Earlier today at Bloomberg studios in London, former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, gave a live interview and discussed a wide range of issues. Jonathan was introduced by the Right Honorable Mark Simmonds, former UK Minister for Africa. The former President also gave a speech at Bloomberg calling for a Universal Bill of Rights for all Nigerians.
This was without precedent in my country and I am proud that it achieved my goal of no conflict arising from the result of the election.
Some may think it is ironic that perhaps my proudest achievement was not winning the 2015 Presidential Election.By being the first elected Nigerian leader to willingly hand over power via the ballot box, to the opposition party, without contesting the election outcome, I proved to the ordinary man or woman in the country that I was his or her equal.
That his or her vote was equal to mine, and that democracy is the ‘Government by the will of the people’, and Nigeria, and indeed Africa is ripe for democracy.
*On how to make Nigeria progress, he said, "For Nigeria to further develop and progress we need peace, freedom and unity.
These values need to be deeply, strongly and irreversibly entrenched in Nigeria for all time.
For this to happen, it is imperative that both the Executive and the Legislative arms of Government institute a Bill of Rights.
*On “CivisNigerianussum: Each of us could say, “I am a citizen of Nigeria!” We would be able to look beyond here each of us comes from, and look past our tribal origins. We would be able to evaluate each other on our merits, rather than our religion, or region. We would be free to think or do as we wished, as long as we observed the laws of the land, without fear that the land would withhold our rights under the law.
*On what it would mean to be able to declare: “I am a Nigerian citizen” someday: You would be judged on your own merits, not your tribe. You would have access to education that can help you succeed on whatever path you choose. You would be part of a proud culture, one that others want to invest in. You would be safe in knowing that society judges you by your successes and failures, rather than your place of origin. You would be equal before the law and your protection is enshrined in the laws of the country.Ultimately, it means that you would be an ambassador for Nigeria, and you would be able to proudly go around this world and say, “I am a citizen of Nigeria.”
*On what present Nigeria government should be investing on: "Rather than spending money on resources that will run out, we should be investing it in people who are the key constant elements in the socio-economic transformation of society.
Nigeria is projected to have a population that will surpass that of the United States of America by the year 2050. But if we have not invested in our people, then we will not be ready to manage.
Our money must go towards providing education for all, because we know that once our citizens are educated, they have futures.
Those futures lead to safer cities, stable economies, and more businesses. When a young person does not have access to education, their future is jeopardized and statistics show that they may be proneto antisocial and criminal activities."
* On what his administration achieved: "I am proud of the fact that my Administration established a Federal University in every one of the 12 States that did not previously have them.Now,for the first time in our country’s history, every state has a university established by the Federal Government.
Despite it not being the responsibility of the Federal Government to develop primary and secondary schools, we built hundreds of these schools across Nigeria.
Yet we need to build on these achievements by changing our mindset to investing in the resources above the ground, rather than below the ground.
Once we invest in our citizens, it will be our time to confidently enter the international stage. Each one of us will be able to go to any nation and proudly proclaim: I am a citizen of Nigeria.
* On signing a law that discriminates against a segment of our population: "This private member bill was put forwardin the context of polls that showed 98% of Nigerians did not think same sex marriage should be accepted by our society. This was the highest percentage of any country surveyed.
The bill was passed by 100% of my country’s National Assembly. Therefore, as a democratic leader with deep respect for the Rule of Law, I had to put my seal of approval on it.
However, in the light of deepening debates for all Nigerians and other citizens of the world to be treated equally and without discrimination, and with the clear knowledge that the issue of sexual orientation is still evolving, the nation may, at the appropriate time, revisit the law.
When it comes to equality, we must all have the same rights as Nigerian citizens.
Former US Congressman Charles Rangel noticed the same thing when talking about America, he said “Full participation in government and society has been a basic right of the country symbolizing the full citizenship and equal protection of all.”
Equality will promote meritocracy, growth and security. Tribalism, regionalism and religious intolerance shouldneverbe acceptable in Nigeria.
Within the Nigerian Federation, anyone, regardless of their home state should be treated equally and have full protection under Federal Law."