Former President Goodluck Jonathan says the culture of persecuting African presidents as soon as they are out of office, contributes to creating a “sit-tight” malaise on the continent.
According to TheCable, Jonathan made the declaration on Thursday, October 3, 2019 at the constitutional term limits summit which is taking place in Niamey, Niger Republic.
“Let’s create an environment where people will believe there’s life after office. That if you leave office you should not be persecuted,” Jonathan was quoted as saying.
“The way we manage ourselves as sitting presidents and former presidents matter. The first line is to reduce what will make a sitting president afraid to leave office.”
Jonathan also denounced the praise-singing, sycophantic culture prevalent in the corridors of power and championed by a president’s coterie of fawning aides or hires.
“Africans sometimes, we are our own problem because we always think our presidents are little gods. That somebody is president does not mean he is God. We have a tradition of praise-singing. We tend to give our presidents names they don’t deserve.
“We tend to over-praise sitting presidents and make them think they are little gods. When they begin to make a sitting president think he is God, and he is the only person that can run the affairs of the nation; then the person will be there; nobody removes God.
“When you make a president feel he is god, don’t expect him to leave. The media and civil society must continue to admonish characters that make presidents think they are the best thing to happen.
“That you are president does not mean you are better than others. We citizens of this continent create little gods, and God cannot leave (power),” Nigeria’s former leader said.
Jonathan is one of a handful of speakers at the summit put together by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
Jonathan, who left office in 2015, has not been directly prosecuted by incumbent Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari, but his wife and a host of other former aides, party chieftains and ministers who served at his pleasure have been tried for alleged grand scale corruption and looting of the treasury.
The Buhari administration also continues to reference Jonathan's time in office as one of the most corrupt there has ever been.
Africa's longest serving rulers
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema who has been in power since August 1979, is Africa’s longest-serving ruler in a continent with plenty contenders.
The late Robert Mugabe who oversaw affairs of Zimbabwe for 37 years until he was forced out in 2017, was another of the continent’s famous ‘sit-tight’ rulers.
In Cameroon, Paul Biya has 37 years under his belt, Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has spent 35 years in office, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni has been in power for more than 33 years, King Mswati III of Swaziland who ascended the throne in April 1986 has ruled for more than 32 years.
In Sudan, Omar al-Bashir has ruled for 30 years since he staged a successful coup in June of 1989.
Chadian leader Idriss Deby took over affairs of the north-central African nation in December 1990.