The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria empowers the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Azikwe Jonathan the right to spend two terms of four years each in office. Therefore, no matter how anybody might feel about it, his seeking another term in office cannot be described as an aberration.
As Jonathan makes a public declaration for his second term bid today, whether or not he deserves to come back to office as president after May 28, 2015 on the basis of performance is however left for conjecture as it becomes a subjective assessment depending on which side of the divide you belong.
Ask top officials of the administration, like Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Adviser to the president on Public Affairs, Jonathan is the best president, Nigeria has ever had. According to Okupe, Jonathan has done better than what every other past Nigerian president had done before him… Put together. Interestingly, Okupe did more bizarre jobs for Obasanjo than he’s doing now.
‘’Reviewing the various achievements, the President has diligently implemented its agenda for national transformation in priority areas, including power, rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation’’, Okupe said
But when he begins to itemize the achievements one after the other in details, you begin to feel irritated as most of the things believed to be achievements are things ordinarily taken for granted in other countries as responsibilities of a responsible government to the people. Or how would you describe a transformational agenda to Nigerians when the average man on the street cannot feel it in his pocket?
But it’d be unfair to just throw a blind eye at Jonathan’s footprints in history in the last five years or so that he has been at the helm of affairs of the country both as acting and substantive president. The most glaring area of achievement for the Jonathan administration is the success recorded in the agriculture sector where the Minister in charge, Adesina has been doing a marvelous job. Proceeds from Nigeria’s non-oil exports rose to 2.97 billion by the end of 2013, up from 2.3 billion in 2010. This must have grown bigger in the current fiscal year.
The transformation of the agriculture sector has resulted in creation of thousands of jobs. Many farmers would tell you they’ve never had it so good until the advent of the present administration.
In spite of the challenges that the nation has had to cope with, Nigeria has remained Africa’s lucrative destination for foreign investors. In the first six months of 2014, a total of US$9.70 billion or N1.51 trillion flowed into the national economy as foreign direct investments (FDI). In the last three years, a total of $59billion DFI was achieved by the government in spite of the security challenges the country has faced in the past five years.
Economy analysts would however, attribute this to the seemingly stable operating environment in terms of policy stability. One can only imagine if the problem of insecurity had been solved by government before it became a consuming monster.
Under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigeria rebased it’s GDP for the first time in over a decade to become the largest economy in Africa, overtaking South Africa and Egypt in the process. This has won the country a lot of respect and admiration by the international business community.
Not only that, Jonathan administration is the one behind the revival of the dead automotive industry in Nigeria. Global auto giants like Peugeot, Nissan and Hyundai now either assemble or wholly manufacture small cars, Sport Utility Vehicles, trucks and buses at various locations in Nigeria. In addition to that, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company (IVM), Nigeria’s flagship indigenous automaker, has begun the sale of their first made-in-Nigeria cars and SUVs in August 2014. But how many Nigerians can afford these cars going by the current Parity Purchasing Power of the man on the street?
Revival of the comatose railway system of transportation in the country is happening under the current Goodluck Jonathan administration. But when you take a cursory look at the refurbished coaches being brought into the country by the Chinese contractors juxtaposed with what obtains in their home country, one would be disappointed. Phased out coaches in China are being celebrated here as a superman achievement.
But when you consider the huge sums of money allocated to the sector by previous administration without anything to show for it, you would commend Jonathan for a job well done. Billions of dollars were allocated to the railway rejuvenation by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration with little or nothing to show for the huge investment.
Remodeling, beautification and standardization of airports across the country have caught the fancy of travellers across the country. In addition to that, aircraft from Nigeria are now allowed to fly directly to the United States of America instead of going through many stopovers in Amsterdam and some other European cities along the route. The Akanu Ibiam Airport in Enugu was upgraded into an international airport, directly connecting the South-East region of the country to the outside world for the first time since independence.
Even though the existing ones were still begging for adequate funding with university teachers going on strike for almost one calendar year for the first time in Nigeria in 2013, establishment of nine federal universities across the country in states which previously had no federal degree awarding institution is a plus for Jonathan administration.
However, Jonathan’s declaration for a second term bid today has not enjoyed the overwhelming support of all and sundry in the ruling PDP let alone the entire country.
The manner in which the president and his kitchen cabinet hoodwinked other party stalwarts who had intention to participate in the party primaries with the president has been described as less than democratic.
Those who were recalcitrant like Sule Lamido, Governor of Jigawa were surreptitiously discouraged from going ahead with their ambition through the apparatus of EFCC. Even though the government of Jonathan was enmeshed in a $15m funds movement in South Africa without going through the official channel, Lamido’s son was arrested at the Lagos airport for going abroad with an undeclared sum of $50,000.
The general mood of the nation makes a comic show of today’s declaration by the president. Yesterday, 78 innocent school girls and boys were cut down in their prime ages by men of Boko Haram in Potiskum, Yobe State. Their sin was that they elected to acquire western education to ensure that they had a better future.
Over 13,000 had been killed by Boko Haram since it started its anti-western education war against the people of the Northern part of the country. The Nigerian military has remained helpless as the insurgents brandish superior weapons on the battle field.
About 200 Chibok school girls are still languishing in the various Boko Haram camps across the country. And the nation has not shown any serious concern and determination to rescue them. Many of them must have been married off by their captors as threatened by Shekau, the Boko Haram kingpin.
The fraudulent ceasefire agreement reached with the Islamic sect is about the lowest point of this administration. Worse still, apologists of government like Akin Osuntokun, a former president Obasanjo’s spokesman and now a Jonathan boy would go on air to foul the sensibilities of Nigerians incoherently defending the ineptitude of government in handling the Boko Haram issue.
He was only short of physically assaulting the Bringbackourgirls crusader, Oby Okwekesili on a Channels TV programme on October 18, 2014 after the fake ceasefire deal was reached with Boko Haram. The former Minister of Education had expressed reservations about the deal with the insurgents and argued that since the military had claimed twice that it had recovered the missing girls only to recant its claim almost immediately, it would only be wise to take government’s words with a pinch of salt.
Politicization of Boko Haram by Jonathan men when the menace would have been crushed before it became a demon has become the nemesis of this administration. One cannot but chuckle now when one hears Jonathan’s aides refer to the Boko Haram assaults as a war against Nigerians.
Doyin Okupe and his principal, Jonathan tongue-lashed Governor Shettima of Borno State when he stormed Aso Rock to alert the president on the dangerous trend the Boko Haram menace was assuming in April. He was called names for alluding to the fact that the Boko Haram fighters had better arms and ammunition, and incentives than the Nigerian troops.
Not long ago, however, the President requested for the Senate’s approval to borrow $1 billion form a foreign agency to purchase military equipment to prosecute the war against insurgency in the country.
On the political front, the president has his party PDP to conquer before facing Buhari, the potential APC flag bearer in the 2015 presidential election. There’s no gain saying the fact that this is not the best of times for the president as intra-party intrigues and crises seem to be tearing the ruling party apart. The president’s transparent preference for the superiority of the Governors over the national Assembly members in the just concluded controversial Congresses across the country further exposed the president’s clandestine plot to drop majority of the sitting federal lawmakers in preference for the Governors’ anointed candidates in the 2015 elections.
The protesting PDP Senators have since refused to work and they’ve threatened to work against the interest of the president and the party if what they describe as injustice is not reversed forthwith.
The supremacy of the Governors over other party members is also tearing the party apart in the states under PDP. The states that are worst hit are those where the Governors are the anointed sons of Mr. President. Some Governors like Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Gabriel Suswan of Benue and Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State can never do any wrong before the president. Having spent eight years in office as Governors, about ten of them have crossed the Rubicon to be in the Senate come next year at the expense of the sitting Senators.
The over-bearing influence of many of the friends of Mr President within and outside the government has put a cog in the wheel of progress of anti-corruption agencies like EFCC and ICPC. Ever since the advent of the present administration, Corruption in Nigeria seems to have degenerated further to a preposterous dimension. Unlike during the inglorious Obasanjo’s regime, no big personality in the society has been successfully prosecuted and sentenced by the court in the last five years for corruption offences.
Not a few Nigerians see the unconstitutional role of the first Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan in his husband’s government as an aberration. The crisis in Rivers State occasioned by the supremacy contest between former Minister of State for Education, Nysom Wike and other governorship aspirants under the platform of PDP is generally believed to have been exacerbated by the unchecked role of Patience in the politics of the State.
No government in Nigeria had ever been guilty of impunity as the present administration. The role of the presidency in the near judicial anarchy in Ekiti State over its determination to make Ayo Fayose Governor at all cost is unprecedented. Ayo Fayose had won the governorship election in the State; it becomes unfathomable why the presidency had to block the judicial process in the cases involving Fayose at the various courts in Ekiti until he was sworn-in as Governor. The militarization of the electoral process to intimidate opposition in Osun and Ekiti governorship elections was a classic example of a dictator in a democracy.
At the initial stage of his administration, Jonathan appeared to be oblivious of the enormity of the power his office possessed. And when he suddenly realized it, he has not been more popular for its misuse.
However, against all odds, the prospects of Jonathan’s continuing in office beyond 2015 are still bright as developments in the opposition camp are not in any way better. APC is facing challenges in the states under its control. Ogun, Oyo, Lagos and other APC controlled- states in the North are facing succession challenges which might give PDP an edge in the 2015 elections if not properly managed. The choice of the flag bearer of the party between former Vice president, Atiku Abubakar and former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari has become a nightmare for the elders of the party. It’s also believed that key players in APC might still defect to PDP or other lesser platforms to realize their political ambition if the APC primaries at all levels fail to favour them. By and large, the ability of the Jonathan administration to safely bring back the Chibok school girls to join their parents and bring an end to the Boko Haram excesses would be a major determining factor in the president’s realization of his dream to rule beyond May 29, 2015.