This article is the concluding part of a two-part serial. This is essentially a reply to the critics and traducers of the President Jonathan administration. The essay dwells on the modest achievements of the administration against the background of mounting politically-motivated sabotage of the system.
PRESIDENT Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is presiding over the nation’s affairs at a most critical and turbulent time in our chequered history. While acknowledging the development challenges facing the State, it is also necessary that we highlight the modest achievements of the administration. The Federal Government has not minced words about the need to pursue the transformation agenda to a logical conclusion.
Undoubtedly, 2011 was a year laced with challenges but President Jonathan also succeeded in re-writing Nigeria’s recorded of our democratic and survival enterprise. It is to the credit of the administration that Nigeria redeemed her democratic image by conducting a free, fair and credible election in April of 2011. The election, with all its sore points was seen as free and fair by Nigerians, International Observers, and International Community. It was an achievement worth the while because both antagonists and protagonists agree that the 2011 elections were a watershed in our collective efforts at entrenching the culture of credible elections.
In the same year, 2011, the Human Development Index (HDI) released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) established that the Life Expectancy of the average Nigeria had grown from 47.56 years last year to 51.9 in 2011 representing a 10% increase which itself is the largest ever in the past 20 years, but critics can always gloss over these facts. Nigeria was awarded a prize for the best intervention in reducing Infant and maternal mortality in Africa in 2011.
In October of 2011, the Independent International Ratings Agency, Fitch, revised the country’s Outlook to Stable from Negative. This was much more that good luck. The Fitch ratings were affirmed by internationally respected and independent ratings agency, Standard and Poors, which revised Nigeria’s ratings from Stable to Positive. This is in spite of the turbulence in the stock-exchange market and the leadership challenges that the NSE faced.
In order to tackle the challenge of youth unemployment, President Jonathan on October 11, 2011, launched the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) initiative – a scheme designed to identify and empower young Nigerian entrepreneurs with the technical skills, competences and capital needed to start business for self-employment and wealth creation. On Thursday April 12, 2012, 1,200 Nigerian youths emerged winners of the competition following a transparent process. Each winner received a business start up grant of between 1 to 10 million Naira.
In education, the administration has taken very bold steps to revamp the educational system. President Jonathan established six new universities as well as 400 state-of-the-art almajiri schools, are being built. For the first time in two decades, the education sector also received the highest sectoral allocation in the 2011 budget. The proposed allocation of N933 billion to education in the 2011 budget is indeed unprecedented in Nigeria.
Youth Empowerment Programme, an intervention programme designed to employ 370,000 youths in the year 2012 with 30% of those jobs being reserved for women. MasterCard made Nigeria its regional headquarters for its West/East and Indian Ocean islands zone raising the profile of Nigeria’s e-commerce industry. The Federal Government under President Jonathan has secured investment commitments worth 4.89 Trillion Naira.
In satellite communication, the Federal Government launched the NigComSat-1Rsatellite which will help expand Internet Bandwidth, monitor the weather and provide early warning to prevent natural disasters like floods, crop monitoring and urban planning. It has the attendant benefit of reducing the over $1 billion spent in purchasing Internet Bandwidth from abroad.
Nigeria’s banking industry rescued and stabilized by the establishment of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) in the year 2010. Nigeria’s GDP grew by a record 8.29% during the last quarter of 2010 and by over 7% in 2011. In the first quarter of 2012 Nigeria had verifiably become the fourth fastest growing economy in the world as recently attested to by several multilateral bodies and trading partners.
President Jonathan signed into law the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Bill 2010 (Local Content Bill) which has increased Local Content in the Oil and Gas sector. One of the results of the Law is to empower Nigerians especially indigenous contractors with jobs from oil companies. As a direct result of that law, Royal Dutch Shell awarded a N7.8 billion ($49.9 million) contract to a Nigerian firm, S.C.C Limited, for the manufacture of high pressure line pipes that would otherwise have been awarded to a foreign firm.
The Federal Government also initiated the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). A seed capital of $1 billion was provided to kick-start the fund as well as establish three sub funds- the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund; the Future Generations Fund and the Stabilization Fund which will be the pillars of the SWF.
On February 13 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan launched the Public Works Women and Revival of the Textile industry via the Textile Industry Bailout. As a result the United Nigerian Textile Limited was reactivated amongst others and 2000 employees re-engaged. These are some well-planned efforts at creating job opportunities for the people.
The President made sure there were no political exiles in Nigeria in furtherance of his diplomacy. Nigeria no longer has political exiles since Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir el-Rufai returned. In foreign affairs, Jonathan rated handling of the arms seizure from Iran and containing the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire as resounding successes in Nigeria’s diplomacy”. None of the matters is as settled as it appears to the President. According to the President, “there are no Nigerian political exiles outside Nigeria”.
President Goodluck Jonathan has also intensified the fight for corruption. President Jonathan’s anti-corruption credentials are undoubted. The President appointed Ibrahim Lamorde as Chairman. The reconstitution of the ICPC Board is also a demonstration of Government’s re-invigorate and the Committees and Task Force he set up like the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force as notable achievements.
The Federal Ministry of Environment is executing 62 projects with locations across the country, adding that “these are in addition to the completion of works on some projects among the 237 projects awarded from the 2011 capital budget”.
The Ministry has also assisted States and Local Governments with erosion and flood control challenges of enormous magnitude that will need Federal Government’s intervention, noting that “this is because erosion control projects require huge capital outlays. It might interest you to know that some major erosion sites cost the Federal Government well over a billion naira”.
On environmental management, the Ministry of Environment has been able to do remediation in oil spill sites. It is pertinent to recall the Bonga oil spill which occurred in 2011. The ministry successfully cleared the pollutants and cleaned up the environment, working in collaboration with Shell.
Perhaps one area President Goodluck Jonathan has made so much progress is in the area of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP. Apart from bringing peace to the Niger Delta Region, the PAP has enabled hitherto restive youths in the Niger Delta Region acquire skills vocational and specialized training in Boat Building; Under-water/pipeline welding, ICT; Sea faring, piloting, marine engineering, environmental management and skills that are relevant to the emerging hydro-carbon industry and agricultural production.
With these monumental achievements, most patriotic Nigerians have started to repose enormous confidence in the administration in spite of the Boko Haram – which is a manifestation of the destructive and demonic ambition of a section of decapitated political proselytes. In their own megalomania and obsession with power, they have refused to see the positive achievements of the Jonathan administration. We have a President who has won the hearts of so many people but the oil thieves’ the comprador class and the disillusioned political class, which now constitute the chunk of conflict entrepreneurs are working hard to demonize the laudable achievements of PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN. In the final analysis, President GEJ and the Nigerian masses will prevail.
Idumange John, wrote from Yenagoa