By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has revealed his encounter with late President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, saying he is deeply saddened by his death.
Jonathan paid tribute to Kaunda who died on Thursday at the age of 97.
In a condolence message to his family and the Government of Zambia, the former President described him as a foremost Pan-Africanist who was of great significance to the continent’s struggle for liberation.
Jonathan also described his relationship with the late sage as very cordial, adding that he visited him in Yenagoa during his time as the Governor of Bayelsa state.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing on of former Zambian President and foremost Pan-Africanist Dr. Kenneth Kaunda who died today at the age of 97 years.
“Not only was he of very great significance to Africa’s struggle for liberation he was also quite significant to me. I met him as a much younger politician and I am glad to have maintained a close relationship with the great sage,” he said.
Jonathan stated that Kaunda was a specimen of the highest level of patriotism, as he was also a strong promoter of Pan-Africanism, an idea that has reached maturity with the African Continental Free Trade Area, which itself was a product of the vision of men and women like Kaunda.
“His life was a pattern of good works, and his post Presidential work in providing relief for HIV/AIDS patients, as well as promoting practices and measures to curb the spread of the virus are remembered.
“During my time as the Governor of Bayelsa State in 2006, Pa Kaunda visited and spent two days with us in Yenagoa, because of our shared interest in the protection of our peoples against the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
I recall with relish the impressive pace displayed by Kaunda, then aged 82 years, at the symbolic Three Arms Walk for HIV/AIDS on the streets of Yenagoa,” he added.
According to Jonathan, Kaunda visited him a couple of times when he was in office as President of Nigeria, saying they last saw each other in 2016 when he visited him while he was in Zambia as Head of the African Union (AU) Election Observation Mission.
“He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered across the entire continent. On behalf of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation and my family, I condole with the government and people of the Republic of Zambia on the passing of their foremost founding father,” he said.