3rd November, 2014
By Ben Nanaghan
For those who are averse to anything good about President Goodluck Jonathan, for those who openly sponsor Boko Haram to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Joanthan, for the ex-CBN governor who remitted millions of dollar notes to sponsor Boko Haram, for the former President who openly called for a Nigerian “Arab Spring” and an outright revolution to overthrow GEJ, for the North-Western Governor who openly advocated a military putsch to truncate GEJ’s tenure, and Nigeria’s existence, and for Nigeria’s opposition parties which prefers GEJ’s failure to Nigeria’s triumph- I have bad news for you all.
The bad news is that instead of failure GEJ is recording unprecedented success in all spheres of governance. Instead of disappointment the President is giving radiant and transparent hope to Nigerians who have never had it so good in the history of our existence.
Whether the Naysayer’s like it or not, Nigeria is developmentally advancing in the areas of electoral processes, the economy, education, agriculture, capital market, infrastructure, roads and highway network, railway network, airport transformation and other salient reforms.
The biggest headache President Goodluck Jonathan had on coming to office, even as Vice President was the issue of electoral unacceptability and disaster. The President narrated how Nigerian leaders were pooh-poohed in the comity of nations as election riggers whose tenures of governorship were illegitimate in the eyes of the international community. President Jonathan believed that the days of “do or die”, politics should be consigned to the dustbin of Nigeria’s checkered history.
President Jonathan had a set goal in mind in respect of electoral success and elaborately enunciated this even before he became president.
During his declaration of interest for the PDP presidential primaries on 18 September, 2010, GEJ averred: “I pledge once again to all the people of this nation that they will have a free and fair election.” President Jonathan’s pledge for a free and fair election is a radical departure from the “do or die politics” of a recent but former Nigerian President. And Nigerians are happy and beneficiaries of the peace, tranquility and security of lives and properties which has now characterised our post-2007 national and state elections. The most recent being the Ekiti and Oshun state gubernatorial elections.
In the Ekiti/Oshun gubernatorial election we did not hear of loss of lives and properties and the courts were not inundated with unending electoral petitions. As a result of intractable and extremely complex electoral conflicts and conundrums, many electoral results were settled in our courts with billions of naira inexplicably lost in the process.
On the 15 October 2014 at the Eagles Square Abuja, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari declared his intention to fire the 4th salvo at the Nigerian presidency the All Progressives Congress (APC). General Buhari even to the surprise of his avowed fans averred with his characteristic and unconvincing blandness that the Nigerian economy was “going down”. For me the term “going down” to describe a nation’s economy is too primary-school-like, too pedestrian and unintellectual. General Buhari’s declaration was so languid and hollow that any primary school pupil would have livened it up. His understanding of corruption has not transcended his July 1984 attempted kidnap and crating of Umaru Dikko from England to Nigeria. General Buhari is still too much in the past to understand the complicated system of a nation that has the biggest economy in Africa and the world’s 23rd. Just about a year ago, 17th October 2013, the world’s most revered fiscal rating and grading agency, Fitch Global Rating Agency gave the Nigeria economy a pass mark to the chagrin and enormous discomfiture of Nigeria’s opposition party. Several foreign fiscal expert agencies also predicted stability for the Nigerian Economy to grow at a 10% double digit rate if we overcome our energy challenges.
On May 13, 2014 the CBN confirmed Nigeria’s external reserve as $37 BN. If the world’s 2nd largest economy China has $3 TRN, the world’s 23rd economy is not doing badly at all even though there is room for improvement. Fitch Global Rating also confirmed Nigeria’s long term foreign and local currency (Issuer Default Ratings) as BB – and BB respectively with a stable outlook. Our short term IDR was also highly rated as B and BB.
And despite Boko Haram Nigeria recorded the highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of $7BN in Africa. Even if APC does not trust GEJ, Foreign Investors have implicit confidence in him because of his honesty and trustworthiness unlike some previous Nigerian leaders. President Goodluck Jonathan has also drastically reduced government annual borrowing from N852BN in 2011 to N588 BN in 2013.
Kudos surely must be given to the President Jonathan Transformation Team for these 1st class successes. Figures from Nigeria’s re-based economy show that our GDP is $503 while South Africa comes a distant 2nd at $350. An economy that monopolizes 76% of the total Ecowas economy can’t be un-intellectually termed “going down”. These figures are all authenticated by CBN, National Bureau of Statistics, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
And what a befitting finale when who else but Nigeria’s Federal Minister for Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was chosen on October 10th 2014 by a panel of leading International Investment Consultants as Africa’s best Finance Minister of the year in a highly competitive contest.
This Laurel for President Goodluck Jonathan will give General Buhari and his “going down” economy adherents goose pimples and of course so much confusion. But for GEJ and his Transformation Team, it is a heart warming, sweet piece of cake.
In the area of grassroots education, GEJ has established over 120 well equipped almajiri Schools to upgrade and uplift the social status of the ignorant and jobless almajiri who are ready tools for terrorism in the hands of the Northern Elite. No Northern politician or leader has done half as much as GEJ has done in encouraging education among the Northern talakawas and almajiris.
GEJ’s love for Nigeria’s educational system was fully appreciated when he met all of ASUU’s demands in September 2013 before the Nasir el-Rufai politically sponsored strike was called off. The ASUU President Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge who is also a bosom friend of Nasir el-Rufai insisted on the Federal Government meeting all the agreements between the Federal Government and ASUU including the 2009 FGN/ASUU and the January 2012, Memoranda of Understanding (MOU). ASUU has received all subventions, grants and allocations it asked for and the nation is happier for the ensuing peace on our campuses.
In the Agricultural sector, there is a visible revolution going on. There is a new vision and a new mission to galvanize a new template in the sector. The President Goodluck Jonathan Transformational Train is going full blast at a non-stop speed. One of the darkest spots of the Agriculture sector has always been fertilizer supply and distribution. I remember in General Buhari’s 1984, one of the easiest ways to become a billionaire was to work in AFCON where corruption became the order of the day. But today the Agricultural sector has been internationally acclaimed to be free of corruption in the supply and distribution of fertilizer. Here is a testimony from Alhaji Aliyu Tanko of BBC’s Hausa service, “Nigeria has introduced more transparency into the supply and distribution of fertilizers which had previously been marred by massive corruption”.
In a booster that shocked doubting Thomases, Nigeria’s Minister for Agricultural Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina on the 3rd December 2013 was named Forbes’ AFRICAN of the year for his wealth of ideas and reforms in the Agricultural sector. Dr. Chris Bishop, Forbes’ Africa Editor, sums it up thus: “Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina is a man on a mission to help Africa feed itself”. This African of the year Award was a very keen slug-out with giants of the business world like Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia of Nigeria, Patrice Motsepe of South Africa and Mr. Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe among others. During his acceptance speech the minister who is also called “friend of Nigeria’s farmers” intoned: “my goal is to make as many millionaires, may be trillionaires from agriculture as possible.” Dr. Adesina also insists that “Nigeria must become a powerhouse in agriculture”.
Today Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world. Nigeria has also reduced her food import bill by well over 40% as at October 2013 and increased local production of rice, cassava, sorghum, cotton and cocoa by between 25-56%. Due to the confidence in the sector, there is a massive investment by both local and international investors. The World Economic Forum has also offered $3.5BN to boost agriculture and assist small farm holders in the country. Today millions of hitherto dejected and rejected farmers are smiling to the bank. Let us encourage what is good in our nation. The 19th century Agrarian Revolution in England was given the greatest hype and formally documented and canonized. Nigeria, GEJ and Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina deserve kudos in the agriculture sector.
Another area where Nigeria won one more laurel is in the financial sector where Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was voted the “most innovative capital market” in Africa for the year 2013.
Ms Arumna Oteh, Director-General of the SEC, was the proud recipient of the Award on behalf of Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan has been very supportive of Ms Oteh’s foresighted reforms which have shored up global confidence in the Nigerian capital market.
We also remember that for the first time in the 100 years history of this great country, a Nigerian was appointed President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in November 2013. Dr. Olumuyiwa Babatunde Aliu is also the first African to be so appointed by the global body represented by 172 countries.
Also on October 16th 2012, the United Nations admitted Nigeria into its Security Council Seat as a non-permanent member of the body for a period of 2 years with 186 out of 193 voting for Nigeria. And on the 3rd January 2014 Nigeria formally occupied its UN security council seat for 2014 and 2015.
The President’s achievements in the areas of pension reform are highly commendable. The long pension queues where Nigerian senior citizens died in their dozens is now a thing of the past. The “Occupy Abuja” project by retired soldiers has now retired into oblivion. Just recently the Federal Government approved free medical services for all retired soldiers.
Also the billion naira pension thieves have been arrested, tried and jailed and there is a lot of sanity in PENCOM under the eagle watch of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Our Airports have now become places of pride in the assessment of the international community.
The Enugu Airport was also opened by President Goodluck Jonathan on August 23, 2013, the same day our comatose Nigerian railways commenced its first track trip in the western railway command.
Our achievements in the area of road network is highly commendable. The East West Road when completed will be one of Africa’s best trunk ‘A’ roads. The Ore-Benin Highway has already been resurfaced.
So many forces are working for the success of President Goodluck Jonathan. When Mr. Sawyer the Liberian-American came to spread the ebola virus little did America know that the divine hand will pull us out of the ebola crisis. America bluntly refused to assist us in anyway just like they discouraged the whole world from coming to our aid to fight Boko Haram. But the World Health Organization declared Nigeria ebola-free on 20th October 2014 as there has not been a fresh case for the past six weeks. And America has already sent a medical team to understudy Nigeria’s management of the EVD due to Dr. Spencer’s ebola case in New York which has set America on fire.
Our power crisis has improved since November 1st 2013 when the Federal Government formally privatized the power sector. But there is still much improvement anticipated. Our 4500 megawatts since 2012 is a step in the right direction. Nigerians must however appreciate that some past leaders who were involved in the generator business will always want power to malfunction. These are the saboteurs and remember Chief Bola Ige died trying to fix Nigeria’s power crisis.
Under GEJ’s watch the government inspired scarcity of petroleum products and the long queues have vanished. The single diesel importer syndrome or diesel monopolist who immediately shot up on the Forbes billionaire ladder is also no more. All these are enough to declare President Goodluck Jonathan an enemy and fight against his re-election. I know this cabal will not rest but finally GEJ will triumph.
Regarding GEJ’s respect for the rule of law, there has never been a Nigerian President who has been so conscious of his responsibilities, constitutional limits and privileges regarding inter-governmental relationship between the executive, legislature and the Judiciary. The President is the most tolerant (to a fault), humane, and humble president Nigeria has had in its 100 years history. The President operates an open-house democracy where every Nigerian will be heard and opportune to achieve his of her optimum professionally. The governors in Ekiti, Ondo, Oshun, Edo and Anambra became governors because GEJ refused to interfere with the judiciary. He finds it very injurious to trample and infringe on people’s freedom and rights because he has fully identified with the masses of Nigeria.
Finally, do we still remember that Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke was made OPEC’s alternate President late in the year 2013?
The World Economic Forum (WEF) came to Nigeria and West Africa for the first time in its existence. The WEF is a Geneva-based non-profit organization whose primary goal is the improvement of the world’s economy. It takes a President like GEJ to convince such a revered body to come to a country like Nigeria which has been certified by UNCTAD for two years running as the worlds’ preferred investment destination in Africa.
In all aspects of governance GEJ and his Transformation Train have gathered and scored so many firsts, so many medals, so many awards and is therefore primus inter pares among African presidents and Nigerian Presidents from 1960.
Let ALL Nigerians Unite and re-elect GEJ in 2015.
God bless Nigeria.
•Nanaghan wrote from Lagos
•E-mail: [email protected]