President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday received ex-President Goodluck Jonathan over the political crisis in Mali.
Jonathan, who is Special Envoy and ECOWAS mediator to the West African country, briefed the President on the situation in Mali after meeting with the key political actors ahead of the meeting of ECOWAS leaders under the Chairmanship of President Nana Akufo-Addo of the Republic of Ghana.
The ex-President said the meeting of the regional leaders was necessary to urgently find an acceptable solution to the current impasse in the West African nation.
Also present during the briefing are the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama; Chief of Staff, Professor, Ibrahim Gambari; the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired); the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Munguno (rtd).
On his part, President Buhari called on the actors in the political crisis in Mali to come together for the peace and unity of the country.
He said, “A situation where most parts of the country are in the hands of insurgents calls for a consensus and restoration of peace, not a further escalation of the crisis.”
Earlier, Jonathan had briefed the President on the current situation in Mali after meeting with the key political actors ahead of the meeting of ECOWAS leaders under the Chairmanship of President Nana Akufo-Addo of the Republic of Ghana.
He added that the meeting of the regional leaders was necessary to urgently find an acceptable solution to the current impasse in the West African nation.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has warned the international community against taking sides in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
In total, 197 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including at least 58 children, and more than 1,200 wounded since Israel launched its air campaign against Hamas, a terrorist organisation on May 10 after the group fired rockets. The heaviest exchange of fire in years was sparked by unrest in Jerusalem.
But taking to Twitter on Monday, the ex-President said the conflict can only be resolved when those living within the borders of Israel and Palestine take the time to understand each other until they come to a place where they can coexist, co-prosper, and eventually cooperate.
He also called for peace on both sides, adding that the international community should work towards ensuring a ceasefire.
“I sue for peace in both Israel and Palestine, and urge that every international support should be towards deescalating the conflict, rather than escalating it,” he said.
“The present conflict in that part of the world can never be resolved by nations and institutions taking sides. It can only be resolved by those living within the borders of Israel and Palestine taking time to understand each other until they come to a place where they can coexist, co-prosper and eventually cooperate.
“For that to happen, what is needed, in the immediate term, is a ceasefire, followed by massive confidence building on both sides. That is what the international community should aim for. Peace. It is achievable.”
I have been to both Israel and Palestine, and as a result, I have some understanding and appreciation of the human angles on both divides.
Borders are often human constructs, but the Divine instruction we have is to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Overnight Sunday to Monday, Israel launched dozens of strikes in the space of a few minutes across the crowded coastal Palestinian enclave controlled by Islamist group Hamas, according to AFP journalists and the army.
Flames lit up the sky as explosions shook Gaza city.
The strikes caused widespread power cuts and damaged hundreds of buildings, local authorities said. No casualties were immediately reported.
West Gaza resident Mad Abed Rabbo, 39, expressed “horror and fear” at the intensity of the onslaught.
“There have never been strikes of this magnitude,” he said.
Israel’s army said in a statement that it hit the homes of nine “high-ranking” Hamas commanders, without providing details on casualties.
The overnight bombardment also included the third round of strikes on what the army calls the “Metro,” its term for a Hamas underground tunnel network.
Fifty-four fighter jets pounded 15 kilometers (nine miles) of tunnels, which the army has previously acknowledged runs in part through civilian areas.
Gazan Mani Qazaat said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should realise we’re civilians, not fighters”, adding “I felt like I was dying”.
The renewed strikes come a day after 42 Palestinians in Gaza — including at least eight children and two doctors, according to the health ministry — were killed in the worst daily death toll in the enclave since the bombardments began.
In Israel, 10 people, including one child, have been killed and 294 wounded by rocket fire launched by armed groups in Gaza.
Israel’s army said about 3,100 rockets had been fired since last Monday from Gaza — the highest rate ever recorded — but added its Iron Dome anti-missile system had intercepted over 1,000.
Netanyahu said in a televised address Sunday that Israel’s “campaign against the terrorist organisations is continuing with full force” and would “take time” to finish.
The Israeli army said it had targeted the infrastructure of Hamas and armed group Islamic Jihad, weapons factories and storage sites.
Israeli airstrikes also hit the home of Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas’s political wing in Gaza, the army said, releasing footage of plumes of smoke and intense damage, but without saying if he was killed.
On Saturday, Israel gave journalists from Al Jazeera and AP news agency an hour to evacuate their offices before launching airstrikes, turning their tower block into piles of smoking rubble.
Netanyahu on Sunday said the building also hosted a Palestinian “terrorist” intelligence office.
“It is a perfectly legitimate target,” he said.
The violence between Hamas and Israel is the worst since 2014 when Israel launched a military operation on the Gaza Strip with the stated aim of ending rocket fire and destroying tunnels used for smuggling.
The war left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, mostly civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.
Opening the first session of the UN Security Council on the renewed violence on Sunday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the fighting “utterly appalling”.
“It must stop immediately,” he said.
But the UN talks, already delayed by Israel’s ally the United States, resulted in little action, with Washington opposing a resolution.
President Joe Biden’s administration says it is working behind the scenes, and that a Security Council statement could backfire.
Israel is also trying to contain inter-communal violence between Jews and Arab-Israelis, as well as deadly clashes in the occupied West Bank, where 19 Palestinians have been killed since May 10, according to a toll from Palestinian authorities.
Major clashes broke out at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound — one of Islam’s holiest sites — on May 7 following a crackdown against protests over planned expulsions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
Sheikh Jarrah has been at the heart of the flareup, seeing weeks of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
On Sunday, a car-ramming attack in Sheikh Jarrah wounded seven police officers, police said, adding that the attacker had been killed.
Police also said “a number of suspects” had been arrested during clashes in another east Jerusalem neighbourhood overnight Sunday to Monday.
Guterres warned the fighting could have far-reaching consequences if not stopped immediately.
“It has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism, not only in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel but in the region as a whole.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has advocated the need for legislation that will prevent the courts from declaring a winner in an election.
Speaking with journalists on Monday in Abuja, Jonathan insisted that the situation where the judiciary is allowed to declare winners in an election, because of electoral fraud should not be abhorred, as it is undemocratic.
He explained that the ballot papers should be the only means of choosing political leaders, adding that when a politician or the electoral system is found wanting, the courts should only be made to order for a re-run and not to declare a winner.
“Ballot papers should be the basis of selecting political officeholders. If it is the judiciary that should select them then we are not yet there,” Jonathan said.
“I am not saying the judiciary is not doing well but our laws should suppress the idea of our judiciary returning candidates. The ballots should decide who occupies the councillorship seat up to the presidency; that is democracy.”
While lamenting a situation whereby politicians use gifts to sway voters during the electoral process, the ex-President called for punitive measures against those who indulged in the unwholesome act.
He noted that in Nigeria where politicians induced voters with money and foodstuff on election day, such action is a criminal offence in other African countries.
“The problem we have in Nigeria is the use of money to induce some voters. Compared to other African countries, we spend too much money here. Probably, we need to review our laws because I have observed a number of elections in African countries.
“Here, if somebody is contesting elections, you buy bags of rice, wrappers, and all manner of items to induce the electorates. Ordinarily, our electoral laws are supposed to frown on such practices.
“If you do that, you are supposed to be disqualified from contesting in the election. So these are the things that make our elections expensive. I think if the young people are willing, things should begin to change.
“For instance in Tanzania, a candidate does not need to print his name on matchbox or any items to woo voters. If you do that, they say that you are inducing the electorates. It is against their laws,” he added.
Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan has lamented how people deserted him soon after his election loss to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
Speaking during the commissioning of a 6.2km road project in Bauchi, Jonathan said people who were always by his side gave the impression that they couldn’t even eat without seeing him were quick to abandon him.
“At least I have been in government for a reasonable time and I have served at quite a number of levels starting from deputy governor and most of my experience is that after leaving office some of the people you think that when they don’t see u they will not eat will just forget that you even exist. But Senator Bala, the governor of Bauchi State is a good brother,” he said.
The ex-President also commended some few people for remembering and staying in touch, including Governor Mohammed.
He added, “I am very pleased that he invited me to commission the first major project he has completed, that’s a big honour. And not only inviting me, he immortalised me by naming the road after me as Goodluck Jonathan road.”
The former President also thanked the people of Bauchi for the warm reception.
Jonathan was also was conferred a traditional title of the ‘Jigon Bauchi’, which means “The Backbone of Bauchi” by the Bauchi Emirate Council.
It is his first visit to Bauchi since he lost election in 2019.
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Reconciliation Committee, led by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, met with former President Goodluck Jonathan at his residence in Maitama Abuja.
Former governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Pius Ayim, former governor of Cross River, Senator Liyel Imoke, former House leader Mulukat Adeola-Akande and former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema were all in attendance.
Held behind closed doors, the meeting’s purpose was unknown as of Tuesday morning, but it may not be unconnected to the 2023 elections.
The Saraki-led Reconciliation Committee was inaugurated after the 2019 general election, to help the party reconcile aggrieved members, including those who left the party, and as well woo new members for the party.
The PDP recently lost a prominent member to the ruling party when the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi defected to the APC.
Since then, there have been several claims by the ruling party that more governors from the PDP are on their way to join them, claims that the PDP National Working Committee has refuted.
“I have repeatedly said nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any citizen, in any part of the world,” he said. “Absolutely nobody.”
He added: “Again, I reiterate that it is better to lose power at the cost of gaining peace, than to gain power at the price of losing the peace.
“As a leader, one must not just look unto one’s own interest, but the interest and the good of society.
“It is never too late to reject the venom and inject the serum of peace. It is necessary to state that the highest purpose of leadership is to bring people together, even those that do not share in your philosophy.
“And you do not need an office to do that. All you need to achieve that height of leadership is conscience. Let us be men of conscience at this hour.”
Also speaking during the launch, a former lawmaker representing Kogi-West senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye tendered a public apology to Jonathan for campaigning against him in the run-up to the 2015 general elections.
To the ex-lawmaker, his apology is borne out of what he described as the state of the Nigerian nation, coupled with what the ex-President achieved while in office.
“Having seen what he did as President and the sorry state of our country today, I want to publicly say ‘once I was blind, now I can see.’ On behalf of all of us who shot blindly, we are sorry, very very sorry,” he said.
On his part, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, commended the ex-President for conceding defeat in the 2015 general elections.
He also hailed Jonathan for his administration’s efforts in the Almajiri system of education in the north.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan seems to be undecided yet about returning to office in 2023 when President Muhammadu Buhari completes his second term.
Speculations that the former president may take over power from President Buhari, who succeeded him in 2015, may not end soon as Dr Jonathan could not give a definite position on his rumoured ambition.
He had a brief session with reporters on Friday after attending an event organised by the Commonwealth Community Choir in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
When asked if he would be joining the presidential race in the 2023 general elections, Dr Jonathan said, “It is too early to talk about that.”
He also spoke about the issue of insecurity in the country and called for support for the Federal Government and the security agencies to overcome the challenges.
The former president noted that Nigeria was not the only country affected by insecurity, adding that he had his challenges to deal with while in office.
He also spoke about the political crisis in Mali, saying the situation has been brought under control following the intervention of ECOWAS.
Dr Jonathan contested the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but lost and conceded defeat to President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was the first time an incumbent president would lose re-election and conceded defeat in the history of Nigeria.
This earned him accolades within and outside the country, leading to his emergence as ECOWAS special envoy.
He first assumed the office of the President of Nigeria between 2010 to 2011, succeeding former President Musa Yar’Adua’s who died May 5, 2010.
Upon completing the term, Dr Jonathan ran for President on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2011 and won, extending his stay in office by another four years.
He had served as the Bayelsa State Governor between 2005 and 2007, and later Vice President from 2007 to 2010.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) on Friday said former President Goodluck Jonathan has supported the current administration despite being a card-carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
APC Spokesman, Yekini Nabena, made the comment while appearing on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
Also appearing on the show was PDP spokesman, Mr Diran Odeyemi who said a number of APC governors are set to defect to the PDP.
“Goodluck Jonathan has been working for this government,” Mr Nabena said. “He has been going to all African countries. If he is not a progressive person, he won’t have been working for this government. So the PDP should also know that.”
Jonathan lost to Buhari in the 2015 general elections, but he has since taken up several diplomatic assignments across the continent.
Recently, the ex-President led talks that helped to de-escalate the crisis in Mali.
Mr Nabena, on Friday, argued that Jonathan’s work is evidence of the APC’s progressive streak.
However, Mr Odeyemi disagreed, reiterating that the APC is set to witness a couple of top defections to the PDP.
“Many APC Governors are talking to us,” Mr Odeyemi said. “Perhaps Nigerians have not seen the end of these activities. More Governors from APC are coming to join us. And I’m saying it with all emphasis.
“The question we have to ask ourselves is, what has been the achievements of APC now, that will now warrant people to join them, if not for selfish reasons? Nigeria knows which party to vote for in 2023 and that’s what we rely on.”
“The visit, which is a clear endorsement of the acceptability of the PDP administration, also indicates that the APC, in 2015, only created artificial symbols of misgovernance, corruption, and other alleged misgivings just to discredit our party and grab the levers of power to achieve their selfish desires.
“It is evident that the Jonathan administration succeeded in office basically because our party understands the nuances of our nation, which we translated into people-oriented policies and programmes, in line with the manifesto of our party, to make life comfortable for Nigerians.
“This visit to Jonathan by the APC governors is a direct acceptance of the successes recorded by our party in building a strong nation with a virile economy that was rated as one of the fastest-growing economies of the world,” the statement read in part.
PDP said further that it receives the visit by APC governors as an apology by the APC to “our party and Nigerians over the lies, beguilements and other irresponsible allegations deployed by the APC to grab power, only to lead our nation on a journey to nowhere.”
Governors of the APC on Friday evening held a private meeting with ex-President Jonathan in Abuja.
The governors were led to Jonathan’s residence in Abuja by Yobe State Governor and Acting National Chairman of the APC, Mai Mala Buni.
Others at the meeting include Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, who recently defected to the APC from the PDP; Kebbi State governor and chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum; Atiku Bagudu, and Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday congratulated his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, on the occasion of the latter’s 63rd birthday.
The president’s felicitations were contained in a statement signed by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
He thanked Jonathan for his service to the country and the African continent, including his work in helping to restore calm to the Republic of Mali after a military coup earlier this year.
“On behalf of the Federal Government and Nigerians in general, President Muhammadu Buhari warmly felicitates with former President Goodluck Jonathan on his 63rd birthday, November 20, 2020, congratulating him for a life of service that has brought honour and goodwill to the country,” the statement said.
“The President notes, with appreciation, the peculiar and remarkable climb of the former president on Nigeria’s political ladder, and dedication that has kept him working most recently as ECOWAS envoy to bring peace to the Republic of Mali.
“As the former Nigerian President turns 63, President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will grant Dr Jonathan longer life, good health and more wisdom to keep serving the nation and humanity.”