*Why he must strive to finish strong
THE thrust of the Transformation Agenda at the commencement of the 2011 presidential election campaign was that Nigeria would be transformed into a new nation in various aspects of human endeavours.
Less than one year to the terminal date of the four-year administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, an analysis of the pledges made shows the administration succeeding in some sectors and also struggling to attain key parameters of the agenda in some strategic sectors.
During the campaigns across the 36 states , the President had 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. Whether these promises have translated into visible results, is still debatable in many quarters, as most analysts believe the president is yet to walk his talk.
A quick look at the various areas, where the present administration claimed to have made tremendous impacts, would provide answers to the poser on whether, the present leadership had actually carried out the transformation it set out to do.
As a response to the ranking of Nigeria as the country with the second highest road traffic accident fatalities among the 193 countries in the world, the Federal Government launched ‘’Operation Safe Passage” OSP in 2012.
The OPS, Sunday Vanguard gathered that project was embarked upon in the 4th quarter of 2012. Although ongoing projects could be seen across most Federal roads across the country, there are still questions as to what OSP has so far achieved.
The initiative resulted to the recovering of failed portions of federal roads across the country.
From Ilorin to Jebba, Lafia to Makurdi, Aliade to Oturkpo, Oturkpo to 9th Mile, Enugu to Port Harcourt, Kano to Katsina, Lokoja to Okene, Okene to Benin, Lagos to Ibadan, and Odukpani to Itu, work is progressing on Federal roads.
Highlighting these recently at an interactive session in Lagos, an insider in the Presidency, and Special Adviser to the President on Research, Documentation and Strategy, Mr. Oronto Douglass, said in 2013, no fewer than 2, 000 kilometres of roads were constructed or rehabilitated by government.
Further checks indicated that other completed projects include; the construction/rehabilitation of Gbogan-Iwo Road in Oyo State; rehabilitation of Owerri-Aba Road in Imo/Abia State; rehabilitation of Katsina-Daura Road in Katsina State; rehabilitation/construction of Ijebu Igbo-Ajegunle-Araromi-Ife-Sekona Road (Section II) in Ogun State; reinstatement of collapsed section of Gombe-Potiskum Road in Gombe State; rehabilitation with Spur from Onitsha-Owerri Road to Okija-Ihembosi-Afor-Ukpor-Ebenator-Ezenifite in Anambra State and construction of Jalingo-Kuna Lau Road (Section 11) in Taraba State.
Notwithstanding, the presence of other failed federal roads across the country, has continued to attract knocks for the presidency.
The nation was promised constant supply of electricity 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.
There was also an assurance 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 exit of then Minister of Power Prof. Bath Nnaji, affected the earlier gains recorded since 2011, the successful privatization of the sector against all odds, made many Nigerians optimistic that the move would guarantee stable electricity supply.
But that enthusiasm was short-lived by the absence of improvement in electricity supply since the sector was privatised.
The Federal Government had said on several occasions that the gas pipelines were being sabotaged and that this had impacted severely on supply of electricity despite the privatisation of the sector.
Even the most ardent critics of the administration, would score the federal government high on the aviation sector.
A flashback on the state of airports across the country before 2011, is enough to attract kudos from critiques, particularly the nation’s reactionary opposition.
It was hard for any body or organisation grounded on aviation matters, to give the sector commend before now, because aviation was prominent among the failed spheres in the country.
However, four years down the road of renewal, everyone can testify to the ongoing transformation across the airports.
But the doubts that trailed the commencement of remodeling, are giving way to rays of hope, following the commissioning of some completed projects.
At the moment, findings showed that massive construction work is noticeable in the terminal buildings of Murtala Muhammed Airport (International Terminal), Murtala Muhammed Airport (General Aviation Terminal), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (International Terminal), Port Harcourt International Airport, Kaduna Airport and Margaret Ekpo International Airport Calabar.
Other airports undergoing remodelling are: Benin Airport, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, Yola Airport, and Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos.
How a country, which was prominently known for production and export of essential agricultural commodities in the 1960s, now depend on food produced by less endowed nations, has remained surprising. The failure of several policies initiated to salvage the sector since its neglect after the First Republic, speaks volume about the disservice past administrations had done to the sector.
Like other spheres, the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA, did not come without doubts from Nigerians.
Not even the assurance that ATA would raise food production and secure supply, could convince critics, who argued that the policy might go the way of previous policies that were unproductive.
Nonetheless, checks on the activities of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development since May 29, 2011, showed the existence of policies aimed at developing the sector through private sector growth strategy in order to diversify the economy.
In achieving this, the Federal Government, FG, is reportedly focusing on food security, reduction of expenditure on food imports, generation of foreign exchange, job creation, among others.
Thus, to avoid repeating past mistakes, the FG decided to treat ATA as a business venture rather than a development programme.
Little wonder the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, had won many international awards for the remarkable achievements in the sector.
Meanwhile, the envisaged addition of 20 million metric tons to domestic food supply by 2015, 2 million metric tonnes of rice, 17 million metric tonnes of cassava and 1 million metric tonnes of Sorghum, has been described as unrealistic by some experts.
Oil & 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.
However, these 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. Same is also being witnessed by the President’s handling of the alleged missing oil money issue.
In fact, the actions and inactions of the presidency regarding the alleged missing funds, have become one of the lowest points of the Jonathan presidency.
Notwithstanding, the administration it was gathered, had constructed gas pipeline from Oben to Geregu and from Itoki to Olorin Shogo.
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.
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 low budgetary allocation to the sector, which is grossly below the UNESCO recommendation of 26 percent.
Whatever achievement recorded in this sector, has been rubbished by the numerous industrial actions by the lecturers of tertiary institutions across the country.
Notably this sector witnessed the introduction of Saving One Million Lives, SOML.
As revealed by further checks, over 433,650 lives are believed to have been saved from November 2012 to June2013. It is under this administration that 1500 primary healthcare facilities have been refurbished and supplied essential drugs.
There was also the establishment of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. It is still to be seen whether the initiative has been able to reduce the spread of disease.
In the area of immunization, since the inception of this administration, the National Immunization Coverage reportedly increased from 38 per cent in 2012 to 82 per cent in 2013, thereby representing a shift from the past.
While these statics sound convincing, the general consensus is that much has not been done in the health sector. Various reports by reputable international organisations, can give credence to it, as the various indices used in measuring the quality of the sector, have continued to score the nation low. Currently, the mortality rate is still high, just as the average life expectancy is is now 47 years, making it the lowest among west African countries.
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 has claimed 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 argued that the reality is to the contrary.
Similarly, the successful rebasing of the economy, leading to the country’s acclaimed position as the largest economy is Africa, attracted more knocks for the nation. The irony of this is that an estimated 70% of the nation’s budget is spent on servicing paraphernalia of government, while foreign debts are accumulating.