Ex President Jonathan in Geneva, discusses his accomplishments while in office as Nigeria President

Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan today gave a press
conference at the Geneva Press Club to a packed audience of diplomats,
policy makers and journalists where he gave details of his post
presidential focus and touched on some of the roles his administration
played in key areas of the Nigerian and West Africa polity, with
particular emphasis on Security and Education.
 
Below are extracts of his remarks and pictures from the event….
 

Protocols
Ladies
and Gentlemen of the press, I thank you for coming to hear me speak on the twin
issues of education and security. 
Though
this event is billed as a press conference on a Better Security and Education
for West Africa, for the sake of time, I will focus on my experience in
government which gave me a practical demonstration of how education impacts on
security.
I will
thereafter touch on my post presidential focus which is on advancing democracy
and good governance in Africa and increasing access to opportunity for wealth
generation in Africa.
If you
peruse the official UNESCO literacy rates by country, what you will find is
that all of the top ten most literate nations in the world are at peace, while
almost all of the top 10 least literate nations in the world are in a state of
either outright war or general insecurity.
Lower
education levels are linked to poverty and poverty is one of the chief
causative factors of crime whether it is terrorism or militancy or felonies.
With
this at the back of my mind, I began the practice of giving education the
highest sectoral allocation beginning with my very first budget as President in
2011.
My
policy was to fight insecurity in the immediate term using counter insurgency
strategies and the military and for the long term I fought it using education
as a tool. 
As I
have always believed, if we do not spend billions educating our youths today,
we will spend it fighting insecurity tomorrow. And you do not have to spend on
education just because of insecurity. It is also the prudent thing to do.
Nigeria,
or any African nation for that matter, can never become wealthy
by selling more minerals or raw materials such as oil. Our wealth as a nation
is between the ears of our people.
It is
no coincidence that the Northeast epicenter of terrorism in Nigeria is also the
region with the highest rate of illiteracy and the least developed part of
Nigeria.
In
Nigeria, the Federal Government actually does not have a responsibility for
primary and secondary education, but I  could not in good conscience
stomach a situation where 52.4% of males in the Northeastern region of Nigeria
have no formal Western education.
The
figure is even worse when you take into account the states most affected by the
insurgency.
83.3%
of male population in Yobe state have no formal Western education. In
Borno state it is 63.6%. 
Bearing
this in mind is it a coincidence that the Boko Haram insurgency is strongest in
these two states?
So even
though we did not have a responsibility for primary and secondary education
going by the way the Nigerian federation works, I felt that where I had
ability, I also had responsibility even if the constitution said it was not my
responsibility.
Knowing
that terrorism thrives under such conditions my immediate goal was to increase
the penetration of Western education in the region while at the same time
making sure that the people of the region did not see it as a threat to their
age old practices of itinerant Islamic education known as Almajiri.
For the
first time in Nigeria’s history, the Federal Government which I led, set out to
build 400 Almajiri schools with specialized curricula that combined Western and
Islamic education. 160 of them had been completed before I left office.
I am
also glad to state that when I emerged as President of Nigeria on May 6th 2010,
there were nine states in the Northern part of the country that did not have
universities. By the time I left office on the 29th of May 2015, there was no
Nigerian state without at least one Federal  University.
Now the
dearth of access to formal education over years created the ideal breeding
ground for terror to thrive in parts of Nigeria but there are obviously other
dimensions to the issue of insecurity in Nigeria and particularly terrorism.
You may
recall that the fall of the Gaddafi regime in August 2011 led to a situation
where sophisticated weapons fell into the hands of a number of non state actors
with attendant increase in terrorism and instability in North and West Africa.
The
administration I headed initiated partnership across West Africa to contain
such instability in nations such as Mali, which I personally visited in
furtherance of peace.
And
with those countries contiguous to Nigeria, especially nations around the Lake
Chad Basin, we formed a coalition for the purpose of having a common front
against terrorists through the revived Multinational Joint Task
Force (MNJTF).
Those
efforts continue till today and have in large part helped decimate the capacity
of Boko Haram.
Another
aspect of the anti terror war we waged in Nigeria that has not received enough
attention is our effort to improve on our intelligence gathering capacity.
Prior
to my administration, Nigeria’s intelligence architecture was designed largely
around regime protection, but through much sustained effort we were able to
build capacity such that our intelligence agencies were able to trace and
apprehend the masterminds behind such notorious terror incidences as the
Christmas Day bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger
State. 
Other
suspects were also traced and arrested including those behind the Nyanya and
Kuje bombings.
Not
only did we apprehend suspects, but we tried and convicted some of them
including the ring leader of the Madalla bombing cell, KabirSokoto, who is
right now serving a prison sentence.
But
leadership is about the future. I am sure you have not come here to hear me
talk about the way backward. You, like everyone else, want to hear about the
way forward.
I am no
longer in office, and I no longer have executive powers on a national level.
However, I am more convinced now than ever about the nexus between education
and security.
My
foundation, The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, was formed to further democracy,
good governance and wealth generation in Africa. 
Of
course, Charity begins at home and for the future, what Nigeria needs is to
focus on making education a priority.
Thankfully,
the administration that succeeded mine in its first budget, appears to have
seen wisdom in continuing the practice of giving education the highest sectoral
allocation. This is commendable.
I feel
that what people in my position, statesmen and former leaders, ought to be
doing is to help build consensus all over Africa, to ensure that certain issues
should not be politicized.
Education
is one of those issues. If former African leaders can form themselves into an
advisory group to gently impress on incumbent leaders the necessity of meeting
the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
recommended allocation of 26% of a nations annual budget on education, I am
certain that Africa will make geometric progress in meeting her Millennium
Development Goals and improving on every index of the Human Development
Index.
Data
has shown that as spending on education increases, health and well being
increases and incidences of maternal and infant mortality reduce.
In
Nigeria for instance, Average Life Expectancy had plateaued in the mid 40s for
decades, but after 2011, when we began giving education the highest sectoral
allocation, according to the United Nations, Nigeria enjoyed her highest
increase in Average Life Expectancy since records were kept. We moved from an
Average Life Expectancy of 47 years before 2011 to 54 years by 2015.
I had
earlier told you about the connection between education and insecurity.
I
believe that it is the job of former leaders and elder statesmen to convince
Executive and Legislative branches across Africa to work together to achieve
the UNESCO recommended percentage as a barest minimum. 
I
intend to offer my services, through The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, for this
purpose and I invite interested organizations to help us make this happen.

Ladies
and gentlemen of the press, this, in a nutshell are some of my thoughts for a
Better Security and Education for Africa and I will now entertain your questions.

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