Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan delivers talk on democracy and development in Africa

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan giving a talk at Luce Hall
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan giving a talk at Luce Hall

On Wednesday, November 29, 2023, former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan delivered a talk entitled “Democracy: Hope and Window to Africa’s Future” to an audience of Yale students, faculty, and community members in Luce Hall. Jonathan currently serves as the chair of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, which focuses on peacebuilding and democracy provision across Africa. Jonathan’s visit was organized by the Yale World Fellows Program and he was invited to campus by 2023 World Fellow Ann Iyonu, the Executive Director of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation. The talk, which was moderated by Jackson School Senior Fellow Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Sr., centered around efforts to ensure democracy and election security in Africa.

The initial dialogue between Jonathan and Thomas focused on contemporary political dynamics in Nigeria and other countries and regions on the continent. According to Jonathan, increasing political stability must remain a key focus for current African leaders and multilateral organizations, as domestic conflict can often spiral into larger-scale regional disputes. Jonathan also spoke on the importance of trust and collaboration in government, particularly in multiethnic societies such as Nigeria.

Student questions were both incisive and insightful, focusing on the role of youth in African politics and social activism, foreign policy approaches, and strategies to support African development. Jonathan ended the talk by expressing his appreciation of the audience’s enthusiasm and interest in the contemporary dynamics of African democracy, and encouraged the young people in the audience to stay engaged and to continue involving themselves in efforts for positive change.