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Posts tagged ‘Jonathan’

Nigeria; 2015 And A ‘Diminished’ Sovereignty.


By Emmanuel Onwubiko

Few days before last year’s yuletide, a major political statement with far-reaching constitutional import was made by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission[INEC] Professor Attahiru Jega to the effect that if the violent and bloody insurgency in the North Eastern states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa persisted till January 2015 when the next General elections would hold, then the war torn states may not witness any of the election activities meaning that the chunk of the electorate from a sub-section of the nation would be disenfranchised in one of the Nigeria’s most historic elections since amalgamation one hundred years back.

President-Goodluck-JonathanIronically his ugly picture was graphically painted to depict a clear state of war in the North East barely two weeks after the confused technocrats in the Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry disputed the account of the International Criminal Court [ICC] which stated that the North East of Nigeria is indeed witnessing a civil war. If the Nigerian state say the North East is not in a state of war, why then will the same government come up to admit that a situation of war going on in that same section of the country was capable of scuttling the holding of the general election in January 2015?

The same foreign affairs ministry opposed the United States government some months back to declare the dreaded Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization only for the same Nigerian state to applaud the United States Government late last year when the administration indeed proceeded with the declaration of the global terrorists status against the Nigerian-based Boko Haram.

But in order not to detract from our subject of debate in this piece it is appropriate to remind my readers that almost immediately that significant warning was issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission that the continuous insurgency and armed insurrection in the North East may lead to withholding election in that section of the country come January 2015 polls, the political establishment of the opposition wing misconstrued that to mean that the Federal Government under the ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] was only rehearsing through the mouth piece of the supposed independent electoral umpire how it intends to scheme out a  large percentage of the support base of the newly registered opposition All Progressives Congress in the coming polls to provide soft landing for the expected flag bearer of the national ruling party and the current President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr. Good luck Jonathan.

Jonathan it would be recalled has neither declined or declared his intention to seek reelection in the January 2015 general election. Sadly, the political opposition in Nigeria has spectacularly failed to set up scholarly think tank made up of find minds to proffer alternative solutions to the prevailing state of insecurity in the North East which it controls both in the executive and the legislative arms. Nigeria’s political opposition indulge in playing huge political gambits with the state of insecurity threatening the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

Back to the bone of contention concerning whether election will hold or not in the North East if insurgency continues, those  In the opposition political bloc who believe President Jonathan is scheming to run say his body language shows clearly that his ambition to be reelected in 2015 is overwhelming. Incidentally, supporters of the current President whose hidden ambition to run as the Presidential flag bearer of his party with largely hand picked national hierarchy has divided the once formidable national party, are bent on ensuring that President Jonathan is returned elected.

The intensity of the contest among the ruling national party on which section of Nigeria should produce the next Presidential candidate which led to the formation of a break away faction [New PDP] that later merged with other opposition parties that coalesced into the single largest opposition political platform the All Progressives Congress [APC] has also been played up in the kinds of reactions that have emerged following the warning of the possibility of not holding election in the terrorism afflicted North Eastern states come 2015.

In a surreptitious attempt to put a lie to the fear expressed by the electoral commission that the ongoing insurgency may deny the electorate of the affected states of their constitutional civil and political rights in the coming national election, the Yobe state government staged a choreographed local council polls during which time no incidence of terrorism happened and indeed the newly formed All Progressives Congress which controls the state staged a successful but massively dramatic political rally in the trouble spot of Damaturu, Yobe state.

The local council poll that followed resulted in the eventual emergence of the All Progressives Congress [APC] as the winner in all the councils which means that even though the state indeed produced the nation’s junior finance minister who is a card carrying member of the national ruling party [PDP]and also the immediate past national women leader Hajia Chiroma who now holds a strategic Federal Board appointment under the current Jonathan administration could not even win their local councils of origin.

The Yobe political scenario that played up in the just concluded local council polls may have achieved two points in the thinking of the opposition All Progressives Congress namely, that the Independent National Electoral Commission need not fear to conduct the general election in January 2015 in the North Eastern states even with the disturbing phenomenon of violent terrorism attacks and secondly that the opposition political platform which gained Adamawa state with the cross carpeting of the PDP produced Governor Murtallah Nyako with the possible decampment of the former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to the fold of opposition politicians, it may as well be appropriate to admonish the national ruling party to begin singing nunc dimitis [it is finish] as long as their political fortune is concerned in the coming election. How true are these political conjectures?

However, while career politicians continue to debate the merit and demerit of the threat by the electoral panel not to go ahead with election in January 2015 in the North East if the terrorists attacks persist, it is noteworthy to observe that the usually media omnipresent Nigerian military establishment has not said a word regarding the national security implication of the possibility that the violent insurgency by the dreaded armed Islamic rebels [Boko Haram]  could hamper the smooth conduct or indeed undermine the holding of election in all parts of Nigeria giving the fact that the constitutional mandate of the Nigerian military is to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and effectively safeguard the national interest of Nigeria and ensure that constitutional events such as the coming national election is not unduly sabotaged by armed insurrectionists.

The hierarchy of the Nigerian Armed Forces may have deliberately overlooked the obvious fact that if the next general election is in any way undermined leading to it not being held in any part thereof then the sovereignty of Nigeria can as well be adjudged diminished. This scenario must be avoided by all legitimate means. How do we feel as a sovereign state to wake up one morning to find out that some armed hoodlums who indeed crumbled the Maiduguri international airport by a barrage of successful attacks [in December 2013] leading to its closure to air traffic for three months [till March 2014] can successfully impede the conduct of election in over five states of the country with significant electorate?

Now a basic question to be asked is why the Nigerian armed forces has yet to implement comprehensive and effective combat strategies to clearly demonstrate to all Nigerians that it is capable of eliminating any major terrorist threat that may indeed scuttle the coming election in any form, shape or nature or indeed any criminal and rebellious activities by any armed hoodlums that will stop the constitutionally empowered electoral panel from holding election in all parts of Nigeria simultaneously. Why was it possible for the Iraqi and Afghanistan governments to have successfully organized national elections amidst civil wars whereas Nigeria that has over the last two years started fighting the armed insurgents in the North East not being able to confidence building measures to enable election that is one clear calendar year away from holding successfully in Nigeria? Where have all the Billions of public fund said to have been invested in procuring state of the art security infrastructure to change the security architecture of Nigeria to battle terrorists gone to? Have the massive defence budget of Nigeria been stolen in 2013? Nigerians need answers to these critical posers.

+Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs

Source: African Examiner.

CAN to President Jonathan, Buckle up or be ready to vacate Aso Rock.


 

Goodluck-Jonathan-03

Christian body in the country; under the umbrella of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has warned President Goodluck Jonathan to ‘tighten his seat belt’ in the New Year, or honourably resign and vacate the Aso Villa.Chairman of the South- East chapter of CAN and the Anglican Bishop of Enugu, Rt. Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma handed this warning to Jonathan in a New Year message released on Tuesday.The cleric said that President Jonathan must rise to the challenges facing his administration, especially the alleged cases of corruption in the polity, unemployment and epileptic power supply.The cleric avowed that if Jonathan fails to live up to expectation, he should prepare to vacate the Aso Rock in 2015.Bishop Chukwuma who said that doom awaits the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the New Year noted that except the likes of Chief Tony Anenih and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur retire from active politics, the party would continue to face greater calamities.“If those elders I warned before to retire don’t retire, then the party will be in trouble in 2014. At 80, Anenih should retire; Bamangar Tukur should retire.These people should now serve as elders and advisers; if they do that, PDP will get its dignity back, but while you still have these analogue leaders and elders in the party and the polity, forget about PDP in 2015,” he warned.He called on President Jonathan to be focused in the New Year to avoid attracting the wrath of the greater percentage of Nigerians, noting that since the buck stops at his table, all blames of every failure in his government would be completely laid at his doorstep.Chukwuma said, “The letter between Obasanjo and Jonathan is a boomerang of Obasanjo’s selfish act in enthroning a president of his choice for Nigeria.“There are many better leaders out there than Jonathan who would have been elected, but Obasanjo selfishly maneuvered Jonathan into leadership by first putting a sick Yar’Adua in power. Because he couldn’t control him anymore, he started writing letters.“That is why Jonathan must be focused in 2014 in order to prove himself worthy for 2015.“Failure to do that and he gets distracted and doesn’t prove himself, and Nigeria continues with the way it is today with corruption, no light, poverty, unemployment, I beg him, he should just step aside, let us seek for a better leader in 2015.“He has tried in the last six years, and rather than the thing getting him into trouble, and cause him more tension, I think Nigeria is greater than everybody, all of them should give way and give room for new spirit to rule Nigeria from 2015,” he said.Bishop Chukwuma however called on Nigerians to be more faithful to

God by pursuing peace and righteousness.“We should all work dedicatedly for the unity and peace of this nation as we celebrate our country. Any attempt by anybody to fuel violence or confusion will call for the review of our amalgamation,” he added.

Source: Radio Biafra.

President Jonathan: My Government Created 1.6 Million Jobs In 2013.


By SaharaReporters, New York

In what appears to be an election campaign statement to rebut those who say his government has failed, President Jonathan has in a New Year message to Nigerians rolled out a list of his “achievements” in the past year.

Among them, he claimed his government may have been responsible for an astounding 1.6 million jobs in 2013 alone, but did not clarify where the jobs were filled.

“Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth,” he said.

“We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy.”

Mr. Jonathan did not say anything about the challenge of leading by example, and only referred to corruption and bad governance, which his critics claim he is nurturing in the country, in passing.

“I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage.  The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow,” he said, referring to the 2014 being Nigeria’s centenary year.

He reiterated that the amalgamation of 1914 was a blessing rather than a mistake, and called on Nigerians as they celebrate the landmark, to continue to work together to be “even greater” as one, united people.

“Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength.  We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today.”

On the issue of peace and security in the country, he said his government will do more in 2014 to further empower the security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with its friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country, adding that the allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment.

Mr. Jonathan also highlighted, among others:

•    The commencement of the National Industrial Revolution Plan in 2013, aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals;

•    Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002 to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes; for the first time becoming a net exporter of cement;

•    A revolution in the agricultural sector, where 4.2 million farmers obtained their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet in 2013;

•    Nigeria produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food in 2013 and inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly as a result, the nation’s food import bill reducing from N1.1 trillion in 2011 to N648 billion in 2012;

•    Between 2007 and 2013, the government has almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion; and

•    Nigeria is building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme, and in 2013 recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country.

Mr. Jonathan promised that in 2014, his government will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation.

“We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed,” he said.  “In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond.  Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy.”

He said his administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced, and would therefore take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages, including curtailing foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed.
He did not say how he would recover public faith in his government that has been shattered by his refusal to declare his assets publicly, his protection of corrupt government Ministers and the state pardon granted to his corrupt friends, all being elements that are known to curtail or compromise every government’s best initiatives.

Full text of the statement:

NEW YEAR MESSAGE TO THE NATION FROM PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR
DECEMBER 31, 2013
Dear Compatriots,
I greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the year 2014 which promises to be a momentous one for our country for several reasons, including the fact that it is also the year of our great nation’s centenary celebrations. I join you all in giving thanks to God Almighty for guiding us and our beloved nation safely through all the challenges of the outgoing year to the beginning of 2014.

Exactly 100 years ago today, on January 1, 1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated what was then the separate Protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, giving birth to the single geopolitical entity known as Nigeria.  For us therefore, today is not just the beginning of a new year, but the end of a century of national existence and the beginning of another. It is a moment for sober reflection and for pride in all that is great about Nigeria.

Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength.  We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today.

As I noted, a few days ago, the amalgamation of 1914 was certainly not a mistake but a blessing.  As we celebrate 100 years of nationhood, we must resolve to continue to work together as one, united people, to make our country even greater.

I assure you that our administration remains fully committed to the progressive development of our country and the consolidation of peace, unity and democratic governance in our fatherland. Despite several continuing domestic and global challenges, for us in Nigeria, the year 2013 witnessed many positive developments which we will strive to build upon in 2014.

We have diligently carried forward the purposeful and focused implementation of our agenda for national transformation in priority areas such as power, the rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation.

You may recall that our 2013 Budget was on the theme, “Fiscal Consolidation with Inclusive Growth”, and I emphasized the need for us to “remain prudent with our fiscal resources and also ensure that the Nigerian economy keeps growing and creating jobs”. I am pleased to report that we have stayed focused on this goal.

Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth. We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy.

In 2013, we commenced implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals. We have also negotiated a strong Common External Tariff (CET) agreement with our ECOWAS partners which would enable us to protect our strategic industries where necessary.

I am pleased to note that as a result of our backward integration policies, Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002, to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes. For the first time in our history, we have moved from being a net importer of cement to a net exporter. Foreign direct investment into Nigeria has also been strong. In fact, for the second year running, the UN Conference on Trade and Development has named Nigeria as the number 1 destination for investments in Africa.

We are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector and the results are evident. We have tackled corruption in the input distribution system as many farmers now obtain their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet system. In 2013, 4.2 million farmers received subsidized inputs via this programme. This scheme has restored dignity to our farmers.

Last year we produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food; and this year, inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production. Our food import bill has also reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, placing Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency.

The sector is also supporting more jobs. Last year, we produced 1.1 million metric tonnes of dry season rice across 10 Northern states; and over 250,000 farmers and youths in these States are now profitably engaged in farming even during the dry season.
This Administration is also developing our water resources which are key for both our food production and job creation goals. In 2013, we completed the construction of nine dams which increased the volume of our water reservoirs by 422 million cubic metres.  Through our irrigation and drainage programme, we have increased the total irrigated area by over 31,000 hectares creating jobs for over 75,000 farming families while increasing production of over 400,000 metric tons of assorted irrigated food products.

Fellow Compatriots, I have always believed that the single greatest thing we can do to ensure all Nigerians realize their potential and play a full part in our nation’s future, is to invest in education. The education of our young people is a key priority for this Government. We take this responsibility very seriously and I urge all other stakeholders in the sector to recognize the national importance of their work, and to help advance the cause of education in our nation.

Between 2007 and 2013, we have almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion – and we will continue to vigorously support the sector. We have improved access to education in the country with the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to twelve, the number of universities established by this administration.

In 2013, we rehabilitated 352 laboratories and constructed 72 new libraries in the Federal Unity Schools; and also rehabilitated laboratories of all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country.

In the Health sector, we are building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme. In 2013, we recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country. Over 400,000 lives have been saved through our various interventions. We have reached over 10,000 women and children with conditional cash transfer programmes across 8 States and the FCT and we intend to scale up this successful initiative.

Our national immunization coverage has exceeded 80%. And for the first time in the history of the country there has not been any transmission of the Type-3 Wild Polio virus for more than one year.We have also eradicated the guinea worm that previously affected the lives of over 800,000 Nigerians yearly. In tertiary health care, we upgraded medical facilities across the country. Two of our teaching hospitals – the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, and the University College Hospital in Ibadan – commenced open heart surgeries this year after the installation of new facilities.

Fellow Nigerians, I have dwelt on some of our administration’s achievements in 2013 to reassure you that we are working and results are being achieved on the ground. As we enter our Centennial year, there is still much work ahead. We are determined to sustain our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen our domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments will create more jobs for our youth. Government will at the same time, continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in our growth and prosperity.

In 2014, we will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as  infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation. In the past year, the Federal Government completed the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies. We are also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP).
We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed. In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond.  Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy.

Our administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced. We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages. We have worked hard to curb fraud in the administration of the pension system and the implementation of the petroleum subsidy scheme. We have introduced a Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General. This department will now ensure that those of our pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud. Prosecution of all those involved in robbing our retired people will continue. The Petroleum Subsidy Scheme is also now being operated under new strict guidelines to tackle previous leakages in the scheme and prevent fraud.

Foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed. This directive shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government. Our strategy to curb leakages will increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as biometrics and digitizing government payments.

I am therefore pleased to inform you that we shall complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms in 2014 – namely, theTreasury Single Account (TSA), theGovernment Integrated Financial Management Information System(GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – which are all geared towards improving efficiency and transparency in our public finances. Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more.

To sustain Nigeria’s ongoing agricultural transformation, we have planned further investments in the sector. We will provide input subsidies to five million farmers nationwide using the e-wallet system.  This Administration recently launched a self-employment initiative under theYouth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), called the Nagropreneur programme. This scheme would encourage our youth to go into commercial agriculture as entrepreneurs and we plan to develop over 750,000 youngNagropreneurs by 2015.

We will also establish new agro-industrial clusters to complement the staple crop processing zones being developed across the country.In 2014, this Administration will continue to work with the private sector to improve financing in the agricultural sector. For example, we will launch the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria(FAFIN) which will serve as a private equity fund to invest in agri-businesses across the country.

Our Small and Medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. We have about 17 million registered SMEs, and they employ over 32 million Nigerians. When our SMEs grow, more jobs will be created for our youth. Therefore, in 2014, this Administration will focus strongly on implementing the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) to address the needs of small businesses. Our interventions will include helping SMEs with access to affordable finance, business development services, and youth training. In addition, our new CET policies will enable us to support our emerging industries.

We will also intensify our investment promotion efforts abroad, to ensure we bring the biggest and best companies from around the world to invest in Nigeria.

Dear Compatriots, the housing and construction industry is a critical sector in most developed economies. When the housing sector booms, it creates additional jobs for architects and masons, for electricians and plumbers, for painters and interior decorators, and for those in the cement and furniture industries.

Today, I am pleased to inform you that this Administration is reinvigorating our housing and construction sector. We have established the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) which will increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide a secondary market for mortgages, and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at an affordable price in the country.

In 2014, we will work in a number of pilot states where the State Governors have agreed to provide fast-track land titles, foreclosure arrangements, and serviced plots. This new institution will enable us to create over 200,000 mortgages over the next five years at affordable interest rates. In addition, those at the lower end of the economic ladder will not be left behind as this new initiative will expand mass housing schemes through a re-structured Federal Mortgage Bank and other institutions to provide rent-to-own and lease-to-own options. I am confident that very soon, many more hardworking Nigerian families will be able to realize their dream of owning a home.

In this our centenary year, we will continue our efforts, through theSaving One Million Lives initiative to strengthen primary health care services. We will scale up interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, routine immunization, HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases. We will pay greater attention to the provision of universal health coverage. Besides the implementation of new initiatives such as my comprehensive response plan for HIV/AIDS, we shall continue to collaborate with global health partners to deliver our health sector transformation agenda.

I am glad that the issues responsible for the long-drawn ASUU strike have been resolved and our children are returning to their campuses. We are committed to making our tertiary institutions true centers of learning for our young people. We will therefore focus on upgrading hostels, laboratories, classrooms, and halls.  As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, we will continue to expand access to basic education for all Nigerian children. Working with State Governments, we shall decisively tackle the problem of the large numbers of out-of-school children in this country. We will also invest in technical and vocational education to promote skills development for our youth across the country.

Nigerian entrepreneurs still lack access to affordable financing, with medium-to-long-term tenors. To address this gap, a new wholesale development finance institution will be established in 2014 to provide medium-to long-term financing for Nigerian businesses. We are working with partners such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, the BNDES Bank in Brazil, and KfW in Germany, to realize this project. Our existing Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry will be re-structured as specialized institutions to retail financing from this new wholesale development bank.

In addition to the foregoing, our administration will also do all within its powers to ensure the success of the forthcoming National Conference. The report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Conference is undergoing urgent review and the approved structure, guidelines and modalities for the conference will soon be published as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion.

It remains our sincere hope and expectation that the success of the national conference will further enhance national unity, peace and cohesion as we move ahead to the 2015 general elections.

In keeping with our avowed commitment to progressively enhancing the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process by consistently upholding the principle of one man, one vote, our Administration will also ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receives all required support to ensure that it is adequately prepared for the next general elections.

As peace and security remain prerequisite conditions for the full realization of our objectives, we will also do more in 2014 to further empower our security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with our friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country and enhance the security of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria. The allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment.

Fellow compatriots, the task of making our dear nation a much better place for present and future generations cannot be left to government alone. I therefore urge you all to be ready and willing to do more this year to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way.

Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year, and Nigeria’s Centenary, to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations. I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage. The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow.

I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2014. God bless Nigeria. Happy New Year.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
President,
Federal Republic of Nigeria
December 31, 2013

On GEJ’s Rebuttal To OBJ’s Open Letter By M J Balogun.


By M J Balogun

I saw it coming. I had predicted in my last post that ex-President Obasanjo‘s open letter to President Jonathan would not go unanswered. And answered it was. Although the sitting President’s self-appointed media consultants had tried to dismiss the issues raised by OBJ as a non-issue (with some arguing that a weightless letter deserved no response) the current President knew better than to act as if the ex-President said nothing extraordinary. The President and his lieutenants did lose sleep over the open letter. The President’s rebuttal dated 20th December 2013 is the outcome of the marathon meetings held over the unsolicited missive. The President did more than return OBJ’s fire; he pointedly asked those given to washing Nigeria‘s dirty linen in public to look for other pastimes. The exigency of national security, as seen by the President, dictates restraint, possibly, self-censorship, not unguarded and flamboyant letter writing.

And this is my starting point today–the logic underpinning the invocation of the spirit of “national security” at a time we had been led to believe that it was only through open dialogue that we could get out of our predicament. Wasn’t it a little while ago that Mr President set up a National Dialogue Committee, authorized the Committee to disregard signs pointing to no-go areas, and gave the members a free hand to interrogate the National Question from all angles? Apparently, there are no-go areas after all. Besides saying it in so many words that OBJ’s open letter was a less “acceptable and dignified means” of communication, the President termed the letter a clear “threat to national security as it may deliberately or inadvertently set the stage for subversion.” He further alleges that “landmines” had been laid for him–President Jonathan, that is–waiting to explode. “The purpose and direction of your letter”, the President told OBJ, “is distinctively ominous, and before it is too late, my clarifications on the issues need to be placed on record.”

The President found the timing of OBJ’s letter particularly odd. If OBJ was not part of a gang-up against the President, why should his letter come on the heels of other “vicious releases”? The “releases” that the President considered malicious include the comment by the Speaker of the House drawing a correlation between the President’s “body language” and corruption, and the letter written by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria accusing the NNPC of failing to remit the sum of USD49.8 billion to the federation account within a period of 19 months. Even though the CBN Governor’s letter was addressed to the President, its contents were divulged to third parties, OBJ included. The President said nothing about OBJ’s presumed tag-team partners, but if the likes of IBB, Abdul-Salaami, and Theophilus Danjuma were contemplating following up with their own open letters, the alarm raised by President Jonathan and echoed by former Head of State, Dr. Yakubu Gowon, should stay their hands and leave OBJ alone in the ring to face his new Nemesis.

Let us, for now, leave conspiratorial gang-ups aside, and take the bones of contention one at a time. OBJ had berated the government for its poor handling of security. Mr President fired back by saying that his government had instituted measures which significantly reduced “the scope and impact of terrorist operations” in the North East region. Among the steps taken by the government to contain the Boko Haram insurgency were the application of the carrot and stick technique, identification of illiteracy as a major terrorism trigger, the release of funds for the construction of Almajir schools, and the establishment of nine universities in the northern states.

The President, by the way, wondered if OBJ was qualified to counsel anyone on the use of the carrot. As the President noted, the stick was all ex-President OBJ relied on to curb militancy in the Niger Delta, in general, and Odi, Bayelsa State, in particular. Ouch!

On security across the whole country, the President maintained that his government accorded high priority to the equipment and training of law enforcement agents. The government had further “increased the surveillance capabilities of the Police and provided its air-wing with thrice the number of helicopters it had before the inception of the present administration.” The Civil Defence and Security Corps had also been armed to make it an effective law enforcement agency.

In the President’s own reckoning, Nigeria of 2013 is more secure than that of 2007. It was in 2007, the President points out, that a petrol tanker was set to ram into the INEC building in Abuja. The elections slated to hold that year would have been derailed but for the fortuitous intervention of an electric pole. It was also in 2007 that an armed gang tried, in vain, to assassinate the current President when he ran as the PDP’s Vice-Presidential candidate. The gang tried again to bomb his country home, but as luck would have it, Vice-Presidential candidate Goodluck Jonathan was elsewhere when the bomb went off. Now the nation’s Number One citizen, President Jonathan laments that the “security people” whose job under the OBJ administration it was to investigate the assassins’ backers and motives, failed to unravel the assassination attempts.

The President is gracious to acknowledge the fact that the general security environment remains dicey. Kidnapping, piracy, and armed robbery are still very much with Nigeria. He might as well include bloody bank heists, civil disturbances, ritual killing, and other violent crimes. The President’s rebuttal acknowledges these ugly realities, but has provided no satisfactory explanation for their persistence over time. Despite the huge allocations to the Police (with its high-flying and invisible “air wing”), the Civil Defence Corps, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, and the myriad uniformed outfits created at the drop of a hat, the President agrees that Nigeria is still faced with a grave security challenge. He, the President, in fact regards the security issues as those which “all Nigerians, including me (the President) are very concerned about.” How then is this “concern” different from the one expressed in OBJ’s open letter?

Probably to allay OBJ and other concerned Nigerians’ fears, the President’s makes a show of detailing the efforts made by the government to arm and equip the law enforcement agencies. This is where the President should have stopped–that is, the stage at which his government was said to be trying but insecurity appeared to be winning. But then, the President felt the urge to put up a robust defence, and by so doing, to portray OBJ as at best, ill-informed, at worst, spiteful. This is where the President made a fatal error. In explaining why the security situation had NOT improved on his watch, the President passes the buck to his predecessors! He regards the problems that he was elected to solve as antedating his tenure and therefore beyond his capacity! This is how the President (on whose desk the buck stops) sees precisely the challenges that he was elected to tackle:

“While we will continue to do our utmost best to reduce all forms of criminality to the barest minimum in our country, it is just as well to remind you (OBJ) that the first major case of kidnapping for ransom took place around 2006. And the Boko Haram crisis dates back to 2002. Goodluck Jonathan was not the President then (meaning, Baba OBJ was). Also armed robbery started in this country immediately after the civil war and since then, it has been a problem to all succeeding governments….”

The Jonathan administration’s “utmost best” is clearly not delivering the “barest minimum” promised let alone the results actually craved by the long-suffering people of Nigeria. Yet, the same tendency to evade responsibility for the design and implementation of measurable change in the security and law enforcement sector is evident in the President’s response to OBJ’s corruption allegation. Those who were wondering what “weighty issues” OBJ raised in his open letter should again listen carefully to the President:
“That corruption is an issue in Nigeria is indisputable. It has been with us for many years….The seed of corruption in this country was planted a long time ago, but we are doing all that we can to drastically reduce its debilitating effects on national development and progress.”

It is the same argument: government is trying but corruption is winning. If the seed of corruption was planted a long time ago, what efforts have we made to uproot the seed or to deny it the water and the compost it needs to sprout? The issue is NOT when corruption, or for that matter, insecurity, started. The issue–the critical one that the President failed to address–is how effectively he has so far deployed the intimidating powers of the presidency to combat corruption and checkmate insecurity.  It is not enough for those aspiring to lead us to covet the imperial powers of the state executive. They must have an idea what they want to do with the powers. This is my argument in THE ROUTE TO POWER: THE DYNAMIC ENGAGEMENT OPTION FOR CURRENT AND ASPIRING LEADERS (Palgrave-Macmillan, NY, 2009). Unfortunately, many aspirants to leadership positions in Nigeria don’t have the slightest clue what the country is up against or how the people are hurting under the weight of unsolved problems. Once in office, the leaders care even less whether or not they find solutions to knotty problems.  Otherwise, why would anyone vie for the office of President and Commander-in-Chief, only to get elected into it and then begin to blame the critical challenges’ dates of birth for the failure to make an impact?

Of course, President Jonathan inherited insecurity, corruption, and many other “impregnable” challenges. There would be no need for a president if there are no challenges breaking the people’s backs, tugging at their hearts, and shortening their lives. In President Jonathan’s case, the people of Nigeria (including those who did not vote for him) expected that as soon as he took his oath of office, old and new challenges would beat a retreat as government assembled the best and the brightest brains to wage a relentless war on those vexing challenges. But what do we have instead? We see the energy of the state dissipated on the retention, concentration, and consolidation of power; on self-aggrandisement; on controversial, possibly questionable, transfer of the Nigerian people’s assets to well-connected oligarchs; and on the virtual conversion of public institutions into personal households or fiefdoms. Instead of sharpening their detective, investigative, and crime control capacities to a fine hone, law enforcement agents wait for “instructions from above” to perform their statutory functions or, as is becoming the practice, to serve purely partisan political interests in total disregard of their professional ethos.

If the President wants to make a difference to the governance of this country (and record measurable impact in security and law enforcement, the war on corruption, electric power generation and distribution, etc.) he should start by turning the weak and bendable institutions into resilient, personality-proof, and enduring service delivery agents. This type of institution building/revitalization entails, at the very least, placing the highest premium on the autonomy, professionalism, integrity, productivity and performance of public service delivery agents.

We have focused thus far on the minuses in the President’s rebuttal. This, however, is not to suggest that the President’s rebuttal to OBJ lacks merit in its entirety. Far from it. The President has, in my humble opinion, responded adequately to a number of allegations, notably, the allegations that he placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list and that he had sent snipers for training in readiness for deployment against political opponents. If OBJ knows of a list, he must also know the names on the list. Unless he is ready to produce the political watch list which he mentioned in his open letter (with the names un-redacted), he owes not just the President but every Nigerian an apology for crying wolf where there is none. Ditto for the allegation concerning the training and possible deployment of snipers. One lesson my professors taught me is that assertions are no proof. The President’s accusers have to go beyond trying to smear him. They have to provide the exact details of his wrongdoing. And no details are more exact than names that could be matched with recognizable faces. While still on the rebuttal, the President would appear to have laid to rest the ghost of the un-remitted US$49.8 billion– unless of course the Central Bank of Nigeria not only stands by its earlier finding but is also ready to back the finding up with incontrovertible and verifiable data.

Since the PDP crisis in an internal party affair–one that is only marginally related to the national issues raised in OBJ’s open letter and adverted to in the President’s response–it is better left the way it is, in the hands of the parties concerned.

However, there is one PDP-related matter which this post cannot ignore. It is the matter regarding the tension building up in the run-up to 2015. The President considered it “regrettable that in your (OBJ) letter, you seem to place sole responsibility for the ongoing intrigues and tensions in the PDP at my doorstep….At the heart of all the current troubles in our party and the larger polity is the unbridled jostling and positioning for personal or group advantage ahead of 2015.”

By that statement, the President acknowledges that tension does exist within his party and in the country as a whole. While accepting part of the responsibility for the crisis, he thinks that others also share in the blame. As President and Commander-in-Chief, President Jonathan cannot “share” this type of responsibility with anyone. The position that he currently holds obliges him to account for whatever befalls Nigeria. This is why he has to decide whether he would honour the one-term agreement which he explicitly or implicitly entered into in 2011 or, regardless of the risks and the consequences, he would shred the agreement and throw the bits and pieces in his opponents’ faces. In deciding one way or the other, the President should be mindful of his place in history. He should accordingly listen to his inner soul and voice–not to advisers whose jobs are on the line, not to relatives who see power and its fringe benefits slipping away, and certainly not to war-mongers.

May God guide the President aright, bless our country, Nigeria, and relieve the suffering of our people, no matter their tribe, tongue, or religious belief!

Professor Balogun, former UN Senior Adviser, and former Director-General, The Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, writes from Canada.

Follow Baloguun on twitter @balogunjide1
Visit his websites: http://balogunjide.net and http://balogunjide.theblogpress.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Tinubu whacks Jonathan over missing $11billion, calls for change.


Tinubu-02

A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has urged Nigerians to embrace his party, as it promises to be a harbinger of a much needed change in Nigeria.In a goodwill message to Nigerians as they mark the transition from 2013 to 2014, Tinubu attempted to differentiate the APC from the ruling PDP, saying that the APC “is a vehicle to generate and accelerate the process of change towards the most beneficial end for the greatest number of our people.”His party, he said, will not mimic the PDP.Calling the PDP a ‘robber’ government, with ‘deaf leaders’, Tinubu urged Nigerians to hearken to the message of change that the APC has brought and to embrace the party as it seeks a change of leadership in Nigeria.” We may not be perfect but we are dedicated to the well-being of something far greater and more important than ourselves. We seek a better Nigeria for all Nigerians. Thus, we are no more like the PDP than a broom is like the dirt it sweeps away.“We do not copy the deafness of the ruling party. We shall orchestrate a new music of enlightenment, progress and hope for this country. As it moves nearer, the sound of imminent change will become music to the many. Those in power will dread it because the tune they want to hear comes not of the people’s happiness but from their misery.”
Bola TinubuBola TinubuTinubu cited two developments this year that ought to compel Nigerians to dump the PDP: the disappearance of $11billion from the Federal earnings, being unremitted income by the NNPC and President Jonathan’s seeming casual, cavalier way of dealing with the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.“Recently the media published reports of a letter from the CBN governor alleging a $50 billion dollar shortfall in revenues NNPC deposited into the federation account. After a frenzied dash to reconcile the irreconcilable accounting books kept by this government, it was reported that only approximately $11 billion was unaccounted!“We have dropped so far that somehow losing $11 billion is now a sign of fiscal rectitude! This is tragic.“In an atmosphere of good governance, this amount would never grow legs and walk away unnoticed. If it did, senior officials would have been duly escorted to the police station for criminal investigation. Under this administration, the matter is swept aside as if a minor thing, like a broken tea cup on the floor. If this government can treat a missing $11 billion dollars like a minor accounting infraction, much more than a teacup needs to be swept away.“This robber government needs to feel the broom and the sweep of change as well.“Regarding Boko Haram and our challenges of domestic security, President Jonathan gave a recent statement that showed no urgency or initiative. Instead, he told Nigerians to be happy because things could be worse. At least, we are not like Syria or other war-ravaged lands, he said.“In the face of the nation’s greatest security challenge since the Civil War, this is the presidential policy: to lay low and measure your failure relative to the failure of other nations.

As long as other nations suffer conditions worse than ours, we should accept our fate and commend government for allowing only one of our legs to be amputated and not both.” Jonathan’s hands-off, laissez faire approach to civil insurrection does not commend itself to national greatness or wise statecraft. It is a lazy and dangerous policy he promotes. This nation will not improve simply by being content that we are not as bad as other nations. That is not way of improvement. It is the excuse of a leader grown too comfortable with failure.”Tinubu further highlights areas his party will show marked differences from the ruling PDP: presenting an economic alternative plan, communicating with the people and practicing internal party democracy.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Obasanjo’s letter to Jonathan danger signal, says Chukwumerije.


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Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije,

yesterday described former President Olusegun Obasanjo‘s open letter to President Jonathan as a sign of looming disaster.

Chukwumrije in a statement last night said a second term for Jonathan is necessary to foster a sense of participation of all ethnic components in the administration of the country at the highest level.

He warned that never again will the Igbo nation allow itself to be made a sacrificial lamb in the nation’s political history.

He described as alarmist Obasanjo’s warning that the military is being primed for “possible abuse and misuse… for unwholesome personal and political interest…”

The statement reads: “For System Nigeria, a period of almost half a century of silent ostracisation of a group in political wilderness should be enough of a part of the total reparation exacted from Ndigbo since the end of the civil war.

“This major ethnic nationality has never produced an elected President of Nigeria. Still on the future of Nigeria (and specifically fate of Igbo ethnic nationality) in the dark shadows of new but predictable hazards of replay of ancient systemic uncertainties.

“The lengthy loud ambiguities of our Delphic Oracle reek with offensive smells – innuendos of betrayals and lurking disasters, of cyclical visitations of ignored history, of clear blinks of danger signs from 1966 milepost.

“When such an alarm comes from a revered leader, it is an invitation to a ship wreck from familiar quarters. Predictably, rehearsed but hollow threats of impeachment was a logical fall-out of the alarm. Timely counter threats of treasonable felony followed.”

He added: “We must avert this disaster. For Ndigbo, System Nigeria can never make us again the sacrificial lamb of its fractured history. Never again.

“If to foster a sense of participation of all ethnic components in the management of Nigeria is the prime purpose of rotation of the presidency, the formal acceptance of the current six-zone structure, (the successor to the former regions), should be the most effective mode of implementation of the formula.

“A second term for Jonathan is important to establish this necessity. This gives to the federal edifice the solid foundation.”

The lawmaker noted that the turbulent history of Nigeria suggests the six-zone format as a “dialectical necessity in the current phase of our nation-building.”

He said the formula would bring all the sectors of the federation nearer to a level playing ground.

He stated that “the reference to dialectical movement is to the history of the dynamics of power relationships among regions, ethnic blocs and under-girding hegemonies.

“The direction of Nigeria’s political evolution since 1962 has been the inexorable pace of disintegration of hegemonic strongholds in favour of progressive democratisation of the political space.

“Seen from this view, a second tenure for Jonathan is a necessity. It strengthens the precedent of a six-zone structure and reinforces a new convention/formula that adopts this rotation format for the Presidency as the recipe of national stability.”

He lamented that a major ethnic group like Ndigbo have since independence been excluded from Nigeria’s elected presidency.

He said: “The official name of the competition rule is ‘democracy is a game of numbers’. But the buzz code of the System is ‘exclusion of the Igbos for the meantime’.

“Obasanjo has allegedly said as much a long time ago, warning that it was an insult to the System for Ndigbo to expect access to the presidency in less than 100 years from end of the civil war.

“OBJ’s choice of use of regions as rotation units to warehouse manipulation of selection of presidential materials gives credence to this allegation.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

The Massive Real Estate of the Jonathans in Bayelsa.


 

A billion naira hotel belonging to Nigeria‘s first lady Patience Jonathan under construction in Bayelsa State. Lying next to it is an elephant project that could not be completed since tenure of corrupt former governor of the State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. President Goodluck Jonathan while he was governor of Bayelsa State took over the project but also did not finish it. The first lady’s new hotel is only few months away from completion and almost ready for business.

Also in Otueke the family compound of the Jonathans is being fully guarded by military men.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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