THE TASK AHEAD OF JONATHAN
THAT President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's dreams came to pass to continue from May 29, 2011, as president of Federal Republic of Nigeria raised the hope of Nigerians that change is inevitable considering the President's zeal, commitment and readiness to effect a change in the Africa's most populous country - a heady mix of about 150 million people, and 250 ethnic groups.
The ambition to become the president of Nigeria was nursed right from when the late President Umaru Yar'Adua fell ill, and Jonathan was constitutionally required to step into the shoes of Yar'Adua, while his ailment lasted; and it was speculated that he was not likely to survive. But, after the demise of Yar'Adua, Dr Jonathan was warmly welcomed both at home and abroad to fill the vacuum last year.
When Jonathan took over, he assured Nigerians that he will fix three of Nigeria's biggest challenges: electoral fraud, unreliable electricity supply(NEPA/PHCN problem) and Niger Delta crises, that was constantly assuming frightening dimensions at the spur of every moment.
This signal from Jonathan… apparently in the right perspective restored hope in Nigerians, particularly in the Niger Delta region and there was confidence that Jonathan could make good his reformist zeal. But this can never be achieved in a jiffy - he needs time to deliver- apparently - this warmed Jonathan into the heart of Nigerians, that if given the opportunity as President he could transform Nigeria.
He took a cue from where Yar'Adua stopped in negotiating Niger Delta militants' rehabilitation, and a rehabilitation camp was opened in July, 2010 for the repentant militia who laid down their arms.
The crux of the matter which sparked off agitation for a president(from South-South) is that the oil from the Niger Delta region constitutes 80 per cent of the government's revenue, yet its residents are politically marginalised, and the oil from their area has equally destroyed their land, that negates the possibility of any worthwhile farming. This unfair treatment re-awakened in their consciousness the quest for a president from their region.
When the tempo gradually began to reverberate towards 2011 election last year after the death of Yar'Adua, Jonathan did not indicate that he will run for the presidency; and those who had built their hope on him were astounded. But while speculation has been growing as Jonathan, who was appointed to his post earlier, pondered whether to run for election, on the streets of Abuja, Nigeria's capital, unusual posters were appearing.
Lobby groups were busy plastering the city with banners encouraging Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to run for the 2011 presidential election. One of them who could not even contain his emotion said: ' We have found our champion'; and ' You can do it…', declared another. Yet, Jonathan did not budge, may be until he pondered enough and sought the face of God for approval before he summoned courage to declare his interest to contest for the presidency.
Perhaps this led to his resounding victory at the polls in April . As it were, his biggest challenge was winning similar support in Northern Nigeria, but in the end by providence, he got the reasonable percentage of votes from the Northern divide necessary for him to scale through the presidential election. He made it because he has the credentials and the quality, perhaps, the electorate expected. Jonathan was bold to say: 'Don't rig for me'. That is confidence, and it speaks volume… .The electorate saw it… and they voted for Jonathan, not PDP. The people sounded it loud and clear. What next?
Now the populace has gotten Goodluck as their president, the expectation is high that he should shine in every nook and cranny of Nigeria. There lies the challenge ahead: Our economy is in a bad shape, even dubbed one of the poorest countries in the world. The country so richly endowed with human resources (found virtually all over the world, contributing their own quota in developing other nations),blessed with mineral resources yet to be exploited and arable land for mechanised agriculture.
A feat in agricultural project alone will have far-reaching results: Strengthen our economy, remove over- dependence on oil, alleviate the suffering of the populace, create job opportunities which will check unemployment, etc. Our nation is not free from a network of violence, especially in the North; our health care system is not dependable hence Nigerians go abroad on health grounds; educational system is fast deteriorating to the extent that Professor Tam David-West and others often weep at the depth of decay. From oil sector analysts: The national budget is put at about N4.485 trillion.
Yet it will amount to lack of foresight on the part of government to still maintain the status quo of overdependence on oil sector instead of diversifying; reviving other sectors of the economy.
Mr. SIMEON NDAJI, a commentator on national issues wrote from Lagos.