What Exactly is 'Clueless' about Goodluck Jonathan? (1)
By Femi Aribisala
Jonathan is the most highly-educated president in the history of
The English have an expression: “give a dog a bad name in order to kill
it.” It refers to the malicious misrepresentation of someone in order to
discredit him. This has been strategy of the opposition to Goodluck
Jonathan to date. This opposition comprises an unholy alliance between the
APC, the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Northern Elders Forum as well as
the Boko Haram. In complete disdain for the office of the president of
Nigeria, the membership of these institutions has gone to great lengths in
despising, disdaining and abusing the person of Goodluck Jonathan.
One favoured insult is to refer to him as “clueless.” Taking a leaf out of
the infamous notebook of George Bush who told all kinds of lies against
John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election in the United States, now
referred to as “snow boating;” President Jonathan's traducers are seeking
to establish falsehood about him and his administration just by sheer
force of repetition. It is therefore necessary to ask the question if,
indeed, Goodluck Jonathan can be rightly described as “clueless.” What
exactly is “clueless” about Goodluck Jonathan?
Shehu Shagari was president of Nigeria from 1979 to 1983. He had very
limited formal education and never attended a university. Nevertheless, he
was not called “clueless.” Olusegun Obasanjo was president of Nigeria from
1999 to 2007. He did not go to university before becoming President: he
only enrolled after he left office. Nevertheless, he was not labeled
But some would like us to believe Goodluck Jonathan, who has been
substantive president since 2011 is “clueless.” However, Jonathan is the
most highly-educated president in the history of Nigeria. He has a B.Sc.
in Zoology; an M.Sc. in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology; and a Ph.D. in
Zoology. It is preposterous to describe such a man as “clueless.” Indeed,
there are few Nigerians with comparable educational credentials. Who are
those “clueful” ones ranged in opposition against him? Surprise, surprise!
They are former military dictators with no university training whatsoever
and dubious politicians with forged university certificates.
Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State wants to be president. But what he
displays most of the time is cluelessness. When he captures newspaper
headlines, it is to shout things like: “Jonathan wants to kill me;” or
“Jonathan is not qualified to contest in 2015.” Somebody needs to advise
Kwankwaso that abusing and disparaging the president is no substitute for
having substantive policies on how to govern Nigeria.
Legacy of “cluelessness”
Who can be more clueless than many of the Northern politicians who have
been in power in Nigeria in the past to very little effect and are still
clamouring for power today? These men have defrauded the North and the
country over the years? They have ruled for some 38 years but failed
woefully to promote meaningful economic development in the North or the
In their years of Northern rule both at the state and the federal level,
not a single model Islamic school was established in the North that
teaches Mathematics. Instead, the children of the “talakawa” are
restricted to Koranic memorization and recitation. No single Islamic model
school was established in the North that teaches Chemistry. The singular
focus was on Arabic grammar. No single Islamic model school was
established that teaches Biology. The children of the poor were limited to
Northern politicians failed to draw inspiration from such excellent Muslim
countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, where
Western education is not deemed to contradict Islamic education. Instead
of educating the youth, some of our Northern politicians kept them as
fodder for instigating insurgencies for their selfish power-political
gain. It is no wonder therefore that, in the 21st century, when a “Third
World” country like India has landed a spacecraft on Mars; an insurgency
has arisen in the Nigerian North-East claiming that “Western education is
Northerners opposed to Jonathan, like Muhammadu Buhari, Ango Abdullahi,
Adamu Ciroma and Junaid Mohammed have never demonstrated any belief in the
education of the masses. Their children don't attend almajiri schools and
beg on the streets. When in power, they pay no attention to the mass
illiteracy in the North. This makes them no different from the Boko Haram
that maintains western education is sinful. Now that we have a South-South
president from Otuoke in Bayelsa State who is committed to Northern
education, these same do-nothing politicians are claiming he is clueless.
Who needs their “cluefulness?”
Jonathan's northern agenda
Atiku Abubakar showed remarkable cluelessness when he observed that the
North would not be voting for Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. If the North
would not vote for Jonathan, who then would they vote for?
In 2011, Jonathan received over 8 million Northern votes. Since then, he
has bent over backwards to reward the North. He has highly favoured the
region in his appointments. The former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim
Mantu said: “Quote me; in a long time we have not had a government where
the northern extraction has enjoyed so many appointments like this one.”
Indeed, under Jonathan, the Vice-president, President of the Senate,
Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court are all from the North.
Jonathan's opponents would have us believe he is “clueless” but, within
four years, Jonathan built 125 Almajiri Schools in 13 states in the North;
something Northern rulers themselves failed to do. At the commissioning of
the first Almajiri Model School in Gagi, Sokoto State, the Sultan of
Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa'ad III, observed that Jonathan's action was
unprecedented in the history of Northern Nigeria.
“Clueless” Jonathan went on to establish ten new federal universities;
seven of them in the North. It is important to list them, so Nigerians can
be in no doubt how ridiculous the allegations against our president have
been. Jonathan established the Federal Universities in Lafia, Nasarawa
State; Lokoja, Kogi State; Kashere, Gombe State; Wakari, Taraba State;
Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State; and Dutse, Jigawa State. No other president in
the history of Nigeria has this kind of legacy, North or South.
The Jonathan administration has more than doubled the budgetary allocation
to education in the country. It sponsored 7000 lecturers for post-graduate
studies at home and abroad and licensed 100 Innovation Enterprise
Institutions, while also granting 101 Presidential Scholarships for
innovation and development. 51 Polytechnic laboratories have been
rehabilitated and 34 new NCE awarding institutions created.
The result has been remarkable. There has been a 10 million student
increase in basic education enrolment (UBEC) in the country. There has
also been a 75% increase in O'Level credit pass in Maths and English under
the Jonathan administration.
Part of the grouse of Nigerians against past governments is that when
subsidies are removed (especially that of petroleum), the extra money
disappears into thin air without any appreciable public benefit. For this
reason, Nigerians insist on the retention of subsidies so that the
man-in-the-street can at least get something out of it. However, under the
Jonathan administration, it has been possible to identify the salutary
effect of the subsidy removal on the well-being of the people.
With the drastic reduction of the petroleum subsidy in 2012, the
government created the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme
(SURE-P). This is designed to invest the savings accruing from the subsidy
reduction in critical infrastructure and human-resource empowerment
projects across the length and breadth of the country. To this end, the
scheme has included maternal and child-health programmes.
Within two years, the Maternal and Child Health scheme of the SURE-P has
reduced the maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria by 26%; reduced neo-natal
mortality by 22%; increased the percentage of births by skilled attendants
by 33% and increased the percent of reproductive aged women using family
planning by 100%.
SURE-P has also been invaluable in engaging in a number of road
rehabilitation projects right across the country. For example, the
Onitsha-Owerri and the Vom-Manchok roads have been completed. Work is
underway on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in Lagos; the Benin-Ore-Sagamu
dual carriage-way; the Onitsha-Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriage-way; the
Kaduna-Maiduguri dual carriage-way; Lokoja – Benin road; Lagos-Ibadan
Expressway; Mokwa-Bida road; Akure-Ilesha road; Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega road;
Enugu- Abakaliki- Cross River road; Ogoja – Ikom road; Vandekiya-Obudu
road; and the East-West road.
The Kano-Maiduguri and the Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja roads are currently
undergoing dualisation. The Onitsha Head-Bridge Flyover (Ojukwu Gateway)
and the Oweto Bridge across River Benue have been completed. The Second
Niger Bridge is under construction and the government is also undertaking
the dredging the River. There is also on-going seaport construction and
the expansion of existing ports, including Warri, Baro, Calabar, Onne,
Owerri and Onitsha.
The railway system in Nigeria had been comatose for over 30 years.
However, the “clueless” Jonathan administration has managed to revive this
within two years. The Lagos-Kano line has been rehabilitated and is now
functional again. The Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line is being rehabilitated
and will soon be operational. Kano-Maiduguri, Kaduna-Abuja and Lagos-Port
Harcourt rail-lines are also under construction.
President Jonathan inaugurated two Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) train-sets
and six air-conditioned passengers' coaches at the NRC terminus in Lagos.
His administration also launched the Mass Transit Train Service (MTTS);
deploying 11 trains carrying close to 15,000 passengers daily within the
Lagos metropolis. This has drastically reduced the cost of intra-city
train transportation within Lagos.
A return-trip from Agege to Ebute Metta under the MTTS now costs less than
N150, as against the more than N1,000 it costs by taxi. Transportation
from Lagos to Kano now costs less than N1,800 as against between N4,000
and N5,000 by car or bus.
This is what Babatunde Fashola had to say about the “clueless” Jonathan
administration's contribution to mass transit in Lagos State: “It is a
very welcome development to our nation, Nigeria and to the Centre of
Excellence, Lagos State. No doubt, we require this infrastructure. We
appreciate it and we will continue to give every moral support that the
corporation requires as we now have complementary services in the
transport system of Lagos State.”
These are by no means the tokens of a “clueless”
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