Between Jonathan and Buhari (2)

MY presidential ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.”So said President Goodluck Jonathan before the 2011 presidential ballot. To this day, he has continued to reiterate his pacifist message.

But entrenched in an antipodal zone is General Muhammadu Buhari who made the following incendiary statement in the Vanguard of May 15, 2012: “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would be soaked in blood.” So, where is the basis for comparison between the Nigerian President and the presidential candidate of the APC? Wetin concern centre rank with open order?

The opposition is daily on television, advertising General Obasanjo – a man who traitorously tried but woefully failed to wangle himself into a third, unconstitutional term of presidential office –peering into a script and croakily announcing that Dr. Jonathan had committed himself to a single term of office as President of Nigeria. The opposition’s intention is to portray President Jonathan as untrustworthy. But, all the money thrown into that dubious political advert achieved nothing. This is because, had there been a commitment to a single term, it would have had to come from the mouth of the one expected to live the commitment. But, there sat Dr. Jonathan, astonished, as Obasanjo read a script of his own and his cohorts’ composition, aimed at scoring points that can only be devious. Of course, President Jonathan couldn’t possibly be tied to a questionable pact whose enunciation he knew next to nothing about.

Contrast this to General Buhari, who upon his third successive thrashing at the presidential ballot, addressed a press conference, telling Nigerians on live television that he was through with further participation in partisan politics, including presidential elections. Who,then has taken Nigerians for a ride? The one on whose account various schemes were devised to impose a single presidential tenure, or the one who said “No more” only to renege?

In the first half of this submission, it was demonstrated that there existed a stark difference between day and night. Buhari had torn the Nigerian Constitution by shooting himself to power, whereas President Jonathan assumed the highest office in the land on the basis of the people’s mandate. Not only that, the democratic credentials of President Jonathan are self-evident. For instance, despite unprecedented media calumniation, he presented Nigeria with the glittering democratic dividend of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.This cannot be said for General Buhari who, as military Head of State, handcuffed and imprisoned the Nigerian media.

In discussing Nigeria’s economy, the best person to speak for the Jonathan administration is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance:”We are improving infrastructure across the country. For example, 22 airport terminals are being refurbished, and five new international airport terminals under construction in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja, and Enugu…

“Various road and bridge projects have either been completed or are under construction. Those completed include the Enugu – Abaliki road in Enugu/Ebonyi States, the Oturkpo–Oweto road in Benue State, the Benin–Ore–Shagamu highway, and the Abuja–Abaji–Lokojadualization, and the Kano–Maiduguri dualization. The Lagos – Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge are under construction.

“Rail from Lagos to Kano is now functional, as are parts of the rail link between Port Harcourt and Maiduguri. All these have brought transport costs down. We recognize that more needs to be done in the power sector, but bold steps (like the privatization of the GENCOs and DISCOs) have been taken, and our gas infrastructure is being developed to power electricity generation

“In Agriculture, over 6 million farmers now have access to inputs like fertilizers and seeds through an e-wallet system, which is more than the 403,222 that had access in 2011. Rice paddy production took off for the first time in our history, adding about 7 million MT to rice supply. An additional 1.3 million MT of Cassava has also been produced and as a result, the rate of food price increase has slowed considerably, according to the NBS.

“In Housing, we have put in place a new wholesale mortgage provider – the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC) – to provide affordable mortgages to ordinary Nigerians, starting with those in the low-middle income bracket. This sector will help the economy grow as we tap it as an economic driver for the first time. Mortgage applications from 66,000 people are currently being processed and 23,000 have already received mortgage offers

“Our Manufacturing sector is reviving with new automobile plants by Nissan, Toyota, etc. This is in addition to the backward integration policy in key sectors like petrochemical, sugar, textiles, agro processing and cement, which Nigeria is now producing 39,000 MT and exporting to the region.

“The Creative sector is now a factor in our GDP, with Nollywood alone accounting for 1.4 percent, creating over 200,000 direct jobs and nearly 1 million indirect jobs. This is the first Administration to recognize its importance and support its further development with a grant program.”

What is General Buhari going to do about the Nigerian economy?An answer can be found in APC’s manifesto on whichEconomics professor Charles Soludo, an ardent sympathizer of the party, has the following adverse commentary: “Buhari and his team must realize that they do not yet have a coherent, credible agenda that is consistent with the fundamentals of the economy currently. The APC manifesto contains some good principles and wish-lists, but as a blue print for Nigeria’s security and prosperity, it is largely hollow. The numbers do not add up.” Buhari, a former military Head of State,has thrice tried to be elected president and is currently a presidential candidate. How does one explain that he has but only a “largely hollow” manifesto regarding the country’s future?

While this is pondered, attention should be turned to national security. Alhaji ShehuShagari is alive and well, thanks to God’s abiding mercies. The ex-President can confirm that, after Maitatsine insurgents were crushed under his watch, he told an interviewer that he was grateful to God that the insurgency had happened in his home region because, had it taken place elsewhere, opposition politicians would have accused him of killing civilians who were not his kith and kin. President Jonathan has been in this dilemma. He ordered troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists to be wary of collateral damage. It was one reason the initial sightings of the kidnapped Chibok girls did not lead to military offensive, given that such an action could have endangered the lives of the young girls everybody wants returned alive. Yet, every military move against the terrorists is followed by strident opposition threats to head to The Hague and file suits against “human rights” abuses.

The fact is that President Jonathan’s best efforts and commendable achievements have, at every turn, been vitiated by negative press contrived by the opposition and promoted by international lobbyists who religiously collect their dollars by the millions but care not a hoot whether Nigeria burns or drowns. There is one consolation though: no one can bury the truth.

By Chuks Iloegbunam

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