Former President Goodluck Jonathan and former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, met late into last Thursday night in Abuja to brainstorm on measures that could help foster peace and political stability in West Africa.
The two former leaders also used the meeting to fine-tune the planned West Africa Elders Forum, an initiative being promoted by the President Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, which would utilise the experience of former leaders to intervene in crisis spots in the sub-region.
The former Liberian President, who spoke to journalists after her meeting with Jonathan, said it was also targeted at deepening already established initiatives aimed at promoting smooth transition of power within the West African region, which was demonstrated by Jonathan and her, when they handed over power in their respective countries.
Johnson-Sirleaf said: “The main purpose of this visit, besides re-establishing good contact with him (Jonathan), is to promote the good relationship that we have.
“It is also to discuss with him, the planned West Africa Elders Forum, an initiative that he (Jonathan) is promoting through his President Goodluck Jonathan Foundation. The purpose of that is essentially to have former presidents of ECOWAS meet, to promote democracy, promote safe political transition in our countries and mitigate in those areas where there will be tensions.”
She said the planned Elders Forum would also respond to requests and suggestions from heads of state who want to benefit from the experiences of former presidents and their colleagues and that they would make themselves available for promotion of peace, stability and development in West Africa.
Sirleaf added that the two former presidents also discussed issues on the ECOWAS Council of the Wise, an initiative chaired by Jonathan.
“I think what he hopes to do is promote these initiatives with ECOWAS, to form some relationship between the two, so that the effort is collaborative and collective, to address the issues.
“We have so many tensions in our countries today. We have elections coming up and we all want to see the kind of smooth transitions that he ushered and which I also ushered to ensure peace and stability.”
The first elected female Head of State in Africa added that she also briefed Jonathan on her Centre for Women Development.
She said: “I came to let him know that we promote women to ascend higher positions in public service.
“We have started. We already have dynamic women who have achieved several positions in their societies but are inspired to do more.
“I want him to know about this initiative and to call upon him to see himself as a strong supporter of women… to provide him with opportunity to expand that reach and to see areas he can have some global effects.
“Whatever he does here with the West Africa Elders Forum is something that will go beyond Nigeria, beyond West Africa.”