The Obama administration has been advised to disregard the claim by the 12 northern states’ governors who recently visited the White House, where they blamed President Goodluck Jonathan for the mounting insurgency and killings by the Boko Haram sect.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, gave the advice in Washington on Monday, saying that it was frivolous for the 12 governors to blame the Boko Haram insurgency on the best President Nigeria has ever had.
Okupe, who addressed the media and a section of the Washington Diplomatic Corps at the National Press Club on various issues affecting the political space in the country, said it was both unserious and misleading for the governors to abandon the issue of shared experience and solution to counter terrorism and blame a president whose tenure was preceded by the activities of the terrorist group in the North.
The presidential aide said one of the ways the president was fighting Boko Haram was through the introduction of massive education in the North inclusive of the Almajiri system which is meant to rehabilitate many young northerners whose idleness makes them easy recruits for terrorist groups such as Boko Haram.
According to Okupe, over 10.5 million Nigerians are presently out of school and the Jonathan administration was doing all it can to get them back to the classroom with emphasis on the North-east geopolitical zone.
Under Jonathan, Okupe said, the economy of Nigeria has never been this good since 1960, surpassing the World Bank’s prediction in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said under the same president Nigeriaâ€™s foreign reserve had grown from about $16 billion to $42.9 billion with a rising Sovereign Wealth Fund, a robust Nigerian Stock Exchange, quoted as the largest in Africa, followed by South Africa and Egypt.
He said these achievements had taken place in under three years of the Jonathan administration.
Okupe chided the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi for deceiving the Nigerian public with his ever shifting figures which moved from $49 billion to $12 billion and then $20 billion.
He asked his hosts if the chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank would stay in office one minute longer than was necessary if he had fed the American populace with such deceptive figures, adding that there was a huge difference between a missing fund and one that was yet to be accounted for.
He said Sanusi went on suspension because he presented a questionable and inaccurate 2012 audited account of the CBN which made the presidency to ask for the report of the 2013 audited account which he failed to present, prompting an investigation ordered by the president â€œand you cannot run an investigation with the CBN governor in office. That was why he was asked to step aside.â€
He reminded the audience that CBN governor was suspended and not sacked which was completely in order to save the nation’s economy.
Okupe asked the US audience whether it was acceptable for the US Federal Reserve Bank chairman to make such a mistake?
Still detailing the achievements of the Jonathan administration, Okupe noted that the president has done well on infrastructure with 200 kilometers of road construction in every zone of the country and a comprehensive renovation of 22 airports in the country, inclusive of designs and beautification, improvement in safety, security and expansion of radar coverage.
On agriculture, he told his audience that Nigeria was today the largest exporter of cassava overtaking Indonesia with an increase in rice production and a decrease on importation.
According to Okupe, with the privatisation of the PHCN and transfer of ownership to private companies with 11 distribution and six generating companies, Nigeriaâ€™s poor power sector which had been ailing since the 1960s would experience the expected turn around in the not too distant future, with 10,000 megawatts generation by 2015.
Nigeriaâ€™s Ambassador to the US Prof. Ade Adefuye, concluded the press conference by noting the current problems of the Jonathan administration, saying it was the result of years of bad government which cannot be solved in two or three years.
Adefuye said the Jonathan administration cannot be blamed for the terrorist activities in Nigeria as some people would want to convince the world, rather he noted that Nigeria was paying the price for trying to integrate the countries of ECOWAS through its signing of several protocol agreements that include a free passage of goods and services, which is the only reason that terrorists can come from Chad, Niger, Cameroun, strike our targets and run back to these countries.
The ambassador reassured his audience that the Jonathan administration was trying to repair the long inherited problems of Nigeria.