President Jonathan: A Study in Under Promising and Over Delivering, By Reno Omokri

Reno Omokri

Numbers are more believable than mere words.

As we approach the mid-term period of the Jonathan administration, many young Nigerians have asked me through various fora but especially on social media why I support and project this administration’s Transformation Agenda and if the agenda has yielded any fruit. I believe that as a public servant I owe these Nigerians and all Nigerians, answers and I will do my best to answer these questions.

Firstly, I believe that effective rebranding is a projection of positive things that are already happening; so, I will try to limit myself to things that the Jonathan administration has done or is doing, knowing full well that you cannot build your reputation on what you intend to do.

When President Jonathan declared his intention to contest the 2011 elections on 18 September, 2010, he touched on three core areas: electoral reform, energy security and education. He touched on other areas but I will focus on these three core promises and the Nigerian economy.

On electoral reform, it is commonly said that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I have much to say about the transparency of the 2011 elections but as Theo Paphitis says on The Dragons Den “give me the numbers”. Well, how about these for numbers: after the 2003 elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had 560 election petition cases from contestants who felt they had been rigged out or suffered from some form of electoral malpractice. After the 2007 elections that number rose to 1,250. However, that number fell to just 400 petitions after the 2011 elections. The numbers do not lie. The sharp drop in the number of election petitions after the 2011 election is by far the most obvious evidence that those elections were the freest and most transparent elections Nigeria has had since we returned to civil rule in 1999.

President Jonathan deserves the credit for appointing an INEC chair and board that were universally acclaimed by all as competent and credible. The President not only appointed them but, more importantly, he gave them a free hand as evidenced when he had to travel to Bayelsa on 2 April, 2011 for the National Assembly elections only to arrive Otuoke and hear that INEC had postponed the elections. The President heard about the postponement like an average Nigerian.

When all was said and done, the Commonwealth Election Observer Group led by Festus Mogae, former Botswana President, said the 2011 elections “discarded the notion that the country can only hold flawed elections.” The group further said that the elections were “credible and creditable!”

So, on his promise of ensuring electoral reform, it is safe to say that Mr. Jonathan delivered.

On energy security, the outside world focuses on peace in the Niger Delta and the ability of the oil majors to meet their targets in the oil and gas sector. That is of some importance to Nigerians. But when you talk of energy security, availability of electricity is of greater importance to Nigeria. How has the President fared in this regard?

To answer this question, it is important to establish that between 1980 and 1999, no new investments were made in the power sector. In fact, the Egbin Power Station that was commissioned in the very early 80s was the last power plant that was built in Nigeria before the launch of the National Integrated Power Project, NIPP, and the contract for that plant was awarded in the 70s. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was asked about the power situation he met on ground when he ascended to power in 1999 he said, “As at 1999, I met 1,500 megawatts.”

The situation that Mr. Jonathan met on ground was that the NIPP had been suspended as a result of the House’s probe of the alleged profligate spending in the sector under the previous administration.

Upon ascension to the Presidency, Mr. Jonathan revived the NIPP without interfering in the House’s probe. He launched a roadmap for power sector reforms, reinstated the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, and created the National Bulk Electricity Trading PLC.

This administration pressed on with the privatization of all Federal Government thermal generation stations and power distribution companies. The process has culminated in the Presidential Power Reform Transactions Signing Ceremony which held on 22 April, 2013, where successful bidders received their certificates at the Presidential Villa and are set to run their new acquisitions in a businesslike manner.

However, I know that without numbers I may not be communicating with Nigerians; so, here are a bit of the numbers in the power sector.

This administration completed new units and turbines generating Megawatts of electricity in the following locations; Olorunshogo in Ogun state (563MWs), Sapele in Delta state (225MWs) and Omotosho in Ondo state (112.5 MWs). These efforts yielded fruit in the attainment of a peak generation capacity of 4,322 MWs delivered in December 2011

Now, many Nigerians may complain and ask, “if power generation has increased, why am I not feeling it?”. Let us put things into perspective. If between 1980 and 1999 there were no new investments in building new power generation infrastructure and if within that period our population doubled, is it not obvious that this will affect the per capita distribution of electricity with more people struggling for the same amount of electricity?

It takes one leap to jump into a ditch but it takes several leaps to jump out of it. Even the peak generation capacity of almost 4500 MWs is not sufficient for our population of 170 million people but it is a 30% improvement on the 2800 mw capacity that this administration met on ground.

Moreover, the President is not resting on his oars. On Tuesday, May 28, Mr. Jonathan will flagg off the construction of the Zungeru Hydro Electric Dam in Zungeru, Niger State.

This administration has done a lot and is still doing more to improve on Nigeria’s power situation and it is clear that Mr. Jonathan has delivered and is still delivering on his promise to ensure energy security in Nigeria.

On education, Mr. Jonathan has said on more than one occasion that this sector has special significance to him given his past as a lecturer. He promised to intervene in the educational needs of the 10 million itinerant scholars in northern Nigeria more commonly referred to as Almajiri and on the 10 April, 2012, he launched the first school built under the Almajiri Education Programme. By the end of 2012, 124 such schools had been completed. A total of 400 are to be completed as part of the programme.

Also, the Federal Government created nine new Federal Universities in 2010. These universities were to cater for the huge number of secondary school leavers who could not find placement in the available universities. These universities – the Federal Universities Ekiti, Otuoke, Lokoja and Ebonyi – have commenced student intake. Also, three other universities are planned for Gasu’a in Yobe State, Birnin Kebbi in Kebbi State and Gusau in Zamfara State.

Still on tertiary education, the Federal Government has sent a total of 5,867 lecturers for further degrees from its own universities as well as state universities. Of this number, 1,375 were sent overseas. 624 of this number have already completed their Master’s and PhD.

In the area of primary and secondary education, this administration trained 28,000 Head Teachers selected from each of the 6 geo-political zones and released $250,000 (N39.5million) to each of the 104 Federal Unity Schools for the sole purpose of rehabilitating their science and technical laboratories. In total, 400 laboratories have been renovated and equipped.

To combat the low enrolment of the boy child in the Southeast, this administration launched the Back-to-School Programme in Enugu also known as Mmuta Bu’Ike. This programme is designed to make education more attractive than trading for preadolescent males.

Nationwide, the Federal Government has distributed 19.6 million activity books for English, Mathematics, Basic Science and Technology to pupils in Primary 1-3.

This unique focus on primary and secondary education led to a modest 8 per cent increase in pass rate in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations, WASSCE. It might be modest, but just think what will happen if we sustain this pace.

The President’s vision on education has been centered on the premise that an educated people are healthier, more productive and are better able to compete in the present knowledge-based worker age. Albeit, it is far from being uhuru in the education sector, but after the President ascended to the office of the presidency on 6 May, 2010, our investments in education have been yielding fruits in other sectors such as the health sector and Nigeria’s Life Expectancy increased from 47 years to 51 years according to the 2011 Human Development Index of the United Nations. That represented the highest increase for Nigeria since records were kept.

On Mr. Jonathan’s promise to improve the education sector, it is certainly obvious that he is delivering on what he said he would do even though it is a work in progress.

On the economy, it is widely known that Nigeria has one of the world’s fastest Gross Domestic Product, GDP, growth rate, averaging almost 7% growth rate for the last 3 years. Not only have we had phenomenal GDP growth rate but our inflationary rate has been in single digit since 2012 and remains so till today. Never in the history of Nigeria have we had a combination of such factors – high GDP growth rate and single digit inflation.

These successes have not been accidental. The Federal Government has taken a number of initiatives to get Nigerians working. On 11 October, 2011, Mr. Jonathan launched the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN) initiative which is a competition open to Nigerian youth entrepreneurs by which youths send in business proposals and the very best of these are selected by a third party international consulting firm for which the winners would receive business training and financial grants to start up business that must employ other youths.

A total of 23,821 youth entrepreneurs submitted business plans during the inaugural competition. These plans were marked by the Pan African University (a private university) and Plymouth Business School of the United Kingdom. By March of 2012, 1200 young Nigerians were selected as winners and received training and grants of between 2 and 10 million naira. The second stage of the competition which was tagged YouWIN women commenced in September of 2012 and by May 2013, 1200 women winners had emerged and received similar training and grants.

Time will not permit me to talk about other such initiatives such as the SURE-P Women and Youths Empowerment Scheme but the long and short of it is that by a series of deliberate strategies, this administration has been able to introduce merit based stimulus initiatives that have gotten Nigeria’s youth working and ensuring robust GDP growth such that in May 2013, the World Bank officially promoted Nigeria from a Low Income Nation to a Middle Income Nation after revealing that poverty has reduced in Nigeria from 64.2% to 62.6%. This might be a modest improvement but to show that this was not a fluke International Monetary Fund, IMF, endorsed our economy, giving it a “positive” rating.

In 2012, Barrack Obama called Nigeria the “next big thing” in the global economy. David Cameron said on 10 October, 2012, “We’ve been hearing about China and India for years but it’s hard to believe what’s happening in Brazil, in Indonesia, in Nigeria.”

One key attribute of philosopher kings is the ability to work smarter instead of just working harder and Nigerians may recall that after the nation’s woeful performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Mr. Jonathan decided to come down hard on the nation’s football governing bodies and initially ordered the withdrawal of Nigeria from international tournaments for two years to focus on building capacity. Although the President relented after appeals by his “friends” on Facebook, he still pressed on with capacity building and convoked a National Sports Stakeholders Forum at the Presidential Villa to x-ray what went wrong and brainstorm on how to fix the problem.

The Federal Government implemented the resolutions that came out of that stakeholders forum and the national team was handed over to a new management that was completely Nigerian. From that thought process and its subsequent implementation, we ended up with the Stephen Keshi managed Super Eagles team that did in 2013 in South Africa what it could not do in 2010 and brought home the trophy from the African Cup of Nations.

That feat reminds me of a popular Toyota Ad that ran in Nigeria about a decade ago. The Ad said “good thinking good product!” The strides that Nigeria has made under Mr. Jonathan have not come as a result of “good luck” but as the reward of good thinking.

Yes, we have an opposition that politicizes everything but with domestic and international testimonies that Mr. Jonathan has fulfilled his promises in the areas of electoral reform, energy security and education as well as delivered an economy that, according to the Clinton Foundation and the British Government, is amongst the ten fastest growing economies in the world- it is safe to say that President Jonathan has made good on that singular promise he made to Nigerians on the 15 September, 2010 when he made history by being the first President in the world to declare his presidential ambition on Facebook. What promise did President Jonathan make? He said “The only promise I make to you my friends, fellow citizens and Nigeria, is to promise LESS and deliver MORE if I am elected.”

Reno Omokri is Special Assistant (New Media) to President Jonathan


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  • gwobezentashi janinjaka

    story story story. Plenty of motion but no real movement. The president is drunk again. Wayyo Allah.

  • Emperor

    Dis reno is a foolish man he is as clueless has his boss…… Ask him did he really meant all he had said? If so he must be a drunkard like his boss……… Pls before u write on dailys make sure u leave abuja nd give facts frm d field not frm ur desk…..all wat uv said here ar point false nd u take we nigerians as a fool…….. U better repent before u see ur doom

  • Olusegun Adekoya

    Thank you Reno for this piece..don’t be deterred as people are going to criticise u anyway but GEJ is surely moving the nation forward. Even without making promises about them, the transformation taking place in the aviation,agriculture, infrastructure (rail and roads) and power sectors are clear for people to see….people are ignorant of the rot in the system pre GEJ thus the reason they are unable to see the giant strides being made…

    • Gidi

      You must probably be living in a lala land when you call promises an achievement. Nigeria’s GDP growth has averaged ~5% over the last 8 years, yet, unemployment is so high (48%) and poverty remains problematic. GDP growth that does not translate into poverty reduction and unemployment. That alone should tell you that something is not working right.

      Power generated in Nigeria has not pass 6000MW despite billions of dollars spent by PDP. Given the amount of money that has been spent over the last 8 years, Nigeria should be generating 20,000MW by now. The last time I checked there was a collapse of the entire power system without single explanation. Is that what you call transformation agenda? To be fair to GEJ, the only thing he has done well is in Agriculture industry. Power is still a disaster. Time will tell on the recent power privatization.

      The problem with Reno et al is that they can’t see beyond their nose. When GEJ apologists get caught with their hands in the cookie jar they quote Obama and Cameron as if they are the only opinion that matters. We deceive ourselves if we think British and American cares about Nigeria. Perhaps, some should tell GEJ that American no longer see Nigeria as part of its Strategic interest giving significant reduction in its oil import from Nigeria. Recent shale gas boom in United States have changed the way energy game is played, but our brothers from Niger-Delta are sill stuck in the past.

      • Ide4u

        He is just trying to resell this melon to Nigerians.

      • jigsaw

        So, na 60 million phone naim bi achievement

      • Tosin Otitoju

        I agree with this too, by the way.

      • Opara Alvin

        I can see your problem, opposition politics forgetting that Nigeria’s problems did not start today and will take time to settle. Please we should be reasonable a little bit. You expect him to generate 40000mw, pay minimum wage of N50000, rehabilitate all federal roads and create new ones, revamp the education sector, revive all ailing industries including the textile and steel industries, increase our Agriculture potentials, create 30million jobs and improve our aviation industry, all in just two and half years? This is insanity of the highest order. Development is a process and it takes time. The important thing is that he has started from somewhere and with the way he is going, we will get there. Qatar that is the richest country in terms of GDP, has people who earn QR500 per month, which is about N21,500 naira. Which way Nigeria?

    • jigsaw

      The rots, thanks to Ogagun Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Olusegun’s 8 damn Years

  • TOG123

    Rice of the fourth reich~

  • bob kay

    The only thing worse than no education is poor education!

  • Jelil

    Cant just comprehend where we are going in this nation, no jobs,minimum wage 18,000 but this same parents have to send their kids to University and pay thru their noses, so education is a no no.., and am really tired of people like Omokri, GEJ knew this things before releasing his Manifesto so stop giving us this crap about your 1980’s whatever, we didnt ask GEJ to promise we requested he tell us why we should vote for him and he did through his manifesto so if he cannot act on it he simply his a failure… and stop brandishing your inaccurate facts about it simply shows how cueless you are.

    • Sinzu

      Minimum wage not maximum wage. Meaning the least you can earn, excluding allowance. We should not just come out here to comment and criticize for the fun of it, if you don’t have understanding about an issue, you shut up.

  • Tosin Otitoju

    “merit based stimulus initiatives [like SURE-P]” – I agree. They may not be large, but they are very positive. Why do Nigerians like hating on our own country so much? Definitely engage, critique, but be constructive.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Reno, i am sure you are educated but you have lost your marbles. I voted and campaigned for Jonathan. I thought Shagari was dumb but man was I mistaken; Jonathan is the dumbest president probably in the world. Look around you and see suffering everywhere but then how would you know? Nigerians are suffering Reno, wake up and smell the coffee!!!!!

    • Undisputed truth

      Were you enjoying before Jonathan came to power? Common my brothers, even 10years can not solve Nigeria’s numerous problems. These opposition parties that give us this poor eduction and create wrong impressions in our minds, have they stopped poverty in their states? How many jobs have they provided for their people? Yet they give you the impression that they will solve Nigeria’s problems in days. They have huge allocations let them start from their states, then the pressure at the centre will be reduced.

  • Opara Alvin

    When will Nigerians stop being bias and be sincere? I’m based in Qatar, but last time I travelled from Port harcourt to Abuja on road, I was very impressed because there was improvement, we drove smoothly unlike how it were 2010 when I visited Abuja last before this trip. Pakistan with a similar population with Nigeria, generates over 45000mw of electricity, 10 times our present generation, yet they don’t have 24hrs power supply. Even 10000mw can not give us uninterrupted power supply so we should be patient and appreciate his efforts. I’m an electrical engineer with both national and international experience, so I talk with facts. We should leave tribal religious and political sentiment and stand by the truth. This might not be the best Nigeria can achieve, but from past administrations I have seen since I was born in Nigeria, he is the best. So many achievements that looked impossible before, Benin/ore road, our air port maintenance, our rail transport system and now trying to resurrect Ajaokuta steel company. Haba! Nigerians which way, let’s not use sentiments are ruin this country.