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Democracy Day: ‘Our Verdict On Jonathan, Governors’
On May 29, 2011, the joy of majority of Nigerians was almost shattered by bombings in some parts of the North on the day of the inauguration of the present federal administration. The incident jolted many as the occasion was supposed to be another turning point because it was a day set aside as Democracy Day in the country. But the authorities were able to rise to the occasion by not allowing the incidents to dampen the hope of the citizenry for a new dawn after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had been in the saddle for almost a year in an acting capacity following the sudden demise of his boss, President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Jonathan was conscious of the high public expectation from his administration, though his inaugural speech tactically avoided making any far –reaching promises. Rather, he devoted his speech to complimenting Nigerian voters “for the trust and confidence,” which they had demonstrated through the ballot, and promised to do his “utmost at all time, to continue to deserve their trust. He also thanked “Nigerians for staying the course in their “collective commitment to build a nation.”
Above all, the president paid tributes to the “founding fathers of the nation, whose enduring sacrifices and abiding faith in the unity and greatness of our country, laid the foundation for the nation. Thus, he said, “the pivotal task of this generation is to lift our fatherland to the summit of greatness.”
The president’s inauguration, however, brought to an end the lifespan of the Seven-Point Agenda of the Yar’Adua Administration, and its substitution with what the new helmsman tagged, Transformation Agenda. Intrinsically, there was little difference in the two blueprints, as the new one was apparently a matter of nomenclature. Most of the issues contained in the Yar’Adua programme are subsumed in the Jonathan agenda and these include the challenges of infrastructure, with particular emphasis on power and roads, healthcare and delivery, as well as the economy, unemployment, oil and gas; war against corruption and sincere implementation of a new minimum wage.
Unlike during the second republic when campaigns were veritable avenues for parties and their candidates to painstakingly articulate their vision and mission as encapsulated in their manifesto and programmes, candidates hardly see reasons to do so again. The pre-election campaigns in the 2011 elections were devoid of rallies and other fora, where the major contestants exhaustively provided a clear insight into their programmes. Nonetheless, some promises were made by the president and governors in states where elections held. One of those promises was to ensure good governance.
Ironically, the issue of guaranteeing good governance, coupled with security challenge has become the mantra of the administration in its first year in office. The scandalous report on fuel subsidy, pension scam, and other cases of fraudulent acts have overshadowed what the authorities consider as their modest achievements under one year. The obvious status quo ante in power supply is another sore point in the administration’s score sheet, going by the views of a cross section of members of the public as expressed below:
Rotimi Fashakin, CPC National Publicity Secretary
“The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has noted with dismay the statement credited to the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Dr. Reuben Abati, wherein he stated that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has fulfilled all his election promises.
Nothing is more mendacious, as this presidential aide has only succeeded in exposing the Jonathan regime as being only interested in using public office for grandstanding rather than selfless service to the Nigerian people.”
Yinka Odumakin, Activist
As an activist, in the last one year down the line, we have not seen much deliveries. There are flashes here and there in terms of a few governors doing one thing or the other. But on the overall, I have not seen that there is much delivery in the last one year. They (those in power) have been inundated with strikes here and there over minimum wage. Many of the states have not paid the wage as agreed. We have had cases of retrenchment here and there; we have heard of salaries being owed in arrears, in most places. When you visit them, you cannot see any evidence of new projects being done in the last one year, because one year is not short in the life of any administration .
Any government that will perform , you will know in the first one year. By the end of second year, you start preparing for election, though, it is a misty pack. In a few places, there may be signs of attempts to do something, but in the overall, the last one year, as far as governance is concerned, there is no case of jobs being created. A situation where university graduates and polytechnic graduates are engaged in menial jobs, you cannot call that job creation; you are cheating those graduates in the name of job creation. In creating gainful employment, you need to open up the economy, but most of the states are owing and that may cause a total collapse.
Debo Adeniran, Director, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CALCOL)
There is nothing to celebrate for now. Those governing various states seem to be preparing, and have not embarked on any meaningful development, even among the so-called progressive governors. The federal Government has lost clue of problems confronting the country. Those in federal agencies seem to be working for themselves and people that appoint them by misappropriating fund meant for the agencies.
The Federal Government only pay lip service to the fight against corruption, going by the statement made by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke that it was difficult to fight corrupt people. The House of Representatives has taken a step in exposing corruption, the decision of the Presidency to hand over the case on oil proceeds to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is commendable. In essence, those in government have not done much in fighting corruption or creating job.
Fred Agbaje, Constitutional Lawyer
What are they marking? That is my answer! What are they celebrating? They should honestly ask themselves; our political office holders should honestly ask themselves, what has been their contribution to nation-building and economic empowerment of the people in the last one year? The only thing that has been growing, in leaps and bounds in Nigeria today is corruption being precipitated by the political class. The people, who voted for them, are worse off today. Infrastructure in decay; no good road anywhere; unemployment is on the increase, crime and criminality have taken the centre stage.
Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Campaign for Democracy (CD)
There is nothing to write home about the present political dispensation. The leadership has displayed a level of incompetence with the reign of terror in some parts of the country. The tolerance for corruption is appalling. Rather than having Commander-in-Chief, what we have is Mourner-in-Chief, as hundreds of people were being killed without clue. With the mind-boggling revelation at the just-concluded subsidy probe by the House of Representatives, nobody, including the Minister of Petroleum and Minister of Finance has deemed it to step aside.
Also, there is a flagrant violation of the rule of law. The National Judicial Commission, (NJC) recommended the reinstatement of the suspended President; Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, but up till now, nothing is done in that direction. On human rights, there is violation of human rights. During the subsidy protest, soldiers were drafted to the Gani Fawehinmi Park at Ojota in Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State to prevent people from exercising their rights.
Average Nigerians are living below two dollars per day, while members of the National Assembly are earning more than the United States (US) President. Industrial action has become the order of the day, while hospitals at various locations in the country have become mere consulting clinics.
Olawale Okunniyi, Spokesman of PRONACO
With the unprecedented increase in poverty, violence and insecurity all over the country, it is quite evident that government and civil rule has failed our people at all levels in the last one year.