Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Independence speech: Jonathan scores government high in all areas

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President Goodluck Jonathan

The president said his administration is winning the battle against corruption.

The current administration is committed to the fight against corruption and is winning the fight, President Goodluck Jonathan said in his independence speech, Monday morning.

“The fight against the scourge of corruption is a top priority of our Administration. We are fighting corruption in all facets of our economy, and we are succeeding,” Mr. Jonathan said.

The president made reference to the ongoing prosecution of suspected oil subsidy fraudsters, and senior civil servants involved in the pension scam as signs of his administrations success.

Mr. Jonathan however did not speak on corruption allegations levelled against his ministers. At least two serving ministers of the present administration have been enmeshed in corruption and maladministration scandals, with one of them recommended for exit by lawmakers.

The Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, was publicly accused by Nigeria’s largest indigenous airline, Arik Air, of using her selfish, personal demands to stifle the airline’s activities; while the Minister of Petroleum, Dieziani Madueke, was recommended for removal by the House of Representatives after an investigation of the oil subsidy payments for 2011. Before then, Mrs. Madueke had been enmeshed in other oil block and crude oil lifting contract scandals, all of which are in public knowledge.

The President has neither ordered the investigation of both ministers nor relieved them of their positions. Both played major roles in Mr. Jonathan’s election.

Other government officials close to Mr. Jonathan, like the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Arunma Oteh, have also been indicted for official maladministration.

Mr. Jonathan however said his administration would continue its fights against corruption.

“I have given my commitment of non-interference in the work of the relevant (anti-corruption) agencies and I am keeping my word. What we require is the full cooperation of all tiers of government, and the public, especially civil society and the media,” he said.

Healthcare too

Despite the high rate at which public officials travel to foreign countries for health treatment, even for ailments that can be treated locally, the president said his administration has done a lot in providing quality healthcare for Nigerians.

“In the last two years, we have put in place structures for an upgrade of the country’s health sector, to promote in every respect, the individual citizen’s right to quality, affordable and accessible healthcare,” Mr. Jonathan said.

The first lady, Patience Jonathan, has been in Germany for over one month for treatment of an officially undisclosed ailment, while the Senate President, David Mark, and other top officials have all travelled recently for treatment in foreign countries.

Economic growth

The President also spoke on the growth in the country’s economy saying Nigeria’s economy has grown in the past two years since he resumed office.

“During the same period and particularly in the last two years, the Nigerian economy has done appreciably well despite the global financial crisis. Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 7.1 per cent on average.”

This is despite relevant agencies of the United Nations, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, and so on, saying the “growth” in the economy has not led to job creation has more people have become poorer, living below poverty level, within that same period.

Mr. Jonathan also spoke about the current security situation in Nigeria and the efforts being made by the administration to strengthen security agencies while utilizing dialogue as an option with insurgents.

“Many Nigerians have acknowledged that there has been a significant decline in the spate of security breaches,” the president said.

Mr. Jonathan while speaking on the power situation in Nigeria said his administration is putting in place a reform program.

“We have also put in place a cost-reflective tariff structure that reduces the cost of power for a majority of electricity consumers,” Mr. Jonathan said. “I am pleased with the feedback from across the country, of improvements in power supply.”

While speaking on the flooding across Nigeria, Mr. Jonathan condoled with the families who have lost lives and property to the flood across the country.

He said he has “received the interim report of the presidential team that I (he) set up to assess the flooding situation across the country.”

“The Federal Government has taken measures to assist the affected states, while considering long term measures to check future reoccurrence,” the president said.

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