THROUGHOUT history, we have recorded accounts of the persecution of reformers, transformers, prophets and saints. Back home in Nigeria, we have had our fair share of leadership interlopers who came in the garb of military rulers lamenting the state of the nation’s affairs, and promising us Eldorado, but only to dash our hopes. In contrast, they became worse than the leaders they condemned.
If we recall, late General Murtala Muhammed overthrew General Yakubu Gowon on allegations bothering on incompetence and lack of vision. Murtala himself was killed in a botched military putsch based on reasons best known to the coupists, one of which was high handedness. Eventually, we transited to a democratic order under Alhaji Shehu Shagari, but this was again short-lived as the military under the headship of General Muhammadu Buhari overthrew the democratically elected government on allegations of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and ineptitude.
In today’s Nigeria, in a bid to seize power from the Jonathan administration, the opposition party APC is resonating this familiar refrain of incompetence, ineptitude, corruption,etc, in the rather desperate desire to supplant the PDP government.
Now, for the analytical mind, the issues to consider are – on what parameters is the Jonathan administration being evaluated and what are the basis for the conclusions already arrived at by the opposition? Fundamentally speaking, can we say that this administration has performed abysmally low or optimally high? To answer these posers, it is worth stating that this is the first administration to tackle most of the country’s developmental challenges frontally. For precision, let me enumerate some of the landmark achievements.
The Jonathan administration is the first to remodel Nigeria’s 22 airports and started new ones, all within the first two years of his administration. The new generation of Nigerians born in the late 70s and 80s did not know what rail transportation is until this administration came into being. Today, passenger trains are traversing the length and breadth of the country with more rail lines being rehabilitated.
Power which has remained a recurring decimal in terms of outages has been fixed significantly, with the Power Holding Company and its subsidiaries unbundled and privatised for greater efficiency. Under the Jonathan administration, women empowerment which has hitherto being relegated to the background has suddenly received practical attention. For the first time in our history, there are more women in the federal cabinet. This is unprecedented and remarkable move demonstrates that the present administration is sensitive to the yearnings of Nigerian women and its citizens.
A president that spends time with the disabled, artistes, students, sportsmen and women can only be described as a man of the people. One therefore begins to wonder why a few politicians are bent on castigating his every move. In the area of concrete achievements, it is easy to point at numerous projects that have sprung up in the life of this administration. From the North to the East, South to West, one can point at projects under construction with some nearing completion and others already completed, yet the opposition is still using the word inept on the performance of Mr. President.
Talk of the power projects, road projects, almajiri schools in the Northern part of the country; setting up of additional six federal universities, airports remodeling, railways rehabilitation, accelerated development of FCT and many other areas that the Jonathan administration is impacting on our lives.
If all the above projects and others too numerous to mention are not achievements, maybe we need new benchmarks for evaluating performance and a new definition for achievements. In all sincerity, there is no basis for the opposition to engage in outright lies and deception concerning Mr. President’s achievements, by denying Nigerians facts and figures of the government’s report card. If they are in doubt, they can resort to the administration’s midterm report, where the concrete achievements are listed in black and white. So, why demonise an achiever, and as many Nigerians have described him, the best president Nigeria has ever produced.
Under this same administration, Nigeria has emerged as African football champions in senior and junior categories, and now aiming to conquer the world at the World 2014 Cup finals in Brazil. This is unprecedented and monumental achievements for a sports loving country like Nigeria.
How else do you judge a leader who has tackled most intractable and decade-long abandoned projects, which under previous administrations have defied solution? For example, the second Niger Bridge, East-West road, Abuja- Lokoja road, Kano-Maiduguri road;the railways, Ajaokuta Steel Company, power and many others have received sustainable solutions, yet some cynics still vilifying Mr. President.
Some cynics have also opined that the country is in a period of crisis on account of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country, but I beg to disagree based on the fact that no society ever has total peace and tranquility. Besides, even as the insurgency is senseless and bereft of any justification, the Jonathan administration has contained it to a large extent. The skirmishes we are currently witnessing are not enough to classify Nigeria as being under siege.
Furthermore, the same proponents of regime change are better positioned to initiate a lasting peace in the troubled areas as statesmen they claim to be. If they shirk this responsibility on the excuse that it is government’s duty, then their patriotism will be called into question. The responsibility of building a nation cannot be left only to those in authority; rather all men of goodwill should explore avenues to guarantee peace in the country.
We may recall that former American presidents periodically embark on shuttle diplomacy on behalf of their governments, even in foreign lands to secure release of captives, prisoners or negotiate peace with other countries or parties in the interest of America. This is patriotism at work, and not to pull down a performing government in the media.
If the opposition continues the blame game, what panacea do they have to put the security situation in check, assuming they are in power? Or should we allow the orgy of violence to continue until they take over, and possibly use a magic wand to solve the security challenges confronting Nigeria?
It is surprising that after several years of mounting opposition to the PDP administration, the merged party is yet to offer an alternative or acceptable programme of action that will address our myriad of problems.
as a nation. Rather than the opposition’s descent into politics of name calling and denigration of respected institutions and authorities, it will serve us better if they dwell on politics of issues and healthy debate that addresses the contemporary and long term economic and social needs of Nigerians.