Former President Goodluck Jonathan says no Nigerian leader till date has been able to assemble “a star-studded” cabinet as he did while in office. He believed his cabinet was full of achievers and people who he said got to the top of their chosen fields based on merit.
Jonathan said this in his book, ‘My Transition Hours’, which was presented to the public in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said while he could not assess himself, he could beat his chest for those who worked with him. He explained that apart from his ministers, all those who served with him in different capacities were also doing well on the global stage.
The former President stated, “Sometimes I laugh when certain propagandists attempt to stand logic on its head by maligning my administration as one bereft of ideas and ‘clueless’.
“In assessing my administration, it is best to focus on facts. I cannot assess myself. I leave that to history. But I can assess my cabinet and I make bold to say that never in the history of Nigeria, till date, has the nation had such a star-studded cabinet, full of achievers and people who got to the top of their chosen fields by merit.
“Just consider that my Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammed Ali Pate, is now a professor at America’s Duke University as well as Senior Adviser to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation based in Washington DC.
“My Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, is now the President of the African Development Bank.
“My Coordinating Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is the chairperson of the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation and the African Risk Capacity.
“She also sits on the board of Twitter and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, just as she is a Senior Adviser at Lazard and a Director at Standard Chartered Plc in the United Kingdom, amongst others.
“My Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, is currently Chairperson of Custodian and Allied Insurance Limited as well as the Global Alliance for Affordable Internet.”
The ex-president added, “It is not just members of my cabinet. Others, who served with me in different capacities, are also soaring on the world stage. A good example is Ms Arunma Oteh, who I appointed the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Under her steady and skillful direction, Nigeria’s equity market grew in geometric proportions, and by the time I left office in 2015, the market had tripled in size to $10bn in value. Two months after I left office, Ms. Oteh was appointed a Vice President and Treasurer at the World Bank.”
Jonathan said with such personalities in his cabinet, no one could factually say he and his men were ‘clueless’ or inept.
He described what he called the evidence of performance under his administration as “simply overwhelming.” Looking back, the former President said he had a sense of fulfillment.
He stated, “I have served Nigeria with all my strength and God alone is the judge of the universe. “I certainly hope that all those who cast aspersions at us can say the same about themselves because the end of a matter is better than its beginning.
“I had no enemies to fight; I have none still.”
Meanwhile, the former President alleged that the electoral promise made by the All Progressives Congress that it would pay monthly stipend to unemployed youths caused violence during the campaigns for the 2015 elections.
Jonathan said, “During the 2015 presidential election’s campaigns, the opposition made unrealistic promises, including monthly payout to all unemployed as well as creating millions of jobs annually, even without a clear picture of how the issue of capacity building would be adequately addressed.
“Those youths, who innocuously built their hopes on these promises, turned out to be the most disruptive during the elections because they erroneously saw any contrary position as one working against their destiny.
“My efforts in expanding the space for education, especially in building the Almajiri schools in the North were targeted at addressing those challenges. We have to continue to make deliberate effort to educate the Nigerian youth, particularly those in the Northern part of the country.
“The Nigerian leadership must also embrace attitudinal change, not just rhetorical change. I believe that politics should be pursued with a reasonable degree of enlightenment and patriotism which requires honesty and transparency.
“Making fanciful promises falls out of line of these requirements. You would either be lying to a people you should be telling the whole truth or you lacked the capacity to figure out the status of your country’s economy ahead of the possibility of your leadership.”