While serving as President of Nigeria, I worked for the next generation and not for the next elections. I have no regrets for what I did
Those were the words of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan today while speaking at the Oxford Union, with the theme ‘Fostering Youth Entrepreneurship”.
Jonathan succeeded US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who spoke at the same event May this year.
He continued: “Somebody must sacrifice and work for the next generation otherwise your children’s children will suffer the same predicaments as you have
“As a leader you need resources to develop your nation and sometimes you have to navigate through the competiting interests of western powers”.
During the question and answer session, he cmmented on the various cases of corruption he is being linked to in Nigeria, Jonathan said: “On the issue of corruption, you are aware that several matters are pending in court and I would not like to intefer with the legal processes
“We reformed the institutions and introduced various mechanisms to stop the corruption problems in our country without publicity”.
He also said he was never elected as Nigeria’s president to spread poverty but to generate and spread wealth.
He told the young people that only being entrepreneurial can completely cure poverty and not having a job or working for someone.
“I once said that I was not elected President of Nigeria to spread poverty; I was elected to generate and spread wealth.”
“My belief in this regard is that getting a job or being a worker cannot completely cure the disease of poverty. It is only your own business that can provide such security and give you the financial freedom you need to prosper.”
Dr. Jonathan, whose speech was streamed live, rhetorically queried his audience asking why some nations are rich and others remain poor.
”Why are some nations rich and some poor? Why do individuals that grow up in similar circumstances end up differently, with some as successes and others as failures?”
“Is the wealth of nations a result of geography, weather, culture, destiny, etc.? What could a leader do to effectively lift a people out of the depths of poverty and enable them to achieve prosperity?” asked Jonathan.
The former Nigerian leader talked about youth entrepreneurship programs his administration pioneered, saying that one of them, YouWIN, was a major plank of his job creation efforts.
“The motivation for this program is for young people to go into SMEs, create jobs for other young people with the expectation that some would grow to large scale businesses” Dr. Jonathan said.
He concluded his speech by giving a short brief of his achievements in the economic sphere, saying, “Under my watch, Nigeria was projected by CNN Money to be the third fastest growing economy in the world for the year 2015 and rated as the largest economy in Africa and the 23rd largest in the world by the World Bank and the IMF, with a GDP above half a Trillion US dollars.”
The speech was streamed live via Dr. Jonathan’s Facebook page and will be hosted on the Oxford Union’s site.
Previous speakers at the Oxford Union include the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, author of 48 laws of power, Robert Greene, the Dalai Lama, former British prime ministers Winston Churchill, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
Others were Mother Teresa and former US presidents Richard Nixon (November 1978), Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton.