As part of activities to mark his 60th birthday, former President Goodluck Jonathan hosted some youth groups in his country home in Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Among the youth groups present were the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), among others.
In his continuous attempt to re-frame the narrative of his presidency, Jonathan said that many of those who worked with him are facing court cases and other forms of trials despite the sacrifices they made for the country.
The former president is yet to own up to the fact that several officials of his administration, including his wife Patience, have been accused of weighty crimes against the country. His concession has nothing to do with those allegations except for the fact that they probably would not have been facing prosecution if he had won.
In his telling, the fact that he conceded after losing the 2015 election was a sacrifice, and now his allies are facing the consequences of his action.
“Whatever sacrifices I have made as an individual or I discussed with my political party and others, because elections is not only about one person, we know a number of persons that are in court, not even me yet, who are suffering because of me.
“Politics is all about the people, so the decision I took, though I made the pronouncements, but it affected everybody. So, if we have made this kind of sacrifice and people are still sacrificing now, my plea with you is that you know that this country is in your hands,” he said.
Jonathan who described the occasion as unprecedented and memorable, said it was only the second time he would celebrate his birthday in his life, the first being in 2004 while he was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. He said that he never celebrated birthdays before his sojourn into politics as he was not used to the luxury of life because of his humble background.
Do as I did: According to Jonathan: “All of your speeches centre on the position I took especially when I surrendered in a way and made sure there was peace in the country because the tension was quite high.
“You also made mention of some of the few things we did when I was in office, especially relating to education and that is an area I can say we tried.
“Whatever sacrifices I have made, be willing and ready to make similar sacrifices whenever it’s your turn. Make similar sacrifice for the collective interest of our nation.”
#NotTooYoungToRun: The former president said that being a young person should not be a barrier to occupying political positions.
“If one of the super powers and G5 nations like France can elect a 39-year old as president, then almost all of you here are very qualified to be president. And to add to what France did, I think Austria elected a 31-year old as president.
“So, don’t consider yourself too young and even in our country, Gowon (Yakubu) became a president at 32 and my governor then, the governor of old Rivers State who is now the King of Twon-Brass, he was made the military governor at the age of 28 and they all worked very well.
“I enjoin all of you who are making efforts to ensure that this age barriers are either eliminated completely or reduced in our laws. I think that you are advocating for that and I join you and I have always been on that track that we don’t really need age barriers”, he noted.