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Only few may have been taken unawares with President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration for a second term penultimate Tuesday. However, the positives and challenges on his track are formidable.
The president was quick to admit it that even though he has done much but that much more is required to take Nigeria to its desired position in the comity of nations.
Whether coincidental or a deliberate act to stop his declaration, on the eve of the event penultimate Monday, elements reportedly inclined to the militant Islamic Boko Haram group bombed a Government Secondary School in Potiskum, Yobe State causing the death of more than 45 school children.
It was another tragic decimal in the recurring attacks that have been clearly directed at clouding whatever positive steps of the administration. But was that enough to stop the president and his supporters from stepping out the following day to celebrate the achievements of the administration? It was a question that quickly turned political.
The president’s supporters claimed that aborting the long planned event would mean giving in to terrorism, a position that was attacked by the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
However, as he pushed forward his intention to seek re-election that fateful day, the president was not oblivious of the challenges and issues before him. Having observed a one minute silence in memory of the dead school children, the president proceeded to list out his initiative to soothe the pains of citizens mostly in the Northeast that have borne the brunt of the militants.
He said: “To ensure the long term stability and development of the affected areas, government has launched three programmes: The Presidential Initiative for the North East, the Victim Support Fund and the Safe School Initiative. The Presidential Initiative for the Northeast is focused on improving infrastructure and economic growth in the region.
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, a partnership with the Private Sector, has raised about 60 billion Naira, which will help to empower and rehabilitate victims of terror.”
He then proceeded to project his mark on infrastructure notably power pointing out that his administration had “pursued the power sector reform to this point of irreversible progress.”
While noting a number of power projects underway including the much talked about 3,050MW Mambilla Hydro-Power Plant he said is about to take off, the president noted the privatisation of the sector as one of the major attainments of his administration which he said is now paying off.
On water infrastructure, the president cited the increase in access to potable water from 58% to 67% and the completion of 37 dams and rehabilitation of another 10 as part of his legacy in the water sector.
One landmark for assessing an administration obviously is the efforts on roads. It was not surprising that as he got to that point that the president glowed as he ticked off his successes in the road sector.
“When I assumed office in 2010, out of the 35,000km of federal roads nationwide, only about 5,000km were motorable. Today, that number has increased to about 25,000km. We expect to complete the remaining 10,000km in three years while initiating new ones.”
“I made a commitment to build two new major bridges across the River Niger and River Benue. Today, the new bridge over the River Benue, connecting Loko in Nassarawa State to Oweto in Benue State has reached an advanced stage of completion, while work has commenced on the Second Niger Bridge.”
“Beyond these, my administration has concluded 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.”
One particular bad road that has tainted the nation’s image, the Murtala Mohammed Way which leads from the international airport in Lagos which for years has been managed will be fully rehabilitated the president assured.
“Preliminary works have started on my administration’s planned re-construction and expansion of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road in Lagos to a world class entry point into our country. Only a few months ago, work started on the dualization of Kano-Katsina Road. While many Nigerians are celebrating the marked improvements on our roads, I want to assure that it will get even better as we move forward.”
The president also noted strides in the railway, oil and gas and agriculture sectors.
While the railways have been partially rehabilitated expectations are that the administration would build the system to a fully modern transportation channel that would in due time take away much of the stress from the roads.
Agriculture has turned into a signature tune for supporters of the president who claim that bold reforms have helped to turn it into a viable business and at the same time eradicating the corruption that once prevailed in the distribution of fertilisers.
“We have focused on encouraging the private sector to boost investments in the agricultural sector. As a result, the number of seed companies rose from five to eighty in the past three years. Private sector investment in the agricultural sector expanded by $ US 5.6 billion across the Agricultural value chain.”
“We ended decades of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors. We developed a transparent and efficient system of reaching farmers directly with subsidized farm inputs. Before our reforms, fertilizer procurement and distribution took from the needy and gave to the greedy. We restored dignity back to farmers.”
“Today, 14 million farmers, of which 2 million are women, access fertilizers with their mobile phones, through an e-wallet system.
Nigeria is the first country in the world to develop an e-wallet system to reach farmers with subsidized farm inputs on their mobile phones. Several African countries are now borrowing this transparent and efficient e-wallet system for their own countries.”
Even as he affirmed his success in curbing corruption in the agricultural sector, the president nevertheless admitted the continuing struggle by his administration to curb corruption in the body polity.
“Corruption remains a big challenge in our national life. It corrodes our efforts at development and at motivating competence in critical sectors of our national growth.
We have eradicated it in the agricultural sector and we will surely eradicate it in other sectors of our economy,” giving a reminder that even where the administration has attained much that the gains remain endangered if the corruption cankerworm is not curtailed.