Putting Jonathan’s Achievements In Perspective
AS the countdown to this year’s presidential election begins in earnest, Nigerians are sharply divided over who should get their mandate come February 14 — whether President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should be re-elected for another term of four years or whether the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who is contesting for the office for the fourth time, should be given a shot at the presidency under a democratic dispensation. There have been arguments for and against the two candidates but I would like to quickly align myself with those routing for President Jonathan’s continuity in that exalted office.
I have heard those wishing for an APC-led Federal Government under Gen. Buhari argue that President Jonathan has been in power for almost six years without any ‘solid achievement’ to point at. It is, however, my candid opinion that ‘solid achievement’ or not, the Jonathan administration has put Nigeria on the track of sustainable development through its transformation agenda. The President’s commitment to a united Nigeria is one thing people don’t reckon with but which is paramount to the welfare and well being of Nigerians.
It is on record that in the history of Nigeria, President Jonathan ranks among the most committed in terms of uniting the nation. Forget the propaganda of the opposition and the mischief of the disgruntled — Jonathan has the most diverse cabinet, electing to appoint more people from other parts of the country rather than his own ethnic group. Unlike in the past when heads of state and presidents always gave certain positions to their kinsmen and women, Jonathan bucked the trend by making critical appointments, especially in security and finance, from across the nation. Federal projects and appointments are evenly spread. Jonathan’s desire is to see a country where people talk less about sectional issues but focus on one indivisible nation. He demonstrated his belief in uniting and strengthening Nigeria by successfully convening the National Conference in 2014.
The Jonathan administration has also conscientiously worked to consolidate democracy in the country. According to one Emmanuel Nwosu in his article in the Sunday, January 25, 2015, edition of The Guardian, “the most tangible achievement of the PDP government, under Jonathan, is in the Rule of Law and fundamental freedom and liberty to all citizens, which, truly, constitute the primary foundation of democracy upon which all other dividends would germinate, if well cultivated.” One would better understand Nwosu’s assertion when one takes a critical look at the characteristics of our democracy under previous administrations.
For instance, in the past, governors were illegally removed from office. Senate Presidents and Speakers were impeached or removed with impunity. Court orders and judgments were disobeyed willingly. Contracts were terminated without recourse to the Rule of Law. All these happened even when Nigerians thought they had entered the era of democracy. It is a fact the scenario has changed since Jonathan assumed office.
Other facets of the country’s affairs also have President Jonathan’s imprints as a visionary leader. Under Jonathan, Nigeria became Africa’s biggest economy with a rebased GDP of $510 billion in 2013 compared to $169 billion in 2009. Also, before Jonathan became president, Nigeria’s food import stood at N1.4 trillion but is now less than N700 billion, thanks to the administration’s transformation of the agricultural sector. The transformation of the sector brought to an end four decades of corruption in fertilizer and seed distribution as farmers now access them directly, thereby saving the government about N25 billion in 2012 alone. Also, over 250, 000 farmers and youths in northern states are now profitably engaged in farming. The administration also developed Nigeria’s first ever database of farmers with six million farmers registered. The database is now being updated and monitored annually. The manufacturing sector also got a boost through Jonathan’s transformation agenda. With the large domestic market, government policy in the sector is geared towards encouraging import substitution where Nigeria has a comparative advantage, and exports, where we can be competitive internationally. The Federal government under Jonathan has developed the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) on the entire value chain of sub-sectors such as agro-processing (e.g. rice milling, sugar procession, cassava for wheat flour and other products, etc, consumer goods manufacturing, cement, textiles, and petrochemicals). It has also developed the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMS) to provide roadmap for 100 per cent local production of sugar. Also, Nigeria has moved from producing two million metric tones of cement in 2002 to a capacity of 28.5 million metric tones today. With no permit issued in 2012 for cement importation, the country saved over N200 billion.
Nigeria’s education sector was not left out. In addition to initiating and implementing the Almajiri school system in the northern part of the country to widen the region’s access to education, the government also established 12 federal universities — nine in the north, three in the south. These citadels of learning will no doubt help decongest the already overcrowded classrooms in most our tertiary institutions.
I would like to conclude by advising those that are saying the Jonathan administration has not recorded any ‘solid achievement’ in office to be fair in their evaluation. The administration has actually laid the foundation for Nigeria’s prosperity and this traverses every sector of the economy, all of which cannot be highlighted in this write up. A vote for Jonathan is, therefore, a vote for the consolidation of the achievements so far and this is where I stand.
Odugu wrote from Abuja
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