Former Nigerian president cancels Sac State appearance


Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former president of Nigeria, in Switzerland for the 2013 meeting of the World Economic Forum. 

Vu Chau

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who was scheduled to speak at a conference’s awards ceremony at Sacramento State this Saturday, has cancelled due to health reasons.

According to Ernest Uwazie, director of the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jonathan is currently hospitalized in New Jersey.

The 25th annual Africa/Diaspora Conference is being hosted by CAPCR in the University Union’s Redwood Room.

Jonathan’s special assistant, Reno Omokri, will be at Sac State to represent him and is already here in California. As to whether or not his assistant will recite Jonathan’s originally planned speech, Uwazie said they are still working out the details.

“He will be available to meet with anybody like the LGBT group that has expressed interest in meeting with him, before the awards dinner,” Uwazie said.

He also said Jonathan’s assistant would be available to answer questions at a panel at 3 p.m. tomorrow on United States-Africa relations.

“We’re also looking at the possibility of some Facetime technology with Goodluck Jonathan at the hospital where he is,” Uwazie said. Uwazie said it would depend on whether they could get the technology in order and if Jonathan was feeling up to speaking.

Yesterday, The Sacramento Bee posted an article about the controversy surrounding Jonathan’s presence at the conference because of anti-LGBT legislation he signed into law in Nigeria in 2013.

On Tuesday, President Robert Nelsen sent out a presidential message to the campus community addressing concerns about Jonathan’s anti-LGBT legislation.

In the message, Nelsen called the legislation “abhorrent” and “a travesty against humankind that must be rectified.”

Nelsen also said he hoped the campus community could use Jonathan’s presence on campus as a learning opportunity, both for the campus and for Africa.

According to Uwazie, Jonathan is not anti-gay personally, but would have faced impeachment had he not signed the legislation into law.

One of CAPCR’s goals is to “assist in mediation/arbitration/resolution of conflicts among Africans, when possible and with consent of disputing parties.”

According to the Bee, Jonathan averted what many predicted could have been a bloody civil war when he peacefully stepped down after losing the 2015 elections.

The conference and Saturday’s awards ceremony will proceed as planned. It is unconfirmed at this time as to whether or not Jonathan will be teleconferencing in, or whether or not the LGBT community still plans to protest the event. This article will be updated as more information becomes available.