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Goodluck Jonathan, the immediate past President of Nigeria, says all he did while in office was led by his conscience, which is why his administration constructed a record 165 modern Almajiri schools in northern Nigeria despite scoring the least votes in the region.
This was contained in a paper titled ‘Conscience based leadership: the secret to global peace and security’, which he presented at the International Summit on Peace, organised by the Junior Chambers International, JCI, in Kuching, Malaysia, on Friday.
“I can confidently say that in all my public life, I was inspired to lead by conscience,” Jonathan said.
“This is in agreement with my personal philosophy which I first proclaimed while running for the office of the Governor of my home state Bayelsa in 2006, and re-echoed when I ran for the office of the President of Nigeria in 2011 and 2015.
“Then, I made it clear that my political ambition is not worth the blood of anybody. Ever since I said that in November of 2006 in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, I have always lived by it.
“This philosophy informed my decision to concede the 2015 Presidential election, even while the results were still being collated.”
Jonathan said it was his resolve to lead according to his conscience that made him pay special attention to education in order to get the vast majority of Nigerians out of illiteracy and ignorance.
“In Nigeria, there were 10.5 million (about 15% of the population) out-of-school children who were of school age, going by UNICEF figures, as at the time I became President,” he said.
“Over 80% of these children, majority of whom are known as Almajiri, came from the northern part of Nigeria, where I recorded the least votes in the elections I contested.
“Knowing the value of education…my administration decided to build 165 Almajiri Integrated Model Schools which combined both western and Islamic education in its curricula.
“They were designed to have significant impact in reducing the number of out-of-school children, and opening the space for them to dream like other kids in other parts of the nation.
“Constitutionally, the Federal Government which I led was not obligated to build primary and secondary schools. It is the responsibility of the states and local governments.
“But I believed that without providing education to these children, the country would be fated to spend more money in fighting insecurity.
“…It was obvious that Boko Haram terrorists were exploiting these innocent children in the northern part of the country and using them as canon fodders to destabilize the country.
“The situation was so awful that security reports indicated that even parents were alleged to be giving out their innocent and illiterate children to terrorists for suicide bombing.”
Jonathan further stated that throughout the time he was in office, “education enjoyed the highest sectoral allocation in the nation’s budget.”