Former President Goodluck Jonathan says he wanted to end the almajiri system in the north because of the social menace they constitute.
Jonathan, who spoke at a book presentation in Abuja on Tuesday, said his focus while in office was on education and he wanted to use it as crucial tool to engender national development and technological advancement.
Citynews Nigeria recalls that Jonathan was in charge of the country between 2010 and 2015 before he was defeated by President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 election and he conceded even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made a final pronouncement on the exercise.
“My interest was to change the society through education. No matter what we do to elevate Nigeria, without education, society would find it difficult to change. That was my personal view,” he said.
“That was also why I intervened in the almajirai case. We needed to elevate them above that level, because of the many social problems they were causing.
“I strongly believe that if there must be a change in Nigeria, we must be competent scientifically and technologically, because technology rules the world today.
Jonathan also recounted his experience as president while trying to wade through the dilemma created by the national assembly and a former appointee of his when he was in charge of the country.
He averred that the corruption allegations levelled against him could have have put an end to his political career but God did not allow that happen.
At the presentation of “Dear President Goodluck Jonathan”, a book written in his honour by Bonaventure Melah, a former managing editor of Daily Times, Jonathan said the wrong perception about him is beginning to ebb
“That is the problem myself and some members of my cabinet are still suffering since the beginning this administration when we were all tagged corrupt people,” he said.
“But I thank God that people can come together to celebrate me today. It is God. Otherwise, I would have been completely buried (politically).”
He recalled how he was prevailed on to terminate the appointment of Aruma Oteh as the director-general of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2012 to avoid being in the bad books of the house of representatives.
The former president said some of his associates had advised him to remove Oteh in order to shore his reputation and entreat the federal lawmakers whom Oteh had accused of corruption.
Oteh, who was at the helm of affairs at SEC from 2010 to 2015, had at the time alleged that the leadership of the house committee on capital market solicited N44 million bribe from SEC.
The allegation had caused furore at the national assembly with Herman Hembe, then chairman of the committee, accusing her of offering him N30 million.
The incident put the legislative and the executive arm on collision course
“When my close political allies, advised me to sacrifice Arunma Oteh so that I don’t have problems with the house of representatives,” he said.
“I said I won’t sacrifice any Nigerian just for me to be in the good books of the lawmakers. Rather, I would sacrifice myself. I took that decision because I was convinced she was not corrupt.
“If I had sacked her undeservedly that may have been the end of her career with the World Bank.”
He also debunked rumour that he sacked Azubuike Ihejirika as chief of army staff “because of pressures from the North.”
“If somebody is going the right thing, even if you want to split my head, I would not sack the person,” the former president said.