TOBI AWORINDE examines the promises President Goodluck Jonathan made during his 2011 presidential campaign and how far he has gone in fulfilling them
President Goodluck Jonathan, while announcing his intention to seek re-election in November, 2014 said he had fulfilled the promises he made while campaigning for the number one office in 2011. He cited agriculture, oil and gas, anti-corruption, military, economy and electoral reforms as some of his administration’s feats.
But many of his critics would rather dismiss the President’s government as an abysmal failure.
According to the International Press Centre, Jonathan, as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party four years ago, made a minimum of two promises at each stop of his nationwide campaign. Sourced from national dailies and television broadcasts between February and March, 2011 in partnership with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the IPC documented 91 promises made by Jonathan, under 13 subtitles, including infrastructural development, power, economy, energy and gas, and security. Others are agriculture, education, women, water resources, mineral resources, national question, reforms and Niger Delta.
On September 18, 2010, while declaring his interest to contest in the presidential primary of the PDP, the president said he would tackle unemployment and poverty.
He said, “Let the word go out that my plans for a Sovereign Wealth Fund with an initial capital of $1bn will begin the journey for an economic restoration. This restoration will provide new job opportunities and alleviate poverty. Let the word go out that our health sector will receive maximum priority in a new Jonathan administration, a priority that will ensure maximum health care and stop our brain drain.”
In a new year message to the nation in 2011, the then acting President Jonathan also pledged to further boost employment and to support small and growing businesses with a $500m facility.
Other promises by Jonathan included the introduction of five-year term budgeting; revival of industrial plants such as the Ajaokuta Steel Complex and the Itakpe Iron Ore Company; creation of 1.5 million jobs; and revitalisation of abandoned Federal Government properties in Lagos.
But a former Head of Department, Economics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Abayomi Adebayo told SUNDAY PUNCH that the fundamental challenge was the lack of a credible way to evaluate many of the issues.
“They say they have created jobs, but the truth is that unemployment is going up every day. And then, the time gap between when people are out of school and when they get jobs is getting longer.
“Except there is data to tell us, sector by sector, where those jobs are that have been created, as far as I am concerned, unemployment is a major problem that is getting worse daily. Beyond that, looking at the economy closely, you will notice a global dimension to the economic conditions, especially in terms of the fall in oil price,” he said.
According to Adebayo, Jonathan promised to structure the economy in a way that the country would not be solely dependent on oil. The economist added, “However, as far as I am concerned, we still have a long way to go.”
In the President’s 2011 New Year message, he promised a N500bn intervention fund for the country’s power, manufacturing and aviation sectors. He also pledged to initiate a massive national public works programme in the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, including renovation, rehabilitation and upgrading of schools, medical facilities, roads and other public utilities.
Also, Jonathan said he would revive the rail system, begin repairs on the roads leading to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and complete the Second Niger Bridge in four years.
In an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, the Regional President (Africa), International Real Estate Federation, Mr. Chudi Ubosi, however said it was clear that many of the President’s promises had not been fulfilled.
He said, “I am not very quick to criticise people in government because it is the easiest thing to do. Many of us wouldn’t do any better, if given the chance. However, it cannot be denied that a lot of these promises have not been met.
“I would like to believe that, at that level, a man who makes promises has good intentions; that he is not making promises for the sake of it, or because he is seeking votes. In the past four years, we can say he has tried. I know that with the regard to the Niger Bridge. Construction has commenced.”
While declaring to run in 2011, Jonathan said, “Kidnappers, criminal elements and miscreants that give us a bad name should be ready for the fight that I shall give them.”
On January 31, 2011, he again assured Nigerians that he would defeat Boko Haram, saying: “Without security, there is no government. So it is not debatable; it is something we have to address and we are working towards that with vigour.”
The President also promised to completely transform the national security architecture of the country, eradicate kidnappings, pursue all bombers and terrorists, and to utilise modern methods to tackle political violence, among others.
Appraising Jonathan’s performance against his promises, a certified protection officer and security analyst at HJ Supranumedia, Mr. Segun Elijah, said Jonathan only tried to make political capital out of the insurgency facing the nation.
Elijah said, “Even if Buhari gets there, we are not expecting him to use magic. Everybody is facing it around the world. Fundamentally, it is wrong for him to take advantage of that. When you look at all those promises, does he have a structure in place to realise them? The military that he is banking on is rusty and they have not been able to fund or equip it all the while. They are just court-marshalling soldiers for the fun of it.”
Jonathan had also declared, “Let the ordinary Nigerian be assured that I will have zero tolerance for corruption. Let the international community hear that today, I have offered myself to lead a country that will engage them in mutual respect and cooperation for the achievement of international peace and understanding.”
He also promised to work towards ensuring that Nigerians living abroad would be able to exercise their right to vote during the 2015 elections.
The IPC listed other promised reforms such as the conformity of the Nigeria Customs Service to global practices; strengthening anti-graft agencies; building a dynamic economy; and a government committed to equality and justice.
A constitutional lawyer, Fred Agbaje, however, told our correspondent that, four years later, Jonathan made many unfulfilled campaign promises. He flayed Jonathan’s administration for “brandishing unverifiable figures” as evidence of its purported reduction in unemployment.
The legal expert also faulted the Federal Government with regard to fighting corruption.
“What is responsible for fuel scarcity and queues at filling stations? Is it not corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation? Did the former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor not accuse the NNPC of being unable to account for $20bn? And when the National Assembly intervened, what did the minister in question do? She ran to court to seek protective custody. Till today, nothing has been heard,” he said.
Agbaje, however, commended Jonathan’s administration for revamping the Nigerian railway, but adding, that the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway should have been a priority. According to him, this would have taken some burden off the railway.
During his visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jonathan said, “If I’m voted into power, within the next four years, the issue of power will become a thing of the past. Four years is enough for anyone in power to make significant improvement, and if I can’t improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything—even if I am there for the next four years.”
Between February and March 2011, he also reportedly promised to deliver stable and constant electricity by 2015; increase power generation to about 4,747MW by December 2011; reduce importation of generators by about 90 per cent; and ensure that Nigerians use their generators no more than twice a week, among others.
But the Chief Executive Officer of Power Cap Limited, Mr. Biodun Ogunleye, told our correspondent that the President had not been able to “get us where we want,” adding that the circumstances surrounding the issue of power in the country are not as simple as they appear.
He said, “The problem began with us thinking that we could get the power resolved by sitting in the corners of our homes and putting some theoretical papers on the table, whereas it is a practical problem that needs some wanton solution. To be able to move us forward, we tried all manners of things. But at the end of the day, we can’t say the things we tried have worked well for us.
“Immediately we failed to create the transitional electricity market, which requires about 20,000MW of electricity, we had created a problem. The new electricity distribution companies don’t have the capacity required for them to be able to deliver on what they have promised, because for anything to happen, the Discos need to have supply.”
In Jonathan’s 2011 campaign, women were promised 35 per cent representation in government, particularly at ministerial and ambassadorial levels.
The National President, International Federation of Women Lawyers, Hauwa Shekarau, however, told SUNDAY PUNCH that though Jonathan’s administration started by adhering to the promise, the number of women in key positions eventually diminished.
“Immediately after the 2011 elections, when he constituted his cabinet, Nigerian women were able to get that 35 per cent of ministerial appointments. We also had some women being appointed into key leadership positions of the parastatals and institutions.
“He was able to deliver on his promise, even though, at the tail end of this government, the number of female ministers that were removed is less than those who came,” she said.
Energy and mineral resources
The IPC reported that Jonathan’s promises for the energy and natural resources sectors, during the 2011 campaigns, included facilitating the Petroleum Industry Law with emphasis on local content to create jobs for Nigerians; to invest under the gas-driven economic roadmap result in foreign direct investment of about $10bn; and to attract $25bn worth of investment into developing the country’s gas infrastructure.
Others were to ensure Nigeria starts exporting refined petroleum products within four years, because “Nigeria has no reason to keep importing kerosene”; to create 600,000 new jobs in the gas industry; to ensure that hydro-carbon deposits in some parts of the North are fully exploited; and to revamp mining activities in Jos, Plateau State.
Four years after, an energy analyst and Technical Director (Drilling Services), Template Design Ltd., Bala Zakka, said Jonathan was not to blame, even though the energy industry had not recorded milestones commensurate to the promises made.
“There were plans to create some refineries, but along the line, the idea was jettisoned. We have had cases where there were plans to even dredge the River Niger in order to improve inland waterways movement of goods and services. But at some point, these projects were jettisoned. The responsibilities were assigned, but the operational and the technical managers—Jonathan’s lieutenants—have not been fair to him and, by extension, have failed Nigeria,” Zakka said.
In the education sector, Jonathan said he would establish at least one federal university in each state by 2012. The President also promised to improve hostel facilities, revamp the Almajiri system of education and ensure that every child of school age had access to education.
In his appraisal, Dr. Bamidele Faleye of the Department of Educational Foundations and Counselling, OAU, told our correspondent that every state now has a federal university.
Regarding the improvement of hostel facilities, Faleye said hostels in the OAU were refurbished before the 2013 Nigerian Universities Games Association events in the school, but it was uncertain if the rehabilitation was done in all federal universities.
On Almajiri schools, he said, “I watched the President say during his (recent) campaign in Sokoto that his administration had established many Almajiri schools. I have not visited the far North to be able to see this myself. Nonetheless, I have not heard of anyone disputing the President’s submission.
“The President’s promise on the issue of revamping the education sector (as a means of transforming the economy and empowering the people), to me, was not fulfilled. From the background of my experience, since the Academic Staff Union of Universities returned to work after the long period of strike in 2013, nothing new has happened.”
For the Niger Delta, Jonathan said the National Boundary Commission would be funded to tackle the challenges that arose out of the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. He also promised to bring investors to establish petrochemical industries in the oil-rich, South-South region of the country.
But a Niger Delta activist and spokesperson for the Ijaw Republican Assembly, Ms. Annkio Briggs, said it was impossible for Jonathan to complete all his tasks in four years. She argued that it was on this basis that the constitution gave room for two terms.
She told SUNDAY PUNCH, “Regardless of what Jonathan does, he will be criticised. Jonathan has not been able to focus on the Niger Delta because all of his attention is on the insecurity in the North. Speaking of Bakassi, before Jonathan came into power, Obasanjo gave it away, in collaboration with the people there. It was given away at the international level. Does anyone expect Jonathan to go and bring Bakassi back, when it has been signed away?”
For Tunji Owoeye, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of an agro-commodities business firm, Elephant Group, Jonathan deserves an A in agriculture.
“In agriculture, all over Africa, we have excelled. Farmers now get their fertilisers directly, without a middle man, and that is noble in this complicated, large country. In fact, in some cases, when they (government) do intervention, like when there was flooding a few years ago, farmers were getting fertilisers free of charge.
“If not for his agricultural transformation policies, we wouldn’t have ventured into investments in assets. But today, we are indulging in mechanised agriculture and we have our milling factory on the way. A lot of our clients, colleagues and competitors can testify to this. He has done exceptionally well in agriculture. It is not about politics; it is the truth,” the agriculture expert said.
Owoeye also stated that loans for farmers had increased. According to him, farmers’ loans have gone from less than one per cent to seven per cent in the total loan portfolio of banks.