Let me say it straight away: Whenever there are security challenges anywhere in the world as we are witnessing with Boko Haram, the achievements of that administration would be blighted. The easiest way to breakdown a political opponent is to make this a major political campaign issue. In the case of our dear country, some political opponents of Goodluck Jonathan are also stoking insurgency in order to reap politically from the crisis. And then, a combination of high level sabotage/inept military leadership allowed the insurgency to get out of hand. I said it a few weeks back that Jonathan, as the Commander in Chief had not been firm and decisive on this issue. That was why the insurgency got out of hand. But suddenly, there is a ray of hope, with the multi-national force smoking the bastards out of their hideout. Jonathan’s deal with our neighbours around the Lake Chard Basin on counter-terrorism is working. If the momentum is maintained, in a couple of weeks, Boko Haram will become history.
However, we must not allow the insurgency in the North-east to becloud the landmarks of this administration; and they are numerous. For example, Jonathan has greatly deepened democracy in this country with consummate respect for free press, freedom of expression, human rights and virtually all democratic ethos. He is free from the madness of autocracy. That was why he signed into law the Freedom of Information Bill which Olusegun Obasanjo dumped. No President in the history of this country has received this much bashing by all sorts of people, and yet, we don’t get to hear of arrests and assassinations. We must also note that Jonathan allowed a strong opposition party to emerge without ‘influencing’ INEC. This is the first Nigerian President that will show great respect for INEC’s independence. I am sure that our chicken farmer in Abeokuta would not have allowed all these to happen. He would have railroaded INEC to stop APC. Jonathan has deepened democracy in our dear country by refusing to manipulate the result of elections as witnessed in the Anambra, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Osun states governorship elections. His party won only in Ekiti State.
I became interested in developments in the health sector under the Jonathan administration when the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan on October 2013 successfully carried out the first open heart surgery in the hospital; the first ever in its over 60 years history. The feat was carried out by UCH surgeons in conjunction with a team of surgeons from United States. The four-hour surgery corrected a leaking heart valve in a 19-year-old secondary school leaver.
The big question that followed was: When did UCH acquire the equipment and manpower for this kind of complex surgery? It all started about three years ago when the Jonathan administration embarked on massive refurbishment/modernization of federal health institutions across the country. The UCH, just like many federal health institutions benefited in terms of world class equipment and the training/re-training of its manpower overseas. The hospital has since carried out more open heart surgeries in the last three years. The Jonathan administration also re-introduced the overseas component of the Residency Training Programme and overseas refresher courses for young consultants and other health professionals in different specialties. Just like UCH, virtually all federal health institutions across the country have been positively impacted on in the last four years.
The local content law initiated and signed into law by Jonathan has empowered Nigerians and an estimated 30 per cent of oilfield services revenue now goes to companies owned by Nigerians. This is projected to hit 50 per cent in 2015. SEPLAT, a company created due to the government’s policies, now employs over 5,000 workers and produces over 70,000 barrels of oil per day.
We have surpassed South Africa and our economy is now the largest in Africa and the 26th largest in the world. Between 2011 and 2014, GDP growth hovered around 7%per annum, the highest in Sub-saharan Africa. According to a recent World Bank data, the Foreign Direct Investment in just the first six months of 2014 stood at $9.7 billion. The moribund automotive industry has been revived. Vehicles are currently being assembled in Nigeria after over 30 years comatose.
We are making progress with the growth of the agricultural sector. His administration eliminated the corruption in the distribution of fertilizers. This is the first government that showed commitment to returning this country to the good old days when agriculture played a significant role in our economy. For example, before 2012, there was only one world class rice mill in the country. But between 2012 and 2014, over 18 world class rice mills have been established across the nation.
The railway system once moribund is being resuscitated with many lines now back to life. Jonathan successfully unbundled the power sector. With the conclusion of the sales of gencos, and discos and government clearing up all legacy issues in the industry/successful completion of some of the major pipelines to feed the gas plants, generation and distribution capacity is climbing steadily.
Jonathan has in the last three years shown pronounced commitment to the education sector. A 4-Year Strategic Plan to support the actualization of the Transformation Agenda for the sector was developed. This is the only administration that has consistently increased allocation to the education sector in the last four years. For example, education budget increased from N409.5 billion in 2012 to N437 billion in 2013. In the last four years, 12 new federal universities were established across the country to ensure greater access to university education. It is heart-warming to know that there is now at least one federal university in every state.
Opponents of Jonathan should be reasonable enough to give him credit for the ongoing transformation of the nation’s airports. The Aviation Master Plan and Road Map approved by Jonathan in January 2012 is being passionately implemented. This is the first time that such a grand plan for the Nigerian Aviation Industry would be initiated and implemented passionately by any administration in this country. There are now two additional departure and arrival wings at the Murtala Mohammed international Airport. They have reduced queues during passenger processing. Terminals in airports across the country are being remodeled and upgraded. Again, for the first time in the history of this nation, an international airport took off in the South-east. This is the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, upgraded by the Jonathan administration.
Things are changing on federal roads across the country. We are not there yet, but we can see great improvement. There is a pleasant massive rehabilitation, reconstruction and expansion of major arterial highways by the Jonathan administration. This has reduced travel time between most origins and destinations on these arterial routes. Take a drive on the new look Benin-Ore axis, and you will understand what I mean. The “Operation Safe Passage” launched by the Federal Ministry of Works in 2012 has led to the repair of the failed sections of many federal highways. This is visible on roads like Ilorin to Jebba, Lafia to Makurdi, Aliade to Oturkpo/9th Mile, Enugu to Port Harcourt, Kano to Katsina and Odukpani to Itu. The Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road is also looking good.
There is a revolution going on in the industrial sector (the real sector) courtesy of the Jonathan administration. Manufactures in the country have never had it so good.
Indeed, this is the first time a government will fulfill virtually every commitment made to the manufacturing sector, resulting in massive improvement in industrial capacity utilization. Figures from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria show that between the Obasanjo and Yar’Adua administration, industrial capacity utilization dropped to about 39 per cent. In the last three years, capacity utilization has increased to about 49 per cent.
There was a N100 billion Textile Industry Resuscitation Fund announced by Obasanjo about 13 years ago. He never implemented it until he left office. Jonathan ensured that the money was released in 2012. Some textile mills in Kaduna, Kano and Lagos have roared back to life, creating new jobs for thousands of Nigerians.
There is the Export Expansion Grant introduced by Obasanjo to encourage manufacturing for export. He suspended the fund just after he initiated it. Jonathan has revived the grant and has been handing it to exporters. Manufacturers are now encouraged to produce for the export market, thus earning foreign exchange for the country. Nigerian manufactured goods are now all over the west coast and beyond, thanks to the EEG.
A N200 billion Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) was introduced by late President Yar’Adua but was hardly implemented. Jonathan has now fully implemented it, helping hundreds of farmers to set up agro-allied industries. A N10 billion rice processing fund was introduced by Obasanjo in 2002 but was never implemented. Jonathan has also fully implemented this. He is also implementing an Industrial Sector Refinancing Fund which bails out manufactures whose businesses are dying due to expensive debts owed to banks.
As February 14 beckons, let me say it loud and clear that we need a man that does not discriminate on the basis of religion or tribe. We need a man with great respect for our two great religions – Islam and Christianity. We need a man that relates with people, not on the basis of religion. We need a detribalised man who treats everybody equally whether you are from the North or South of this great country. We need a man that truly believes in the sanctity of equity, democracy and the rule of law. We need a man that will allow the media to consistently bash him (whether rightly or wrongly) without a draconian response.
Buhari is a good man. But the Presidency of Nigeria requires much-more than this. Buhari as a one-man anti-riot force cannot solve the problems of Nigerians. He is surrounded by too many shady characters. I need not go into this long list of dubious characters masquerading as progressives. We all know them. While terrorists attack our brothers in the North, most of these people jeer our soldiers and Jonathan. People who fail to work with the incumbent government to fight attacks by terrorists are callous and Godless and we must not reward them by voting them into power. These people want to hijack Buhari and this great country for their own selfish interest.
Again, we started a process with Obasanjo in 1999 and completed it in 2007, with the Owu Chief doing the maximum two terms allowed by the constitution. Power rotated to the North in 2007 and we started another process with Yar’Adua, the great statesman and patriot. By divine reasons, this process was truncated prematurely in 2010. We started another just process in 2011 with Jonathan. I believe we should complete this current process in the interest of equity and one-Nigeria. This is a food for thought as we prepare to vote.