s the Presidential elections of 2015 approach, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has released its elections schedule. Political maneuverings by politicians for the top prize in the elections season-the Presidency of the Republic-ongoing for several months now, are expected to intensify. Nigerian political contests, often exercises in political pugilism, because very few politicians come out of political arenas without bruises (some have even lost their lives), are further characterized by high decibel political disagreements and brinksmanship in the struggle for political power among various power blocs.
The Nigerian federal system of government, first adopted in 1954 under the Lyttelton Constitution, gave the federating regions increased functions. Speaking in the British Parliament in 1954 during a question and answer period, Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, Secretary of State for the Colonies, stated that the Constitution agreed to by delegations to the conference, gave "…increased functions to the regional governments and made those governments more independent of the central government in carrying out those functions…". Within five years, the powers of the Western and Eastern Regional governments were enhanced when they were both granted self governing status. The Northern Region achieved self governance in 1959. The federal system remained largely intact through the next two constitutions-the Independence Constitution of 1960, and the Republican Constitution of 1963. In the aftermath of the coup and counter coup of 1966, an inevitable martial imprint in the structure of the state distorted the federal system and orientated it towards a powerful center that made the federating states less independent of the center, in sharp contrast with Secretary Lyttelton's statement in Parliament in 1954 while defending before his fellow MPs , the adoption of the federal system.
Arguably, the Civil War and the events leading to it heavily influenced the military's thoughts and actions in its political restructuring and constitution making from 1967 to 1999. The resulting powerful center is acknowledged as a great attraction for vicious political combat by politicians seeking to control that center. Often the struggle for control of Nigeria's powerful center has resembled ultimate fighting in the pugilistic world, where gladiators often come out of steel cages dripping blood from noses, mouths and sometimes ears. In view of the often deadly and/or bitter outcomes of Nigeria's political pugilism-Operation Wetie in the West; Tiv riots in the North; Frustration of the establishment of a COR State for minority ethnic groups in the Eastern Region by the majority Igbo; coup and counter coup of 1966; mindless electoral violence in the 1983 elections; the June 12 fiasco; the Third Term hullabaloo , etc-historians would aver that the 2015 contest is likely to be as highly charged as the contests historically preceding it.
Although President Goodluck Jonathan has not made a decision about seeking reelection, this article assumes he will do so. It is not yet clear who his opponent will be in the general election, as the opposition All Progressives Congress party (APC), considered the strongest among the 30 or so registered political parties in Nigeria, and the likeliest to present the most formidable challenger to Jonathan, currently has no clear front runner. However, a reading of the political tea leaves leads one to predict with confidence the nomination of a Northerner by the APC. Does President Jonathan deserve reelection? This article firmly asserts that he does, and marshals nineteen reasons why.
1. Strengthening of Nigerian Democracy:
Following the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Nigerians were introduced anew to democratic processes, which primarily featured the citizenry's exercise of the franchise. The transition from one democratically elected government to another in 2007, when the Yar 'Adua/Jonathan Presidency succeeded the expired Obasanjo/Atiku Abubakar Administration, was a momentous feat of Nigerian democracy, considering it was the first such phenomenon in the history of independent Nigeria. Nigeria's democracy matured speedily as a result of this historic achievement, particularly after it weathered the storm of Obasanjo's third term ambition, although he denied ever nurturing such an ambition. Obasanjo was often accused of bringing pressure to bear on the INEC during Professor Maurice Iwu's tenure as INEC chair to manipulate election results to benefit the PDP, but the fact that the PDP never controlled Lagos and Kano (during Obasanjo's second term), the two biggest prizes after the Presidency in Nigeria's highly contentious electoral contests, renders the accusations unproven. Obasanjo's suspicious electoral body language and his at-times confrontational manner ( he seized billions of Naira of Lagos State's allocations over a political dispute with then Governor Tinubu) contrast with Jonathan's approach, which has been unequivocally democratic. Under Jonathan, credible gubernatorial elections were conducted in three states controlled by the opposition ( Edo, Ondo and in Anambra) , which won them all. A fealty to the democratic process by Jonathan, who did not rig for his party as some other ruthless leader might have done, deserved commendation.
Since taking office as president, Jonathan has not acted overbearingly towards political leaders as was Obasanjo's wont. In a heated constitutional quarrel with Tinubu over Tinubu's creation of local development areas in Lagos State, Obasanjo seized billions of Naira in federal allocations to Lagos State. PDP Chair Audu Ogbe was forced to resign at gun point, and Senate Presidents from the Southeast, the zone to which that position had been set aside, were forced to step down one after another in Machiavellian displays of raw political power for control of that chamber of the National Assembly. Jonathan's thoughtful approach has strengthened Nigeria's democracy. Critics of Jonathan may cite the political crisis in Rivers State, where they have accused him of destabilizing meddlesomeness, in disagreement with the assertion that our democracy has flourished under Jonathan, but there is no shred of evidence that Jonathan is directly involved in the political imbroglio there. Jonathan has not issued any presidential directives injurious to the political opposition in Rivers State; and in what counts the most in a democracy, he has not rigged out the opposition in elections in that State.
2. Flawed Prospective opponents:
Although the opposition APC has not nominated any candidates yet, this article assumes any of these three candidates could emerge as the APC's presidential candidate: Muhammadu Buhari, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Nasir Ahmad El Rufai. George Washington, America's founding President, in a letter to Lord Sterling in 1780, stated that "The best way to preserve the confidence of the people durably is to promote their true interests." The true interests of Nigerians are justice, equality, security, and economic development. Buhari's stint as military head of state, from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985, provides an aperture to look into and examine his soul and mind. As Supremo of the land, he applied selective justice in the prosecution of corruption cases against politicians of the Second Republic. A citizen-Bernard Ogedengbe-was retroactively convicted of drug offenses and put to death. There was a preponderance of Northerners and Muslims in Buhari's ruling Supreme Military Council, and he berated and threatened critics who wanted the government to reflect the ethnic and religious diversities of the Nigerian state. Buhari may be presented by his supporters as an embodiment of forthrightness and as a moral crusader against corruption, but the modern presidency requires more than the ability to jail people, as was recently pointed out by El Rufai in a newspaper interview. El Rufai famously declared in October 2010, during political jostling for a consensus Northern candidate to challenge Jonathan in the 2011 elections, that "Buhari was perpetually unelectable."
The Buhari economic model, consisting of counter trades, import licensing, and importation bans without a basis in economic analysis and econometric modeling, especially on various factory inputs required for production, depressed the economy, as factories closed and workers were laid off. The GDP declined precipitously and poverty deepened in the land. Central Bank figures during Buhari's regime provide incontrovertible evidence of the failed Buhari economic record. On Buhari, the columnist Tunde Fagbenle, in an online publication on January 21, 2007 stated inter alia "..from the past one can infer the future…"
Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso has emerged as a vociferous critic of Jonathan. Beloved in Kano for his highly confrontational and smash-mouth political style, he singlehandedly blocked discussion of a possible state for the Southeast zone to bring the zone at par with five of the six geopolitical zones in the country (Kwankwaso's Northwest zone has seven states). Kwankwaso's alienation of the Southeast zone by his opposition to the creation of a sixth state there (essentially supporting structural inequality as it affects fellow Nigerians from the Southeast), and his political attacks on President Jonathan ( a Southsouthener), couching some of his language in Northern entitlement to the Presidency, risk alienating the Southeast and Southsouth zones in presidential balloting were Kwankwaso to be nominated by the APC to challenge Jonathan in 2015. Additionally, political quarrels with Governor Jang of Plateau State over chairmanship of the Northern Governors' Forum being used as a platform for elevating Jang to head the Nigeria Governor's Forum, could also cost Kwankwaso votes from the North Central zone of Governor Jang.
Finally, the cult of personality established in Kano by Kwankwaso, and expressed through a political structure called the Kwankwasiya Movement, should cause a pause among potential supporters of the governor. The Abacha era and the cult of personality associated with him, and Obasanjo's alpha male presidency, were periods redolent of governance by "tough African Big Men" in the parlance of some in the West. Nigerians will not jettison the gentle but effective era of Jonathan for another experience with a "tough African Big Man." Kwankwaso's flaws outweigh his effectiveness in Kano, where his Kwankwasiya personality cult is a predictor of what lies ahead for Nigeria under a Kwankwaso Presidency.
Malam El Rufai, once a rising star in the political establishment, has enmeshed himself in highly controversial issues on which he has published attack articles against Jonathan and many other perceived political enemies, ranging from Anambra Governor Peter Obi to the Christian Association of Nigeria, whose leader he has called several derisive names. El Rufai exhibits passion about his love for Nigeria, but his dizzying contradictions in his public positions on various national issues expose a serious character flaw, and it is untrustworthiness. After asserting Buhari's un-electability in 2010, he flip-flopped a year later and supported Buhari's candidacy in the 2011 elections. El Rufai once supported Jonathan, but later became a vociferous critic. He chastised the late General Azzazzi over his ineffectiveness, as National Security Adviser, in curbing the Boko Haram insurgency, but has kept mum about the resilience of Boko Haram while Colonel Sambo Dasuki, a fellow Northerner, has been the NSA. Dasuki, though, does not deserve condemnation because the insurgency has shown no signs of abating ( in January, in the Northeast, 300 homes were burned by the insurgents, who also killed 90 people). As President Jonathan has often said, the ideology and tactics of terror of Boko Haram are new to Nigeria and it will require painstaking efforts to develop and deploy the strategies and tactics needed to lick Boko Haram. Azzazzi was unfairly criticized by folks with pedestrian knowledge or no knowledge at all about the special challenges presented by Boko Haram. El Rufai's scattershot approach to national issues and penchant for unprincipled flip-flopping are serious flaws that could put the federation in jeopardy should he be elected president.
3. A Style Devoid of Personality Cult:
In condemning Stalin's cult of personality, Russian leader Vladimir Putin stated that " Stalinism was linked with massive violations of the law, with repression and camps…" Nigeria came terrifyingly close to the Stalinist state under Abacha, who capriciously jailed politicians, journalists and military officers he did not like. Shehu Musa Yar Adua, while incarcerated, was injected with a poison that killed him. It is arguable whether Obasanjo, a reluctant democrat at times, as demonstrated in the third term fiasco, would have cultivated a personality cult (if he was so inclined, perhaps his could've been a soft one without human rights violations, considering his sensitivity to his international reputation ) if the third term gambit had been successful. However, Jonathan's cerebral, thoughtful and deliberative approach to national issues during his presidency is the nurture that our democracy needs to establish strong roots that can withstand any attempt at truncating it by subversion.
Accustomed to bullying leaders who were contemptuous of the citizenry, a section of Nigerians who expressed nostalgia for such leaders prompted Jonathan to public declare his abhorrence of a Pharaoh Presidency. This declaration was soothing for true democrats who reject the Zimbabwe or Sudan versions of democracy and tolerance for authoritarians (African Big Men) masquerading as democrats. Jonathan, should he be reelected in 2015, will likely leave office in 2019 the same quiet, modest gentleman he was when he first took the oath of office as President of the Republic.
4. Sense of National Belonging to the People of the Niger Delta:
In a speech to Alexander's Oil and Gas Connections Institute in 2003, Governor DSP Alamieyesiegha of Bayelsa State averred the following regarding the Niger Delta: "The paradox of a resource-rich enclave remaining so pervasively poor is one of the enduring scandals of Nigeria's development." Governor Alamieyesiegha's perspective was expressed in economic terms, but the political marginalization of the people of the Niger Delta was an equally serious shortcoming of the Nigerian state, established with a built-in political advantage for the major ethnic groups-the Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and the Igbo. The Niger Delta, expressed as a geo political unit, inclusive of the former Mid west Region (now Delta and Edo States), but exclusive of Ondo State (formerly part of the Old Western Region), achieved a modicum of freedom from majority hegemony in 1963 when the Mid west Region was created out of the former Western Region. However, the yearnings of political freedom by the non Igbo populations of the former Eastern Region were yet to be fulfilled when the First Republic was overthrown in 1966.
Although two states were created out of the former Eastern Region by Gowon to accede to Eastern minority yearnings for states of their own and as a military stroke to deal a devastating blow to Biafra, these actions never really translated to increased political clout at the national level. Indeed, what later became known as the Southsouth geopolitical zone (essentially the Niger Delta states of the former Mid West Region and the minority areas of the former Eastern Region) never produced a head of state until Jonathan took office in 2010. In contrast, three heads of state (Gowon, Babangida and Abdulsalam Abubakar) have come from minority ethnic groups of the north. Jonathan's presidency is a powerful symbol of national belongingness to the people of the Niger Delta, that although their respective populations may not match those of the majority ethnic groups, but that they can still electorally aspire to the highest office in the land in a democracy and win it. The Niger Delta should not just be perceived as the national goose heavy with golden eggs that it drops frequently to keep the national economy going, but also as a bonafide entity of the federation qualified to produce heads of state. A second term for Jonathan should solidify Niger Delta fealty to the Nigerian state. But this advocacy is not merely based on political equity and fairness, but also on Jonathan's accomplishments.
5. Even Distribution of federal Resources:
Before President Jonathan took office, the distribution of federal resources (appointments and projects) followed a disturbing pattern of inequity and selective marginalization, depending on which geopolitical regions controlled the federal government. Arguably, the most marginalized was the Southeast geopolitical region, as a consequence of the outcome of the Biafran War. But the Niger Delta Region also had a serious deficit in federally built infrastructure as well. Even the Southwest once complained of marginalization during the Babangida era, after the federal capital was effectively moved to Abuja from Lagos. But President Jonathan has shown that the office of the presidency can be a powerful instrument for the allocation of the enormous resources of the federal government evenly throughout the land for development. The evidence is discernible to the unbiased observer, and here are a few in the southeast: The Enugu International Airport, the refurbished Owerri Airport, the Onitsha river port, The Oguta river port, the Second Niger Bridge for which money has been appropriated, the new federal university in Ebonyi State, the 13th Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Ohafia, the courageous appointment of General Ihejirika as the first post Civil War Igbo-born Army Chief Staff, the free trade zone in Enugu to bring the Southeast at par with sister geopolitical zones which were awarded free trade zones by previous administrations.
Federal resources availed the Southwest zone include the newly operational Lagos Kano rail line which has significantly boosted interstate trade, the new federal university in Ado Ekiti, the remodeled Murtala Muhammed Airport which features three new baggage conveyor belts that have effectively reduced passenger processing wait times by 2 or more hours before exiting the airport, ongoing rehabilitation of the Lagos Ibadan Expressway and the Shagamu-Ore Expressway, expansion of the ports in Lagos, empowering of cocoa farmers most of whom are South-westerners such that it is estimated that Nigeria will earn N104 billion in cocoa exports in 2014.
In the South-south zone, the curbing of militancy activity has made possible a 50% increase in oil production, as well as an uptick in economic activities. Federal presence is also manifested in a new federal university in Bayelsa State, rehabilitation of the Asaba-Benin Expressway, remodeling of the Port Harcourt International Airport, the Benin Airport and the Margaret Ekpo Airport in Calabar.
Contrary to the shrill political grandstanding of anti Jonathan Northern political elites who have accused Jonathan of lack luster performance in the North, the evidence reveals a robust federal program of action in that region as demonstrated in the following projects: The Police University at Wudil, Kano State; remodeling of the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport into a spanking facility worthy of the political icon it was named after; over 200 model schools for underprivileged Almajiri kids of the North; rehabilitation of the Tiga Dam in Kano, and the Sabke Dam in Katsina to boost agricultural production in the Northwest Zone; ten new federal universities located at Lokoja, Lafia, Kashere, Wukari, Dutsin-Ma, Dutse, Gashua, Birnin Kebbi, Gusau, and the police university in Wudil, Kano; the Kano to Lagos rail line; the Abuja to Kano modern standard gauge rail line currently at about 40% completion; ongoing work on a gas power plant in Kaduna to be fed by a gas pipeline from the Niger Delta, also under construction; dredging of the Niger River from Warri to Baro in Niger State where a river port has been completed; ongoing construction of the Lokoja River Port; current construction of the Zungeru Power Plant in Niger State; the Mambilla Hydro Electric Power project; and the dualization and rehabilitation of the Kano Katsina Road, Kano Maiduguri Road, Kano Zaria Kaduna Abuja Road, and Abuja Minna Road.
According to Alhaji Gidado Ibrahim of the Northern Coalition of Civil Society Organizations, in a publication in the Nation Newspaper of January 14, 2014 " in terms of development, no one can honestly dispute the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan has done more for the north in 4 years than any government led by a northerner since the end of Gen. Yakubu Gowon's administration."
Jonathan's demonstrated even distribution of federal resources positively impacts upon loyalty to Nigeria by its disparate ethnic groups, who are often locked in destabilizing political combat with deleterious effects on Herculean efforts at making a nation out of Nigeria. For many Nigerians, before the Jonathan era, Nigeria was just a mere country, rather than a nation, as a consequence of avoidable alienation perpetrated by biased governments of the past which carried out discriminatory policies that favored certain regions against others.
6. National Conference Idea:
In order to make the Nigerian union of ethnic nationalities a more perfect one, there must be imaginative political thinking. Although most politicians and the retired military elite recognize the presence of dangerous fissures in the structure of the Nigerian state, yet most have played the ostrich by refusing to acknowledge the schisms and proffering political solutions to close them up. As a result, the country has lurched from crisis to crisis. Regardless of one's incorrigible love for one united Nigeria, as long as there are segments in the union whose marginalization cause them to question the utility of Nigeria to their collective ethnic interests, then a stable, strong and united Nigeria (one without the occasional systemic shocks of militancy, insurgency, and political brinksmanship by ambitious politicians) will likely remain elusive.
The politically expedient restructuring of the country during the military era, in reaction to centrifugal forces unleashed in the aftermath of the coup and counter coup of 1966, severely distorted the federation negotiated by Nigeria's founding fathers which was codified in the pre independence Lyttelton Constitution of 1954, and later carried forward into the Independence and Republican Constitutions of 1960 and 1963 respectively. The military restructured state has failed to give Nigerians lasting political peace as a result of structural imbalances. President Jonathan's convocation of a national conference-slated to start in March and end in May 2014-to address these structural imbalances, along with many other issues, in order to build a more perfect union of Nigeria's ethnic nationalities, will go down in history as the most courageous act of any Nigerian leader. His action in this regard is indicative of a genuine leader who wants to enthrone political peace and stability in the land by allowing the Nigerian people to determine anew, the terms of their union, so peace and tranquility-key ingredients for sustained national development-may reign.
7. Great Strides in Education:
As stated earlier, over 200 model schools for the Almajiris of the north have been constructed since the inception of the Jonathan administration. Ten universities were established in the north, in addition to new ones in Ebonyi, Ekiti and Bayelsa States. The federal government awarded over 500 post graduate scholarships for study abroad. To promote girl education, sadly discouraged in parts of the country, girl boarding schools were established in Adamawa, Yobe, Zamfara, and Nassarawa states. The UBEC program spent N6 billion for teachers capacity building in the 36 states of the federation. The ASUU's recent confrontation with the government regarding seemingly intractable matters has often been seized upon by Jonathan's opponents to accuse him of harboring disdain for the education sector. But facts do not support this charge, considering the ASUU at times carried on as if it were engaged in political combat with the President, instead of negotiating in good faith on issues of great pertinence affecting Nigeria's public universities the ASUU claimed were the bases for its actions. Ultimately, the resolution which was reached demonstrated Jonathan's commitment to higher education in Nigeria.
8. Breaking the Glass Ceiling in the Armed Forces for the Igbo:
The January 1966 coup which featured gratuitous murders of brother officers in the army sowed poisonous seeds in the rank and file of the army, which would later unleash a sanguinary period of awful bloodletting involving still more gratuitous murders of brother soldiers and tens of thousands of Eastern Nigerian folk. Writing in her autobiography "Bitter-Sweet: My life with Obasanjo," Mrs Oluremi Obasanjo, first wife of Chief Obasanjo, narrated a terrifying period in the north following the counter coup of July 1966. She and her husband, then a Major in the Army, scurried about seeking safety from Northern soldiers who were on a rampage and were shooting soldiers suspected to be Igbo-born. As anyone could be shot out of mistaken identity, Mrs. Obasanjo was genuinely afraid for her husband until a modicum of calm was restored and Obasanjo could move about freely.
The detritus of the national political combustion of the 1960s and a civil war that killed millions was a Nigerian national psyche, particularly cultivated in the minds of Northern officers, of distrust of the Igbo serving in the high echelons of the Nigerian military, regardless of how qualified or patriotic they were. Essentially a collective punishment of Igbo military personnel existed under which they were denied promotion to the position of Army Chief of Staff, the pinnacle of service in the Army. The merits or demerits of this discriminatory policy are deemed unnecessary for expatiation in this article. But President Jonathan, again in another courageous act, punctured the national psyche of distrust and appointed General Azubuike Ihejirika as the first post Civil War Igbo-born Chief of Army Staff. Jonathan's application of merit in making this appointment cannot be overlooked, for the General came to the job with great antecedents, which undoubtedly influenced his enormous accomplishments. Under General Ihejirika, great strides were made in the Army, to wit: the establishment of the 7TH Division of the Army and basing it in the Northeast to check the Boko Haram menace; the establishment of the Army Air Corps; the stationing of the 13th Brigade of the Army in Ohafia, which later smashed the vicious Osisikankwu kidnapping gang that had terrorized Abia State for several months; providing the Army with new competencies in counter terrorist and counter insurgency operations; the Army's first locally made armored personnel carrier, which saved the force 30% of the cost of the foreign version.
9. Bringing Democracy Dividends to the People of Bayelsa State by Supporting the Election of Governor Dickson:
Governor Seriake Dickson, since taking office in Bayelsa State, has essentially continued where then Governor Jonathan left off in 2007 to become Nigeria's Vice President. In supporting Dickson's candidacy, Jonathan again demonstrated an uncanny ability, shown in his ministerial appointments, to back a competent person to entrust with great responsibilities of governance. Like the shining pearls of Jonathan's administration (Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina, Mrs Stella Oduah, and Dr. Olusegun Aganga), Governor Dickson has shown remarkable competence in piloting the affairs of Bayelsa State. During his short period in office, he has completed over 275 kilometers of roads and 18 bridges. There is ongoing work on the Yenagoa-Oporoma and Sagbama-Ekeremor Roads. The state is partnering with the federal government to construct an international airport in Yenagoa. Cultism and criminality, major infestations in the state with negative consequences on the state's economy, especially on foreign direct investment, have been eliminated. When the international airport and the proposed deep sea port are completed, Bayelsa State would most certainly emerge as a major gateway to the Niger Delta and the Southeast.
10. Reforms in the Power Sector:
With the completion of a major component of the power sector reforms-transfer of power assets to new private ownership-the power sector is poised to play its long expected role to fire up Nigeria's industrialization. Although the Obasanjo administration initiated the reforms, President Yar' Adua temporarily halted them to investigate alleged corrupt practices in the sector. President Jonathan, upon taking office, vigorously pushed the reforms to a successful conclusion. In 2011, a peak generation of 4,322 megawatts ( the highest ever at the time) was attained and delivered into the system. President Jonathan inaugurated the power sector privatization roadmap in August of 2012, and remarkably concluded its implementation by the end of 2013 with the transfer of assets to new owners . The Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company was also established to provide confidence to investors in the private sector. Given the physical infrastructure, including the ongoing construction of a super national transmission grid, gas supply, and generation/distribution frameworks in place, it is conceivable that one year from now, electricity generation and supply to consumers will attain a breathtaking stability so impressive as to cause pleasant bewilderment in Nigerians.
11. Pursuing a Robust Foreign Policy:
In conferring Ivory Coast's highest honor, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Nation, on President Goodluck Jonathan, on March 1, 2013, President Alassane Quattara of the Ivory Coast praised Jonathan's contributions to peace, stability and progress in Ivory Coast. During very difficult moments for his country when electorally defeated incumbent President Gbagbo refused to vacate office and a civil war was unleashed on the land, Ouattara's ability to wrest power from his foe was facilitated a great deal by Jonathan's uncompromising stance that the electoral will of the Ivorian people be respected. When Malian sovereignty was threatened by al Qaida linked forces who seized control of half of the country, President Jonathan ordered Nigerian troops to join an international force which routed the terrorists. Malian democracy was later restored, and democracy flourished anew.
Strong political reactions were similarly telegraphed to renegade elements of the military in Guinea Bissau and in Guinea Conakry who attempted to subvert democratic governance. Nigeria's peacekeeping role in hot spots on the African continent was effectively maintained under Jonathan, with fresh commitments in Dafur Sudan, and in Somalia. Bilateral national commissions (BNCs) negotiated with the USA and with Germany had critical energy and trade components with significant benefits for the Nigerian economy.
12. Infrastructure Improvements:
The infrastructure deficit, especially in the transportation network of roads and rail lines, power and aviation, was nothing short of a crisis just before the inception of the Fourth Republic. Some progress was made during the Obasanjo Administration to tackle dilapidated infrastructure, rehabilitate abandoned ones, and expand upon existing but inadequate infrastructure. However, Jonathan's aggressive agenda to close the infrastructure deficit is the reason the following projects have been completed: rehabilitation of the Asaba Benin Expressway; Langtang-Lalin- Tunkus-Shendam Road in Plateau State; old Oyo Ogbomosho Road in Oyo State; Ijebu Igbo-Ajegunle-Ife-Sekona Road; Aba Owerri Road in Abia State; Kano- Daura,Mai Adua Road in Kano and Katsina States; dredging of the River Niger from Baro to Warri; river ports in Onitsha , Baro and at Oguta; rehabilitation of the Lagos-Jebba-Kano rail line; remodeled airports in Benin, Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Yola and Enugu; several power plants; 146 community communication centers across the country. Currently, hundreds of projects at different stages of completion exist throughout the country in the Administration's determined drive to close the infrastructure deficit, neglected for several decades.
13. Ebbing of Militancy in the Niger Delta:
Mujahid Asari Dokubo, leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) stated to the People's Daily Online Edition of April 10, 2013, that President Jonathan "…deserves two terms of uninterrupted presidency..." Dokubo's political statement regarding Jonathan was a marked shift from previous statements wherein he questioned the authority of the Nigerian state over Ijawland in the Niger Delta, considering treaties signed between Ijaw monarchs and the British Crown were never abrogated before Nigeria's amalgamation in 1914. Taken together with Dokubo's utterances in support of a national conference to determine new terms of association, these represent seismic shifts in his positions (from previous non recognition of the state to acknowledgement of current political realities and seeking change through political means). Dokubo's new politics is most certainly a byproduct of ebbed militancy in the Niger Delta, additionally denoted by a replacement of rocket launchers with political position papers. The silence of the guns of resistance, fired in anger to stop political and economic marginalization, and environmental neglect, undoubtedly has a strong linkage with the fact that a son of the Niger Delta is President of the Republic. This has not only secured a stable Niger Delta, but also made possible a more than 50% increase in oil production.
14. Economic Growth as Shown in the GDP:
President Jonathan took office in 2010 when the GDP of Nigeria was $229 billion, second to South Africa's $363 billion. In 2013, following a rebasing of the GDP and recalculating it upwards by 50%, the 2013 GDP was shown to be $405 billion, and for the first time surpassed South Africa's 2013 GDP of S370 billion. Clearly, increased domestic production, helped immensely by increased foreign direct investment, and remittances by Diaspora Nigerians, who remitted more than $20 billion in 2012, has created a booming economy, estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 7%. If as expected, the power sector reforms translate to steady power supply, the economic growth rate could double, and Nigeria's march to the status of a globally respected medium sized economy could be achieved before the expiration of President Jonathan's second term in 2019.
15. Almajiri Education Reforms:
It is estimated that 10 million Almajiri children roam the streets of Northern Nigeria. Severely underprivileged, many analysts predict a social explosion if reforms are not carried out in the koranic education system to provide complementary education, inclusive of skills acquisition, that would improve the lives of the Almajiri kids. President Jonathan, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, took presidential action, and ordered the construction of model schools for the Almajiri kids. Setting an ambitious goal to build 415 schools by 2015, close to 200 were built by the close of 2013. Speaking at the inauguration of the first model school in Sokoto on November 3, 2012, President Jonathan stated that his government "… was committed to providing basic moral opportunities for Nigerian children to access quality education." He stated further that " the government would integrate the almajiri system to reflect the western System of education." Taking forthright action to deal with the almajiri time bomb is indicative of a man with a veritable concern for the future leaders of the country. An additional four years in office provides President Jonathan an opportunity to build upon his Almajiri education initiative and institutionalizing it for the continual benefit of the underprivileged Northern Nigerian Muslim child.
16. A Quiet Revolution in Nigerian Agriculture:
Jonathan's uncanny knack for appointing competent managers of men and resources yielded the person of Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshima, the Minister of Agriculture, who is an agronomist of world renown. Dr. Adeshina is revolutionizing Nigerian agriculture by instituting best practices, initiating exciting innovations that have increased yields and made more money for farmers, and increased food production. New crop seedlings of cocoa introduced to cocoa farmers have increased cocoa production significantly. Cocoa production increased to 225,000 tons in 2012, and is projected to rise to 500,000 tons in 2015, maintaining Nigeria's spot as the fourth largest producer of Cocoa in the world. Other economy-boosting outcomes of the revolution in Nigerian agriculture include the substitution of cassava flour for bread wheat flour valued at N600 billion Naira and infused into the economy; domestic rice production which is on track by 2015 to exceed 5 million tons, the required production level to meet national consumption demand; and improved cotton seedlings distributed to northern farmers and expected to increase the cotton harvest by several fold.
17. Full Military Burial for Odumegwu Ojukwu and further Cementing Igbo Loyalty to Nigeria:
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was a bonafide Igbo hero, although loathed by some as a consequence of his leadership of the then Eastern Region of Nigeria to secede from Nigeria. The issues surrounding the Biafra Nigeria war have been covered extensively in books, newspapers, and magazines, and will not be examined in this article. However, the words of General Philip Effiong, Ojukwu's deputy, regarding the reason Biafra took up arms against Nigeria are worthy of note. According to General Effiong, in his book, "Nigeria and Biafra: My Story," "…the war was not a rebellion against anybody or any government…it was a war of survival to ensure for ourselves and our children, a secure place on the landmass known as Nigeria."
It is doubtful that the foes of Ojukwu on the Nigerian side of the war ever let go of their grudge against him. Muhammadu Buhari, following his overthrow of Shehu Shagari in December 1983, clamped Ojukwu in detention, disregarding the fact that Ojukwu had received a full state pardon from President Shagari, and had not held any appointed or elected office in the overthrown government. As such, it is equally doubtful that Ojukwu would have received a full military burial were any of his erstwhile foes to have been in control of the federal government when he died. Jonathan's thoughtful decision to honor Ojukwu with a full Nigerian military burial was deeply cherished by Ojukwu's fellow Igbo ethnics, many of whom have vowed to vote to reelect Jonathan to show their gratitude. In exhorting the Igbo to vote to reelect Jonathan, as published in the Sun Newspaper of January 21st 2014, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, MASSOB leader, pointed out that Jonathan "…loves Ndigbo, especially the respect he accorded our late leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, by giving him a state burial…" Residual distrust from the Biafra secession attempt feeds suspicions of weak Igbo loyalty to Nigeria, in spite of a vibrant Igbo Diaspora in non Igbo areas of Nigeria. Chief Uwazuruike's exhortation to his fellow Igbo to vote for Jonathan is powerful evidence that perceptions of justice and fairness elicit appreciation in the Igbo.
18. Establishment of Sovereign Wealth Fund:
The Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), conceived as an instrument for investing funds set aside by the federal government that will yield returns to be used for the benefit of the citizenry, was an idea long overdue. That the Jonathan Administration made it a reality is a testament to the new thinking refreshingly present in the Administration, in contrast with the stale and ossified thinking of a couple or more of the Administrations which preceded Jonathan. Although Nigeria produces a lot of oil, it is hardly an oil rich country in the manner that Kuwait or Equatorial Guinea would be so described. The known reserves of Nigeria's oil are 37 billion barrels, valued at $3.7 trillion at $100 per barrel if they were all sold today in the oil market. With a population of 170 million, the per capita income per Nigerian from this oil is $21,734. Kuwait's per capital income exceeds $200,000. A sovereign wealth fund that's wisely invested should yield returns, and essentially be another stream of revenue for the government to use in addressing the needs of society. Key personnel to manage the Fund, announced by the Minister of Finance, are professionally competent people whose decision making processes ought not be swayed by politics. The fund's investment of $200 million in the US bond market, a relatively safe investment, should assuage critics who were suspicious of political influence being a consideration in the Fund's administrators' decision making.
19. Building Transportation Modes Required for Nigeria's Growing Economy:
Integrating various transportation modes (road, rail, water and air) is a sine qua non for rapid development. Unfettered movements of people, goods and services are the hallmarks of a developed economy. For example, a restaurant owner whose tomatoes cannot be delivered due to a collapsed highway will not be able to make stew for his lunch customers, who would be forced to patronize a competing restaurant. Before the advent of the Jonathan Administration, many federal roads were in various states of disrepair, the rail ways had stopped running and locomotives were mothballed. The airports were dilapidated, and the waterways of the great Niger and Benue rivers were heavily silted, and thus never utilized for large scale river barge shipping. There was no national policy on the smart use of the nation's waterways to spur economic development. Three years into the Administration, the pieces required for a multimodal nationally integrated transportation system are falling into place. The extensive rehabilitation of federal roads throughout the country is a major piece. The remodeling of 22 airports in the country is another piece. The functional rail lines from Lagos to Kano, to be expanded when the Eastern line from Port Harcourt to the North becomes operational in 2014, and the soon to be busy waterways, following the completion of the dredging of the Niger and Benue rivers, are the remaining pieces of the multimodal transportation network that will spur rapid economic growth.
President Jonathan's work is unfinished. As he is on the right track in marching Nigeria to that mid level developed nation status (at par with India, Brazil and Indonesia, to name but a few such countries), which has eluded her for so long, he deserves a renewed term of four more years to complete his work.