As President Goodluck Jonathan prepares to mark his first 100 days in office, prominent Nigerians from different backgrounds and sections of the country have delivered a strong verdict on his administration; the level of insecurity in the country is unacceptable.
Although some of those interviewed also identified corruption and lack of a clear political focus as contributory factors to the prevailing scenario across the nation, they also insisted that protection of the welfare and security of Nigerians as enshrined in the Constitution was the primary responsibility of government.
In his own view, Mr Victor Umeh, the national chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) who spoke from London where he had gone to visit ailing Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, remarked that the President is still struggling to implement his programmes in various areas.
According to him, “ It is unfortunate that the past three months, which translate into President Jonathan’s first 100 days in office, have been marked with very serious instability in the country. It is obvious that some elements are out there doing everything possible to frustrate his administration. We believe that within these 100 days, the President has shown signs of implementing essential reforms that would restore stability in the country.”
He continued: “ The unceasing agitations and protests across the country should convince the president that there is need for a national dialogue. The President should as a matter of urgency design a programme to bring Nigerians to the discussion table. There is very little we can achieve when there is no peace in the country. A proper foundation for sustainable development would start with restoration of peace in the whole country. We had hoped that in the first 100 days, the President would have made statements in the area of pursuing a national dialogue which many people have called Sovereign National Conference (SNC). No matter how he intends to transform Nigeria, he would not be able to succeed except he has peace and the cooperation of the various groups and component parts that make up the country.”
Umeh further likened the situation in the country to that of a man who wants to build a fortress on the foundation of a sandy soil. According to him, “What Nigerians desire most is political stability and peaceful co-existence for the survival of the Nigerian project. There is need for the President to shore up confidence among the various component parts of the Nigerian federation. He needs to address these issues first before he can tackle the very essential economic reforms. Without doing this, the economic reforms cannot stand. The last three months have been marked with violent protests across the country. In the next 100 days, the President should come up with a comprehensive programme for tackling political reforms that would create the conducive environment for the implementation of the economic reforms.”
He further stated that Nigeria presently has structural and religious problems. “There are also problems of distrust among the federating units in the country. We can’t build a formidable nation without a foundation. The foundation will start with the arrangement of our co_existence; it has to be reworked. Our constitution needs to reflect the desires of our people both in the area of strengthening our democratic institutions, addressing the revenue sharing formula and structural imbalances which continue to elicit agitations. This must be done before we can address the issue of power supply, rehabilitation of roads and other infrastructure,” he concluded.
Second republic governor of Kaduna State and National Chairman Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa believes has not achieved anything yet.
Speaking last Thursday, he said could not see any achievement President Jonathan has made that is worth talking about apart from the regular payment of salaries and wages of Federal Government employees in the past 100 days.
Said he, “ I have not seen anything that has distinguished him as the nation’s President. This is what Nigerians expect from him. I don’t even see the possibility of his own party_ the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), allowing him to achieve anything.”
He continued: “In the first place, the party’s agenda is based on the pursuit of selfish interest of its members. For instance, their policies like commercialization and privatization have led to a lot of scandal that is responsible for the high level of corruption and waste. In this kind of environment, there is nothing that can be achieved. And there is no possibility of the PDP becoming a progressive or revolutionary party. This is what is required to change the situation in the country for the better. It is a frustrating situation for those who are working with him because they can’t achieve anything given this kind of environment.”
He advocated that the economic foundation that needs to be laid is to work towards ensuring that the state plays a major role in the economy. According to him, “ If you don’t deal with corruption in Nigeria, nothing can be achieved. For instance, from the regime of former Military President Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, there has been so much privatization. The question to ask now is what has come out of the privatization; it is only scandal.”
In his own remarks, former Governor of Edo State, Odigie Oyegun felt it was still too early to assess the President.
Said he: “ I think it is still too early to assess President Jonathan; I think that this tradition of 100 days assessment was created by the global media. Given a country like Nigeria which is faced with major and increasing challenges, it would be unfair to judge any administration based on a 100 days in office. All I can say is that the right things have been said in terms of speeches but we are still waiting for the situation in the country to be improved upon through concrete programmes and actions. But the earlier we start seeing that strong positive sense of direction, the better for the nation. We need to see something beyond the massive propaganda we have so far seen on television. I am going to withhold any judgment until further notice. I would not judge anybody based on speeches.”
He continued, “Given the present security situation in the country, the only thing one would have expected is a strong statement and a clear sense of direction on the part of the President. There are security intelligence problems. Before now we did not seem to have an efficient security intelligence system. There is no doubt that it would take time to unravel the brains behind what is going on in the country.”
He believes that with the body language of the President and those around him, the nation should start seeing that the administration is taking the issue of security very seriously.
“ We have heard recent stories of how security agents said they trailed some of those suspected of perpetrating terrorism in the country to Somalia and other places but the big question remains why they did not act before these elements were able to strike?” he asked.
He remarked that one of the problems the nations has faced is that the borders in the northern part of the country are very porous largely due to the religious factor.
Said he: “ But we have now started seeing that religion is being used as a cloak to hide a lot of evil things. For instance, some of these terrorists came in from Chad, Sudan, Niger, Somalia and other places like that. Now that we have been taught a bloody lesson, I hope the security situation would be tightened up substantially. I believe we shall see some concrete action in the next few weeks. “
Prof. Pat Okedinachi Utomi of the Lagos Business School, a former aide to second republic President Alhaji Shehu Shagari sounded very despondent about the situation in the country. He said he was not sure that anything had happened in the country that deserved commentary, adding that this period is one of the most challenging times in the history of this country.
Said he: “ In fact, I think that our country is dying; that is how I feel deep inside me. I have become increasingly reluctant to comment on certain issues. Some people would be very sensitive to these comments. Although I agree there is the need to talk about our nation, there is also the need to address issues with maturity.”
He continued: “ We have a crisis and there is no question about that. Why should you not be troubled if the President of the United States had to stop his vacation and go to face the cameras in order to make a statement about Abuja while our own President only responded to the bombing of the United Nations House by asking his Special Assistant on Media Dr. Reuben Abati to issue a statement.”
He posed a question: “But how are we going to solve this problem? In recent times, I have been involved in trying to see how I can involve younger people to approach these issues from a perspective that is different from my own mind_set. I would like to say that this generation of Nigerians is a per versed generation.”
He further opined that what our leaders should address as our national interest has not been adequately addressed because they have been extremely short-sighted about it as a result of their own self interest.
Said he: “What I can see is the coming revenge of the poor. What we are facing is a national crisis. We should get together and address what should be done before we get swallowed. Our institutions are all collapsing; our judiciary has almost become a laughing stock. The judiciary is supposed to be the last bastion of democracy in the country. I would prefer to work with people of fore_sight to address how we can save our country. Increasingly, I have been thinking that it is not the political class that would save Nigeria. Something has to come from outside of officialdom. We have not seen leadership in the last 100 days.”
Mr. Patrick Obahiagbon, who represented Oredo Federal Constituency (Edo State) in the House of Representatives between 2007 -2011 had this to say:
“The last 100 days of President Jonathan has smirked of Olympian phlegmatism and byzantine anchorage. The truth is that Nigerians are righteously indignant of the years of locusts that they are not in the mood to put up with any vacillation or vacuous rhetoric on issues that have to do with political_economy. I pray that Mr President responds prestissimo to the legitimate yearnings of our people, given the crest of goodwill upon which he ascended power.”
He continued: “ To move the nation forward, Mr President and his Ministers must put their political nose to the grindstone and be seised of the requisite spartan discipline to navigate our economy from the chess board of international monopoly finance quagmire. He must walk the walk rather than talking the talk on a vaudeville of issues such as power, youth employment, adequate security, an efficacious health-care delivery system, quality education, good network of roads etc etc.
“This is certainly not the time for Presidential braggadocio and Ministerial megalomania, reeking of depreciable and execrable attitudinal predilection towards the ragtag and bobtail.
“The recent bombing of the United Nations building in the heart of Abuja speaks volumes for the indubitable and diaphanous fact that there is an acatalectic failure of security intelligence just now. We are in fact enmeshed in a state of security monochromatic and coming on the heels of the bombing of the police headquarters even makes the situation a gargantuan mental pabulum for agitated Nigerians.
I have posited elsewhere that the security imbroglio we are enveloped in just now cannot be addressed aliunde the socio_political ambience, given the fouled and poisoned politics of the recent past. Whilst I continue to urge Mr President to be imbued with the wisdom of Solomon on this matter by doing the politically needful which has become a desideratum ,the country’s security machine must also be overhauled.”
In his own comments Mr Ken Ukaoha, National President National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANT) opined that the President needs to be applauded for his statement on transforming the Federal Government’s foreign policy to that of economic diplomacy.
“This is what we have shouted about over the years. With this new policy thrust, foreign policy has been linked to investment by Nigerians in other countries around the world. The seriousness demonstrated by the Jonathan administration in the pursuit of this objective through the instrumentality of the Eminent Persons Group is commendable,” he said.
He also commended the President for the creation of Ministry of Trade and Investment, adding that so far, the Ministry has been trying to formulate a Trade Policy for the nation.
“This is a commendable initiative. I believe these policies are inspired by the Vision 20-20-20 agenda”, he said.
But he pointed out that if the security situation across the country was not addressed investors would surely be driven away.
Said he: “If the current bombings that have been carried out by terrorists continue in the country, we would be chasing away investors. This is because if there is no security in the country, there would be no attraction to investors. So, Mr President and his security chiefs have to take a serious look at the security situation in the country.”
Barrister Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa opined that Jonathan’s administration is slow and disappointing. “Generally, 100 days is not enough to judge the performance of a person. He is there to fulfill the administration of his predecessor, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Therefore, the system is not new to him.
The truth of the matter is that his administration is slow, woeful and disappointing. I believe his administration is sleeping. It is only waking up after the UN bomb blast, Boko Haram and militantancy had taken over the country. He should fulfill his election mandate including employment, security and rights of the people.
For Alhaji Yerima Shettima, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, the hundred days of President Jonathan doesn’t call for any celebration. “There is nothing really to celebrate. There are lots of challenges in terms of security, education and therefore there is no reason to celebrate. We are only thanking God that the country is united. The major problem is security. He must have political will and determination to carry this country along and that is what will go along way in his administration.”
Umar Abubakar said Jonathan inherited lots of problems which might be difficult for him to tackle within a short period. “It is short a time to access any government but so far, I think Jonathan inherited a lots of problems and it will take time for him to begin to solve that. We are looking at security and there should be a more concerted efforts in the national security in the country. On the issue of corruption, I think the agency needs to be more serious in the war against corruption. So far, what they do is advertise their efforts to curb corruption.
But the reality on ground is that corruption is still growing. There is too much corruption in the public sector, public servants and the rest of the society. Senior public servants are busy accumulating stupendous wealth to the detriment of the larger society.
On the issue of national unity, I want to disabuse the minds of Nigerians that no section of the country is meant to disintegrate Jonathan’s government. All sections have their strong and weak points in terms of human and material resources. People should assist government to bring about national unity for the good of all.
When you look at the issue of Boko Haram, there are people that are advertising that some elites are using the group to destroy Jonathan’s government. Boko Haram wasn’t established during Jonathan’s regime but during late Umaru Yar’Adua’s regime. Therefore, government should not accept that line of thought. The security forces must not be diverted.