Jonathan says Mandela's life was symbol of unity, peace

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) – Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, Tuesday said his government's declaration of a three-day national mourning and hosting a memorial service for the departed Nelson Mandela followed its determination to share in the celebration of an icon of unity.

"Just as we shared in South Africa's struggle against apartheid as a frontline State, it is only proper that we also share in the celebration of an icon of unity," President Jonathan told journalists shortly before departing for FNB Stadium in Pretoria for the state funeral service.

He said that Mandela, the anti-apartheid hero, was a symbol of unity who grew beyond South Africa, the African continent and the black race.

He restated that in the hey days of apartheid, Nigerians contributed both morally, financially to the liberation of South Africa.

"Nigeria during the apartheid struggle made contributions, all of us including students and workers. That is why Nigeria was considered a frontline state even though we are quite far away in the region of West African," Jonathan said.

He said: "So, Nigeria was totally committed to the liberation struggle in South Africa. Since we worked hard with the South Africans during the struggle, now that Mandela, the face of the struggle is dead, we have to encourage the South Africans and to reassure them that the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa will continue to grow stronger and stronger."

Mandela, Jonathan noted, took the interest of South Africans and the country above his own and therefore showed exemplary leadership.

He urged African leaders to learn from Mandela's ability to unite his people irrespective of challenges and his commitment to peace and love.

President Jonathan said: "Mandela was a symbol of unity, somebody who took the State and the interest of the people much more than his own self. And he stood out clearly above a number of people in terms of leadership of our States. He was able to bring peace and unity to South Africa in spite of the challenges of apartheid regime.

In addition to the three days of mourning and flags flying at half-mast, special services in all mosques and churches were held in Mandela's honour.

According to Jonathan, "Mandela was a very courageous man and he used all the skills he had to challenge apartheid and bring unity to South Africa. So we must all learn from that to consider our citizens more than our personal interest and make sure we bring peace and unity. Those are the elements of development of any society because without peace you cannot develop economically."
-0- PANA MON/VAO 10Dec2013

10 december 2013 15:23:38




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