By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—FOR scoring the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan below average, the Presidency Sunday took a swipe at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying his comments at an event, weekend, where he rated Jonathan’s performance “below average” were not only untrue, but also misleading.
In a statement, last night in Abuja by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Presidency said former President Obasanjo’s comments do not in any way tally with the facts on ground, boasting that President Jonathan had performed more than Obasanjo and other presidents in Nigeria’s history.
Okupe, who chronicled Jonathan’s achievements in all sectors such as aviation, industrialisation, railway, power, transportation and insurgency among others, said: “Our attention has been drawn to comments made by a former President of this country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, regarding the performance of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. We aver that Chief Obasanjo’s comments are untrue, misleading and clearly do not tally with the facts on the ground.
No administration did as much as Jonathan
“We, therefore, wish to assert without equivocation that in terms of performance and achievements, no administration since 1960 when Nigeria gained independence from Britain, has done as much as that of President Jonathan. Every discerning and unbiased Nigerian will definitely attest to this fact as the evidence stare all of us in the face.
“Contrary to Chief Obasanjo’s position, the Federal Government under President Jonathan has performed excellently given the prevailing circumstances and resources available. An assessment of key sectors of national life under the Jonathan administration will definitely controvert Chief Obasanjo’s argument that President Jonathan has not performed well.
“While it is true that Nigeria has been faced with incidents of insurgency and terrorism especially in the last few years, it is also true the Jonathan administration has successfully contained the initial wide-spread and limitless activities of the insurgents which were prevalent in 12 states of the North including the Federal Capital, Abuja.
“While it is true that the present activities of the terrorists in the three North Eastern states have become more deadly in mindless killings, kidnappings and supposed territorial seizures, government has made giant diplomatic strides with our neighbouring countries in order to checkmate the criss-crossing of the insurgents.
“The military and other security agents which have engaged the insurgents since inception have done a great job in spite of recent challenges. The truth of the matter, which we must know and accept, is that we have an internal enemy supported by internal and external resources waging a major warfare against our nation. We want to state that the government is doing everything possible in every area of engagement of this war and will certainly, sooner than later, Nigeria will overcome and win this war.
“In spite of this war, however, and in view of the other giant strides and achievements recorded in other sectors, it beats the imagination that anyone would say that President Jonathan has performed below average in office. On the contrary, he has provided quality leadership and exemplary vision in transforming the Nigerian nation and giving hope to Africa’s most populous nation.
“We assert that for a fact a lot has been done. We may not have reached the desired destination yet, but surely we are on the path to getting there. There is no doubt that by the time the Jonathan administration runs its full course, Nigeria would have moved further in its quest to join other world giants and the quality of life of Nigerians would have improved greatly. We will all have cause to continually give glory to God for bringing the Jonathan administration on board.”
Giant strides in power supply
On power, he said: “Before President Jonathan came on board as President of this country in 2010, Nigeria faced serious challenges with generation, distribution and transmission of power. Nigeria had challenges with both generation of power and the installed capacity to ensure effective power supply. As a matter of fact, the total amount of power generated nationwide stood at 2550 megawatts; today it is over 4,000 megawatts.
“In terms of installed capacity, there has been remarkable improvement. In 2011, our installed capacity to generate electricity stood at 5,900 MW. By December 2013 it had increased to 6,953 MW. This impressive achievement was due to the completion of all the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) plants, which for reasons only he can explain, Chief Obasanjo had abandoned during his tenure.
“The moribund state-run power corporation was successfully privatised by the Jonathan administration in a process highly rated and commended by the World Bank and other multilateral agencies for its high level of transparency and professionalism.
“This was a very critical programme in solving our power problems which other administrations could not achieve for decades. Today, Nigeria is a recipient of billion-dollar foreign investment in the power sector which is the much needed elixir for a stable, sufficient and efficient power system. This feat cannot be an evidence of a below-average performance as painted by Chief Obasanjo.”
Jonathan’s agricultural revolution
In Agriculture, Okupe said: “Since President Goodluck Jonathan launched his transformation agenda in the agricultural sector, this most important sector which provides employment for over 70 per cent of the population has recorded unprecedented growth resulting from a number of reforms and innovations. The revolution the Jonathan administration has engineered has not only empowered millions of farmers in the country but has equally saved Nigeria billions of naira and dollars, which in times past had been lost to fertilizer racketeers and food importation.
“Nigeria’s food production has expanded by 21 million metric tons; three million farm jobs have been created and more importantly, our import of food has declined by 38 per cent from N1.1 Trillion to N635 billion in 2013.”
“Before the Jonathan administration came on board, major agricultural produce like cotton, sorghum and groundnut, which were the bedrock of the economy of northern Nigeria, were practically extinct. Considering the fact that Nigeria imported N500 billion worth of rice in 2011, no one was in doubt that a radical approach to the problem was needed. And this is exactly what has been happening.
“In 2013 with the Federal Government providing leadership and direction, 14 new rice mills with capacity to process 240 metric tons of rice were set up by the private sector while in addition, a sum of 1.2 billion dollars was secured by the Federal Government to install 100 large scale rice processing mills to produce 2.1 million metric tons of rice annually.
Today, Nigeria has reached an unprecedented 60 per cent sufficiency in rice production, a feat, which the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently described as capable of raising world rice output to a record high in the next 12 next months. Nigeria is already on its way to self-sufficiency in rice production as sizeable chunk of its 167 million populations are currently feeding on rice grown and processed locally.
“This and other initiatives of the Federal Government have resulted in the creation of about two million new jobs among rural dwellers. The Federal Government has also implemented a Young Graduates Commercial Farmers Scheme, with the capacity to absorb 780,000 graduates in its first phase and provide an estimated four million jobs in the agricultural sector in the first year.
“In the same vein, the Jonathan administration has restructured and recapitalized the Nigeria Agricultural Bank to provide loans to peasant farmers at single digit interest rates. This represented the most remarkable fund injection initiative ever undertaken by any government to empower rural peasant farmers and create wealth for rural dwellers.
‘’Export of dried cassava chips began in July 2012 and this represented the first time that Nigeria would achieve commercial scale export of dried chips, which will earn $136 million annually in foreign exchange. Also, improved cotton seedlings, which have been provided free of charge to farmers especially in the Northwest and Northeast geo-political zones, will result in the resuscitation of the upstream and downstream cotton/textile subsector.
“Other impressive achievements by the Jonathan administration in the agricultural sector include:
Ending 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer sector. The Old System of Government Direct Procurement and Distribution of Fertilizer was manifestly corrupt and led to annual incidence of “fertilizer scam” where less than 11 per cent of farmers received these fertilizers. Over N776 billion ($4.8 billion) was estimated to have been lost to corruption or an average of N26 billion ($162.5million) annually. The system displaced the private sector and Nigerian farmers lost dignity. Today, things are different.
‘’The administration has built a national database of 10.5 million farmers and increased participation in farming in every state of the federation; the launching of the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) programme, which has increased farmers’ getting fertilizers from 11 per cent before the programme to 92 per cent; delivering 1.3 million metric tons of fertilizer to farmers; making available 55,000 metric tons of improved seeds to farmers; making Nigeria the first country in Africa to deliver inputs to farmers at scale through e-wallet; reaching 2.5 million women farmers through e-Wallet by 2014 up 287 per cent from 2012; making Nigeria the biggest producer of cassava in the world; Rice Paddy Production has witnessed rapid increase; number of states growing rice in dry season rose from 10 in 2012 to 24 in 2013; six million farmers reached with improved varieties and two million hectares of additional rice cultivated; and we have reduced our wheat importation and increased export of cassava chips.”