Speaking at the 4th graduation ceremony of Baze University, a private tertiary institution in Abuja, Jonathan said young persons are taking charge in Europe.
He made references to President Emmanuel Marcon of France, who is 39 years old, and Sebastian Kurz, new leader of Austria, who is 31 years old.
Turning to the graduates of Baze University, Jonathan said: “Great Nigerian students, does that tell you anything?”
The former president advised youth to seize the moment as far as leadership is concerned.
“This is because as young people, many of you sitting in the classrooms today, will sit in various Government offices and boardrooms tomorrow, to govern our country,” he said.
Jonathan also said there was the need to strive and restore the sector to the days when “a graduate’s value was weighed equally in character and in learning”.
He commended Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, a senator from Kaduna state, who is the proprietor of the university, noting that private institutions were needed to complement those of government.
“Each time I am within the ambience of the academia, there is always that welcoming déjà vu feeling, a kind of home coming, which brings back memories of my former life as a lecturer,” Jonathan said.
“The point has to be made that as Nigerians, we are not satisfied with our level of development.
“This is because countries that were at par with us at the time we got independence in the 60’s, are already deploying cutting-edge technology to build sophisticated equipment, and we are now condemned by our own fate to buy such
machinery from them.
machinery from them.
“As president, I ensured that my administration gave education the highest sectoral allocation in the federal budgets between 2011 and 2015 because of my belief in the boundless opportunities for greatness, which only education can provide.
“It was also for this reason that we licensed many private universities, and established twelve Federal Universities in the twelve states that had none, with nine of them in Northern Nigeria.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the government alone can no longer cater for the educational needs of our robust youth population. I believe that the contributions of institutions like Baze University, and other private universities, will go a long way in complementing the efforts of the Federal and State governments, towards increasing the nation’s capacity to provide tertiary education for its citizens.”