Former President Goodluck Jonathan has described education as the key to nation-building and manpower development.
He also said that to liberate people from mental slavery, education must be the top priority of every government.
The former president stated this on Saturday in Kaiama during a reception in honour of Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, by the people of Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.
A statement by Governor Diri’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted Dr. Jonathan as making reference to Singapore whose founding Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, succeeded in transforming his nation from third world to first world through education.
The Jonathan administration between 2011 and 2015 has the record of establishing 13 federal universities across Nigeria and no fewer than 140 schools for the Almajirai in the northern states.
“Education is key to development. When you liberate the minds of the people, they will be so enlightened and be able to do the right thing. So, Governor Diri, I assure you that we will work with you to see how to improve the quality of education in the state. Bayelsa is relatively young, being one of the states created by the late Gen. Sani Abacha in 1996. But a lot of changes has taken place and we believe that Diri would continue to add more. Before Bayelsa was created, there was no major tertiary institution in the state. But today we have four universities and other educational infrastructure.”
While commending the governor’s performance in his first year in office, Jonathan restated his call on politicians to put aside hatred and embrace peace for the overall good of the people.
Responding to the honour by his kinsmen, Governor Diri thanked them for coming out en masse to receive him.
He described Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area as the epicentre of the struggle of the Ijaw people and of justice and equity in Nigeria.
He recalled the bitter experience of the Odi massacre, when in the name of searching for criminals, people were killed and houses burnt and destroyed by the military.
Diri thanked Jonathan for releasing funds for the rebuilding of Odi while in office.
He also recalled the prominent roles of Kolokuma-Opokuma sons like the late Isaac Boro and Captain Samuel Owonaro in the Ijaw and Niger Delta struggle as well as during the Kaiama Declaration in December 1998 when acting Paramount Ruler of Kaiama, Chief Sergeant Ofoniama, was murdered in cold blood also by the military.
He then announced appointment for a daughter of the slain chief, Gesi Ofoniama, into his government.
The governor called on the people to realise that the price of the struggle for the emancipation of Ijaw and for justice and equity in Nigeria was not in vain as God has divinely produced one of their sons as governor of the state.
He called for their support as well as that of other local government areas in the state.
Senator Diri expressed appreciation to Dr Jonathan for exhibiting exemplary leadership and for supporting his administration.
He also thanked the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Seriake Dickson, for being instrumental to his being governor.
Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, pledged his unwavering support to the governor and for the administration to succeed in its developmental agenda.
Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Gesi Asamaowei, called on all stakeholders to lend quality support to the governor from their wealth of experience.