By Usama Dandare
Friday May 29, 2015, make it four years since Goodluck Ebele Jonathan became the president of Nigeria and perhaps the end of his stay in office following his inability to emerge winner in the just concluded March 28 presidential elections. As an elected government and typical of any regime, the administration must have celebrated its achievements and the legacies it left behind. Therefore, this is the right time to look at how well the Jonathan administration has fared so far in all it dealings, as four years are sufficient enough to bring about meaningful developments that can positively reflect on the lives of the electorate.
Assessing the Jonathan government will provide valid basis for the electorate to know if their choice in Jonathan had actually helped in improving their lives or not and perhaps provide answer to questions like: has the former president achieved what he was voted for? Did he delivered on the promises he made? Has he done enough to earn praises or made outstanding differences in positions of trust?
Perhaps the assessment process should begin by hand-picking some of the most critical sectors of our economy that needed special consideration before Jonathan came into power and how these sectors are now after spending five years on the throne, and appraise his achievements if any.
Below are my assessment of President Jonathan five years of leadership and grade his performances in some key sectors:
Talking about the all embarrassing power sector where the former president claimed to have made significant improvements but the level of darkness in which Nigerians were forced to endure speaks volume about Jonathan self-acclaimed performance in the power industry; inadequate power supply became even more rampant and worst under him than any regime we may think of, especially in his last few weeks in office.
The Jonathan administration has lost both the battle and the war in the power sector, with total darkness all over the country as a result of decreased power outage in all the 36 states of the federation. This is contrary to what Jonathan promised Nigerians, he assured us of 20,000 megawatts of electricity before the end of his tenure but today (two days after the end of his regime), President Jonathan didn’t only failed to increase power supply but successfully worsened the whole situation. Jonathan inherited over 4,750 megawatts of electricity in 2010, it decreased to about 3,700 megawatts in 2013 and 2014. At the beginning of 2015, power generation dropped to 2,700 megawatts and today, power generation fluctuates between 800-1,300 megawatts despite he huge sums of money Jonathan spent on power sector in the last five years, totaling about ₦8trn. ‘F’ grade is clearly what Jonathan deserved in the power sector.
Another critical area where President Jonathan deserved lots of scrutiny is security. Before Jonathan, Nigeria was relatively peaceful and calm if not some pockets of armed robbery and ethnic crisis but in just two years of Jonathan administration, Nigeria surpassed Mexico in kidnapping according to a United Nations report at the end 2013, recording the cruelest and second highest single abduction events in recent history. By the end of 2013 and in the first quarter of 2014, Nigeria surpassed war ravaged Syria, Libya, Iraq and Central Africa Republic (CAR) in deadly acts of terrorism and sectarian violence.
The Nyanya bombing was ranked the fifth worst bombing of its kind in world history. The Jos bombing, with over 200 reported dead in one attack, is second only to 9/11 and the disputed Syria chemical weapons attack.
According to the United Nation report, “In combined values, with about 80,000 people brutally massacred in four years of Jonathan stewardship largely unchecked Boko Haram activities and with over 4,000 killed in the first quarter of 2014 alone, Nigeria overtook other nations of the world in deadly terror. Nigeria’s leadership in December 2013 secured the world’s top position rating in insecurity and failure to protect life, and discourage terror, Nigeria had never been attained this shameful position in history, thanks to Jonathan insensitivity and less care altitude toward protecting the lives and properties of his electorate. Current rankings put Nigeria’s leadership under Jonathan second only to Hitler in terms of bloodbath, after surpassing Saddam Hussein.
Only under the insensitive leadership of President Jonathan that Nigeria lost control of its territories estimated to be more than the size of Belgium to the hands of some nuisance call Boko Haram, there was never a time when we ceded such a large territory since amalgamation. On security, ‘F’.
The oil industry houses numerous controversies surrounding Jonathan administration: it is still a mystery how the cost of subsidy shot up to about ₦1.6trn annually despite a 50% cut in fuel subsidy during the last regime while the previous regime before it spent only ₦300bn per year. Yet, Nigerians were forced to adopt fuel scarcity as part of their daily lives and fuel prices sprout all time higher than any other regime in Nigeria’s history. Pms sold at ₦65 per litre in 2010 when Jonathan took over but soared to ₦141 per litre in January 2012 and to ₦97 per litre after a nationwide protest, and later to ₦87 per litre in 2015. Surprisingly, Jonathan left office with pms selling between ₦150 to ₦550 per litre while failing to renovate even one out of the four existing refineries we have not to mention of constructing a new one as he promised to if elected president before the 2011 general election.
When Obasanjo left power in 2007, the Excess Crude Account was $80bn but when Jonathan came into power, he lavished the funds between federal and states governments in the name of excess crude oil revenue which should have been stored in our foreign reserve. Now at the end of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, Excess Crude account is merely empty and no single project to justify it spending. In the oil sector, ‘F’ is what Jonathan deserved.
On the area of debt management: when Jonathan came into power in 2010, Nigeria was almost free from any form of debt because the $30bn foreign debt that Obasanjo met when he came to power in 1999 was fully paid off, and President Yar’Adua didn’t borrow a single kobo during his stay in office. So Jonathan inherited no debt but astonishingly, in just five years of Jonathan dispensation, Nigeria owes debt to the tune of more than $60bn with over ₦900bn being paid to service the debts annually (which amount to about 24% of the nation’s annual budget). In terms of borrowing, if there’s any grade lower than ‘F’, that is what Jonathan worked for.
One cannot sincerely major the achievements of any government without assessing it performances in job creation, as there are several evidence to suggest that the lack of economic opportunities for young people has often created enough discontent to start wars that tear nations apart, Sierra-Leone provides the best possible example.
When Jonathan came into power in 2010, the rate of unemployment was about 10.82% but within two years of his administration, unemployment rate increased to an all time high of 23.90% and before the end of his regime, unemployment rate jumped to an embarrassing figure of about 25.47% from the 5.82% it was in 2009. Astonishingly, the number of unemployed persons in Nigeria was given at about 80 million youths, more than the entire population of United Kingdom, according to a United Nations and World Bank report. The Immigration Service recruitment which made it into the Guinness Book of Record for being the most crowded recruitment exercise in world history is just a possible example of unemployment among youths. Today, seven out of every ten Nigerian youths are unemployed and with this, it’s a clear ‘F’ grade for Jonathan in job creation.
President Jonathan efforts in poverty reduction or eradication were also nothing to write home about. When he came into power, poverty rate in Nigeria was estimated to be less than 50% in 2010 but at the expiration of his regime, poverty level has reached an embarrassing record-breaking statistics of 71%. The National Bureau Of Statistics reported in 2014 that over 112 million Nigerians were living in abject poverty. A report from the World Bank in April 2014 listed Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world, with the world’s highest number of people said to live on less than $1.25 a day, ahead of other nations like India, China, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Jonathan score in poverty eradication is a clear ‘F’ grade.
On the confusing state of economy: Nigeria’s economy miraculously recorded an 87% growth overnight after undergoing a ‘rebase’ which set Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa, while revealing the true economic position of Africa’s largest economy with 70% of the nation’s population living under a-dollar-a-day, this simultaneously substantiate the fact that Nigeria as a nation is in the top position for worst leadership in social welfare and opportunities for its people under the mismanagement of President Jonathan.
At the start of Jonathan leadership, “he met GDP growth at 7% from the 2% former president Obasanjo met. But GDP growth during the government of President Jonathan has been stuck at 6%-7% despite an unprecedented oil boom. Nigeria’s economy should have been growing at an annual rate of about 12% given the oil boom, and poverty and unemployment should have fallen dramatically if at all there was an existing government during the last five years. Inflation under President Jonathan rallied to an all time high figures at 37.5% though his economic fraudsters claimed inflation rate to be 28%, he continued to maintain a single digit inflation on paper throughout his regime.
Jonathan came into power and met $1 below ₦130 but as time went on, Nigeria’s currency began to devaluate by the day to an extent where $1 became sold above ₦212 all under the same government claiming to have taken Nigeria to Africa’s biggest economy.
Foreign reserves have followed a similar depreciating pattern like other indicators since the beginning of President Jonathan stewardship. In the Obasanjo and Yar’Adua eras, foreign reserves was high enough to finance on average over 7-10 months of imports respectively. However, during the five years of President Jonathan, it has declined to below 5.3 months of imports.
According to Will Ross of the BBC “He said he hoped a parliamentary investigation would also find out why the country’s Excess Crude Account had fallen from $11.5bn to less than $2.5bn in a one year of Jonathan presidency – arguing that Nigeria’s savings are a vital buffer against any drop in the global oil price and without this ‘rainy day’ account, the economy is vulnerable and exposed.” This is one reason why President Buhari must not draw a line, several government officials hold trillions of stolen public funds and must be refunded.
Despite an impressive growth rate of 7%, making it one of the fast-growing economies in the continent, the economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas which is often extracted at source and exported, and wealth is concentrated in small port towns. In grading Jonathan administration on strengthening the economy, I think ‘E’ will be appropriate.
Health care was and still a critical sector lacking adequate attention by the government, health spending has increased in the National Strategic Health Development (HSHD) plan since the accidental emergence of Jonathan in 2010, but health outcomes remain very poor. In 2012, two years after President Jonathan took over, a UN Human Development Report ranked Nigeria 156 out of 187 countries against the much lower position it was before, almost 17 place lower while infant mortality rate was surprisingly put at 75 deaths per 1,000 live births, placing it in the ten worst countries for infant mortality and the world’s worst country for any child to be born. A recent report on global life expectancy by the World Health Organisation (WHO) rated Nigeria low in its report titled, “World Health Statistics 2014”. According to that publication, life expectancy for both men and women is less than 55 years in Nigeria.
The only visible record in the health sector during the entire five years of Jonathan dispensation was the huge sums of public funds the president, his wife and his cabinet members spent on medical trips abroad due to lack of a better health-care system while the poor citizenry were left with decayed hospitals and expired drugs. These buttressed the fact that health care was given less or no priority by the past administration and as such, i score the regime ‘F’ in the health sector.
On the educational sector: education must occupy one of the top three agenda of any government that wants to thrive successfully in any country of the world, and if only genuinely good intents can be translated into action. Under the past regime of President Jonathan, although the standards of education has fallen before his accidentally emergence as president but the late President Yar’Adua was active enough to lay a good foundation for the revival of our education before his demise.
Unfortunately in only two years of Jonathan leadership, the standard of education began moving from bad to worst with adult illiteracy standing at 57% compared to the 43% it was before he took over, overall illiteracy was put at 66%. Under Jonathan, more than 10 million out of the 30 million children of primary school age were left wasting at home in various states due to one form of strike or the other.
A United Nations Comparative Index of Literacy in 2012, stated that “40 million adults in a population of 170 million Nigerians are illiterate”, ranking the country 161 out of 180 countries in respect to standard education, the report also stated that “only 26% of secondary school leavers gained admission into the universities and only 5% graduated as a result of prolong strike actions engaged upon by teachers of tertiary institutions across the nation.
Throughout Nigeria’s history since amalgamation, the Jonathan regime was the only regime under which virtually all unions of educational institutions at all levels in the country had in one way or the other gone on prolong strike actions once or twice and some even more, while some spent about a whole year on strike while others going for only few months.
Being the first Nigerian President to have a Ph.D, Jonathan was the least I could expect to toy with education thinking he should understands the value of education than any other Nigerian president before him but astonishingly, he proven to be the worst performer in uplifting the standard of education as far as history is concerned. In general, over 25,000 students have stopped schooling owing to insurgency in the Northeast which Jonathan failed to promptly confront.
It will be unfair to assess Jonathan performance in the educational sector without acknowledging the infrastructural development in the nation’s tertiary institutions and the re-establishment of a more advance method of embezzling public funds, courtesy of the so-called Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). In education, ‘E’ grade is what best described Jonathan performance.
Finally as you may all know, patriotism, trust, honesty, organization and careful management has often Led to the success and prosperity of modern man. But throughout Jonathan stewardship, all you can easily see or notice is the plain fact that the nation has “No Leader.” And for leading Nigeria to this comatose state, one cannot be far from the truth if one says that President Goodluck Jonathan was a colossal failure, in terms of his leadership style but nevertheless, it’s not bad for a man who had never been elected into any major public office in his own right. Amateur in action!