This Day (Lagos)

15 August 2010

Nigeria: 100 Days of Jonathan Presidency(ii)

analysis

Lagos — The promise

In this regard, our total commitment to Good Governance, Electoral Reform and the fight against Corruption would be pursued with greater vigour. As I had stated, time and again, we must enshrine the best standards in our democratic practice. One of the true tests would be to ensure that all votes count and are counted in the upcoming General Elections. Similarly, the effort at ensuring the sustenance of peace and development in the Niger Delta as well as the security of life and property around the entire country would be of topmost priority in the remaining period of this administration.

I want to reassure all Nigerians that the pledges which we had made to improve the socio-economic situation which we face through improved access to electricity, water, education, health facilities and other social amenities would continue to be given the needed emphasis. The welfare of our teeming workers and the unemployed youths would also be accorded a new impetus. - Goodluck Jonathan

Our Assessment

Anti-corruption

How tenacious should President Jonathan be in his anti-corruption war? A cursory appraisal of his efforts so far during his first 100 days in office reveals a few incontrovertible milestones. One of these is the hounding of former Delta State governor, James Ibori, who is currently in Dubai in a bid to escape the long arms of the EFCC in close collaboration with the London Metropolitan Police.

The recent Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) conviction of the former NDLEA chairman, Bello Lafiaji, as well as that of a director of another government agency also burnishes the President's anti-corruption credentials. And there is, of course, the Lamido Sanusi-driven banking reform, begun under the watch of his late predecessor, Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua, which is yet to lose steam. The abrupt termination of the tenure of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) president, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, which ends in November, trailed by probe of the NSE by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) attests to the desire of the Jonathan administration to sustain the war. Ditto the announcement by the Attorney General and Justice Minister, Mohammed Bello Adoke, to the effect that the on-going investigations into the Halliburton bribery scandal will be concluded soon. Of course, there is also the House of Representatives' eventual follow-up of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe of the NSE.

Nonetheless, the Jonathan administration's anti-corruption war lacks the bluster of similar crusades under the watch of the late General Murtala Mohammed, General Muhammadu Buhari and, very recently, President Olusegun Obasanjo. Nigerians are indeed yet to see the Nuhu Ribadu-like ardour in his war during the first 100 days.

Score: Above Average

Electoral Reform

Under the Jonathan presidency, the recommendations of the Mohammed Uwais panel on electoral reform were adopted leading to the amendment of the Electoral Act. Credibility was also lent to the president's promise to conduct free and fair elections by removing the discredited INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu and replacing him with Prof Attahiru Jega who has a reputation of being independent- minded.

To further ensure that the elections are hitch-free, Jonathan acceded to the electoral body's financial requests to compile a new voter's register and set up structures for the general election.

In addition, the amended Electoral Act brought forward the time-table of election from April to January, paving the way for electoral disputes that might arise from the elections to be dealt with by the courts before elected officials are sworn in on May 29.

The amended constitution also ensured financial autonomy being granted to INEC by according it a first line charge on the Federation Account. Meanwhile, governors whose elections have been annulled by the Court of Appeal and subsequently secured re-election from the conduct of a re-run polls can no longer enjoy extended tenures.

This promise of electoral reforms is one sure area the administration has scored high. Nigerians only hope all these structural adjustments aimed at achieving a free and fair poll will eventually achieve its aim.

Score: Above Average

NIGER DELTA

The coming of President Goodluck Jonathan gave, what observers call, a great impetus to the federal government's amnesty programme put in place by his predecessor, late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

Yar'Adua had proclaimed amnesty for the former fighters in August last year with a 60-day period of grace for the militants to renounce violence and turn in their munitions. This was to stem the growing cases of banditry, kidnapping and vandalisation of pipelines and other oil facilities in the region.

The deadline came at a time Yar'Adua's health challenge was taking grave toll on him. This largely accounted for the lull that followed the implementation of the post-amnesty programme he had enunciated to rehabilitate the former fighters and reintegrate them into the larger society under the amnesty programme.

The coming of Jonathan was therefore a relief of sort to the region and the managers of the programme, especially the Maj-Gen Godwin Abbey committee and other sub-committees on post-amnesty.

As part of steps taken by his administration to keep the post-amnesty programme alive, the west-east road, a major infrastructural package of the programme, is progressing according to plan. Shoreline communities in the area are also being dredged by the administration. This is a testimony that peace has returned in the region.

A training camp for the former fighters was, in the course of his 100 days in office, opened in Cross River State. Thousands of the former militants, who were registered for the training scheme, are undergoing skill acquisition programme and academic refresher courses at the centre. This has significantly reduced the level of hostilities in the area, which has also bolstered the economy of the country following oil production that went above its pre-2009 levels.

In all, while the rehabilitation programme for the ex-militants has progressed tremendously, the infrastructural development plan is a work in progress.

Score: Above Average

Power Sector

One of the immediate steps taken by President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure a rapid upgrade and reform of power sector was his decision to take-over the power ministry. This action was followed by the setting up of the Presidential Action Committee on Power (PACP), which he chairs. He also set up a Presidential Taskforce on Power (PTFP), which is a monitoring and implementation body of PACP.

Just last week, a sum of N200billion was released to the Prof. Bath Nnaji-led taskforce and the two unions in the power sector. These are the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies and the National Union of Electricity Employees. The gesture is to douse tension and avert potential labour dispute building up in the power sector.

Also last week, the President approved the construction of a 700-kilovolt super transmission grid that will enable power generation companies to transmit 6,939 megawatts of electricity by April next year when new power plants currently under construction are expected to come on stream and increase the nation's power generation capacity to 14,019MW by 2013.

President Jonathan has also directed that a feasibility study be carried out on the Mambilla Hydro Power Station, which is described as the largest power station in the country.

The Federal Government under his watch has also approved a new price regime for gas as an incentive to encourage oil and gas development and infrastructure for thermal plants.

However, one recurring decimal is the failure of the government to make the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) a reality.

Already government had injected N762.93billion in the project as at last year. The project was expected to add 4,770MW to the national grid by the end of 2011. But there are doubts as to whether the first units of the NIPP projects would be commissioned in the first quarter of 2011 as projected. This has further raised doubt on the attainment of the much touted vision 2020 development goals of Nigeria.

In all, many Nigerians believe the power situation has improved but they are complaining about PHCN's hiking of tariff.

Score: Good Work in Progress

SECURITY

Goodluck Jonathan never left anyone in doubt of his keenness for an improvement in the state of security in the polity, which he tagged an utmost priority. Excerpts from his inaugural speech as president also indicated the importance his administration attached to the issue.

A conundrum is the spate of kidnappings, particularly in the South East. This came to the fore following the kidnap of the Lagos NUJ president Wahab Oba, Sylvester Okere, Sola Oyeyipo and Adolphus Okonkwo on their return from an NUJ conference on July 11 in Abia State. They were later released after a week of negotiations. Their case is another episode in a gale of kidnappings that seems to be on the increase. It is left to see if the Jonathan administration can nip it in the bud.

Perhaps, it is in this light that the president last week approved the sum of N79 billion for the Nigeria Police, citing years of under-funding as the reason most policemen are unable to perform their constitutional roles. The money is the Jonathan administration's contribution towards the N1.5 trillion required for police reforms as recommended by the M.D Yusufu-led reform committee.

On August 13, 2010 the president also inaugurated the Armed Forces Council. This was a proactive stance by the Jonathan administration to sustain the army's constitutional role and prepare it for demands of the century. One headache of the council is how to subdue the wave of sectarian on-going violence around different northern cities.

There are also other issues of bunkering on the high seas and trans-border attacks which reflect the obliviousness of the armed forces to perform the constitutional roles.

In all, the Jonathan presidency cannot be said to have scored high in this area.

Score: Below Average.

The Scorecard

Electoral Reforms - Above Average

Niger Delta - Above Average

Power Sector - Good Work in Progress but citizens need results

Anti-Corruption - Average

Security - Below Average

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