Nigeria: Take Another Look At Jonathan
By Doyin Okupe, Thisday
Doyin Okupe writes that despite the criticisms against the present administration, history will vindicate President Goodluck Jonathan as a change agent in critical period of the nation’s history
Without doubt or fear of equivocation, I strongly believe that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan deserves commendation for the successes he has achieved in his transformation agenda since he was sworn-in on May 29, 2011.
Nigeria has had numerous leaders and various regimes, yet, history will definitely record this period we are going through as one the most progressive and one within which much has been accomplished within such a short time without the usual cacophony which had accompanied lesser achievements in the past.
The persistent inadequacy in the availability of electricity had been a persistent menace that has disturbed and perplexed our citizenry for so long. Various governments have made several unfruitful attempts to solve this problem but with no apparent success.
Yet, President Jonathan, on that fateful democracy day of May 29 2011, slightly over a year ago, on an auspicious day- like a little David- promised that he would fall this Goliath that had bedeviled our nation for so long.
President Jonathan, after the seemingly embarrassing reception he received, both from Nigerians and externally concerning the integrity of the election that heralded the victory of his joint ticket with the late President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, promised solemnly that he would remove the scourge of electoral shame that tended to undermine the integrity of our elections, making successive Governments lack the legitimacy that is required for effective leadership and governance. He promised the Nigerian people that he would not only ensure sound electoral reform but that the vote of every Nigerian would count, whether rich or poor; man, woman or youth.
In this hazardous undertaking which cynics hardly believed in, President Jonathan delivered on his promise of free and fair general and Presidential elections and that was what Nigerians had in 2011.This feat he has repeated in two or more states since then, gradually laying the solid foundation for our democracy. It is clear to all, including the leadership and members of his own party- the PDP- that the “new kid on the block ” will not buckle under any pressure to faithfully keep to his avowed promise of preserving the sanctity of the votes of Nigerians at any elections.
The base of our economy is being diversified from its monolithic dependency status to include potentially huge revenues from agricultural reforms. Rail transportation is being revived nationwide and our hitherto dilapidated infrastructure is gradually being attended to nationwide. The East -West road is in full throttle, the Benin-Shagamu road has received an injection of massive funds and the all, important Lagos -Ibadan expressway, a pioneer PPP project is being revisited and the first phase of repair and reconstruction has begun in earnest.
The economy has also remained healthy with commendable growth rate of 6.9%.The foreign reserves has hit $40bn and is on an upward trajectory to $50bn and for the first time ever, a sovereign wealth fund has been established for Nigeria with its attendant effect of reinforcing the confidence in our financials by our trading partners and foreign investors.
Our people have complained that while they can concede the reality of macroeconomic improvements, the lives of the ordinary Nigerian is yet to get any better. The truth is that this government as a responsible administration has employed the appropriate strategy to alleviate the suffering of the masses. The government has spent time and effort to design and execute the right fiscal reforms and policies that will form the framework that will deliver food on the tables of our citizens. The time for planting and nurturing is almost over and the harvest is definitely round the corner.
Unfortunately, the government and the people of this country were shell-shocked by the havoc, wreckage and wanton destruction of life and property by the Boko Haram Insurgency. This administration, though obviously unprepared for this unprecedented level of internal explosion, unrelenting violence and heightened insecurity, has risen with admirable aptitude and dexterity in the control and containment of this insurgency. It is, without doubt, that the Boko Haram threat which started as a localised sect avenging the unjustified killing of their leader, was soon overtaken by a dastardly political group and also regrettably by another criminal group.
But never in the global history of Insurgency, from the Philippine insurgency to the Tamil rebels of Sri Lanka, to the Malaysian insurgency, the IRA to the Maghreb insurgency in North Africa has so much progress been made so rapidly by a nation at Insurgency containment within a period of just one year.
It is evident that our security forces are equal to the task as they appear to have been able to limit and curtail the scope of the insurgency through their eagle eyed intelligence and the deployment of newly acquired cutting edge technology in a wholly modern and integrated security infrastructure.
The lull in the activities of Boko Haram in recent times is not just a fluke. It is a product of patriotic commitment, dedication, courage and hard work often accompanied by the loss of lives of our security personnel. All these have been achieved through the effective and committed leadership of our unassuming, but resilient President.
Ordinarily, the Presidency of Nigeria ought to command respect from every loyal and patriotic citizen and certainly from the little said above and the even more left unsaid, President Jonathan deserves respect and commendation and not insults and abuse.
This is why we are shocked when our revered and respected Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, described the president as someone who has lost touch with reality or someone troubled by his conscience. None of these two descriptions can be used to describe a young man, who rather than use the enormity of the power of his office brutally, deploys such to constructively transforming the nation and making life better for its citizenry.
His remarks about the January fuel subsidy demonstrators are not far-fetched. After all, who were the true leaders and organisers of the protests but his erstwhile contestants and competitors who cannot believe that they lost the election to a nationally preferred and politically accepted Personality.
Finally and very recently, the debate on the usefulness or otherwise of the 5000 note may have come and gone, but the real statesman is the president who while believing in the project which is within his lawful powers to endorse and approve, has tilted to public opinion. Because of the orchestrated and voluble opposition, took sides with the Nigerian people and asked the CBN to have yet another look at the policy .This clearly shows he is a listening president and is fully in touch with his people. It is about time Nigerians took another good look at President Goodluck Jonathan.
• Okupe is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs