By Chukwudi Abiandu
In just four years that he has steered the ship of state of Nigeria, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has by his carriage, courage, character and good judgment emerged a pleasant phenomenon. Never mind his seeming quiet and innocuous outlook; his studied deeds in certain matters have shown that beyond this dispositions is the real man who is calm and calculated, one who has a mind of his own and knows what he wants and how to deliver as a leader.
Check him out in international diplomacy, particularly his stand with the generality of Nigerians against pressure by the Western world for Nigeria to approve of gay relationship and make the disgraceful act acceptable. Of course, Nigerians, like when the National football team is playing against a foreign counterpart had one heart beat, to win. The people came together and in one accord forcefully rejected the move. The National Assembly went ahead to ratify the disposition of Nigerians by promulgating an Act forbidding gay relationship and acts in the country. Since then, President Jonathan’s administration has been marked down by western governments, particularly the United States and some European countries. Of course, the hard stance of the United States in not giving the Jonathan administration a helping hand in dealing decisively with the Boko Haram insurgents is clearly instructive here. Recall how the administration has been face with stiff opposition and non co-operation by the United States for Nigeria to buy desperately needed military equipment to prosecute the war against insurgents. Recall also the case of the abducted Chibok Girls and the less assuring attitude of America to help Nigeria in finding the girls. America’s negative disposition is all part of the politics of applying pressure on the Jonathan administration for not co-operating to get Nigeria to support gay and make the shameful act an acceptable behaviour. Of course, President Jonathan has simply shrugged off the pressure, and like a statesman and leader, he has remained focused in seeking alternative avenues to resolve the challenges of Boko Haram.
Perhaps another major issue that has made Jonathan the face of a New Nigeria that many of our demised and living statesmen have clamoured for over the years is the uncommon leadership character he brought into handling the contentious issue of convoking a national conference for the restructuring of the country whose federalism is skewed. Irrepressible Awoist, Afenifere chieftain and prominent elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said in a recent interview about the Constitutional Conference convoked by President Jonathan: “That conference has taken care of everything concerning Nigeria. Like the issue of power, it is no longer going to be the North-West, whenever it get to the North, it must rotate within all other regions in the North. The same thing for the South; it is no longer about South-West but all other regions in the South such that everybody now knows when each of the regions would be president; it is no longer the issue of we are born to rule.”
And as if putting in the clincher, the elder statesman declared: “Why I am supporting Jonathan is because he is the only man who can implement the recommendations of the national Conference which was set up to bring equity to Yorubaland and to Nigeria. He is the only man.”
For Chief Adebanjo, once Jonathan does that, all the things about inequality, the skewed federalism and what have you that Nigerians are complaining about will be rectified. Needless to say that the pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere has since endorsed President Jonathan as its candidate for the Presidential election. Afenifere Chairman, Chief Reuben Fasoranti called on Nigerians not to vote for any candidate who is not in support of the implementation of the National conference report. The group hinged its call to vote for President Jonathan’s re-election on the point that he is the right choice to rule Nigeria and for continuity. They are pleased with the lofty programme of the President with which he is transforming Nigeria into a modern state. “All Nigerians who appreciate good work must support Jonathan,” Afenifere declared. Even former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida also speaking from knowledge of the work of transformation that the Jonathan administration is doing could not hide his sentiment. He told journalists at his Hill top country home in Minna, Niger state: “Any one that means well for this country should support Jonathan.”
At a campaign rally in Sokoto state at the Shehu Kangiwa Square last month President Jonathan described those who call him an enemy of the North as liars. Pointing out that he has achieved more for the North than any other administration led by former presidents of Nigeria, he debunked such claims saying: “When I came on board as president, I established 14 new universities, four were built in the South while 10 were built in the North, yet they keep telling you that I hate the north. If truly I hate the North and I do not want the children from the north to be like me, will I take such action? Federal Government has no business with basic primary education because they are functions of the state government, but I took it upon myself to build Almajiri schools because we realized there are a higher percentage of children out of school in the North than in the south. So we intervened massively. Is that hating the North? In the area of agriculture, tell me of any government that has supported the North with several agricultural equipment and with billions in cash loans. Does that hate the north? If I don’t like the North, will they benefit up to 70 percent of agricultural reforms that we are doing?,” Jonathan asked.
However, the truth is that President Jonathan has held the development bull of Nigeria by the horns and he is making positive strides of it. No one except of course, unserious elements who would want to disparage the show of positive efforts being put in place by the Jonathan administration to re-engineer the various sectors of Nigeria both politically, social and economic. Politically, he has put in place the instrument to restructure the country. Those who attended the National conference can attest to this. Today, a report of the National Conference exist to point the way to making Nigeria a modern state where equality, fairness and equity are the watch words.
Besides, his transformation agenda has rummaged through all facets of our national life uprooting and discarding those things that retard the progress of the country. Vanguard columnist and prolific writer and commentator on public affairs Femi Aribisala wrote in one of his articles. “Under Jonathan, Nigeria has emerged as by far the largest economy in Africa with a GDP of $504 billion; nearly double the previous estimates. South Africa now comes a distant second with $350 billion. With the unbundling of PHCN after 52 years of gridlock, and with now realizable target of 20,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020, Nigeria’s GDP will soon double that of South Africa. ….Today, Nigeria is already the 23rd largest economy in the world. Kudos to Jonathan, we have overtaken such European countries as Australia and Belgium.”
Under Jonathan, the agricultural sector has been incredibly remade and it is delivering positively. For instance, the bottleneck that has held farmers down and prevented them from having direct access to fertilizers has been broken. Wrote Aribisala: “Through the innovative e-wallet system, farmers are given cell phones through which they now have access to government provided fertilizer, chemicals and seedlings. The result is that the frustration that hitherto exists among farmers has been taken away. Their confidence has been restored and the farmers are happy. See how the price of rice stabilized at N8,000 per bag as against the experiences of old. Under Jonathan food imports has radically reduced, so much so that even Major General Muhammadu Buhari benefitted from Jonathans agricultural innovation when recently some Northern farmers donated five million tubers of yam as part of their contribution towards raise N5 billion for Buhari’s presidential campaigns. The logic is that if Jonathan had not transformed the agric sector raising N5 billion for elections campaigns for Buhari would have been a mirage.
Dealing with the crisis of unemployment is another classic case where the Jonathan administration has been forth coming. In 2013 alone records indicate that the Jonathan administration created 1.6 million jobs. This was made possible with the establishment of programmes like YOUWIN, Nagropreneurs. The programmes gave grants to support young farmers and entrepreneurs, as well as assisted them with training and mentorship. And for Nollywood, Jonathan’s administration has had a major influence by offering assistance that has helped to show case this critical sector as a major provider of employment to our teeming youths.
Business wise, Nigeria under Jonathan has become the investor’s destination. Foreign investors are streaming in to take advantage of the business opportunities that exist in Nigeria. Let me quote Aribisala again: “It is a testament to Goodluck Jonathan’s adroit management of the Nigerian economy that the richest African is now a Nigerian. In 2010, when Jonathan came to power, Aliko Dangote was the 463rd richest man in the world, with a total fortune of $2.1 billion. Today, he is the 23rd richest man in the world, with a fortune of $25 billion. Dangote’s billions are “made in Nigeria.” Indeed under Jonathan Nigeria now has the fourth highest rate of returns on investments in the world according to UNCTAD.”
It does not matter the propaganda, lies and hate dispositions of the opponents of President Jonathan, Nigerians can read between the lines. They know that their bread is buttered under president Jonathan with his selfless, and committed attitude to governance and his skillful handling of the security issue foisted on the nation by Boko haram and their sponsors and supporters. Yet, the man has remained resolute and focused in tackling the issue even in the face of the difficult challenges emanating there from.
His critics have closed their eyes to the fact that Jonathan inherited a military that unbelievably was not properly equipped. This is of course a surprise to many Nigerians because all through the military years in government Defense budgets have always been the highest every year. But the President has remained unperturbed but like the leader that he is he faced the task with adroitness. And today, we are seeing the gains being made by our gallant soldiers and officers against the insurgents.
The latest is that by presenting his academic credentials to INEC, which credentials the electoral body has fully put out on display, President Jonathan has scored a moral victory against his opponents as a role model for the younger generation to emulate as the new face of modern Nigeria. Check out our aviation sector and see the transformation that is ongoing. Ditto for the rail transport sector. See the massive road construction works that have been accomplished across the nation and those still ongoing. Let’s also recall that work has commenced on the almost jinxed second Niger bridge at Onitsha and Asaba in Anambra and Delta state respectively. Looking out for a man of political courage, there is one in Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Abiandu, a journalist and fish farmer lives in Asaba.