ONE PRESIDENT, MANY PROMISES
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan should by now be in the best physical and mental shape following the detoxification process that he underwent at the Obudu Cattle Ranch.
It was a wise decision that Jonathan decided to visit the Obudu Cattle Ranch to rest, refresh, relax and be rejuvenated.
For those who have been to such health-friendly facilities, the goal is to rid your body of stress, tension and all forms of unwanted materials. And there is no worse energy-sapping and stress-filled period in Nigeria like a general election.
But wait a minute, did the president actually rest? When Presidents of other climes go on such retreats pictures we see are of the president jogging, swimming and generally having fun.
What did we find here? Delegation after delegation went to visit him and of course all manner of political lobbyists swarmed the place. They never allowed the President any personal space, in one of the pictures where he was seeing off Senate president, David Mark and wife, Helen, Jonathan looked so jaded.
From that singular shot one is really not sure if Mr. President found the time to enjoy the scenic beauty and the exotic facilities at Obudu. If he didn’t, then his aides must be held responsible, the reason being that on May 29, 2011, all the 22 Million who voted for him, the 12 million who voted against him and the 40 million others who did not bother to vote have very high expectations. The task ahead of him is therefore herculean.
In case he has forgotten, during his 36-state Presidential campaign tour he made so many promises on the soapbox-and many are waiting to see if he is made of sterner stuff, if his Presidency will move from business as usual to business unusual. Just in case Mr. President has forgotten, I will rouse his memory concerning some of these promises.
As soon as he flagged off his campaign in Lafia, Nassarawa State on Monday, February 7, 2011, the news was agog with the story that he has vowed to spend only one term!No one has yet refuted this.
Though people from the South South are already complaining that he will be short-changing the region while those from other regions are happy in celebration and plotting their next move for 2015, it is one promise that will define his presidency.
It should be stated that by sticking to this promise and consistently emphasising it, President Jonathan will send a strong signal to political opportunists that he wants for once to be the President of Nigerians and not President for Politicians.
He will not be bugged down by any second term shenanigan-and therefore, will go out to etch his name in the hearts of Nigerians and his name will not be a footnote in the political history of Nigeria like some others before him.
Back to the promises, on February 8 in Ibadan, Oyo State before taking on the Yoruba Political elites and making the now famous “Rascals” joke, he declared that he is going to create jobs and improve the power sector.
On Feb 9 in Bauchi, his first to the North East, he was basking in the euphoria of the occasion, and swept by that tidal wave of support, he promised to intensify oil and gas exploration in the North-East as part of efforts to harness resources for economic development.
He also promised to boost agriculture, power and water supply, assuring Nigerians that projects such as the Mambilla hydro-electricity, Jada irrigation project and Kafin Zaki Dam in Taraba, Adamawa and Bauchi States would be pursued to the maximum.
Mr. President was also at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna. Describing the North-West zone as the political hub of the country, Jonathan promised to rid Nigeria of poverty and he revealed that in the next four years his administration would establish two universities in the Northeast region (Zamfara and Kebbi States).
At the same event, his Vice, Nemadi Sambo, who is a son of the soil, added that the Federal Government has allocated N50 billion in the 2011 budget to create jobs for women and youths. Adding that an undisclosed amount has been approved, for the construction of boarding schools for the Almajiri across the North.
On Feb 12 in Port Harcourt, well before the unfortunate stampede that killed some Nigerians, Jonathan announced that the NNPC, in partnership with the private sector, would establish a petrochemical plant in the Niger Delta. He noted that his government will create job opportunities for the Niger Delta youths and will fight for the implementation of Local Content Law and Petroleum Industry Bill.
In Benue State, the President promised to provide employment for the citizens of the state, rapid agricultural development, youth empowerment and 35% women representation.
The Vice President then took over the microphone and promised the dredging of River Benue to create irrigation for agricultural produce, as well as build a power station in Benue state.
On February 17 in Plateau, Jonathan pledged to refocus on the solid mineral development of the state and make it one of the key revenue sources in Nigeria.
Apart from promising to build more dams, he promised to complete the Vom-Manchok-Jos Road to boost economic links between Plateau and Kaduna States.
On February 21 in Kogi State, President Jonathan pledged to revive the moribund Ajaokuta Iron Steel complex and National Iron Ore Mining company and promised to commence work at optimal level in order to make Nigeria vision 2020 realisable.
He also stated that government will tap more minerals resources from the state to create wealth in the next four years.
The next day he was in Kwara, President Jonathan during a visit to the Emir of Ilorin told the Emir that poverty will be tackled by his government if voted to power. Jonathan said the problem however could be solved partly via mechanised farming and industrialisation. For him, poverty is not synonymous with any language, religion or sex.
Later at the campaign grounds, he promised that the Jebba-Mokwa Road and Jebba Bridge would be given adequate attention to ease transportation in the area.
On February 24 he was in Aba, Abia State where he promised to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Jonathan said that the biggest power plant in Nigeria, which is located in Abia State, will generate over 1000 megawatts of electricity for the nation before the end of this year.
President Jonathan then pledged to confront the problems of insecurity bedevilling the state, promised to tackle erosion and also help to ensure that Aba manufactures the first indigenous aircraft and enhance its industrial capabilities.
On the 25th, he was in Delta and Anambra states. At the Awka rally in Anambra State, President Jonathan promised that all Federal roads and the 2nd Niger Bridge in the area would be completed within four years. He also promised to work with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) government led by Governor Peter Obi to deliver good democracy dividends. While in Delta, he promised Peace, security, youth employment and rapid Development.
On March 2, President Jonathan was in Ondo where he promised that roads and other basic infrastructure across the states will be developed in four years. In addition he promised the exploitation of the vast bitumen deposits in the state for national economic development and employment generation.
On March 9 in Sokoto, he promised to rehabilitate the abandoned Shagari irrigation project as well as revive the nation's rail system and fight the menace of desertification in the country.
At a Presidential Dinner for the Entertainment Industry on Monday, March 21, President Jonathan promised to “Do something” about NTA and return it to its past glory. He promised that entertainment will henceforth be a key sector of government and that he will help to combat the menace of piracy.
His most ambitious promise yet came on March 17 in Dutse, Jigawa State, in his words:"If I win the election, within my four years in office, I will establish domestic airports in all the states without airports."
If Mr. President was not misquoted throughout the campaign trail, it is apparent that he needed all the rest and retreat he could get at Obudu, because I doubt if he will be able to sleep a wink before May 29, 2015 especially because according Steve Forbes, the influential Publisher of Forbes Magazine, a promise made must be a promise kept.
Written by Michael Effiong, a Lagos-based journalist.