Monday, 6 October 2014

15 years of rebuilding Nigeria...

When the PDP first took over government, on the return of civil rule under the presidency of Chief Obasanjo in 1999, Nigeria was described as a country that appeared to be in a post-war situation, with decay and decadence everywhere. Power supply, railways, hospitals, road transportation, the maritime sector, the public service and the security services were all gasping for breath and requiring desperate intervention.
The country itself had a huge image problem and had been ostracised from the international system as a result of universal revulsion at the execution of a well-known playwright, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight others by the Sanni Abacha-led military junta.
Surely, the Obasanjo administration had its work cut out, but it did not shy away from the enormous challenges before it.  Rather, it set about confronting them and removing the debris of nearly 20 years of maladministration.
As a result of arduous and relentless diplomatic engagements, the Obasanjo administration, within its first year in office, changed Nigeria’s foreign policy status from that of a pariah nation to that of total re-integration, and even secured leadership of the G77 nations.
The administration brought about changes and reforms in every sector:  It initiated a revolution in the telecommunications sector, with the introduction of the GSM which brought tele-density from 1:400,000 to 1:100; created anti-corruption agencies such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), etc; pursued major civil services reforms, e.g. training and re-orientation, monetisation of benefits, etc; and upgraded six teaching hospitals (one in each zone) to world standards.
In addition, the PDP administration also increased funding and rehabilitation of universities and enhanced salaries for university teachers; reformed and modernised the military and other security services; rehabilitated the nation’s airports, privatised the aviation sector, etc; reformed and consolidated the banking sector, a development that led to the emergence eight out of 25 major banks, instead of over 100 mushroom banks.
It also rationalised job creation and poverty eradication institutions, under the umbrella of National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP); reformed and consolidated the insurance sector; and negotiated cancellation of Nigeria’s debts to the tune of $32 billion with the dedication of interests on external debt servicing to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The major achievement of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s short-lived tenure was the amnesty deal with the Niger Delta militants, after a debilitating crisis in the region with a high cost in human and material resources.
When President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan assumed power in 2011, the challenges confronting Nigeria were mainly developmental, especially in the areas of infrastructure and the evolution of socio-political institutions. The challenges were compounded by years of neglect, inadequate planning and execution.
The decay of infrastructure was at its peak when President Jonathan came to power: Power generation hovered around 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts in the country; most roads were impassable; petrol queues in the filling stations were commonplace; unemployment was at its highest, while only a few women occupied political appointments or were promoted to key positions in the public service. It is needless to mention that the scourge of corruption had ravaged the entire fabric of the Nigerian society. On the security sector, President Jonathan’s election was greeted by politically engineered violent protests, involving youths from some Northern states, followed by the outbreak of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Today, the PDP-led government under President Jonathan has recorded remarkable progress in all the sectors of the Nigerian public life, through his Transformation Agenda. His major stride in the privatisation of the power sector is a unique achievement, second only to that of the telecommunications sector of the Obasanjo administration. Despite the initial teething challenges, the results of President Jonathan’s reforms in the power sector are beginning to show, as generation has risen to well over 4,000 megawatts. Not only have the nation’s major highways improved, ongoing works can be seen in almost all parts of the country. Today, rail transportation, which had been comatose for decades, has been revived, with the Lagos – Kano route already in operation, while the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri service is expected to follow soon.
In other areas of social services; health, education, unemployment, women, youth, the physically challenged and other vulnerable persons, President Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda is already having positive impact. More than any government in Nigeria’s history, the health sector has received the highest funding in both primary and tertiary healthcare. It is the same in the education sector, especially tertiary education, into which the Jonathan administration is investing huge sums of money.
In job creation schemes, such as Sure-P, U-win and many others, investments in them are already yielding results and reducing unemployment, especially among Nigerian youths. Of course, there is hardly a Nigeria woman who would not admit that the Jonathan administration has done more than any other government for Nigerian women, who now aspire to 50 per cent representation, rather than the 30 per cent, which the Jonathan administration has surpassed.
Worthy of mention is the monumental achievements in the agriculture sector, particularly in the distribution of fertilisers, development in the production of rice, cassava and other Nigerian staples. It is not surprising that the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, was awarded the Forbes African of the year, 2013.
Developments in the agriculture sector are the diversifications needed to move the Nigerian economy away from its current dependence on oil. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Nigerian economy is now growing at an average rate of 6.5 per cent. Indeed, it is under the Jonathan administration that the economy has attained its highest rating on the international scene.
 Momodu, political analyst, sent this piece from Benin City, Edo State.

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