Jonathan's records that benumb the opposition
By Abba Adakole
I have observed that since President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan made his declaration for a second term in office, there has been no critical analysis of what he reeled out as his achievements. As one commentator on Facebook, Tunji Olawuni, formerly of Businessday, put it, the opposition, so lacking in the cerebral department like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, has been so lacking and clueless, that it has been unable to either debunk Jonathan's claims or provide an alternative to what he has termed his achievements.
For instance, where the president disclosed that when he assumed office in 2010, out of the 35,000km of federal roads nationwide, only about 5,000km were motorable, the opposition could not fault him. While they are bickering over non-issues, the president claimed and was not faulted that his administration had increased the motorable roads by 500% percent to about 25,000km. He promised to complete the remaining 10,000km in three years while initiating new ones.
The president said he made a commitment to build two new major bridges across the River Niger and River Benue, which he is following up on. Where you expect those in the opposition to put a lie to the president's disclosures, they kept mute, even where he bragged that the new bridge over the River Benue, connecting Loko in Nassarawa State to Oweto in Benue State has reached an advance stage of completion, while work has commenced on the Second Niger Bridge.
Apparently, Jonathan was right in his assertions because over two weeks after he made his declaration, there are no hard facts to prove him wrong. In Rivers, where Rotimi Amaechi, the chief opposition figure holds sway, Jonathan took credit for concluding plans to re-commence the construction of Bodo-Bonny Road with three major bridges on the alignment that will link the Island of Bonny with Rivers mainland.
Rather than tackle Jonathan on behalf of Nigerians, all we have to contend with are insults and a denigration of the president, who made a strenuous and admirable effort not to say an unkind word about the opposition. Even comperes during the declaration rally were decent enough, save for their chief, Aniete Okon, who made a passing comment on the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But what did the APC do a week later? Amaechi was boasting he will lead a rebellion against government if APC lost. Also, as has become of the main opposition party, it was a resort, in the main, to gutter and abusive language as their followers acted rowdily jumping over barriers and carrying less than decent banners, abusing everyone from the president to his party. Again, for the second time running, frontline presidential aspirant and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, was missing, fueling speculations that the House of APC was headed for an implosion.
Atiku may be on the field meeting delegates while the others, like Buhari, are hoping to cash in on a consensus arrangement, or what in Nigerian parlance is known as a quota system, where merit is thrown to the dogs. In the public domain, it appears Atiku is working harder than Buhari, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and Sam Nda-Iisaiah put together.
Since the opposition has shied from a critical analysis of the president's declarative statement, it may be necessary to help them out here. Just a day before President Jonathan gave a list of his achievements and formally declared an interest in the presidency, the Government Science Secondary School in Potiskum, Yobe State, was bombed by insurgents, killing nearly 50 students, in a move that has become a recurring decimal anytime the president had a big political event to attend.
But for the North-East, which has become the high point of insurgency, Goodluck was in Abuja, talking about the long term stability and development of the affected areas, with the launching of the Presidential Initiative for the North East, the Victim Support Fund and the Safe School Initiative. The President said his Initiative for the Northeast is focused on improving infrastructure and economic growth in the region, while the Safe School Initiative is centred on creating a safe environment to encourage our children in the communities to acquire education. The Victim Support Fund, he added, is a partnership with the Private Sector that has raised about N60 billion, which will help to empower and rehabilitate victims of terror.
In the power sector, the president boasted that Nigeria has undertaken a most transparent and corruption-free bidding process, attracting global commendation, adding that on-going 450MW Azura Power Plant in Edo State is a testimony to the success of his transformation. He said further: “We have also resumed development of our Hydro-Power potential, with the construction of the 700MW Zungeru Hydro-Power Plant, while construction work on the 3,050MW Mambilla Hydro-Power Plant is about to take off. Our power generation and distribution companies have now been privatized. We are firmly on the road to guaranteed regular power supply in the months ahead. This our bold move, is paying off!”
To protect the northern-most part of the country, the present administration is committing N16 billion to environmental protection and conservation and reducing vulnerability to climate change with an ambitious green belt project spanning 11 states from Kebbi to Borno under the African Great Green Wall.
He added that in the past three and a half years, the water sector has witnessed unprecedented improvement with access to potable water now at 67%, up from 58% in 2010, while sanitation coverage is 41%, from 32% within the same period. According to him, major developments in water include the completion of 37 Dams and rehabilitation of 10, while flagship Kashimbila Multipurpose Dam being built to contain flood from Lake Nyos in Cameroun, is at 90% completion. Another 5,000 rural and semi urban water schemes have been completed.
A reformation of the National Urban Water supply programmes in 12 states is on-going with 385 formal and informal irrigation projects, covering a total land area of 118000 ha, cultivated mostly by small holder farmers. These facts, which have not been controverted, like other achievements, have yielded over 3 million metric tons of assorted grains and vegetables, with a market value of about 45 billion naira.
In the transportation sector, there is a rejuvenation of the railway system. The narrow gauge line from Lagos to Kano has been rehabilitated with improved coaches providing regular services. The rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line is progressing with the Port Harcourt-Gombe segment as well as the branch line from Kafanchan to Kaduna expected to be completed and fully operational by December 2014. Work on the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail line, is progressing. The tracks of the rail line will be completed by December this year 2014. Upon completion of the project in the first quarter of 2015, it will be possible for Nigerians to live in Kaduna and work in Abuja. The Itape-Ajaokuta-Wari standard gauge line has attained an advanced stage, with the track completely laid. We hope to commence full operation before the end of 2015.
Jonathan said further: “Other segments of the new standard gauge speed train network are planned with contract already awarded for the Lagos –Ibadan Segment. There will be more of such modern and faster rail connections in the coming years. Already, discussions are now at advanced stage, for the Coastal rail line that will traverse through 10 states, from Lagos through the South-South and South-East, all the way to Calabar.”
If these are but a whisper of what the president achieved in his three and a half years in power; and the opposition has been unable to fault him, but to rain abuses on him, it will be a wonder that the pretenders in the opposition will be able to stop him for another four years.
Mr Adakole is resident in Abuja and can be reached via [email protected]
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