In remarks that further underline his administration’s frustration with unrelenting criticisms, President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday repeated the optimism he has long held, assuring Nigerians of the impact of his government’s achievements by 2013.
Mr. Jonathan spoke at the 52nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, where he described himself as “the most criticised president in the world,” saying his critics failed to understand the nation’s troubles predated his administration.
But the president assured, by 2013, he will be the “most praised”, a pledge he has severally given as his administration grapples with some of this country’s fiercest attacks against a government.
“I think I am the most criticised president in the whole world,” he said. “But I tell this noble audience that before I leave, I will also be the most praised president.
“I have experienced that before in my governorship journey in Bayelsa state. In fact, people who were close to me will tell you that even after the election, I told them, in my first 12 months, please cover your ears, because you will hear all kinds of things. But, as we progress, you will see (changes).”
The president’s comments came about 48 hours after a testy riposte by his media adviser, Reuben Abati, in what appears a coordinated attempt at scaling up the administration’s reaction to the criticisms Mr. Jonathan receives.
Mr. Abati’s article in the Guradian, where he variedly attacked the president’s legions of critics, describing them as “idle and ignorant”, stirred more trouble with his laborious decision at responding to faint issues as allegations Mr. Jonathan is an alcoholic.
Mr. Abati denied such drinks are served “officially” at the state house, and denied the president was a “glutton”.
The president said on Monday his government had been working hard to stabilise power and resurface roads, while also making efforts to bring to reasonable control the security challenges the country is facing.
“It is not easy,” he said. “We don’t have the magic wand. Except one is the miracle worker, that with the wave of the hand, probably will help to throw all these challenges away and prosperity will appear. But in pure governance issues, it takes time.
“Sometimes, even people who have held offices in government criticise me to the extent of personal abuses. Sometimes I ask, were there roads across the country and Jonathan brought flood to wipe out these roads? Or we had power and I brought hurricane to break down the entire infrastructure?
“If they say Boko Haram is because of poverty, were there massive irrigation projects in the North where agriculture can thrive and massive farms, and Jonathan brought drought to wipe out these farms? Under two years, is this possible?”
Mr Jonathan called for understanding, assuring that in the course of time, the results of his effort will be clear for even hsi critics to appreciate.
“Well, time will tell. What I can tell Nigerians is that let those who criticize continue to criticise. We will do our best, and as we progress, Nigerians will know the truth and we’ll see that we are committed and will surely transform this country,’’ he said.
Mr. Jonathan used the opportunity to denounce advocates of state police, saying the country was not yet ripe for such an arrangement, considering that it could easily be abused by the governors, a development, he said, could worsen the country already precarious security situation.