Former president, Goodluck Jonathan, was on Saturday, September 1, crowned as the ‘icon of democracy’ by the Rivers state-owned Ignatius Ajuru University of Education saying this was in recognition of his contributions to the growth and survival of the country.
A statement by Simeon Nwakaudu, a spokesperson of Governor Nyesom Wike, said the honour was given Jonathan at the 35th and 36th combined convocation ceremony of the institution.
The investiture of the former president was performed by the pro-chancellor of governing council of the institution, King AM Ikuru, who said the award is the first of its kind in the history of the university.
The statement added that Prof Boma Obi, who also gave reasons why the honour was bestowed on Jonathan, said the former president’s advocacy for true democracy knows no bounds.
According to her, the institution was particularly inspired by Jonathan's commitment to peaceful electioneering process, especially his declaration that his political ambition is not worth the life of any Nigerian.
She declared that unlike other political gladiators, Jonathan set a new benchmark by peacefully handing over power to an opposition political party.
The vice chancellor of the university, 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.
In his response, Jonathan expressed gratitude to the institution for the honour done to him.
“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.
Jonathan also noted that his visit was 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.
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“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.
Governor Wike, who is the visitor to the university, announced the release of N500 million to the management of the institution for expansion of key facilities.
“For us therefore providing quality education for our people is an absolute necessity as nothing can be more important.
“That was why we have and will continue to prioritize the provision of quality education for our children and adults alike to acquire the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed and contribute to our collective progress.
“Here in this university, we recently released the sum of N200, 000,000.00 (two hundred million naira), as capital grant for fiscal year 2017 and we are happy with what qualitative deployment of this money by the vice chancellor to meet the infrastructure needs of this university.
“We are also pleased with the progressive increase in enrolment being experienced by the university in recent times, which shows a growing confidence in the quality and relevance of the progammes of the university.
“These unparalleled achievements clearly testify to the fact that the university is fulfilling its mandate of producing quality teaching and administrative manpower to drive the educational needs of the state and our nation,” he said.
Legit.ng earlier reported how Goodluck Jonathan said that Nigerians still believe in the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Jonathan said despite all its struggling within the past 14 months, it is heart warming to know that Nigerians still believes and trust the largest opposition party.
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