Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan
Nigerian President tasks African leaders on rule of law
Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan has called on African leaders to work harder, to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in their countries or face the threat of political instability with its societal disruptions.
President Jonathan made the call while addressing members of the Ivorian Parliament in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire, on his state visit to the country.
He says , "the present generation of African leaders must rise to the challenge of managing contests for political power in a manner that assures greater collective security and peaceful co-existence."
He also warned that leaders of emerging democracies in Africa must never succumb again to the lure of dictatorship as the surest way of bottling up grievances and dissent in their countries.
“We are daily confronted with the multiplicity of demands and expectations that are the hallmarks of multicultural societies. There are some, here and elsewhere, who might think that the straight jacket of a dictatorship is the surest way to bottle up these grievances and dismantle dissent. That is wrong. Nothing strengthens a society more than openness and a leadership courageous enough to understand the inherent positives that flow from these contending demands. As African leaders, we have to, calmly and dispassionately harness the energy and utilise them, to serve the best interest of our people. Indeed, it is self-evident that people, who feel secure and free, governed by the rule of law and not by the whims of men, are less likely to go to war with each other, either within or across borders, than those who do not… We therefore risk the very institution we are trying to build if we exclude the people who voted us into power in the governance process. That is why we have to build strong institutions and allow the rule of law to take root. Democracy without strong institutions defeats its own objectives,” President Jonathan told the Parliament .
According to him, political leaders in Africa must do more to alleviate and ultimately eradicate abject poverty from the continent.
Welfare of all citizens
We must assiduously promote the welfare of all citizens and create the enabling environment in which they can fully realise their aspirations and potentials. This will enable them, as stakeholders, to invest in the protection of peace and stability of our countries. And this is achievable,” President Jonathan said.
Noting that it is generally acknowledged that there are billions of dollars waiting to be unlocked by improved trade and economic relations among the West Africa countries, the President also called for the loosening of the “bolts of bureaucracy” that currently stifle trade in the sub-region.
“My own people form a sizeable proportion of the population of this wonderful city. They have brought their energy and skills to enrich the economy and culture of Abidjan and other towns and villages in this country. That is the African spirit at work. That is the way we should see ourselves. Borders divide us physically, but our spirits are one and indivisible," he said.
In appreciation of Nigeria's contributions to peace, stability and progress in Cote D'Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara conferred the country's highest honour, “the Grand Cross of the Order of the Nation," on President Jonathan.
President Ouattara also conferred the honour of Commander of the Order of the Nation on the First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan, at a State Banquet in the Ivorian seat of government.
At the occasion, President Jonathan said Nigeria and Cote D'Ivoire must continue to strengthen their bilateral cooperation for the benefit of their citizens and others in the West African sub-region.
“As partners, driven by shared values and a common strategic objective, namely, the security, stability and prosperity of our sub-region, we must continue to build on the historical bond of friendship and solidarity which have served our two countries very well in the past. We need to intensify this partnership for the benefit of our citizens and the entire sub-region of West Africa. I believe that the future of our countries lies in consolidating our relationships in all spheres of human endeavour but most especially in the areas of democratisation and good governance, promotion of human rights, poverty eradication and development. Again, our countries must build on the efforts of our past leaders to foster a climate of peace and security in our sub-region. Without these collective efforts, our hopes and our aspiration of improving the living conditions of our peoples would be imperilled. We must fight poverty collectively through pooling of our resources, value-addition, intra-regional trade and promotion of investments,” President Jonathan said.
He thanked President Ouattara and the people of Cote D'Ivoire for the special honours conferred on him and his wife.
“We will cherish and treasure them for the rest of our lives,” he says.
‘”As a true friend of Cote D'Ivoire, Nigeria will always be on your side to share the joys and pains of friendship, in good and in bad times… We stood, shoulder to shoulder with you, during some of the darkest periods of your recent history. Now that your beautiful country has turned the bend, there is even more incentive for us in Nigeria to work with the government of President Ouattara and with the people of Cote D'Ivoire, to build on the progress you have worked hard to achieve, in the last few years,” President Jonathan assures them.