By CHARLES KUMOLU
A retrospective look at the last two years of the Jonathan administration with a match of his promises and his performance in office.
THE key imprint of the transformation agenda heralded at the onset of the 2011 presidential election campaign was that Nigeria would be transformed into a new nation in various aspects of endeavour. Two years into his term, an analysis of the specific promises of transformation shows the administration succeeding in some sectors and also struggling to attain key parameters of the agenda in some strategic sectors.
Jonathan it would be recalled, had during his whistle-stop campaign across the 36 states of the federation , pledged to fix the following sectors; power, economy, energy & gas, education security, agriculture, water resources among others. He also promised a better deal on the Niger Delta issue, women empowerment, and reforms where necessary.
Accordingly, the President promised among others; to revive the rail system in the country, complete Lagos to Jebba rail project, intervene and revitalize the moribund Nigeria Machine Tools and other infrastructure owned by the federal government, modernize the ports, complete the second River Niger bridge before the expiration of the tenure, make the Minister of Works to immediately start repairs of the road leading to Murtala Mohammed International Airport, and assist in resuscitating all the collapsed industries in Kano state.
Others are to work towards making Akanu Ibiam airport in Enugu an international airport, seek alternative funding means to repair the Benin-Ore road, give Sokoto-Kotangora road unfettered attention
Two years on, there is a consensus that the President has made remarkable achievements particularly on road construction, as many federal roads are now receiving attention. However, no new sea ports have been proposed while many of the country’s major airports have been rebuilt. Remarkably, the contract for the construction of the 2nd Niger bridge, was recently awarded to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.
The nation was promised constant supply of electricity, stable power supply by the year 2015 so that small and medium scale industries can thrive again, exploration of the coal deposits in Benue and Kogi states, construction of more dams, building of more hydro-power stations.
The electorate was also assured that Nigerians would not use generators more than two times in a week, increment in power generation to about 4,747 megawatts by December 2011 and reduction in the importation of generators by at least 90% by the year, 2015.
Though the government promised about 4,747 megawatts by December 2011, the nation surpassed that mark mid last year when power generation rose to about 4,307.7MW with an additional 170MW,which served as spinning reserve.
But after the resignation of then Minister of Power Prof. Bath Nnaji, the power situation worsened as supply dropped to 3,224.3MW. At the moment, the nation is reportedly generating about 3,443MW, as power supply has remained unreliable. However, further investigations revealed that transmission among others, remain the current challenge in the sector given that most transmission infrastructure are obsolete.
Also power generation companies that emerged successful in the bidding process of the privatization of the sector received their certificates on April 22nd this year. But all these are yet to translate to relative stability in power supply, thereby leading to doubts on the possibility of a stable power supply by 2015.
The president pledged to work with the private sector and all the relevant agencies to stimulate industrial growth, introduce 5-year term budgeting, diversify the economy, to revive the Ajaokuta Steel complex and Itakpe Iron Ore Company, address the issues of unemployment through diversification of the nation’s economy to that of sustainable agricultural development across the 36 states of federation, reduce production cost by inviting manufacturers of high demand commodities in the country to set up production factories in the country and get industries in Lagos up, bring industries to the Niger Delta, create 1.5 million jobs within 2 years, constitute a special committee drawing experts from the MAN, NACCIMA and related bodies as well as key government officials to deliberate regularly on policies that will improve the nation’s economy among others.
While the administration is claiming economic growth of 6.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 with inflation down to single digit, fiscal deficit of 1.8 of GDP and foreign reserves $48 billion, others have argued that the reality is to the contrary. An estimated 70% of the nation’s budget is spent on servicing paraphernalia of government, while foreign debts are accumulating.
Energy & Gas
The President pledged to make Nigeria go beyond producing and exporting crude oil to exporting refined petroleum products, create 600,000 new jobs in the gas industry , boost gas supply from 1.0 billion cubic feet per day to 10 billion cubic feet by the year 2020, facilitate the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Law with emphasis on local content such that jobs are created for Nigerians among others.
Actualisation of the promises have been largely unfulfilled. The Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB is still stagnating in the National Assembly, Nigeria is still largely dependent on imported fuel even while a large amount of money is still spent on refineries that are not producing at capacity. The administration has been dogged by its failure to fully address the corruption emitting from the payment of petroleum subsidy to importers and the continued insinuation of the sector as a nest of corruption.
Following the general insecurity in the country, Jonathan promised to make anyone caught breaching the public peace to face the full wrath of the law, make sure that no part of the country is allowed to be a sanctuary for criminals, confront headlong ethno-religious violence in the country, ensure there is no sacred cow in the fight against corruption, strengthen EFCC and ICPC to fight crime , eradicate kidnappings impeding entrepreneurship in Eastern Zone , pursue all bombers and terrorists among others.
Despite the recent declaration of state of emergency in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, observers still argued that enough is not being done to curb insecurity.
This is one area that there seems to be a general consensus that the President had not done well. While kidnapping was at one time only prevalent in the Southeast, it has in the last few years fully spread into a booming industry in some other parts of the country especially in Delta, Edo and Lagos States. Similarly, the administration’s war against graft, has been generally described as weak and unproductive.
At the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife Osun State, Candidate Jonathan on 12th March 2011 promised a holistic review of the nation’ education policy.
He also pledged to establish at least one Federal University in each state by the end of 2012, improve on hostel facilities across the nation, revamp Almajiri system of education, work towards improving the education sector as a prelude to transforming economy and as means of empowering the people. He also promised to improve on teaching and learning environment in schools and to make every Nigerian of school age to have access to education.
The administration initiated a programme to provide 400 schools for itinerant scholars in Northern Nigeria known as Almajiri. There is also a reported 15 percent increase in pass rates in school leaving examinations in Nigeria in 2012.
The number of Federal universities in Nigeria was increased by 12 as well, just as blocks of classrooms in 15 states were completed as part of efforts to meet Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.
However, the increase in the number of federal universities has been met with criticisms over the administration’s failure to improve on the standard of the existing universities all of which have fallen out of global reckoning. The condemnation is buttressed by the allocation of N426.53billion to the sector, which at about 10%, is grossly below the UNESCO recommendation of 26 percent.
Jonathan also promised to boost agriculture through irrigation and maximizing vast mineral resources in the country, revive the marketing boards to ensure that farmers are no longer cheated on the sales of farm produce while more silos would be built to help farmers preserve their products, provide farmers with information on agricultural production and move towards mechanized agriculture and make each state to specialize in two crops; cash and local crop.
The administration’s strides in the agriculture sector have been largely commended and the sector is after many years of stagnation again looking up , while the country’s agriculture experts are now the toast of their peers around the continent.