President Goodluck Jonathan’s recent declaration to, once again, vie for the Presidency on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has deepened the discourse on his achievements thus far.
The opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, is crying itself hoarse that Jonathan has not achieved anything. The PDP, and several other groups sympathetic to the President, are presenting, yes, shouting an unending list of Jonathan’s achievements across all media platforms. What then should the ordinary Nigerian believe?
To all intents and purposes, Jonathan and all the other Nigerians who aspire to ascend the Presidency on May 29, 2015, are applying for a job. Every Nigerian who is of voting age; has a valid voter card, and no legal impediment against casting a vote on February 14, 2015, is a potential employer of Jonathan and all the other presidential job seekers.
What do potential employers ask job seekers to do? Submit their curriculum vitae and if deemed suitable, they may be invited for an aptitude test and/or interview. At every job interview, job seekers can expect to answer one obligatory question among others. That mandatory question is: What have you accomplished thus far in your career that makes you believe you are the right candidate for this job?
Prior to his re-election bid declaration, many Jonathan sympathisers had complained that his accomplishments were under-reported, especially in the print media. Mindful of this anomaly and the fact that the propaganda machinery of his detractors is presently in overdrive to discredit him, Jonathan brought a long list of accomplishments to his declaration, an event that could be likened to a job interview.
The first significant accomplishments Jonathan mentioned were the commencement of the Presidential Initiative for the North East, establishment of the Victim Support Fund and the Safe School Initiative. He said: “The Presidential Initiative for the Northeast is focused on improving infrastructure and economic growth in the region. The Safe School Initiative is centred on creating a safe environment to encourage our children in the communities to acquire education. The Victim Support Fund, a partnership with the Private Sector, has raised about N60 billion, which will help to empower and rehabilitate victims of terror.”
Equally conscious of the fact that his employers face electricity challenges, President Jonathan signposted the direction in which he has led the country. According to him, in the electricity sector, “Nigeria has undertaken a most transparent and corruption free bidding process, attracting global commendation. The on-going 450MW Azura Power Plant in Edo State is a testimony to the success of this transformation.” Jonathan further added: “We have also resumed development of our Hydro-Power potential, with the construction of the 700MW Zungeru Hydro-Power Plant, while construction work on the 3,050MW Mambilla Hydro-Power Plant is about to take off.”
Concerning potable water and provision of sanitation infrastructure, President Jonathan said: “In the past three and a half years, the water sector has witnessed unprecedented improvement. Access to potable water is now 67%, up from 58% in 2010, while sanitation coverage is 41%, from 32% within the same period.”
As important as electricity and potable water may be, these things cannot be more important to Nigerians than food production. Therefore, President Jonathan knew well enough to give a clear report of what he had done in that aspect. He said: “We are reforming the National Urban Water supply programmes in 12 states, with 385 formal and informal irrigation projects, covering… (an extensive) land area cultivated mostly by small holder farmers. This has yielded over three million metric tons of assorted grains and vegetables, with a market value of about N45 billion.”
Thereafter, Jonathan continued reciting his long list of 150 new Almajiri schools, railways and roads reconstructed, airports refurbished, and new bridges built around the country. But something that must have struck many Nigerians as innovative and interesting was what he had to say about the country’s major inland waterway.
While presenting the report of his leadership, Jonathan said: “My administration has successfully completed the dredging of the lower River Niger from Baro in Niger State to Warri in Delta State. The cheering news is that over 6.7 million passengers and over 1.6 million tons of cargo have been moved through this channel in less than three years.”
To illustrate his leadership in the rapid industrialisation of the country, President Jonathan reported: “Our support for cement production is unprecedented. We have increased our installed capacity from 16.5 million metric tons per annum in 2011 to 39.5 million metric tons per annum in 2014. Nigeria is now exporting cement.”
On the issue of jobs, the President stated: “Our efforts to create an enabling environment for job creation in different sectors of the economy, including the MSME sector, agriculture, housing and manufacturing have yielded results. Between the third quarter of 2012, when we started tracking jobs created and the end of 2013, 1.9 million jobs were created. To deepen our success in this area, I have created a Presidential Jobs Creation Board headed by the Vice President with the mandate to create at least two million jobs a year.”
Despite all that, perhaps the most important thing that President Jonathan said at his re-election bid declaration, which I consider a veritable enabler, is his claim to having provided an atmosphere for freedom of expression. Read him: “Let me re-affirm that under a Jonathan Presidency, your views, no matter how freely expressed, will not send you to prison or into exile.” This, for me, is fundamental and represents the greatest democracy dividend; and no other presidential aspirant has demonstrated that he can be as tolerant as Jonathan. For this and all the other reasons enumerated above, Jonathan will surely get the vote of this writer on February 14, 2015.
*Mr John Ainofenokhai, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Lagos