The Presidency Monday reacted to opposition claims that President Goodluck Jonathan was incompetent and incapable of managing the affairs of the country, stating that the president's background does not fall into the mould of the "incompetent" or "cluelessness" tag that the opposition wants Nigerians to believe.
Reacting to Lagos State Governor, Babtunde Fashola's "auto mechanic's allegory", the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, said in a statement, "President Goodluck Jonathan is perhaps the most academically qualified Nigerian president ever," dismissing the accusations as mere propaganda by the opposition parties.
Fashola, in an interview last week in which he made a case for the opposition wresting power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had drawn an analogy depicting the president as an auto mechanic who constantly is unable to fix a car, thus forcing the owner of the car to seek another auto mechanic to get the job done.
But Okupe said: "By cognate qualifications, no president has had the experience, preparation and tutelage for the post of presidency of Nigeria.
"For the avoidance of doubt, he was deputy governor, governor, vice-president, acting president and was elected president. No Nigerian president has had such a pedigree."
Okupe said that it is because of Jonathan's competence that he has been able to ensure economic stability in the management of the economy when other economies of the world are collapsing.
The president's aide said: "The Jonathan administration through the implementation of sound monetary and fiscal policies has been able to provide macroeconomic stability for the country in the last two years.
"It is noteworthy that while other major economies including that of South Africa and the United States of America are being downgraded, the Nigerian economy is being upgraded by global rating agencies including Fitch, S&P and JP Morgan."
According to Okupe, "While the overall global projection for economic growth in 2013 is 3.5 to 5. 5 per cent, projected growth for Nigeria has been put at 6.5 per cent and above.
"Nigerians rightly observe that in spite of these favorable macroeconomic indicators such as increased GDP, reduced inflation, and higher foreign reserves, the population is yet to benefit by having food on their tables.
"It should however be realized that achieving macroeconomic stability is the foundation upon which other economic reforms such as in the power sector, infrastructure and development of skilled manpower will be built."
Okupe observed that on assumption of office, the Jonathan administration met, "low generating capacity (output of less than 3,000MW), abandoned NIPP projects, unavailability of gas to service the NIPP projects, transmission challenges and the protracted inability to unbundle the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the eventual privatisation of the sector."
On infrastructure decay, Okupe said the president inherited bad roads, a malfunctioning rail system and airports that were in state of total dilapidation, most of them without any maintenance for decades.
He said: "From January to November 2012, going by the figures supplied by intelligence reports and independent surveys, the incidence of bombing had gone down by about 50 per cent.
"In view of the fact that the security agencies have severely weakened the insurgents (Boko Haram) capacity to do damage, a call for ceasefire has emanated from them. It is clearly untrue therefore to say that government is not on top of security issues in this country."
Okupe added that as a competent leader, the president awarded the contract for the repair of the Benin-Sagamu and Lagos-Ibadan Expressways, for which the concession was decisively dealt with and immediate rehabilitative efforts are being carried out by Julius Berger and RCC.
This, he said, reduced the burden of commuters on that road during the Christmas holidays.
Other repair works carried out by the president include the repair works on the Abuja-Lokoja Expressway, which Okupe said was progressing steadily.
Other interventionist works by the Jonathan presidency include, the Kano-Maiduguri Road, the East-West Road, the Onitsha-Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway with a distance of 1,664km, which is due for completion in 2013.
On the railways, Okupe said: "The Lagos-Jebba-Kano rail line which had been shutdown for over 20 years has commenced successful operations since December 2012, the Abuja-Kaduna modern gauge rail line is over 35% completion, the Ajaokuta-Warri modern garage rail line has been completed, a new modern gauge rail line from Lagos to Ibadan was awarded towards the end of last year, while the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri (eastern rail line) will start operation anytime from now."
Okupe maintained that under the Jonathan administration, 22 airports were earmarked for re-modelling and rehabilitation, of which 11 have been completed and commissioned.
"This comprises five new terminals in Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Enugu as well as six cargo terminals which will begin this year."
On tackling unemployment, Okupe said the administration has generated employment for 10,000 youths in each of the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the public works sector, and through the introduction of the Graduate Internship Scheme to create employment opportunities for at least 50,000 graduates annually and the creation of about two million direct and indirect jobs through various initiatives in the agriculture sector.
"This year, a Young Graduate Commercial Farmers Scheme will be launched by Mr. President to absorb 780,000 youths who will in turn employ between 4 and five persons to create about 4 million jobs in the first year," he stated.
Empirical evidence, Okupe added, has shown that the president has not only tackled the challenges he inherited, but has successfully solved many of them while those that remain is work in progress which will be resolved before the end of 2014.
"The repeated false claims by the opposition that the president is incompetent is not only untrue and obviously cannot be supported by facts, but is also part of the opposition strategy to present the government as not being effective so as to advance their selfish cause.
"Nigerians should therefore ignore these wild and baseless comments and team up with the silent and effective achiever, in the person of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
"Nigeria will never ever be the same again. Achievements and competence are always not judged by noise making, propaganda and deception which are the hallmarks of the Nigerian opposition," Okupe said.