Francis Moses examines the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan, in the last six years of his administration.
The Federal Executive Council’s (FEC), meeting on Wednesday took members by surprise as President Goodluck Jonathan tested his ministers and advisers and found them wanting. However, if there had been any prize, none of the ministers would have won anything, nor escaped punishment as among all the ministers, no one remembered that 6th of May, was the fifth anniversary of Mr. President at the Aso Villa as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It could be recalled that President Jonathan was sworn-in on May 6, 2010 by the then Chief Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, to succeed President Umaru Yar’Adua, who died on the 5th of May 2010 after a prolonged illness.
Jonathan, who had arrived at the Aso Council Chambers, venue of the meeting, sprang a surprise on all those in attendance.
The meeting usually starts with the President, calling for the National Anthem and recitation of The Pledge after which the FEC would begin. After The Pledge, the President casually told his ministers that the usual national prayer would not be said as someone in their midst was marking a birthday.
He said instead of the prayer, two members of council, a Christian and Muslim, should offer prayers for the council member whose birthday it was before the meeting would commence. The President said today, we would not say the national prayer, reminding that somebody is celebrating birthday, so we will offer special prayers for him.
But unfortunately the ministers did not understand what the President meant. As the ministers were still trying to guess who among them was marking his birthday, the President looked around and discovered that the ‘class monitor’ of the cabinet, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Mobolaji Johnson, was not in attendance.
He then turned to Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim to find out if he knew the minister who was celebrating and the former Senate president answered in the negative. At that point, the President broke the news and saved his ministers further headache, when he declared: “On May 6, 2010, exactly five years today, I was sworn-in as substantive President.”
Then, the ministers all gave voice to loud cheer, clapping, shouting their congratulations to Jonathan who, all the while, was smiling, nodding, acknowledging the heartfelt greetings and commendations. Although he lost in the last general election, many believe President Jonathan’s administration in the last six years has made remarkable achievements.
Acceptance of defeat: Perhaps, President Jonathan’s greatest achievement is accepting defeat in the March 28 presidential election even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), released the official result.
He said it was in a bid to prevent the already looming “collective tragedy” in the country. Jonathan made the disclosure in a separate meeting with the new ambassadors of France, Senegal and Ethiopia in Abuja.
He also stated that, “Democracy has to be nurtured to grow. Strong democratic institutions are the backbone and future of our democracy. “They must be protected and nurtured. As for me, as a matter of principle, it is always the nation first. You need to have a nation before you can have an ambition. It should always be the nation first.
You don’t have to scuttle national progress for personal ambition. “Since I assumed duty, I have been involved in quelling political crisis in some African countries and I know what they passed through and what some are still going through.
If you scuttle a system for personal ambition, it becomes a collective tragedy. “Although some people have expressed mixed feelings about the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I urge those who may feel aggrieved to follow due process based on our constitution and our electoral laws, in seeking redress.
“As I have always affirmed, nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. The unity, stability and progress of our dear country are more important than anything else. I congratulate all Nigerians for successfully going through the process of the March 28th General Elections with the commendable enthusiasm and commitment that was demonstrated nationwide.”
E-commerce payment: Nigerians are now a step closer to being fully integrated into the international e-commerce community with the approval and re-inclusion of Nigeria as one of the Paypal-compliant countries after being banned from using the service at the peak of the Advanced Fee Fraud (419 scams). With Paypal, Nigerians can now pay for goods and services online from anywhere in the world.
Remodelling Airports: In addition to the beautification and standardization of airports across the country, aircraft from Nigeria are now allowed to fly directly to the United States of America instead of going through many stopovers in Amsterdam and some other European cities along/in the route. The Akanu Ibiam Airport in Enugu was upgraded into an international airport, directly connecting the South-East region of the country to the outside world for the first time since independence.
Women Empowerment: Women in politics have been given more prominent roles in the current President Jonathan’s administration. A large number of the federal appointees of the Jonathan’s administration are women. They include, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Miriam Aloma Mukhtar, Nigeria’s first female Chief Justice; Diezani Alison- Madueke; ex-aviation minister Stella Oduah, Joy Ogwu, Nigeria’s representatives at the United Nations; Sarah Jibril; and Viola Onwuliri, among others.
Agricultural Sector Reforms: Agriculture has been given a major boost and made a priority in Nigeria since President Jonathan came into power. Food importation has been reduced by over 40% as of 2013, while the country has become the world’s largest producer of cassava, a staple food that is also used in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages and flour-based snacks. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Nigeria produced at least 45 million metric tonnes of cassava in 2014. Before the current administration, Nigeria was losing nearly ₦400 billion on a yearly basis due to Nigeria’s unenviable status as the world’s second largest importer of rice. But since the president assumed office, Nigeria has risen to become a net producer of rice, employing tens of thousands of people and ensuring a stable supply of the crop in the process.
Education Sector Reforms: The federal government of Nigeria deserves a lot more commendations than it is currently getting for its giant strides in the education sector. The establishment of nine new federal universities, the formation of the Almajiri system of education in northern Nigeria and the enrolment of outof- school children in Southern Nigeria (both of which ordinarily and constitutionally should be within the purview of state governments) and the computerization of the tertiary matriculation examinations are just a few of the giant strides the present government has made in the education sector within the past five years.
Rehabilitation of rail system: Prior to the administration of president Jonathan in 2010, the railway system of transportation was in moribund and he vowed to revitalize it. Today, the president is leaving a functional system, which has provided the most inexpensive mode of transportation for the people. “Today, four years later, I am happy that our railways are back on track. Our people can now take the Lagos-Kano service for only N1,930 and the Port Harcourt-Enugu service for only N300. And we are not stopping here. This administration just completed the tracks for the Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Railway. Plans have reached an advantage stage for a new rail line from Lagos to Calabar and another between Ibadan and Lagos,” the president had said.” Since government is a continuum, many believe that the administration of President Jonathan would leave behind a worthy legacy from where the in-coming administration would continue.