Former President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan has revealed how the late first President of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda, predicted that he (Jonathan) would become President 17 years ago, at a time when nobody thought the feat was attainable.
Jonathan stated this while delivering a keynote address on Saturday in Pretoria, South Africa, at the second Kenneth Kaunda public lecture organised by the Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation.
This is just as he charged African countries to forge functional partnerships and work towards the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement to enhance development and economic integration on the continent.
Jonathan recalled that Dr. Kaunda, while on a two-day visit to Bayelsa State in 2006 while he (Jonathan) was the governor of the oil-rich state, accurately predicted that he would become President of Nigeria.
He said, “I must say it now that Dr. Kaunda, in the early days of my political career, captured my political trajectory to the presidency in an accurate prophetic revelation that has continued to amaze me till this day. In 2006, when Kaunda had ended his visit to us in Yenagoa and was returning to Zambia, I remember seeing him off to the Port Harcourt Airport in neighbouring Rivers State. As he stood up and was about to board a vehicle that would convey him to the aircraft, he turned back and said to me, “Young man, you will be the president of this country one day.”
The former President added that when the prophecy turned out to be true, he and the then Secretary to the State Government, Ambassador Boladei Igali, who was with him, “simply looked at each other in amazement, because the presidency was never in our dreams at that time.”
He, however, noted that he “later saw the prediction fulfilled in my life. So, I can say that Kenneth Kaunda was the man who saw tomorrow as it related then to my political future and fortune, as I eventually became the President of my country, four years after that wish.”
Corroborating Jonathan’s claim, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation, Sunday Musonda, confirmed that he was with Dr. Kaunda during the visit, saying, “I was with Kaunda during that visit to Nigeria. One point I clearly remember was when KK blessed you (Jonathan) and said you would be President of Nigeria one day.”
A statement signed by the media adviser to the former President, Ikechukwu Eze, quoted Jonathan as saying that, “As a young man then, my knowledge of African history was shaped by transformational leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Julius Nyerere, and, of course, Kenneth Kaunda. The stories of their resilience and passion for nation-building formed the basis of contemporary African history. Their strides and sacrificial lifestyles towards their continent have produced many benefits for the continent.
“In their prime, these leaders envisioned a continent of hope where its people would be free from every guise of bondage. They committed their lives to actualising their dreams of independence for their countries. The likes of Kaunda could have opted to take sides with the oppressors and feed fat on their spoils, at the expense of the freedom of the people who were in bondage. But they chose the altruistic path of pursuing justice, hope, freedom, and good governance for their people.”
He further called on African leaders to improve the quality of governance in their respective countries, saying, “Leadership has become a major source of conflicts and wars in most of our countries. The leadership recruitment process and our inability to effectively manage political transitions have resulted in avoidable conflicts. Elections in some countries have become a source of instability, largely reflecting the kind of leaders we have in authority.”
“My charge to my fellow brothers and sisters in the continent is for us to seek to redefine leadership and governance in the continent. We need a leadership process that guarantees the fundamental freedoms and rights of the citizens and delivers a good life to them.”
“We need to build and protect our political systems to serve the best interests of our people. We must learn how to manage our diversity and build an inclusive society,” he added.