Jonathan’s Half-Time: The Verdict, By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

The mid-term review of the Goodluck Jonathan administration was celebrated with much pomp and pageantry. To an onlooker or a visitor to the country, the review of the administration’s performance was right on course and almost believable. The paradox is that the same people who set the examinations, sat for them and graded themselves. Sadly, contrary to the current administration’s celebration of success, the grand ‘economic’ figures that were reeled out mean nothing to the ordinary person. The President, proudly with the midterm review document in hand, has asked that we score him. That is what exactly will be covered by this concluding piece of mid-term assessment; not from the perspective of the government but from the angle of the perceived ‘beneficiaries’ of the various schemes and policies that have been enacted since 2011.

Considering the macro-economic issues which have been celebrated by the current government, the fact is several notable aspects of the economy which the government claims to have improved, only impacted a few beneficiaries. The government claims credit in a GDP growth of about 7%. It also beats its chest on the renovation of airports and the resumption of a weekly train service between Lagos and Kano, having been off the lines for nearly twenty years. The government also touts its award of several contracts for infrastructure, especially roads. Finally, the Jonathan government is very smugly proud of its so-called power sector reform and the corollary privatization of several distribution and generation companies.

In the area of providing safety and security for citizens, the government has just recently declared a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, while at the same time ratcheting up the military onslaught at the Boko Haram insurgency, particularly in those three states. Prior to these actions, the government had all but capitulated to all manners of security challenges in all parts of the country, from the kidnappings, to piracy, communal and inter-ethnic clashes, the potentially explosive grazers/farmers relationship all over the country, armed robbery, to all other strains of dissidence. And, of course, the government’s own pretense at, and overlooking serial human rights violations and repeated extra judicial killings of innocent citizens by the security forces.

In the two years since the election of President Goodluck Jonathan, poverty has reportedly declined by 2% (48% to 46%) according to the World Bank’s vice president for Africa. Worthy of note is the fact that it was also mentioned by the World Bank chief that a GDP growth rate of 8% is insufficient to reduce poverty in the country. In practical terms, while there appears to be a minute improvement in the numbers, how significant is a 2% reduction in poverty when about 60% of the population is poor? What does this reduction in poverty mean to the rural dweller who cannot afford the minimum of a dollar (about 160 naira) to cater to his daily needs of feeding, transportation and other human engagements?

Beyond all the trumpets being blown by the current administration for its performance, poverty still abounds greatly in the country which by all standards and measures should not be, given Nigeria’s vast natural and human resource endowments. According to the Revenue Watch Institute, Nigeria is recognized and ranked 40th among 58 natural resources-rich nations. But because these revenues are not properly accounted for and managed terribly, they benefit only a few who have access to the funds at the detriment of the citizenry.

Inequality is on the rise as attested to by Rev. Jesse Jackson who was invited for the democracy day celebrations. His analysis of the Nigerian situation, however grim, is so true.  He mentioned that there would be continuous agitations and unrests in Nigeria until the country’s system was able to guarantee economic justice and equality to the people, stressing that poverty in the midst of plenty was unacceptable.

Sadly, Nigeria, as at the end of 2012 ranked as the 35th most corrupt country in the world. Ridiculously, the government attributes the marginal improvement of moving four places from its ranking of 2011 to the Federal Government’s resolve to fight corruption head-on. The government also responded to the ranking by saying, “it shows clearly that Nigeria is gradually but steadily coming out of the cycle of most corrupt countries”. At this pace, the only thing obvious is the fact that the nation is nowhere close to being taken off the corruption list.

The debt stock of the nation keeps soaring and has currently doubled what it was in 2007. According to statistics available on the Debt Management Office (DMO) website, the external debt stock as at 1999 was about $28bn; by March 2007 was $3.3bn, $5.7bn by December 2011, $6.5bn by December 2012 and $6.7bn by March 2013. What does the Nigerian government have to show for its massive external borrowing? Is it the erratic power supply or the weekly train services which service an insignificant fraction of the population? Government borrowing ought to inject needed cash into the social sector of government by funding critical priority areas such as health, basic education, water, and roads. Can we proudly say we have seen considerable improvement in these sectors?

Incidentally, barely a week after Jonathan’s celebration of ‘achievements’, two of his ministers – Zainab Kuchi and Labaran Maku, admitted in public that 120 million Nigerians still lived in darkness. This clearly indicates that either this government is not reading from the same script, or those that authored Jonathan’s brandished ‘achievements’ live in another planet. It may also be that the government has been caught up in its own web of lies, because however carefully managed a lie is, the truth will always come out in the end.

Those brandishing figures to say that unemployment in Nigeria is on the decrease probably live in another country. Unemployment in Nigeria has grown from about one in five people in 2010 to about one out of every three willing and able to work but jobless in 2013. Many youths beg to differ with these figures stating that these are more likely to represent the employment rate rather than unemployment. While You-Win and Sure-P may be conceptually steps in the right direction, they have remained meaningless slogans as it will take a lot more than them to get the teeming unemployed population off the streets. Most of the youth simply have no hope in what the future holds for them. The truth is that most of the insurgency being experienced in the country in its various forms from Boko Haram to kidnapping and Niger Delta militancy is a direct offshoot of the idleness and unemployment among restless youths.

What is clear though is that not only is President Jonathan determined that he has passed his mid-term exams with flying colors, he has also declared that he has passed the final 2015 exam too, and will promote himself to a second term whether we like it or not. His surrogate voices like Kingsley Kuku and Dokubo have already announced the results of the next presidential elections that we all hope will take place in 2014! These voices have made it clear that mayhem will be visited on the rest of Nigeria by the Ijaws if Jonathan does not contest and win the next presidential election. Jonathan has also embarked on a journey of annihilating any source of dissent within his toxic party, the opposition and the country in multiple fronts. within the PDP, he has procured the suspension of Governors Rotimi Amaechi and Magatakarda Wammako for daring to oppose his choice to lead the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). By endorsing Jonah Jang – the pathetic and hapless loser of election of the NGF which every citizen saw on video with Rotimi Amaechi as the clear winner, Jonathan has descended to even lower moral standards. Seeing these old people going round shamelessly refuting what we all saw clearly on video, I sometimes wonder how people like Jonah Jang and Olusegun Mimiko sleep at night! Opposition leaders like General Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu are being constantly attacked in the media by Jonathanian surrogates while the constitutional rights of citizens are regularly violated to frustrate the merger and emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In the light of all these, it is clear that when Jonathan loses the 2014 presidential elections (not in 2015 as most people assume), he will pull a Laurent Gbagbo stunt, dig in and declare that he has not lost, with his surrogates unleashing violence on anyone perceived to be in disagreement. The next two years will be therefore a period of great challenge to Nigerians during which round-the-clock vigilance must be the watchword of all those that care for our nation and its people.
We all need to be proactive in insisting that the next elections be free, fair and credible. To ensure this, INEC must eliminate human intervention and manipulation of election results by ensuring that polling unit-level results go to a computerized collation centre via encrypted technology on INEC’s VSAT and the nationwide public telecommunications network, thus eliminating paper-based Forms EC8B to F, as well as the collation centers of electoral fraud, manipulation and corruption. The opposition political parties have already recommended that the next elections should all be held on the same day to reduce the logistic and material costs and the like, and eliminate the multiple sources of rigging and manipulation, among others.

The foregoing litany of failures and underperformance of government in social, political and economic spheres will fill more pages than this column can take. Things have never been as bad as we have it now and no gloss-paper document can mask the frustration of the people. The few people who praise the performance of this government or the direction it is headed are those who have benefitted inordinately from the skewed opportunities at the expense of the majority. Some of the major sectors of the country’s economy which would make a difference now and for future generations (security, electric power, healthcare, employment and education) are being toyed with for political gains.

It is not the President’s duty to ‘try’. After all he made promises during his campaign which he ought to fulfill. It is his constitutional duty to protect the lives and property of the citizens and it is our right as citizens to hold our leaders accountable. Rather than engage in petty arguments and gloating over marginal improvements in figures as compared to previous administrations, this administration needs to demonstrate its plans to not only halt the slide, but leave a secure future for the next generation. Instead of taking all criticisms in bad faith, a government that genuinely has the interest of the people at heart should prove critics wrong by improving performance and being accountable to citizens.

In the end, it was a truly shameful spectacle for President Jonathan to sing and dance around with a document that does not have a basis in reality and claim achievements that few people can see or even feel. Judging the mid-term (lack of) progress of Goodluck Jonathan does not require any kind of extra-ordinary skills or gifts. Are you better off now than you were three years ago? Are you more secure than you were a few years ago? Can you pay school fees without breaking the bank? Are more people in jobs than they were a few years ago? Are Nigerians better united today than before Jonathan’s ‘election’? Do you even feed better than you did two years ago? The verdict is up to you.

On final note, we waited in vain for the much-touted document to be made available online or widely in print as promised by the Minister of National Planning. As at the time of writing this, we are yet to see the fulfillment of this Jonathanian promise. If and when the Mid-Term Report of the so-called Transformation Agenda is available we will do a point-by-point analysis.


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  • Atedo Finebom

    No more free Oil, the people are now wiser and will demand their rights

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    You couldn’t stay on the analysis of Jonathan’s achievements because it was clear to your conscience that the President’s achievements are real and incremental, so you started your partisan rambling, typically loaded with lies and false innuendos. Nigerians are used to Elrufai’s lies by now . Nigerians aren’t interested in your conspiracy theories in the NGF, unlike the news junkies They just want to see the president perform. They know he inherited a lot of problems and they want to see him doing something about it. The bigots who blames him for both the rain and the sun will find themselves isolated in the poll, I can assure you. Most Nigerians want their president to succeed irrespective of faith and region.

    • jonathan

      mpitikwelu_na_ola pedro_na_afam_deri_ndidi_na_akpos1_na_concernednigerian_na-Mr.peter2000, you always pretend like the ostrich who buries his eyes in the sand and thinks since it does not see anyone then no one sees it. I will cut and paste your comment”Most Nigerians want their president to succeed irrespective of faith and region.” It is election time, and you must think that the memories of we Nigerians are short. Just a few months back these are your visions and those of other defenders of your principal Goodluck Jonathan (i) “Forward Onto Republic of SS and SE (ii) it is OUR OIL, WE MUST RULE, we do not care about others. (iii) Other Nigerians are lazy, they just depend on OUR OIL, (iv) Electorally divide Nigerians into christian muslim/ majority/minority (in the “North”) and your principal ONLY needs the “christian” votes and “minority” votes in the “North” and he will win. When suddenly you saw that all these slogans and visions portray your principal Goodluck Jonathan as the most divisive president we ever had, and since election is coming and you see the negative effects of your campaign mistakes and those of other online Goodluck Jonathan campaigners you started back tracking from your formal “visions” and slogans! You even begin to “look” at the “south west” , you begin a new song such as “even MKO Abiola-a muslim won election in the North” so? your principal can do same. Having based the campaign for your principal Goodluck Jonathan on “OUR OIL” and you saw the devastation that had caused you all, you are now making overtures to Nigerians, but it is too late. Your usual allusion to MKO Abiola- a Yoruba winning in the “North” -in order to make a case for your principal Goodluck Jonathan is so false, it is laughable. Let me give it to you once and for all, so that you look for another strategy-the social-democractic, nationalist, liberal and progressive forces in Nigeria coalesced behind MKO Abiola, that was why he won the election and those forces fought the battle tooth and nail after the election was annulled by the military. Your principal Goodluck Jonathan is a shoeless conservative to the core, tribal jingoist to the core, he is NOT a nationalist and patriot that comes close to MKO Abiola’s pan Nigerian grassroots social democratic spread despite the fact that he was a muslim. Additionally, your principal Goodluck Jonathan belongs to the most right wing, conservative party in Nigeria. How you his campaigners will use MKO Abiola’s win in the “north” to talk about your GEJ’s chances is ridiculous. So your recent “Most Nigerians want their president to succeed irrespective of faith and region” is too late-please kneel down with your OIL and DRINK IT TIRE-and continue with your -Goodluck Jonathan’s main slogan “Forward onto Republic of SS and SE”. Be consistent and stick with the tribalist you are and will always be.

  • probably

    Its only a blind, deaf and dumb fool that will claim Jonathan is working. But we have a lot of fools in this country. These 2 are a perfect example

  • idoko jimmy

    The man is venting his frustration. He couldn’t fault the geometric progress in the economy. He can’t deny that power has improved even though we need more MW, which could be easily achieved when the privatization fully kicks off. Recall that over $16b was budgeted for power by d same administration he served under. What did they achieved? They left us in a more darker state. This same Elrufai reallocated PHCN plots of land in abuja to his wives, the matter is still in court, yet he complains about power. As a minister, can he point at any policy he formulated to reduce poverty other than driving the poor masses back to the village insisting that abuja is meant for the rich? His corrupt tendencies led to the grounding of NITEL. Privatization under him was a sham, a major scam. Today he criticizes the govt cos he isn’t in govt, was govt better under OBJ? What was his reaction when Buhari promised to make the nation ungovernable for Jonathan, a threat they’ve actualized by creating boko haram. Nigerians know better. Can he fault tranformation of the aviation sector? Or that investors are trooping into the country in numbers for investment. Can he deny that subsidy corruption that they enthroned has been exposed and curbed by Jonathan? Today, only 38 importers import oil at against their 138 ghost marketers created to loot our natioonal treasury. We can’t. Be swayed by hiis cheap propaganda. He must also admit that the state of emergency is succeeding against his belief that the military is killing innocent citizens. I wonder if he reads about the successive discovery of arms in his region. I just the laff Elrufai

  • chike

    idoko jimmy you must be a donkey? When did Buhari promise to make Nigeria ungovernable?? If you are not a donkey you will know that providing steady power supply with 4000 MW for 160 million people would be a wonder of the modern world.Tell me a better BPE head? Tell me a better FCT minister?

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Only clueless,stupid,corrupt-ridden,looters of our public treasuries and naive imbeciles would support the false-cooked up performance score card of president Ebele Jonathan.
    The regime is the worst ever and very non-performing,poverty-development kingpin,austerity measure instigators of unemployment of our graduates and youths as well as economic manipulators of our national GDP which they claimed has been growing but growing widespread negativity economic performing trend.Nigerian people are worst off under president Jonathan as no vital public sectors works anymore but official corruption practices grows.

    • Mique

      Dr Pas Kolawole Awosan, Jonathan must really be a great man to “achieve” all these in 2 years! You speak as if the nation was born in 2011 or Jonathan has been the President for 16 years! How come not a single statement is made about the progress in Agriculture? Aviation is also real. I live in Benin City. Every Federal Road has either been fixed or is already being fixed. Benin-Shagamu Road used to be terrible. That’s been changed. No one is talking about the new universities that are being constructed. No one spares a thought for the harsh security conditions under which this administration has been working!!! El Ruffai did not recall that the so-called opposition that is purportedly being hounded has been STEADILY pouring out insult from newspaper platforms like The Nation, dwelling on negative press and practically calling President Jonathan any name they choose to coin. El Ruffai does not remind us that Bola Tinubu actually opposed the declaration of emergency rule in states that were practically over-run by BH. There should be a line drawn between partisan politics and security of lives and property.

      What El Ruffai and the ultra-critical people on this platform do not realise is that they simply make neutral people like me develop more respect for Jonathan! They make me ask the question: “Why is he SO HATED by these people?” What in two years has be done SOOOOO wrong that ANY achievement he makes is quickly submerged in an ocean of angry and often twisted comments?

      There is no doubt that Jonathan makes wrong moves at times. Even Obama, in his inaugural speech, during his first tenure said he would have some false starts and moves. Only God makes not mistakes and believe me, NONE of these hyper-critical of Jonathan is God. Most of them had their chance to add value to Nigeria. Some did well, some were above average, some were below. Some had a mix of very good and very bad input. So, let’s be fair in judging our leaders. OBJ reduced the debt from 28bn to 3.3bn. Someone took it to 28bn before! Now that it stands at 6.7 according to El Ruffai, the question to ask are: 1. are we soaring beyond the reasonable limit. 2. are these capital based debt or recurrent expenditure elements. Simply put, if Nigerian borrows 1bn dollars to build more universities, for instance, would you consider that a bad debt? These are the things that El Ruffai should tell the reader, instead of reeling out figures, only figures that seem to implicate the Jonathan administration.

      LEt’s be fair. Our nation deserves it.