Nigeria immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan, has been declared the ‘Icon of Democracy’ by the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE) located at Rumuolumeni in the outskirts of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. The university said this was in recognition of his contributions to the growth and survival of democracy.
Performing the investiture of former president as Nigeria’s icon of democracy on the 35th and 36th combined convocation ceremony on Saturday, September 1, 2018, the Pro-Chancellor of Governing Council of the university, King A.M Ikuru, said the epochal award was the first of its kind in the history of the institution.
Listing the reasons for the award, IAUE Orator, Prof Boma Obi said Jonathan’s advocacy for true democracy knows no bounds.
She noted that the institution was particularly inspired by the former president’s commitment to peaceful electioneering process, especially his declaration that his political ambition was not worth the life of any Nigerian.
The University Orator declared that unlike other political gladiators, Jonathan set a new benchmark by peacefully handing over power to an opposition political party.
Responding, Jonathan expressed gratitude to the institution for the honour done to him.
He said: I want to specially thank the Senate of the University for considering my family worthy of double honours, to wit: the conferment of the honour of Icon of Democracy on me and the naming of the new Automated University Library after my wife, Dame Patience Jonathan.
“I always attach so much importance to any recognition coming from home because I strongly believe that no Prize commands higher value than the one given by the beneficiary’s direct constituency.”.
He said the visit is like a home-coming for him, as a former lecturer in the Rivers State College of Education, which was upgraded to a full-fledged university.
“Let me also say that I had good job satisfaction here, compared to all the other places I have worked. I know that the only major challenge academic staff face is with the reward system, considering the fact that as a nation, we are yet to get to the point where we pay our teachers the wages they deserve.
“However, for all the hindrances teachers face, they derive a fulfilling experience and satisfaction from the special relationship they cultivate with their students. This is because bringing up the young ones is very rewarding in a very distinct manner. The bond, friendship and sense of loyalty is eternal. Even today, the way my former students regard and relate with me is different from the way my fellow politicians relate with me, even those I mentored”, Jonathan said.
In his address, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele, commended the Rivers State Governor for his investments in developing the institution.
“In February 2018, Governor Wike graciously approved and released a grant of N200million to us. The greater part of what you commissioned this morning is the result of that grant”, the Vice Chancellor said.