Former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has called on the people of Nasarawa State to ensure they push the state and Nigeria forward as the country inches towards the 2023 general election.
Jonathan made the call while on a private visit, at the Lafia Government House, on Tuesday.
While describing the moment leading to the 2023 general election as challenging, especially that whenever are coming up, Nigerians are warm, the former president prayed for the elections to hold peacefully.
“I know this is a very challenging period in the country because elections are coming up. Whenever elections are coming up, people are very warm. I pray that we shall conduct the affairs very peacefully and make sure we push the state forward, push the country forward,” Jonathan stated.
The former president commended the Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, on his development strides, urging the Governor to keep up with the good work he is doing for the state.
“The last time I visited Lafia was 2015, during the presidential election. Since then I have not had the opportunity to come. And with what I have seen, you people are doing very well. And you have to keep it up,” he said.
Jonathan said he was particularly pleased with Engineer Sule because of the number of female appointees in his cabinet, recalling that as president of the country, he always insisted that government must encourage the female gender, as well as the youths.
“I am also pleased with the Governor because I have seen a number of female faces here. You know, when I was in office, I always insist government must encourage the female gender and also some youths. I am quite happy that even the spokesperson is also a lady. I want to thank you for what you are doing,” he added.
The former president expressed delight with the reception accorded him, with the members of the Nasarawa State executive council at hand to welcome him. Jonathan however said his visit was personal and private.
“Let me sincerely thank the Governor and the government of Nasarawa State for giving me this reception. Because I told the Governor I was coming as a private visitor. We had some conversations with him on some personal, private issue. And I am surprise that the whole executive council gathered to give me this warm reception as if I am still sitting as a president of the country,” Jonathan stated.
Jonathan expressed appreciation that Nasarawa State was able to complete the Lafia Airport to ease transportation.
“I didn’t even know they completed the airport in Nasarawa until the Governor showed me the commissioning by the President. If I had known there was an airport, I would have asked a friend to just drop me. I wouldn’t have stayed on the road for almost three hours. I have to thank you for what you are doing. Continue to do that for people,” he said.
Jonathan said Nasarawa and his home state Bayelsa have something in common, they were created in the same year, recalling the peculiarities the two states shared when he was in office as president.
“I think Nasarawa State and my home state Bayelsa were born the same day. Myself and the Governor were just talking about it. I said when I was a governor in 2006, we celebrated the 10th year anniversary of Bayelsa State, while the Governor celebrated the 25th year anniversary of Nasarawa State. We have something in common.
“When I was the president, because of my love for Nasarawa, I appointed the Emir of Lafia as the Chancellor of the Federal University in my village. And there was one of our top traditional rulers that was also the Chancellor of the Federal University in Nasarawa State. That shows the tie between us as a people.
“I believe that friendship will continue to grow from strength to strength. I thank all of you for coming here to welcome me personally in my personal capacity as Goodluck Jonathan. That shows the love you have for me and I believe I should have the opportunity to reciprocate,” he said.
Responding, Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, thanked the former president for taking and keeping interest in the state, which he said, will be mutually beneficial.
Engineer Sule particularly appreciated Goodluck Jonathan for his role in sustaining democracy in the country, stressing that, without Jonathan, the country’s democracy may have been truncated in 2015.
“The whole country have love for you because of the kind of democrat that you happen to be. Without you, the democracy that we had in 2015 and are practising today wouldn’t have been possible,” he stated.
The Governor further appreciated the former president for the role he continues to play within and outside the country towards sustaining peace.
“I thank you sincerely Sir. I continue to thank you for the good work that you continue to do for this country and for the world. And for peace not only in Africa but the world. And may God continue to give you long life, good health so that you continue to do whatever it is you are doing for the nation,” the Governor said.
An elated Engineer Sule said he was happy the former president was visiting him since he became Governor and especially for the friendship and interest in the state, which will be beneficial not only to Jonathan but to the people of Nasarawa State.
The former president thereafter, paid homage at the palace of the Emir of Lafia, HRH Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad (rtd).
Recall that former president Goodluck Jonathan is the first sub-Saharan Adrican leader to be to be appointed to the International Advisory Board of the European Corporate Council on Africa and the Middle East, also known as the ECAM Council.
He was also appointed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a special envoy to lead the sub-regional body’s mediation mission in Mali.
In 2014, at the heat of the impeachment moves by the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominated Nasarawa State House of Assembly, against former governor, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura, Jonathan intervened by meeting with six members of the assembly led by then speaker, Hon. Mohammed Musa, in Abuja.