Goodluck Jonathan: A True President of the Niger Delta? – By Haruna Manu IsahArticles, Columnists, Goodluck Jonathan (2010-present), Haruna Manu Isah, Niger Delta, NNP Columnists, Presidency Sunday, October 16th, 2011
By Haruna Manu Isah, Kaduna, Nigeria – October 16, 2011 - Nigeria has about 160million population. This qualified it to be the 8th most populous nation in the world and surprisingly the 32nd biggest economy in the world, but today is saddened by the burden of inept leadership. When, in 2010, former U.S ambassador to Nigeria, john Campbell in his article tilted “Dancing on the Brink” opined that president Jonathan would probably be the last president of a united Nigeria, only a few took his words very seriously. The man, Campbell cited some fault lines in the socio-political architecture of Nigeria. Some writer even asked menacingly “which cabal, clique or mafia does he belong to?, obviously referring to John Campbell’s postulations. I, for one, shuddered when the now about 68 years old, former US Ambassador to Nigeria, ventilated such grave misgivings about the continue existence of our dear country as one united and indivisible entity. I took the Ambassador’s verbiage with some pinch of salt.
With the risk of sounding pessimistic, this air of doubts began to disappear and fizzle away with ferocious speed immediately our revered president Jonathan assumed the mantle of leadership, first as acting president and more so as substantive president on May 29 2011. What triggered this seeming pessimism hinges from the nepotistic appointment of the president’s kinsman as the National Security Adviser, to the defense, by the president himself, of MEND’S dastardly bombing at the eagle square on the October 1st 2010. Equally, how can one eschew such pessimistic thoughts when even the DG SSS’s single qualification is the fact that he is from Niger Delta, and that the Chief of Army Staff’s additional qualification is that he is married to the cousin of the first lady. Thanks to Dr Junaid Mohammed in his most revealing interview in The Sun newspaper of October 9, 2011.
Now, the president grandstanding on his proposed single term of six or seven years did not appear to most Nigerians as product of cogent thoughts. One begin to wonder, how can a president of a country, described most appropriately as a sleeping giant, bedeviled by so many security challenges, infrastructural decay, systemic corruption and disregard for law and order be advocating for a additional single term barely less 100 days into the office?. But let’s be charitable to this administration. Agreed, that most of these problems did not start during the life of this government, but that is what leadership is all about. A leader inherits national problems and device solutions to them. A leader does not shift blames! A leader must know the challenges before him and find ways of circumventing them without compromising the current needs of the peoples he rules over. This most definitely needs a lot of political will, which is obviously in short supply in the present crop of leaders from the bottom to the top. Sadly, this more than anything else makes a big nonsense of the administration quest for transformation.
Look, if the recent media reports are anything to go by, then, one can safely ask on whether Goodluck Jonathan is truly a president of Niger Delta or a president of Federal Republic of Nigeria?. As reported in the Daily Trust of 10 October, 2011 that about 86% of Federal Government projects from March to August 2011, were allocated in spatial terms to the Niger Delta region, home to our duly elected president. These 86% of FG projects represent about N760billion. This, one can equally conclude that excludes huge sums of money being spent in the training and empowerment of Niger Delta militants and not so-militants alike , in Nigeria and abroad, while other equally restive and jobless youth in other parts of the country watch mouths agape. And a cross check indicates that about 75% are being trained abroad. These are probably sacred apples of our time!
A close look at this 86% of FG projects allocated to the Niger Delta shows that the Ministry of Niger Delta got 28 projects at the total sum of N408 billion, and as the name implies, is strictly for the Niger Delta region. The Ministry of Niger Delta was first conceived by Atiku Abubakar in his manifesto in an attempt to participate in a presidential contest in 2007, but was actualized by the late President Yar’adua because of the need to ensure fairness in governance, which is lacking in today’s leadership of the country. Equally the Ministry of Power got N333 billion to execute projects in the region just as the Niger Delta Development Commission received the sum N23.7 billion to execute 10 projects in the same region.
This is not the crux of the matter. The entire 19 Northern states were reluctantly given N16.4 billion worth of projects and more disappointingly, the entire 6 states of North central geo-political zone received zero allocation of projects from March to August, 2011. Or so the reports said!. In view of these scary developments, yours sincerely was forced, for the first time to check the records of votes scored by the PDP in the six states of the North central zone during the last April polls. According to the records, in the entire North central geo-political zone, PDP, under whose platform Goodluck/Sambo contested, had its least scores only from Niger state with 31.54% of the total valid votes cast. In kwara state, the PDP scored 64.68%,Kogi, 71.17%, Benue,66.31%,Nasarawa, 58.89% and in Plateau state, the Goodluck/Sambo ticket garnered 72.98%. Yet this zone that featured prominently in the PDP score card in the last presidential election could not get even a mere mention in the projects distribution card of the president. Although, charity as the saying goes starts at home anyway!.
Well, being not too good at arithmetic, but it can be discerned that the entire projects were shared on the bases of 43:7, skewed in favor of Niger Delta while the rest of the country is left in doldrums in terms of projects allocation and execution. Fair enough!! If truth be told, this level of favoritism has never been displayed in the 51 years of our political independence by any Nigerian leader. I stand to be corrected!!!. Even though, one must agree with Rev. Mathew Kukah, that Nigeria has always been ruled largely by unprepared leaders. This glaring and choking favoritism occurred in less than six months and I am cocksure is being replicated in other sectors of our national economy. Whether Reuben Abatis of this world agree or not!!
Indeed, typical of media Assistant, the special assistant to the president on media and publicity rushed to the rescue and called the entire report bunkum. Dr Reuben Abati did not dispute the fact that there was 86% FG allocation to the president’s zone, but only went ahead to justify it. He argued that all the projects allocated were indeed approved by the late president Ya’adua. One may recall that when the most dreaded single term proposal came up, the presidency attributed it to the late president Yar’adua simply because he is dead!. Poor Ya’adua!!. But nobody care to tell us why the dredging of the river Niger was put to a hold, a project equally started by the late president?. Is okay to lied to the dead anyway, in this clime. Reuben Abati further states thus; ‘In furtherance of its unjustifiable attacks on the Jonathan’s administration, Daily Trust falsely claim that no project was assigned to the North central geo-political zone…….”. He concludes that ‘currently the North central geo-political zone has on going federal government projects valued at one trillion naira”. This writer cannot hold brief for the paper for it has the much needed competency to do so by itself, but one can only ask a very innocuous question; where are these projects located in the North central geo-political zone?. The media aide did not tell us that, so that we can verify such claims and subsequently give the government the much needed credit.
Now on a more worrisome note, this country cannot go anywhere an inch, if developmental projects are distributed by a president wearing regional lenses. The president needs a new set of handlers to re-focus, re-engineer, rebrand and repackage the administration, so as to face the herculean task of nation building. To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done!
Haruna Manu Isah
Al-Mustapha Consulting Limited.
U.B.A Building, Tudun wada
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