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How I Fought Boko Haram – Jonathan Speaks In Geneva
Views: 485  |  Comments: 0 |  Posted: 03:38 Thu, 28 Jan 2016
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Posted on: 03:38 Thu, 28 Jan 2016

Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on
Wednesday at a world press conference at the
Geneva Press Club gave account of his
stewardship as the leader of the world’s most
populous black nation.

The club was filled with diplomats, policy
makers and journalists to whom 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

Read speech below

Press conference on Security, Education and
Development in Africa Geneva Press Club –
Wednesday the 27th of January, 2016
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

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

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

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
83.3% of male population in Yobe state have no
formal Western education. In Borno state it is

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

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

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

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

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
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
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

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

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

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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