Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has described former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan as a man of great vision, stressing that Nigeria would have benefitted more if the late Head of State had been allowed to stay longer in office.
Dr Jonathan stated this while paying a condolence visit to the family of the late Head of State in Lagos on Monday. Chief Shonekan who died on January 11, 2022, was in office for about three months, between August 26, 1993, to November 17, 1993, before he was overthrown in a coup.
The former President described Shonekan as a leader with an enviable background in the corporate world and considerable knowledge of economic issues.
Speaking with newsmen after paying a condolence visit to the Shonekan family, Jonathan praised the late Head of State’s work ethic, adding that he meant well for the nation.
He said further: “Chief Ernest Shonekan was somebody I worked with closely as one of the members of the Council of State. I learnt so much from him when I was in the office. When I was president, I was presiding over the Council of States meetings. I was then the youngest member of the Council. So when I left office, I remained the youngest member of the Council of State. And listening to him, I learnt a lot because he was a man with great wisdom, a man with a good background in the corporate world and a good background in economic issues.
“As a private citizen, he founded the Nigerian Economic Summit Group that is still there today. He was the brain behind Vision 2010. He was a man who had a great vision for this country.
Stressing that Shonekan meant well for the country, Dr Jonathan said: “My regret is that he left government too early, and I believed that if he had stayed as head of interim government for about two, three years, and probably midwife the political process, even the controversies we are having with the 1999 Constitution today, we probably wouldn’t have had it.
“He left too early because of the military intervention, and the rest, of course, you know, I don’t want to say much about it.
“He was a thorough minded person, he would have made sure that all the i’s were properly dotted and the t’s were properly crossed. And probably, we would have been moving in a different direction today,” the former president said.
“When he took office as Head of Interim Government, the first thing he did was to release political prisoners. That now opened up a space for Nigerians to begin to participate in economic and social activities.
‘So he had a vision, but we lost him too early in the government and of course, we have lost him finally,” he added