before the election, titled, ‘Salutary lessons for Tanzania from Nigeria’s latest elections,’ paid glowing tributes to Jonathan.
The newspaper commended him for taking his defeat in the last presidential election “in all magnanimity,” stressing that, “Jonathan may very well have averted bloodshed that is characteristic of incumbent leaders who cling in power tooth and nail, fang and claw! What lesson is there in this for us in Tanzania, pray?”
The paper maintained: “It is generally admitted that the election in Nigeria was unprecedentedly free, fair and transparent, whereby the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, won the Presidency. What is more remarkable is that the incumbent president who sought re-election, Goodluck Jonathan… most graciously accepted the results promptly!
“Oh, I don’t know beyond the fact that Tanzania could tragically do worse if it fails to dedicatedly take a leaf out of Nigeria’s newest book on elections!”
Similarly, the Guardian of Tanzania, in its own editorial entitled, ‘High profile figures among observers will add credibility to poll process, results’, poured encomiums on the former Nigerian president, describing him as a democrat who has pointed the way forward for the rest of Africa.
The Guardian further wrote that “Jonathan’s voluntary handover of power to the opposition wrote a new chapter for Nigeria’s democracy, given the fact that it is rare for sitting presidents in Africa to hand over powers to winning opposition parties.”
Against this backdrop, Vanguard captures 58 quotable quotes of Ex-President Jonathan as he clocks 58.
The stronger the boat of (democracy), the more it is able to meet the challenges of its voyage and deliver on its promise to citizens.
The air of freedom we breathe today is the result of the sacrifices of thousands of pro-democracy activists, human rights campaigners and others who organised as civil society.
My political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
No minister will be allowed to go on a mission of endless search for solutions.
In the comfort of our offices, let us not forget that majority of our people live below the poverty line.
Terrorism has no conscience and spares no one.
Any society or country that closes the vital valves of its democratic space cannot develop at a reasonable pace
Where there is no opportunity for one man one vote, there will be no accountability and no responsibility.
Democracy is a journey that every nation mindful of advancing the liberty of its citizens must undertake.
Nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.
Our votes must count! One man, one vote! One woman, one vote! One youth, one vote!
Nobody should rig for me. I am assuring Nigerians that though I am contesting, nobody must manipulate votes in my favour. Our votes must count.
I congratulate the candidates of the other political parties. I regard them not as opponents but as partners.
In presenting myself for service, I make no pretense that I have a magic wand that will solve all of Nigeria’s problems or that I am the most intelligent Nigerian.
I have come to launch a campaign of ideas, not one of calumny. I have come to preach love, not hate. I have come to break you away from divisive tendencies of the past which have slowed our drive to true nationhood. I have no enemies to fight. You are all my friends and we share a common destiny.
Democracy calls for sacrifice and tolerance an open ear and a strong voice.
For the PDP family, the contest for party offices does not produce winners and losers.
I believe in the politics of give and take.
Separation of power is not separation of government.
We are all Nigerians and I will be a President to all. This is the new dawn we crave
Our unity is firm, our purpose strong, our determination unshakable.
Being a Nigerian is a blessing (and) a great responsibility.
We have a duty to be loyal to our country.
If God did not will it we will not be Nigerians.
Our founding fathers… did not dream of a country where neighbours and friends would exchange bullets in place of handshakes.
I prefer to see the silver lining in the dark cloud rather than the dark cloud in the silver lining.
We may not have overcome our challenges, but neither have our challenges overcome us.
We are not sworn enemies… We are neighbours who sometimes offend each other, but can always sit down to talk over our differences.
Over-dependence on oil has put an unpleasant bracket in our national economic freedom.
Economic diplomacy does not need to be a zero-sum game where the gain of partner automatically translates to the loss of the other.
Peace and security are the barest irreducible conditions for social and economic development.
I am loyal to Nigeria’s economy. I don’t have accounts or property abroad. All my children live and school in Nigeria.
The time of lamentation is over. This is the era of transformation. This is the time for action.
Cynicism and scepticism will not help our journey to greatness. Let us all believe in a new Nigeria.
The goal of achieving positive macroeconomic stability is no end in itself.
I have no intention to inflict pain on Nigerians. To save Nigeria, we must all be prepared to make sacrifices.
While we may not have landed a spaceship on the moon or developed nuclear technology, our inventors and innovators have made globally acknowledged contributions
Transformation in my view simply means taking what you have and making the best of it and in so doing produce results that can bring about a paradigm shift.
I want to assure Nigerians that crude oil is not our ‘Black Gold.’ The real ‘Black Gold’ of Nigeria are her people and they can grow in value from gold to diamond via education.
We must quickly move away from partisan battlegrounds and find the national common ground.
Let me put you on notice: the assignment of offices is not an allocation of privileges.
Nigeria is a nation of resilient people. We will never yield to the forces of darkness. Nigeria will never ever, disintegrate.
The quality of governance is as good as the quality of the civil service.
The best advertisement for good governance is its positive expressions of happiness in the lives of the governed.
In my early days in school, I had no shoes, no school bags. I carried my books in my hands but never despaired; no car to take me to school, but I never despaired. There were days I had only one meal but I never despaired. I walked miles and crossed rivers to school every day, but I never despaired. Didn’t have power, didn’t have generators, studied with lanterns, but I never despaired. In spite of these, I finished secondary school attended the University of Port Harcourt and now hold a doctorate degree.
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.
As the most populous black nation on earth it seems our manifest destiny is to champion the cause of African emancipation and integration.
African renaissance remains an unfinished business, but the work that remains should not stop us from focusing on new priorities and challenges.
I am happy that the black man has put the shame of dispossession behind him and is moving on.
The dark patches in the Niger Delta will give way to light.
On the football field, nobody cares who scores for Nigeria. You can be a Musa or a Moses; you can be a Christopher or a Mustapha, nobody cares.
We have a duty to stand firm against those who threaten the sovereign integrity of the Nigerian state. Our will is strong, because our faith lies in the indivisibility of Nigeria.
Nigerians are peace-loving people; these sad events perpetrated by those who do not wish our nation well have not changed the essential character of our people.
No matter what it takes, we will win this war against terror.
Africa must declare an end to the era of self-inflicted wars and conflicts.
Africa must turn its begging bowls into baskets of prosperity and opportunity.
It is the supreme task of this generation to give hope to the hopeless strength to the weak and protection to the defenseless.
We must develop a democratic culture in which the will of the people will be treated as sacred and be immune to subversion by anti-democratic elements.
As we strive to advance our democratic development, there will be times when our will shall be tested, our patience provoked and our belief questioned.
The beauty of democracy is that its practice is never final and always has room for improvement no matter how old a democratic society may be. Where we falter we must not fall. When we are weak, we must not surrender.