Former President Goodluck Jonathan has been honoured as the ‘Icon of Democracy’ by Rivers State-owned Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt.
The award, according g to authorities of the institution, followed Jonathan’s worthy contributions towards deepening democracy in Nigeria.
The Pro-Chancellor of the University, King A.M Ikuru, who conducted the investiture at the institution’s 35th/36th Convocation ceremony on Saturday in Port Harcourt, said the award was the first of its kind in the history of the university.
He further described Jonathan as a true democrat and man of peace, who was deeply committed to the growth and development of the country.
His position was corroborated by the University orator, Boma Obi, a professor, commended Jonathan for handing over power to the opposition, stressing that by that action, the former President set a new benchmark for politicians.
In his response, Jonathan described the visit as home-coming, being a former lecturer in the institution then known as Rivers State College of Education, before it was upgraded to a full-fledged university.
The former President, who recalled with nostalgia his days in the institution, noted that he enjoyed his days as a lecturer, adding that he has not given up on going back to teaching.
Jonathan said: “I commend the members of staff of this university for your commitment and great roles in developing our youth. Sometimes I feel like coming to join you again, but I don’t know if the Vice Chancellor will consider me still qualified for the job. I sincerely would have loved to teach for some years before the onset of the natural decline usually associated with the infirmity of old age.
“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.”
The former President further commended the University for honouring him and his wife, Patience, saying: “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.”