Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s former President has posited that the country lacks proof to be called the Giant of Africa.
Speaking on Tuesday in Abuja, at the launch of a book titled “Development as attitude” authored by Osita Ogbu, former Minister of National Planning, Jonathan said the attitude of leaders must change to reflect the country’s national interests.
According to him, leaders must also be guided by a clear vision that is required to restore the respect Nigeria commanded.
“I actually believe that for us as a nation to develop, it’s not just about being elected President. Even if you bring angels from heaven as the President and the attitude of Nigerians doesn’t change, we may not move very fast.
“Every leader must be guided by a personal philosophy. I agree that holding a political office does not automatically make somebody a leader.
“I had the privilege of holding a political office but leadership requires some attributes and those attributes mean that you must have a clear vision and you must have something that guides you,” he said.
Jonathan, who authored the foreword of the book also recounted efforts he made while in office to advance Nigeria’s science programmes.
He said the over-domestication of politics in the country has stunted national progress.
“I remember when I was in office, we had a nuclear and satellite programme but somehow the rate we are moving is too slow and even when I was an acting president, I was invited by the President of the US when they had the first nuclear summit and why I was invited was because Nigeria has a nuclear programme.
“In society now, in any country, you are respected because of what you can offer to the world, especially in terms of development. In Nigeria, we have the best brains but until we encourage these best brains, our satellite programmes will become vegetative and our nuclear programmes will just be rotating without any movement.
“We came up with a programme that we called the presidential special scholarship for innovation and development, it was my own idea. I called the NUC chairman then, Professor Julius Okojie, the minister of education, and other key stakeholders,” Jonathan added.
The House of Representatives, he said, faulted the programme because “certain states were left out.”
“We must see how we must tap our best brains in the STEM areas and see how we can send them to the best universities in the world.
“If we run this programme for another 10 years, believe me, Nigerians will also be thinking about going to space.
“We cannot continue to say we’re giants of Africa and we crawl like garden snails. People say we’re giants but giants are crawling. Our respect is almost going down because technologically we’re not going anywhere,” the ex-President added.