Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has announced a state of emergency in the country's northeast. He said the government would do everything to put an end to the terrorist attacks.
Nigeria put its northeast states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa under a state of emergency amid an increase of terrorist activity from the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram in recent weeks.
"These actions amount to a declaration of war and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state and threaten [its] territorial integrity," said President Jonathan in a live broadcast Tuesday night. "As a responsible government, we will not tolerate this."
The president said the terrorist activities were a "threat to [Nigeria's] national unity" and a "systematic effort" to destabilize the country.
Jonathan ordered troops to help stem the insurgency in the country's northeast where some towns have reportedly fallen under the control of Boko Haram. The state politicians will retain the powers of the offices they hold despite the military deployment to the region.
Boko Haram, whose name means, "Western education is sacrilege," in the Hausa language has been calling for shariah law to be imposed across Nigeria.
Muslims comprise about half of Nigeria's population of 175 million. About 40 percent of its citizens are Christian.
Since launching their insurgency against the central government in 2010, Boko Haram and splinter groups have staged numerous terrorist attacks on security forces and civilians, in which at least 1,600 people were killed.
Late last week, 200 heavily armed gunmen staged a coordinated attack on a police station and prison in Borno state in a bid to free inmates. At least 55 people died in the siege.
kms/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Source: Deutsche Welle
President Goodluck Jonathan visiting the region at the heart of an Islamist insurgency for the first time since he was elected in 2011, on Thursday rebuffed calls for an amnesty deal for the extremists.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit came amid mounting political pressure for him to travel to the region and followed calls this week from Nigeria’s top Islamic figure for an amnesty deal for insurgents.
Jonathan landed in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and considered the home base of Islamist extremists Boko Haram, and travelled by helicopter to neighbouring Yobe state, also hit by repeated attacks blamed on the group.
Security was tight, with soldiers stationed along roads and movement restricted. He is due to return to Maiduguri later Thursday for a visit that will extend into Friday.
The president said he could not rule out an amnesty deal in the future, but said that it was impossible to negotiate an agreement with Boko Haram because their identities and demands remained unclear.
“You cannot declare amnesty for ghosts,” Jonathan told an audience of politicians and dignitaries in the Yobe state capital Damaturu, broadcast live on national television.
Jonathan made reference to a 2009 amnesty deal for militants in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, where the president is from.
The deal has been credited with greatly reducing unrest in the Niger Delta, but criminality has since flourished, including the theft of crude oil on a massive scale, costing Nigeria an estimated $6 billion per year.
“In the Niger Delta, if you call them, they come and they will tell you their grievances,” he said. “But Boko Haram, I don’t see anybody who says they are Boko Haram.”
The visit came with Jonathan facing political pressure to visit the northeast, wracked by scores of bombings and shootings blamed on Boko Haram. The military has been accused of major abuses in response to the insurgency.
It is also the region where seven members of a French family were believed taken after being kidnapped on February 19 just over the border in Cameroon. They remain held by the abductors and their whereabouts are unknown.
There have been growing calls for Jonathan to visit the area. A group of opposition state governors visited Maiduguri last week, drawing further attention to Jonathan’s absence there.
Jonathan earlier in the day held talks with Yobe governor Ibrahim Geidam and was due to help commission a number of government projects.
Violence linked to Boko Haram’s insurgency in northern and central Nigeria has left some 3,000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
The group has claimed to be fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, though its demands have repeatedly shifted.
It is believed to include various factions with differing aims, in addition to imitators and criminal gangs who carry out violence under the guise of the group.
Nigeria’s 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south. Jonathan, a southern Christian, has been accused by his opponents of neglecting the northeast.
Dear Mr President,
I am writing this piece upon my return from Maiduguri "The Seat of the Kanuris" "Home of Hospitality". Maiduguri, a once bustling town for beehive of commerce: for trader’s en-route to Lake Chad for buying and selling of fish. The only city Othman Dan Fodio could neither conquer nor capture in his jihad conquest. Maiduguri, Nigeria international gateway to Chad [Gamboru Ngala], has suddenly turn into a city that has to go to sleep by 6:00pm.
The once proud Kanuri's has being forced into recluse; the menace of Boko Haram on the economy off Borno State is beyond my permutation. From a political thug created by the former state governor Senator Ali Modu Sheriff 'ECOMOG', this political thug metamorphoses into Africa's second deadliest Islamic sect.
They have virtually turned Maiduguri nay the entire North Eastern part of Nigeria into a no go area. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, despite security warnings dare the Boko Haram enclave, he went, he saw, he dialogue. Your Vice-President Arc Namadi Sambo also briefly visited Maiduguri.
But sir, your Excellency haven't dare to step into Maiduguri [the Boko Haram enclave] to see for yourself the magnitude of human, materials and environmental destruction the Boko Haram has unleashed on the hapless citizens of the North East zone of Nigeria.
2015 presidency is now a ding-dong, if eventually your party [PDP] fielded you and you sail through as the PDP flag-bearer, will you be in Maiduguri for hustling? May be Aso Rock Villa's hillock is shielding your Excellency. It is time, you dare the Boko Haram, visit Maiduguri, your Excellency and behold a once 'Pearl of the Kanuri's' turned to 'Darkness at Noon'.
In raising the American flag on the Japanese Island of Iwojima, by the US Marines, the allied commander General Arthur Mac-Douglas, described Japan's 'kamikaze' divine wind' [the once supposedly invincible wind],as a defeated man made wind!
The sects are not faceless, endure your Excellency and pay a visit to Maiduguri, enough of this annihilation of defenseless and hapless Maiduguri citizens. Senator Alimodu Sheriff is still alive same goes to some senior serving National Assembly members, senior government [federal and state] officials and businessmen who have being indicted for aiding and sponsoring these sects.
In the heat of Iraq war, former US President, George Bush, was in Baghdad. Borno State is part of your constituency and your Excellency should not watch the state reduce to rubles. Maiduguri is at standstill, with fear all over. Commercial activities [especially the internationalfish trading market] are gradually going and have been paralyzed. It is indeed a sad scenario seeing Maiduguri, a once thriving city going under, no thanks to the Boko Haram malaise.
Mr President, you are the last man standing not to have visited Maiduguri [the Boko Haram enclave], your deputy has dared, your visit may and hopefully calm the sects. Mahatma Gandhi was quoted as saying at his ashram to Lord Irwin "when your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in his Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our country but those of the whole world".
Mr President, try Mahatma Gandhi's ashram meeting with Lord Irwin and visit the Boko Haram, dare them!
Enough of these wanton killings and destruction!
Taiwo Lawrence Adeyemi.
Country Representative; Whisper Poetry.
Cells:+234  812-148-2077.
+234  816-950-3218.
"As you inch towards the ultimate in life. Lessons are meant to learn in the highest level of administration"
Welcome to Nigeria's seat of power [Aso Rock Presidential Vila] media musketeers, where critics of Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan [writers, social commentators and opposition political parties] are sent to the cleaners by the president three media musketeers; Reuben Abati, Labaran Maku, and Doyin Okupe. The trio are so proficient in their media counter attacks that one wonders if President Goodluck Jonathan will be Nigeria's president for life. Reuben Abati's tweeting, Labaran Maku's press releases and Doyin Okupe's press briefings.
May be president Goodluck Jonathan should have look for someone like Cassius Longinus; described as a "Living Library and A Walking Museum", and the three media musketeers should red the biography of Cassius Longinus, and learn the rudiments of becoming a good adviser, as this will aid them in their respective advise to the President Goodluck Jonathan.
In his tweets, Reuben Abati is always attacking perceived and imaginary enemies of the president/ Reuben Abati who once command my respect [I was even contemplating meeting him before his appointment to write a forward of my upcoming book "Nigeria; My Country, My Hopes"] but with hs recent outbursdt on Twitter, I have confine Reuben Abati into the confine of a forgotten mentor. During his days as th Editorial Chairman, Guardian
Newspaper, I look forward each day to read Guardian Newspaper Editorial. A man who once carve a nich for himself on the terrain of Nigeria media and is about leaving a rich footprints, has suddenly plummeted into the dustbin of Nigeria media footprints history. Abati's "Hypocrisy of Yesterdays Men" is a sheer insults!
As for Doyin Oupe, the fear of EFCC is the beginning of wisdom. With his current travails with Benue State government over alleged contract scandal and non-performance of job and possible arrest by the EFCC. It is indeed not surprising seeing Doyin Okupe doing a yeoman's job having previously serve Olusegun Obasanjo as a Media aide.
Labran Maku, Nigeria's Minister of Information couldn't have done otherwise. He has continue to use the once most revere ministry under Professor Dora Akuyili, to denigrate Jonathan's critics [perceived or imaginary]. He has to effectively counter ACN's effective media propaganda. Labaran Maku will want Nigerians to forget history as Nigerians rarely remembers HISTORY!
Nigeria's Information Minister, Labaran Maku photo:omg
President Jonathan has not only fumbled and wobbled he has waffled, a close look at his two years in the saddle of Nigeria's affairs as a ruler, his performances is nothing to write about. No significant performer and achievement in all segments and sector of Nigeria. The most alarming monsters; CORRUPTION and UNEMPLOYMENT remain untamed! YOUWIN, SURE-P, EFCC, ICPC and The Judiciary, has remain a toothless Alsatian dog that can neither bark nor bite.
By next year 2014, Nigeria will be celebrating here 100th year as an entity and in all these, it has been woes upon woes afflicted on the hapless citizens of Nigeria by the her rulers. The trio of Jonathan Media musketeers is creating a media rhythm danceable to all; Reuben Abati on Twitter, Jonathan on Facebook, Doyin Okupe on Press Briefings, and Labara Maku on Press Releases!
And the president making it known on Facebook that he has started creating jobs maybe for; Gravediggers, Kidnappers, 419, Human Parts sellers, Prostitutes and Kid laborers.
Can the media war unleashed by President Jonathan's three media musketeers sway votes for him in 2015? "To your tents, Nigerians in 2015."
Again, I await Reuben Abati's accusations of malapropism!
Taiwo Lawrence Adeyemi.
Country Representative; Whisper Poetry.
Cells:+234  812-148-2077.
+234  816-950-3218.
The power of speech by leaders, human rights campaigners and religious leaders are captivating, soothe pains, calm fray nerves, encourages, and propels patriotic zeal. Famous leaders, human rights campaigners, clergy men world over has one time or the other use the power of speech to inspire their followers "I Have a Dream;
“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: ‘For Whites Only.’ We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’
“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed" by Rev Martin Luther King Jr of US, inspire and propel US Blacks to equal rights., "This not the end of the beginning nor the beginning of the end, but the beginning of the beginning" by Winston Churchill, propel the Britons after the 2nd World War, "America New Deal", by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, propels the Americans after the 2nd World War " He who makes peaceful change impossible, makes violent change impossible" By Mahatma Gandhi, "Think of what you can do for your country, and not your country can do for you", by J.F.Kennedy, ignites the patriotism in Americans, President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo to the World Muslim Congress earn him the Noble Prize In Peace and also" I Believe, I Can, It Is Possible" elicited voters across USA to vote for him.
Famous oratorical prowess of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abibakar Tafawa Balewa, Kwame Nkruma of Ghana, Nelson Mandela of South Africa conveys messages that are famous, inspiring, encouraging, pains soothing, convincing and ignites patriotic zeal.
Since coming to power as Nigeria president, president Goodluck Jonathan has continue to slip further into confusion, controversies, vision less and leadership inept with his speeches, comments and interviews. While some world leaders use their oratorical prowess to hone their leadership abilities, president Jonathan's speeches has rather been disillusion, confused, immature, and brazenly laden with opaqueness.
Corruption laden officials have thrive under Jonathan than any previous administration in Nigeria's 52 years as an entity. With a whooping N5.2tn allegedly siphon under Jonathan]'s administration One would have thought Jonathan will be a better leader, [having serve as a deputy governor, a governor, deputy vice-president, acting president and eventually becoming a president] to have learn the rudiments of leadership.
"American Patriotism", "Chinese Attitude", "German Determination", "French Diplomacy", "Japanese Fighting Spirit" are some of world leaders phrase for their countries identities and use to inspire their citizens for a call to duty..
The PDP, [Africa's most corrupt laden party] will be doing itself a disservice if it eventually fielded President Johnathan as it's flag bearer for the 2015 presidential polls, in all sectors of Nigeria PDP and other political parties has all failed in their service delivery to the electorates. With the impending merger of ACN, CPC and ANPP [my hope is that the merger plan materializes], PDP is in for a SHOCKER in 2015.
2011 was an eye opener for Nigerian electorates, 2015 is going to to be a CYCLONE to the politicians, Jonathan once fooled us that he has no sandal while attending secondary school, now he trekked from UNIPORT to Otuoke his country home. Irrespective of his administrative ineptitude, his comments on Boko Haram, Odi Invasion by Olusegun Obasasjo, Fuel Subsidy Scams, Pension Fund Scam, NNPC Monolith, Deziani Allison-Madueke untouchable posture, he should have at different fora, meetings, gatherings, public functions, and his opaque presidential media chat to reach out to the already famished, confused, tired and worn out Nigerians with his policies and nonchalant attitude to the massive looting and corruption under his administration.
In his various presidential media chat, you could see fidgeting, wobbling and fumbling of words. 2015 fielding of President Jonathan by PDP, will definitely signal the end of Africa's monolith and most corrupt ridden political party goes to oblivion, [even if the merger between the opposing political parties fails to materializes].
Like the words of late Gen Owoye Azazi [retd] "PDP lacking of internal democracy remains the bane of Nigeria's problems." [a prophetic statement], "and also the anthill of Nigeria's development", quote mine.
Taiwo Lawrence Adeyemi.
Country Representative; Whisper Poetry.
1. I greet and rejoice with you all as we celebrate the advent of a new year.
2. I join you all in giving thanks to God Almighty for bringing us and our beloved nation safely through the past year to the beginning of 2013 which, by His Grace, will be a much better year for us and our country.
3. In keeping with tradition, it is usual for individuals, institutions and organizations to make resolutions and set agenda as a new year begins, to guide their actions in the coming months.
4. I have already given a clear indication of the Federal Government’s agenda for 2013 in recent pronouncements. Our objective for the year is to ensure by all possible means that more of the programmes and projects envisioned by this administration, and which are already being embarked upon are further brought on stream within the next 12 months to meet the yearnings of our people, and raise the quality of life.
5. We have in the last year achieved a lot in terms of the positive transformation of vital sectors of our national life such as public infrastructure, power supply, oil and gas, transportation, education, health and agricultural development. We will continue to work diligently in 2013 to ensure that our efforts in these areas are carried forward to full fruition in fulfillment of our promise of better public services and improved living conditions for all Nigerians.
6. We will give priority attention in the coming year to flood and erosion control, the rehabilitation and expansion of existing federal roads, improved power supply, as well as the continued rehabilitation, upgrading and reactivation of the national rail network.
7. Employment generation and wealth creation will also remain a primary objective of our socio-economic agenda for 2013. Creating more employment opportunities for our youth and graduates of our universities is an imperative that will continue to underpin our drive for massive economic growth, the rapid expansion of our manufacturing and industrial base, and the productive diversification of our national economy. In this regard, we will continue to provide the necessary enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
8. As peace and security remain pre-requisite conditions for the full realization of our objectives, we will also do more in 2013 to further empower our security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with our friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country and enhance the security of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria.
9. I also want to assure Nigerians that we will refuse to be discouraged by those who have taken it upon themselves to pick on every initiative and effort of this administration. We remain resolutely committed to the rule of law, due process and fair play in all circumstances. Our democracy continues to grow, and the scope for human freedom continues to expand. It is an achievement that we will continue to build upon.
10. I say it again, we are determined to continue to push forward. We will do more, not less. We will remain focused.
11.For your part, dear compatriots, I urge that you all include in your new year resolutions a commitment to do more this year to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way. That is all I ask for.
12. The task of making our dear nation a much better place for present and future generations cannot be left to government alone. Leaders and followers alike have critical roles to play in our march towards the fulfillment of our great national potentials.
13. Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations.
14. I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2013.
15. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
Federal Republic of Nigeria
1. I greet and felicitate with you all as we join the rest of the world in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ the Messiah many years ago in Bethlehem.
2. Christmas and the lessons of Jesus Christ's mission on earth have great significance for us as a people and there can be no doubt that we all, irrespective of our religious beliefs, can draw immense strength and inspiration from the Messiah's enduring personification of selflessness, dedication to duty, and commitment to the well-being of others.
3. The virtues and ideals of peace, tolerance, faithfulness, honesty, justice, fairness, true wisdom, knowledge and understanding which He taught and exemplified also remain very relevant to us in Nigeria as we continue to grapple with the challenges of development and nation-building.
4. My Administration continues to do its best to give our beloved country effective leadership towards rapidly overcoming present challenges.
5. As we celebrate Christmas, the ultimate significance of which is the fulfillment of God's promise of a Saviour for mankind, I urge you all to continue to trust in our unwavering commitment to fully achieving the objectives of our Agenda for National Transformation for the benefit of all Nigerians.
6. No one should doubt that we have the political will and determination to deliver on our promise of positive changes in the living conditions of our people in the shortest possible time.
7. While we continue to deal with the regrettable distractions posed by threats to peace and security in parts of the country, the Federal Government remains very focused on the primary objective of achieving significant improvements in priority areas such as public infrastructure, power supply, transportation, roads, health, education, job creation, agriculture and industrialization as quickly as possible.
8. It is my hope and expectation that more of the efforts, actions and measures we are already undertaking in these areas will successfully come to fruition next year and make the results of the diligent project planning and execution being done under this administration more apparent to all Nigerians.
9. I seize the opportunity of the Christmas celebrations to express my sincere appreciation, once again, to the vast majority of patriotic Nigerians who have kept faith with this Administration since its inception.
10. We will continue to count on your support and cooperation, as well as your prayers for peace, stability and progress of our beloved nation.
11. I wish you all a very merry Christmas.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
Federal Republic of Nigeria
December 25, 2012
Last Sunday’s Presidential chat, about fourth in the series, was probably President Goodluck Jonathan’s well conceived strategy to sketch out his pan-Nigerian view, react to some national questions, forge interaction with the nation, explain, defend crucial policies and standpoints of the government, reassure the electorate on the transformation course of the administration.
The format was markedly different from that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo which was a phone-in thing receiving calls on issues from people all over the country and the president responding.
Political analysts and critics believed that Goodluck Jonathan may have had foreknowledge of the issues to be raised and the questions packaged for him. But no one can be so emphatic about that.
However, the crux of the matter is that the country is riddled with so many socio-economic maladies, security challenges, seething with corruption and injustice appalling to the people who looked up to their president at the media chat to assuage and honestly, genuinely point the way to redemption. To a large extent, it was not exactly so.
Rather, the presidential media chat brought more questions than answers, leaving people more confused than before.
Eustace Folusho, an engineer with a construction firm, said the president was just beating about the bush.
“How can President Jonathan say that electricity supply has improved? As I was listening to the chat on TV, there was sudden blackout. PHCN took power. I had to look for a transistor radio to continue listening to the interview. It seemed that the government is only interested in the oil sector where cheap money comes from.”
He added: “Jonathan was even justifying the involvement of some past heads of state in the power sector insinuating that because they are former heads of state does not mean they should not earn a living. I was shocked. It is so sad that these ex-leaders are coming back to bid for their companies to own distribution and generating companies in the power sector.”
Folusho lamented that there had been no improvement in power supply since the exit of Prof Barth Nnaji.
“Electricity has multiplier effect on the economy and power supply has dropped drastically. We are now paying more for darkness. It is mere propaganda for Jonathan to say power has improved. This could be so in few places but we have darkness in most places.”
Deinde Oluyemi, an administrative executive with an Insurance firm in Lagos, decried the attitude of President Jonathan to corruption, making excuses for the Halliburton and Siemens bribe scandals in which no Nigerian has been found culpable so far.
“I think he lacks the political will to fight corruption. There are glaring incidents of high profile corruption involving top politicians, their children, friends, relatives and so on, but nothing has happened to them. Let’s hope justice will come soon for the corrupt leaders and government officials.”
Oluyemi noted that the president seemed dodging some questions and giving income inconclusive responses to many others.
“Look at the issue of monetisation. The president agreed that the idea of monetisation was theoritically good, but the problem was implementation. Yet there are cases of officials using government vehicles and still receiving vehicle allowances. Also those top people who bought their official houses at rock-bottom prices only to demand that new houses be built for them at high cost.
Again probe reports are never implemented, locked up inside government cupboards and left to gather dust. Those indicted by these reports are not brought to justice. For how long can we continue like this?”, he asked. “Yet the president was telling the nation that reports are being implemented only that people are not noticing the implementation.”
On the disparity between capital and recurrent expenditures in the national budget, Oluyemi believed that the ratio between capital and recurrent can be further bridged.
“A situation in which over 70% of the budget goes to recurrent expenditure while less than 25% for capital can not make for national development, I observed President Jonathan trying to explain how the recurrent is now going to 65% and capital above 35% and that any demand for increased salaries and allowances are met from the capital fund. And that the objective is to have a parity of 50/50, promising the country would get there.”
The insurance practitioner likened the chat to Tales by moonlight usually told to children by elders in a village setting.
“Our president is yet to get cracking and be more serious in finding solutions to national problems. He cannot just be telling story.”
On corruption, Oluyemi enjoined Nigerians to take with “pinch of salt,” president’s declaration that he is fighting the monster.
Jonathan had said: “I can assure Nigerians and the global community that this government is fighting corruption frontally,” pointing to free and fair election as a prerequisite for a fight against corruption as he cited Anambra, Edo and Ondo governatorial elections for examples.
Jonathan’s words: “We have dealt with political corruption, the corruption in fertiliser procurement and corruption in the oil industry. There has never been a time corruption in the oil industry has been attacked in all fronts. The effort this government has put in fighting corruption, I don’t think any other person has done that.”
There were some inconsiscies in Jonathan’s pronouncements on wealth creation and poverty reduction saying he did not promise to reduce poverty rather he wanted to create wealth. The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) took him up on this describing this latest shift as “a clear political equivocation which is patently illiterate at best and self-indicting at worst.”
In a statement by ANPP publicity secretary, Emma Eneukwu, it added:
“Nigerians are now left to wonder who Mr. President had set out to empower all along. This is because for sure, creating wealth might actually be a metaphor for putting more money into the hands of his already rich party members and cronies, while leaving the poor of the nation in the hands of chance.”
On poor ranking of Nigerian Universities whereby University of Ibadan once ranked as fourth in the Commonwealth has now slipped to 34th in Africa, President Jonathan bemoaned the drastic drop, wondering how this came about and that efforts are being made to restore the lost glory of our universities. He said government was studying the report on the rot of the universities characterised by all types of corruption and abuses which would be looked into and remedies found. But a University of Lagos lecturer (prefers anonymity) blamed government neglect and inadequate funding of the University system for falling standard.
Roads also were among issues which the president promised to fix especially the Lagos-Ibadan expressway which has become slaughter slab, describing it as one of the busiest highways in the country.
A day after he expressed dismay over the unsatisfactory performance of the contractor concessionaire – the federal government revoked the contract bringing sigh of relief to people who used the road.
And when some one twitted that any president who can fix the Shagamu-Benin road will be the best president ever in Nigeria.
Jonathan was quick to contend that should the road be put right by him then he ‘ll be the best president. The bottom line is the fact that our road system across the country has virtually collapsed and we need a messiah to fix the roads and stop the carnage going on daily.
Anxieties of the people remained feverish as they are yet to be convinced that Jonathan can effectively deliver on his promises.
All may truly not be well between former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan. No one says the things he said about GEJ at a recent public forum in Warri unless there is a war (cold or hot) between them.
He basically called Jonathan a "weak" leader. More than that, he called himself a "strong" president while he was in power. He justified it by recalling how he sent soldiers to level Odi in Bayelsa State when nineteen security troops were murdered by armed militants.
He also blamed Nigerians for electing GEJ, saying that without their votes Jonathan would not be in power. I want to look into these two issues because as a chronicler of Nigeria's current affairs (which become history as time goes on) I am familiar with them.
I am also very familiar with Obasanjo's place in Nigeria's history and his never-ending efforts to whitewash his records as a two-time leader of this country while putting others who have occupied that position in bad light.
The only leader of Nigeria (both serving and erstwhile) that Obasanjo speaks of in glowing terms is the late General Murtala Mohammed.
Mohammed probably earned that special place in Obasanjo's heart because his death made Obasanjo a head of state. Add Abdulsalami Abubakar. He released OBJ from prison, pardoned him, and made him an elected president.
GEJ is not the first leader Obasanjo is bad-mouthing while in office. In fact, Gen. Sani Abacha nearly sent him to a firing squad for his busy-body activities interpreted as "concealment" of coup plot in 1995.
We must not allow Obasanjo to twist our history. We know how GEJ emerged as president of Nigeria. He was imposed on the nation by Obasanjo. There was no way GEJ would have been president if Obasanjo had allowed Nigerians to choose. Jonathan would probably be serving out his second term in office as Governor of Bayelsa State.
Even that would have been a gift by Obasanjo who got Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha impeached "for corruption", though political pundits said the real reason was Alams' support for Obasanjo's Vice President, Atiku Abubakar with whom OBJ was locked in mortal political combat.
If Obasanjo had allowed Nigerians to pick, they would have had to choose between Dr. Peter Odili (who had emerged as the front contender for the People's Democratic Party (PDP) flag and All Nigerian People's Party's (ANPP) candidate, Gen. Buhari.
Obasanjo personally hand-picked terminally ailing Katsina Governor, Yar' Adua, and dovish Bayelsa Governor, GEJ. He brought them to Aso Villa and paraded them before television cameras as the presidential candidate and running mate of the PDP.
The do-or-die 'candidates'
Not only that, he announced to his party and the nation that the election of his successor was for him a do-or-die affair. He campaigned fanatically for Yar'Adua/Jonathan and got them elected.
A few months down the line he was on the streets denigrating Yar'Adua but he was not brazen about it as he is with GEJ. Yar' Adua had reversed some of the give-away privatisation exercises from which OBJ and his acolytes had sumptuously benefited.
When Yar'Adua's recovery became hopeless, OBJ started the whispering that GEJ should be empowered as full President. OBJ was one of the first to urge Jonathan to run for president as from June 2010. He was part of GEJ's campaigns until he was elected in April 2011.
Nigeria's presidency is one of the most powerful offices in the world in that it (rather than the people) decides who occupies the highest office in the land (and other high offices). It was that power that made the emergence of Obasanjo, Yar'Adua and GEJ possible.
It is that power that will make Jonathan president for a second term in 2015, unless a major shift of paradigm in the political behaviour of Nigerians takes place. For now, the Nigerian people only queue up to confirm what the presidency has already worked out.
OBJ's tongue in cheek
It is one of Obasanjo's classical hypocrisies to put the blame of GEJ's election on the Nigerian electorate. He knows he is not speaking the whole truth. That is Obasanjo the only saint in action.
But on the issue of President Jonathan mismanaging the Boko Haram uprising, I agree. Lack of decisive action allowed a rag-tag band of gunmen to balloon to a full-fledged terrorist organisation able to assemble explosives and carry out suicide bombings. Obasanjo and Yar' Adua as presidents gave people reasons to fear them. Even on his sick bed, Yar' Adua's aura hung over Abuja and the nation, same as the dead body of Josef Stalin hung over the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) for months before it was officially announced. Obasanjo and Yar'Adua made power look truly powerful. Yar'Adua made northern hotheads, such as Nasir el Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu to stay away from Nigeria out of fear.
But as soon as he died they came back. El Rufai took up a newspaper column and every week calls GEJ a weak and incompetent leader. Ribadu drifted to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and ran for president against GEJ. He was brought in to audit the oil industry and somehow he ended up messing up the president with a leakage of his committee's report. It is not just Jonathan's foes that have portrayed him as "weak". He himself has made it clear that he was no "Pharaoh" or "general".
This perception of him as leader who cannot hurt a fly emboldened disgruntled power brokers from the north to offer support to terrorists and enabled them to grow.
Today, we hear of "dialogue" between the Federal government and terrorists. We also hear some of them "unjustly" handled will be financially compensated!
We hear so many things that under Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, OBJ and Yar'Adua were simply unthinkable. I wonder how GEJ feels when people say these things about him.
Beloved countrymen and women, on this day, fifty-two years ago, our founding fathers brought joy and hope to the hearts of our people when they won independence for our great country. Nigeria made a clean break with more than six decades of colonial rule, and emerged as a truly independent nation. That turning point was a new beginning for our nation.
Those who witnessed the lowering of the Union Jack and the emergence of the Green White Green flag continue to relish the memory, because that ceremony was not just about the destiny of a nation, but the future of a people.
That future is here; we are the inheritors of a great legacy that goes even much farther into the past.
The worthy patriots who made this possible were young men and women in their twenties and thirties. They worked together to restore dignity and honour to the Nigerian people. Their resolve united a multicultural and multilingual nation of diverse peoples, with more than 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups.
In 1960, our diversity became a source of strength, and the new leaders resolved to carry the flag of independence for the benefit of future generations. They had their differences, but they placed a greater premium on the need to come together to build a new nation.
It is that resolve, and that glorious moment that we celebrate today. We also celebrate the patriotism of our heroes past: Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Michael Okpara, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Herbert Macaulay, and several others who made the case for our independence.
We remember as always, their contributions to the making of the Nigerian nation, and the efforts of their successors since 1960. We also celebrate the unfailing optimism and resilience of Nigerians who remain proud of our national identity.
On this special day, I call on every Nigerian to remain steadfast, because our nation is indeed making progress. I call on every Nigerian to rediscover that special spirit that enables us to triumph over every adversity as a people:
We weathered the storm of the civil war, we have refused to be broken by sectarian crises; we have remained a strong nation. I bring to you today, a message of renewed hope and faith in the immense possibilities that lie ahead.
Fellow citizens, I have an unshaken belief in the future of our great Country. I consider it a priority and sacred duty to continue to strengthen the bond of unity that holds our nation together and to promote and nourish the creative energies of our people. This is a central objective of our administration’s Transformation Agenda. Nigeria, I assure you, will continue to grow from strength to strength.
Since I assumed office as President of our dear country on the 6th of May 2010, I have continued to work with our countrymen and women to enhance our nation’s growth and development.
Our vision is encapsulated in the Transformation Agenda. We are working hard and making progress on many fronts. We have cleaned up our electoral process; our elections are now globally acclaimed to be free and fair. Nigeria is now on a higher pedestal regarding elections.
Over the past five years, the global economy has been going through a weak and uncertain recovery. 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.
It is also significant that the GDP growth has been driven largely by the non-oil sector. In pursuance of the main goals of the Transformation Agenda, a number of reforms and initiatives are being pursued in key sectors of the economy with a view to consolidating the gains of the economic growth.
Our country’s power supply situation is improving gradually. We are successfully implementing a well-integrated power sector reform programme which includes institutional arrangements to facilitate and strengthen private-sector-led power generation, transmission and distribution.
We have also put in place a cost-reflective tariff structure that reduces the cost of power for a majority of electricity consumers. I am pleased with the feedback from across the country, of improvements in power supply.
We are continuing to improve and stabilize on our crude production volumes; our 12-month gas supply emergency plan, put in place earlier this year, has produced more than the targeted volumes of gas for power generation. A robust Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has been placed before the National Assembly. Its passage into law will ensure far-reaching reforms, transparency, accountability, increased government revenue and predictability for investors in the Oil and Gas sector.
Several government programmes and projects are creating wealth and millions of job opportunities for our youth and general population. Such programmes include: You-Win, both for the youth and for the women, Public Works, the Local Content Initiative in the Oil and Gas Sector, and the Agricultural Transformation programme.
We have improved on our investment environment; more corporate bodies are investing in the Nigerian economy. Our Investment Climate Reform Programme has helped to attract over N6.8 trillion local and foreign direct investment commitments.
Nigeria has become the preferred destination for investment in Africa. It is ranked first in the top 5 host economies for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa, accounting for over 20 per cent of total FDI flows into the continent. We have streamlined bureaucratic activities at the ports to ensure greater efficiency in the handling of ports and port-related businesses. Specifically, we have drastically reduced the goods clearing period in our ports from about six weeks to about one week and under. We have an ultimate target of 48 hours.
We have put in place, a new visa policy that makes it easier for legitimate investors to receive long stay visas. We have achieved a 24-hour timeline for registration of new businesses, leading to the registration of close to 7, 000 companies within the second quarter of 2012.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has disclosed that, as at July 2012, 249 new members across the country had joined the Association, and that capacity utilization has also improved. The multiplier effect of this development on our job creation programme cannot be over-emphasized.
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.
In this regard, we are devoting resources under the Subsidy Reinvestment Program (SURE-P) to reducing malaria incidents, dramatically reducing maternal and child mortality, and eradicating polio.
Fellow Nigerians, in recent times, we have witnessed serious security challenges in parts of our country. We have taken pro-active measures to check the menace. This has included constant consultation and collaboration with our neighbours and other friendly nations on issues relating to internal and cross border security, and the sharing of information on smuggling and illegal dealing in small arms and light weapons.
Our security agencies are constantly being strengthened and repositioned for greater efficiency. Many Nigerians have acknowledged that there has been a significant decline in the spate of security breaches.
While expressing our condolences to the affected families, let me reiterate the commitment of this Administration to ensure the safety of lives and property of all Nigerians.
Even as we remain focused on the issue of security, 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. We have put an end to several decades of endemic corruption associated with fertilizer and tractor procurement and distribution. We have exposed decades of scam in the management of pensions and fuel subsidy, and ensured that the culprits are being brought to book.
In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption.
We will sustain the effort in this direction with an even stronger determination to strengthen the institutions that are statutorily entrusted with the task of ending this scourge.
I have given my commitment of non-interference in the work of the relevant 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.
This Administration has also introduced for the first time in Nigeria’s history, a Performance Contract System for all Ministers, and other officials of government. This is to further place emphasis on performance, efficiency, and service delivery.
Fellow Nigerians, our determined efforts on several fronts not-withstanding, our country still faces a number of challenges.
Those challenges should not deter us. In the last few weeks, for example, many of our communities have been ravaged by floods, resulting in the loss of lives and property, and the displacement of persons.
I want to reassure all affected Nigerians that I share in their grief, and our Administration is taking steps to address these incidents, in collaboration with the States and Local Governments.
I have received the interim Report of the Presidential team that I 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.
We must continue to work together, confidently and faithfully, to ensure that our country’s potentials are realised to the fullest; that our dreams are translated into reality; and that our goals are achieved.
Let me reiterate that our administration is committed to the pursuit of fundamental objectives of an open society: the pursuit of freedom, security and prosperity for the Nigerian people, and the rule of law.
In the next few days, I shall lay before the National Assembly the 2013 Federal Budget Proposal so that deliberations can commence in earnest on the key policies, programmes and projects that will mark a decisive year for our development and transformation.
I have no doubt that by the time I address you on our next independence anniversary, many of our reform efforts would have yielded even better results.
Over the years, several leaders have built on the foundation laid by our Founding Fathers. The baton is now in our hands. Let me assure all Nigerians that we shall not fail.
I am confident that Nigeria will continue to be a source of pride to its citizens; to Africa and the Black Race and to humanity; a land that is known for progress, freedom, peace and the promotion of human dignity.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. May God bless you all.