Today, Nigeria's patriotic leader celebrates his 61st birthday with the launching of his book; MY TRANSITION HOURS. This is the right definition of a leader leaving positive strides in the sand of time.
RENO OMOKRI- Through his book, the world will get to see the man behind close doors and will (I hope) find out that no Nigerian leader has shown the level of self sacrifice, self control and restraint that former President Jonathan showed during and after his four years tenure as President. However, because of a long succession of brutal military dictators beginning from 1966 and continuing even into the advent of the Fourth Republic, many Nigerians have been conditioned to see brutality as strength and restraint as weakness. But after three years of a brutal and brutally ineffective President, many citizens are only coming to know now in 2010-that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is a leader of men who sees the people as the big picture rather than himself. He tried to show Nigerians the true meaning of leadership. Unfortunately, the psyche of our people has for long been conditioned to respecting leaders who rule, who boss and who throw their weight around. It was a culture shock to have a leader who rather than throw his considerable weight around, threw his intellect around, which is why no leader in Nigeria’s history has built as many schools as Dr. Jonathan did. And the thing is that he did not have to. Primary education is the constitutional preserve of the states. Yet President Jonathan built 165 almajiri schools because he could not sit by and watch as 11 million Nigerian children, mostly in the North, out of the school system. Not stopping there, he built fourteen new universities comprising of twelve new federal universities and two specialized universities. Before Jonathan, 12 Nigerian states had no federal universities. After Jonathan, no Nigerian state was without at least one university.
Look at his initiatives to turn around the lives of Nigerian youths. You have the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin), the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), the Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovations and Development scholarships (PRESSID) to First Class graduates of Nigerian universities to mention a few. With these schemes, it is no wonder that Nigeria under Jonathan became the third fastest growing economy in the world according to CNNMoney and the International Monetary Fund. Nowadays, those who rode to power on the back of the freedoms that Dr. Jonathan ensured in Nigeria now threaten to lock up their critics citing ‘hate speech’. Have these individuals ever sat down to consider that under Jonathan’s leadership, not one single person was sent to prison because of anything he or she wrote or said about the President or the government he headed. Nigeria had no political prisoners under Jonathan’s administration and the nation certainly did not have any prisoners of conscience because Jonathan himself ensured that he acted according to his conscience in all he did. On social media, I read many Nigerian youths saying things like, how did we go from ‘my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian’ to being called lazy Nigerian youths? That is one question I cannot answer. But one thing I know, the Nigerian youth under President Jonathan were some of the most talented and productive youths.
That is why Nigeria was rated by Gallup as the happiest nation in the world under Jonathan. Think about that for a minute and then join me in wishing Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan a very well deserved happy birthday as well as a long and fulfilled life to continue serving humanity through the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.