How President Jonathan Puts Money in Your Pocket By Reno Omokri
Transformation can be defined as a thorough and dramatic change in form or appearance, so when President Jonathan promised Nigerians a Transformation Agenda, it is easy to assess if he is delivering on his promise by checking to see if there has been a change in the form and or appearance of Nigeria and Nigerians.
In this short note, it will be impossible for me to address all the areas in which there has been transformation in the lives of Nigerians and Nigeria, however, permit me to direct the attention of Nigerians to the genesis of the Transformation Agenda even as I touch on just a few sectors in which transformation is apparent.
When President Goodluck Jonathan was campaigning for the votes of Nigerians between 2010 and 2011, he came up with a Transformation Agenda whose details were shared with Nigerians and uploaded unto the website of the National Planning Commission (please see www.npc.gov.ng).
There were many agenda in that document, and these were tied to dates, including amongst others, an agenda to build more universities as well as improve the ones in existence, an agenda to improve Nigeria’s power generating and transmission capacity and an agenda to improve on road, sea and air transport infrastructure.
So, how has the President fared in these? It is now common knowledge that the FG has set up and funded nine new universities spread across the six geo-political regions which are now functioning, and enough has been written about these by myself and others so I would not dwell on that.
But what about the other sectors?
If anybody had cared to read today’s papers, they would have found that 13 consortia had paid the 75% outstanding payments for the power generating and distributing companies that they bidded for successfully to the Bureau of Public Enterprises. What does that tell you? It shows that the president’s Roadmap to Power Sector Reforms are working. The power sector is being successfully privatized.
Now many Nigerians like to blame the government for inadequate power supply and cite incidences of the major Western powers and South Africa where the populace experience uninterrupted power supply. But what they fail to note is that in those nations, it is NOT the government that provides power. Rather it is the private sector, well regulated by the government that does so.
President Jonathan was aware of this fact and knew that insanity is not just confined to roving about the streets or a sanatorium stark raving mad. In fact, the most elementary form of insanity according to the genius, Albert Einstein, is for one to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results.
President Jonathan reckoned that if the government keeps on running the power sector it will be more of the same, so he fast tracked the power sector reforms and to prove his commitment and sincerity, he even let go of an effective minister whose presence made investors fear a conflict of interest.
Now, for the first time in history, Nigeria’s Gencos and Discos have been successfully privatized and you and I should know what that means. It means better days are coming. No private investor is going to allow his or her assets sit idly. He or she is going to run the company in a business like manner just as was done when the telecommunications industry was deregulated.
But the President is not stopping there. His administration is leaving no stone unturned and this year alone, seven power plants and 150 new sub-stations have already been completed and are awaiting commissioning.
Now, it is difficult to factor into the mind the effect of this breakthrough, but consider that one of these power stations which has gone into use already is the Agu-Awka power sub station. Now, hear what the All Progressives Congress, APC, flag bearer in the coming Anambra gubernatorial elections has to say about this feat.
Said Senator Ngige, “Agu-Awka power station is a new transmission line that is under a test-run and that explains why in the past three weeks, major parts of Awka capital territory have been enjoying uninterrupted power supply.”
Now, consider that 150 of such sub stations have been completed and are waiting for commissioning to provide power to more than 150 communities. If this is not “a thorough and dramatic change in form or appearance” then nothing else could be!
Imagine that in Nigeria we had in the past constantly failed to meet our education targets because 12 million children roam the streets of Nigeria as itinerant scholars known as Almajiri, who have no access to the formal education system.
Now, it is easy to blame the Federal Government, and this would be the reason why I championed a cause to get Nigerians to familiarize themselves with their Constitution. By virtue of the 1999 constitution as amended, primary education is devolved to the states and local governments.
But desperate illnesses require desperate remedies and President Jonathan did not say that since this responsibility does not fall on him he should do nothing. He felt that anybody that has the ability also has the responsibility and he decided to intervene and directed his ministers of education to use federal funds to build 400 schools for almajiris complete with hostels for the students and quarters for their Malams as well as science laboratories and Qu’ranic recitation halls.
As I write this, 153 of these schools have been completed and students are now in session. Now, you may say that this is just a drop in the ocean when you take into account that there are 12 million almajiris. However, if everyone had contributed his drop to the ocean in the years before Jonathan, there would not be such an alarming number!
And finally, as I close this short note, it is a notorious fact that the people of Southeastern Nigeria are probably the most mercantile people in the Nigerian federation, they like to trade and it has once been said that if you go to any part of the world and do not see an Igbo, then you must leave that place because it is uninhabitable! Yet, the Southeast had never had an international airport though its people are some of the most travelled of any people on the African continent.
President Jonathan again put on his thinking cap and began to plan to give the region an international airport. The Akanu Ibiam Airport in Enugu was upgraded, remodeled and today it stands proudly as an international airport. If you want to see “a thorough and dramatic change in form or appearance”, I recommend that you travel to Enugu this Saturday, the 24th of August to watch as an Ethiopian Airways plane takes off with passengers on the inaugural international flight from the Akanu Ibiam INTERNATIONAL Airport in Enugu.
Of course, it is easy for the opposition to scoff at this feat, but the ordinary Nigerian leaving in the Southeast knows what this means. Hitherto, they had to fork out sixty thousand Naira (N60,000) to fly to connecting airports before they could make their international flights. But today, they can spend that money on themselves and their families as President Jonathan puts money in their pockets.
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