Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said he would, at the “appropriate time”, open up on the arms money scandal, involving at least $2.1 billion.
Investigators say the money, meant for purchase of arms for the fight against Boko Haram, was squandered by the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, allegedly on the instructions of Mr. Jonathan.
At a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Mr. Jonathan emphasised the importance of education in fighting terrorism.
He later tweeted about his readiness to speak on the alleged arms funds mismanagement.
“My voice will certainly be heard at the appropriate time regarding the alleged arms funds mismanagement,” the former leader said.
“I would not want to interfere with the proceeding by the judicial system that my administration worked tirelessly to strengthen.
My post presidential focus is advancing democracy and good governance in Africa.”
Mr. Jonathan later added that the Buhari administration, which is investigating the scandal, is currently fighting Boko Haram with weapons his government purchased.
“The current administration continues to fight them with the weapons we acquired and collectively I am confident we will eradicate them,” he tweeted.
Earlier at the press conference, Mr. Jonathan said 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.
According to him, there are obviously other dimensions to the issue of insecurity in Nigeria and particularly terrorism, the dearth of access to formal education over years created the ideal breeding ground for terror to thrive in parts of the country.
He added, “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.”
Mr. Jonathan explained that while in office he began the practice of giving education the highest sectoral allocation beginning with his 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,” Mr. Jonathan said.
“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 becomewealthy by selling more minerals or raw materials such as oil. Our wealth as a nation is between the ears of our people.”
The former president said it was 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.
Explaining that in Nigeria though the federal government does not have a responsibility for primary and secondary education, he could not in good conscience stomach a situation where 52.4% of males in the Northeastern region of Nigeria have no formal Western education.
According to him, the figure is even worse when you take into account the states most affected by the insurgency.
He said, “83.3% of male population in Yobe state has 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.”
Mr. Jonathan noted that for the first time in Nigeria’s history, the federal government which he led set out to build 400 Almajiri schools with specialized curricula that combined Western and Islamic education.
He said 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,” he said.
“By the time I left office on the 29th of May 2015, there was no Nigerian state without at least one Federal University.”
The former president recounted 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.
Mr. Jonathan explained that his administration initiated partnership across West Africa to contain such instability in nations such as Mali, which I personally visited in furtherance of peace.
He said, “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.”
He also explained that his administration waged the anti-terror was with the effort to improve intelligence gathering capacity, lamenting however that this has not enough attention.
“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, Kabir Sokoto, who is right now serving a prison sentence.”
The former president said he would use the newly Goodluck Jonathan Foundation to further democracy, good governance and wealth generation in Africa.
He said, “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.”