ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday said his secret to being calm in the face of criticism and attacks from the opposition was because he is hardly ruffled, adding that though he was ready and willing to continue to serve as the President of the country, he was not desperate to continue in office.
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He has also explained that his passion for using education to liberate children by establishing Almajiri schools is because he dreams of a product of the school becoming a president one day.
Jonathan made this disclosure at the public launch of a book, ‘The People’s Choice: The story of President Goodluck Jonathan’ written by Rev. Fr. Charles Imokhai at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The four-part book chronicles the life of the President including his educational background, political career and family, among others.
Jonathan, who said he had two key messages to pass to the public, advised politicians who are interested in occupying any elective position either at state or federal level not to be desperate.
He said the only things needed were readiness and willingness.
The President said, “My second message is to all of us, especially those of us who are politicians, that for all of us who want to serve, we should be ready to serve but we should not be desperate to serve our people.
“Sometimes, people ask me that Mr. President, from what we read and what we see, we see you still smiling and unruffled.
“Yes, nothing will really ruffle me because I am willing and ready to serve but I am not desperate to serve. That is what keeps me going.
“All of us who want to hold offices from the least, a counselor of a ward or a chairman of a council, a member of the State House of Assembly or member of House of Representatives, Senate, Governor or the President, if all of us are always ready and willing to serve our people but we are not desperate in that our mission, then of course Nigeria will be a better place for all of us.”
He described the story of his life as a humble one and noted that most accounts of his life so far published are not accurate.
He said while the book being presented provided an account that is close to being accurate, he would write the most accurate one after leaving office.
He promised that as long as he remains the President, he would continue to come up with programmes that will help young people.
He said he was confident that beneficiaries of his administration’s YouWin Programme would be shocking the country in the next 10 to 15 years, as big players in the economy and employers of labour.
Speaking more on his passion for education, he said, “My dream is that one day, a product of Almajiri school will stand here as a President of this country.
“That is why I have been very passionate about education and I use to tell people that I grew up from a very poor background. But luckily Nigeria is not a caste society. If I was to be an Indian, I probably wouldn’t even dream of being a commissioner in my state.
“This is because in a caste society some people permanently belong to a lower class but Nigeria is an open society, so you can move from the lowest level to the top but for you to do that one key thing is education and that is why I lay so much emphasis on education.
“That was why when I came here, I decided that every state must have a federal university,” he added.
The president cleared the air that the money realised from the launch was neither going to him nor to the Peoples Democratic Party.
He said the organisers planned to set up a foundation and use the proceeds to embark on projects that will impact positively on the country and its citizens.
He, however, said that further details on the projects had not been made known.
A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who acted as the chairman of the book launch, said he stood in for Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Sule, who he said had to travel back to Kano to attend to his ailing wife.
He explained that Odumegwu-Ojukwu made a statement that was contrary to what they discussed at the venue of the accord.
He said the late Biafran leader was able to accomplish that task because he (Gowon) was down with fever when Odumegwu-Ojukwu returned to make the statement.
“I have seen that you (the author) have gone back in history in your research when Ojukwu and myself had the Aburi Accord.
“What happened to us at Aburi was that I couldn’t make it down because I was unfortunately down with a fever.
“Ojukwu got back and made a statement and that wasn’t what we discussed and that was the beginning of the misunderstanding, not because we agreed to work with Ojukwu.
“Since you presented that we had a meeting I thought I should make that comment and to correct that,” he said.
Gowon advised Nigerians to vote their conscience during the March 28 presidential elections.
“Vote your conscience, but vote right. I hope all of you here will do the right thing and vote for the people’s choice,” he said.
The author, Rev. Fr. Imokhai, said he wrote the book as an encouragement for the President to continue with his good work.
He likened Jonathan to a Catholic priest, saying those in the sacred ministry always hear what they did wrong but do not hear what they did right.
The book reviewer, Prof. Richard King, said although many books had been written on Jonathan, this is the first time an in-depth mention would be made about almost everything about the President.
King described the book as a perfectly planned and written book on the President and the nation as a whole.
He expressed the hope that Jonathan would remain the people’s choice even after the presidential election.
The chief lauuncher, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, announced a donation of N25m and another N26m on behalf of his friends.
Rabiu also announced a donation of N20m on behalf of the co-launcher, Chief Cletus Ibeto, who was said to be abroad at the time of the launch.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State bought some copies of the book for members of the state executive council for N20m and bought a copy each for all state governors for N10m.
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, also bought copies of the book for N10m while the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, bought on behalf of women for N5m.
One Alhai Hauwa Lawal bought copies for N10m; Mr. Tunde Ayeni bought for N10m; Mr. Kola Adesina bought for N12m and Charles Momoh bought for N5m.
The PDP Presidential Campaign Oganisation and a former Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, donated N1m each among other numerous donations.
Hardback copies of the book were sold at the event for N10,000 each while the paperback copies went for N7,000 each.
In all, more than N170m was realised at the book launch.