By Usama Dandare
December 23, 2014
As February 2015 is fast drawing near, preparations are in top gear for Nigerians to adjudge who to consign the albatross of piloting the avocations of their country for the next four years to come. Politicians from all walks of life are strategizing and doubling efforts to clinch any of the executive or legislative positions at all levels. In whatever aspect you may want to look at it, 2015 is the year which Nigerians will either send PDP packing or give them another chance to continue doing what they have started in the last 16 years.
Unfortunately, several spectators has casted doubts over the possibility of holding the general elections next year due to the rising menace of terrorism currently ravaging most part of the country’s northern region, leading to the lost of some territory to the hands of terrorists. Others predicted 2015 to be a bloody year which may in turns might lead to the segregation of Nigeria, courtesy of the nurtured ethno-religious division, hatred, sentiments, distraction, corruption and politics of bitterness nourished by politicians to achieve certain political interest. Hopefully and God willing, we shall prove them wrong, Nigeria will hold a hitch-free general elections come 2015 and move ahead as one.
Now that the battle line has been drawn and the quest for who become the next occupant of Nigeria’s number one office has been narrowed between Goodluck Jonathan of PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of APC, it now become imperative for us (Nigerians) to subject the two leading presidential aspirants to a little perlustration and begin to extract the expediency and detriments of electing each one of them, by exposing them to questions before weighing to see who best fit the bills.
We have been focusing attention on the opposition for a while and thinks it’s now the best time to redirect our focus to Mr. President and ask how far have we gone, where are we going and how does he intends to drive us to the promise land. Going by the adage that “a good first term deserves another”,I see no reason why a miserable first term will deserve a second, so President Jonathan must tell us what his government has been able to achieve before we can choose to consider him for re-election.
Below are just few questions I put together for President Jonathan to provide us with answers on certain critical issues affecting the daily lives of Nigerians like security, unemployment and corruption.
Security: Looking at statistical figures released by ENDS.ng, Dr. Peregrino Brimah put death tolls from Boko Haram activities under President Jonathan’s watch to be precisely over 100,000 while perhaps more than one million people has sustained various degrees of injuries and another 1-2 million Nigerians displaced internally and externally, with over 20,000 square kilometers of Nigeria’s territory with a population of between 1 million to 2 million people being governed by Boko Haram and more than 1000 innocent civilians (mostly women and children) are being held for ransom by these bloodthirsty demons. Why hasn’t the government of President Jonathan halted or minimized the activities of Boko Haram and the terror they are unleashing on innocent Nigerians? Why has the regime of President Jonathan failed to consistently avert the wanton killing of innocent citizens by terrorist and extra-judicial killing by government authorities? Why hasn’t Jonathan’s government prosecuted hundreds of terrorists we were told to be in government custody for several years? Why has the leadership of President Jonathan failed to cater for the well-being of those affected by terrorist activities in Nigeria despite raising over N60bn for such purpose several months ago from public donations?
In recent time, Nigerians and the world were confronted with irritating news of death sentences being handed to soldiers here and there by the Nigerian Military for refusing to fight terrorist due to lack of equipment or rebellion against superior officers for lack of welfare and motivation. What has Jonathan administration did with the over N1trn allocated to the fight against terrorism in the last five years? Why are our military ill-equipped and unmotivated despite allocating funds to such purpose? The excuse that America refused to sell armament to Nigeria is not only silly but nasty, there are loads of other countries to go that are willing to sell.
Kidnapping has been established as the fastest money making industry in Nigeria today, the rate at which kidnappers carried out their criminal activities with ease cannot be compared to anything short of a holy mess. The act of taking hostage for ransom has subsequently tarnished the image of Nigeria in the tourist world and from the 9th spot on the world top kidnapping countries in 2010 to 3rd in 2014 according to RiskMap, all under Jonathan’s stewardship. Why has the government of President Jonathan continuously failed to reduced the rate of kidnapping for ransom in the country? Not minding Jonathan’s inability to rescue 276 teenage girls kidnapped by terrorist at Chibok secondary school in earlier April this year, why did the government of President Jonathan failed to prevent future occurrence of such ugly incident in the same area? Just few days, another 200 women were kidnapped from that same Chibok where school girls were taken away. To cut it short, the biological uncle of President Jonathan himself was abducted by gunmen in the President’s village and nothing was done by the government to prevent a repeat of such shameful act, others were again kidnapped in the same President’s hometown weeks after his uncle.
While acknowledging the gigantic efforts put together by men of Nigerian Navy in combating sea piracy in the gulf of guinea, Nigeria still ranks 3rd on the table of world countries with higher rates of sea piracy in 2014 according to International Maritime Bureau, moving much more higher under President Jonathan’s stewardship compared to 2010 before Jonathan took over when Nigeria stands between ten to eleventh on the world ranking, courtesy of President Umar Yar’adua’s giant stride in minimizing militancy in the Niger Delta. Nigerian waters are now the most deadly in the world during the first half of 2004 according to a new piracy report. Analysts blame the proliferation of weapons to the oil-rich Niger Delta region where armed gangs trade stolen crude. Nigeria’s growing prominence for piracy can be traced back to oil, the country’s economic lifeblood and the large-scale theft of crude oil which is sold to vessels offshore. “The trade has in turn funded further arms procurement and been behind the spawning of a wide range of criminal activities, including sea piracy.” Gangs, armed with automatic rifles and increasingly with rocket-propelled grenades, cruise along in speedboats and barges, finding cover in the maze of creeks and rivers intertwined with mangrove swamps that make up the delta where the River Niger empties into the Atlantic Ocean. What has President Jonathan being able to achieve in terms of complying with SOLAS directives to halt the trade of sea piracy? Why did Jonathan’s government awarded a contract to safeguard 700k/ms of Nigerian waters to Tompolo (a renown terrorist) after all the huge funds it said to have been spent on equipping the Navy to combat sea piracy? Considering President Jonathan’s failure to bring an end or minimize sea piracy in his five years of leadership, what does he plans to do to curtail the activities of pirates in Nigerian waters and how does he intends to address the lingering issue of oil bunkering in the Niger Delta?
In March 2014, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, reported corruption and lack of good governance were the major sources of ethnic and religious crisis in Nigeria, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the CFR Nigeria Security Tracker purport that thousands of people have been killed in the country as a result of communal crisis since 2010 when President Jonathan took over, and events since the start of 2014 have reached unprecedented levels. In April 2014, Amnesty International published a briefing expressing concern over actions by the Nigerian state security forces that may constitute “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity,” urging for the immediate investigation of violations of international humanitarian law. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) also warned of the gravity of such acts, stating, “indiscriminate violence heightens the risk of further mass atrocities, including possible crimes against humanity.” what has President Jonathan done to address these issues? What does he intends to do regarding the indiscriminate killing of Nigeria’s that he fails to do in his first five years as President?
On corruption, several Nigerians has adopted corruption as their way of life. Corruption exists, not simply at the human level, but at an institutional level as well. Our political climate and sociocultural narrative is fundamentally shaped by corruption. Corruption manifests itself in different ways, both on a micro and a macro level.“According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2014, Nigeria is up eight places to 136 out of 175 countries ranked by the index.” Corruption in Nigeria has become institutionalised in the political system, and the government of the day must come clean and lead the fight against the scourge in a bid to allow rational economic growth and development of the people.
Based on a recent survey conducted by the United States- based New York Times, President Goodluck Jonathan’s government is said to be the most corrupt since 1960. In an editorial published on its website on May 6, 2014, New York Times attributed the high level of corruption experienced in Nigeria today to President Jonathan’s “inept and slow” dispensation making him incompetent to handle the affairs of the most populous black nation, adding that the government had little or no credibility to fight corruption.
Sadly, the only thing obvious is the fact that Nigeria is nowhere close to being taken off the corruption list and President Jonathan is consistently trying to make us believe his government is fighting corruption while his subordinates are becoming richer and richer by the day, and billions of billions of dollars are said to be missing daily from crude oil account but yet, President Jonathan is shielding suspected public looters from investigation and prosecution. What is Mr. President doing to make sure corrupt government officials are brought to book? We are still demanding to know the whereabouts of our missing $20bn oil funds and the $1bn that just disappeared in the excess crude account. Why is Mr. President comfortably mingling in the midst of convicted treasury looters and claims to be fighting corruption?
The debt stock of Nigeria continue to escalate and has currently doubled what it was before President Jonathan came into power. Based on a survey by the Debt Management Office (DMO), the external debt stock of Nigeria as at 2010 was $3.3bn, but has now miraculously jumped to about $6bn. Can President Jonathan justify or show what he did with the massive external borrowing? Why must we keep on borrowing after all Nigeria has all it takes to cater for it needs if properly utilize? Can the President proudly say his government have seen considerable improvement in reducing external debts?
On the issue of poverty and unemployment in the last three years of President Jonathan’s dispensation, poverty has reportedly gained ground in the country, making Nigeria climbed 3rd on world poverty ranking with more than 100m Nigerians living in abject poverty according to World Bank and the United Nation. In practical terms, while the government appears to be celebrating a 2% reduction in poverty within Jonathan’s five years of leadership, it’s still nothing near improvements while 60% of Nigeria’s population lives below the international standard of $1 per day. What does this 2% reduction in poverty mean to the rural dweller who cannot afford the minimum of $1 to cater to his daily need of feeding, transportation and other human engagements?
Despite all the drums being beaten by Jonathan’s vuvuzelas over the performance of this government, poverty still ravage the lives of the common masses, given that Nigeria is greatly enriched with vast natural and human resource. Unemployment in Nigeria has grown from about one in five people in 2010 before Jonathan became Nigeria’s number one citizen to about three out of every seven youths that are willing and able to work but jobless in 2014. Most of Nigerian youths simply have no hope in what the future holds for them and the truth is that most of the insurgency being experienced in the country in its various forms from Boko Haram to kidnapping and Niger Delta militancy are direct nemesis of government’s inability to create employment and better the lives of our teaming jobless youths.
In fact, under Jonathan’s stewardship, unemployment has grown from about 21% in 2010 to an estimated all time high of 29.3% in 2014 as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics. While commending Jonathan’s efforts in launching the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN) initiative which was established in 2011 and is open to Nigerian youth entrepreneurs who send in business proposals out of which the very best as judged by a third party international consulting firm would receive business training and financial grants to start up businesses that employ a minimum of 5 people. With much adore, the YouWin initiative created only 2400 jobs since it inception and while commendable, here is a question begging for answer: how effective is this strategy to tackle unemployment if in the span of 3 years, YouWIN could only generate 2400 direct jobs (about 0.3%) for Nigeria’s 80 million unemployed population? Nigerian youths needs answer; where are the 3million jobs Jonathan’s government claimed to have created yearly starting from 2011?
One of the most vexatious scenario which highlighted the high level of unemployment among Nigeria’s teaming youths was the tragic recruitment exercise by the Nigerian Immigration Service where over 600,000 Nigerians applied for a handful of 3000 jobs, resulting to a stampede that claimed the lives of 21 applicants and injured several others. The whole recruitment exercise was canceled by Mr. President without refunding the N1000 paid by each applicant for the recruitment process, President Jonathan further issued a statement directing the ministry of interior to give automatic employment to three family members of each of the dead applicant and the injured ones should also be employed. Is Mr. President aware that not a single person have being employed among relatives of the dead and injured applicants at the time of writing this article? President Jonathan must tell Nigerian youths where is the money they paid since the whole recruitment process has now appeared to be a scam? How prepared if President Jonathan to avoid possible re-occurrence of this kinda tragedy in the near future? What has Mr. President did to deal with those government officials involved in taxing poor jobless youths for employment?
I’d like to move on and on but for time constraints, i will shutdown my system here and pray that these few questions get answers. As things currently stands, i have to consider President Jonathan as incompetent and incapable of ruling a populous and a diverse nation like Nigeria. And unless convincing and meaningful answers are provided to my questions above, President Jonathan should consider my vote, that of my family and everyone under my command as minus to his re-election.
I welcome suggestions, observations, criticism and even insults where necessary.