President Jonathan’s New Year Resolution By Olalekan Adetayo
It is a usual practice to hear people say what they will like to do or stop doing in the new year. Such is known more as new year resolution. Organisations too set targets for the year and work towards achieving them. While some people stand by their decisions and ensure they meet their resolutions, some others fall by the way side even early in the year.
President Goodluck Jonathan, not ready to be outshone by anybody, also rolled out his new year resolution on Tuesday. It was made available to Nigerians in form of a lengthy new year message.
One of our President’s resolutions is that he will do more in combating corruption. “We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages,” he said. I pray that Mr. President will not fail on this.
Jonathan has also realised that cost of governance in Nigeria is too high. He has therefore resolved to reduce it this year. Specifically, he said foreign travels would be further reduced. “Foreign travels by government personnel will be further curtailed. This directive shall apply to all ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government. Our strategy to curb leakages will increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as biometrics and digitising government payments,” he declared.
Can he walk the talk? That was not the first time that Jonathan would be speaking publicly on the need to drastically reduce foreign travels. He had promised on the heels of the protest that trailed the fuel subsidy removal in 2012 that his foreign trips would be reduced drastically.
“I have directed that overseas travels by all political office-holders, including the President, should be reduced to the barest minimum. The size of delegations on foreign trips will also be drastically reduced; only trips that are absolutely necessary will be approved,” the President had said. If the truth must be told, however, that reduction is yet to be seen.
In 2012, the year that the promise of reduction was first made, N684.74m was budgeted for Jonathan’s foreign travels. Based on that promise, one would have thought the sum budgeted for the same item the following year would reduce drastically. But lo and behold, the sum increased to N1.289bn in the 2013 budget.
In the 2014 Appropriation Bill currently before the National Assembly, the cost of the President’s foreign trip reduced slightly to N1.159bn. Vice President Namadi Sambo will spend N39m for the same purpose. These figures are apart from the N124m that is budgeted for foreign travels for the State House itself.
The President touched almost all the sectors in his new year resolution. On power, he promised Nigerians minimum of 18 hours uninterrupted power supply in a day! On housing, he raised the hope of tenants across the country by saying many of them would soon become landlords. “I am confident that very soon, many more hardworking Nigerian families will be able to realise their dream of owning a home,” he declared.
On health, the President said efforts would be intensified through the Saving One Million Lives initiative to strengthen primary health care services. He also promised to scale up interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, routine immunisation, HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases.
On education, he said because of his government’s commitment to making tertiary institutions true centres of learning, he would focus on upgrading hostels, laboratories, classrooms, and halls.
He said his government was determined to sustain its strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments, he said, would create more jobs for the nation’s youth.
Jonathan promised that government would at the same time continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in the growth and prosperity. The President said he would continue to prioritise investments in key sectors such as infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation.
They are quite mouthful. The new year is not only here, three days are already gone. So, the President and his cabinet members must hit the ground running in order to meet all these targets he set for himself.
Considering the fact that electioneering will get more attention from politicians this year ahead of the 2015 election, it is important that work should start now. I wish him goodluck (oh, that’s his name!) and I hope Nigerians will have patience (hmmm, his wife’s name too).
Events that will shape 2014
One of the major events that will shape 2014 in the Villa is the President’s declaration of interest in the 2015 presidential election. Despite the hue and cry among Peoples Democratic Party members, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo and some governors on his alleged promise not to seek re-election, Jonathan had kept his cool. He had insisted that he would only make his position on the matter known in 2014. The year has finally come.
He declared his interest in the 2011 presidential election on his Facebook page. So I see people (including my humble self) keeping vigil on his page in order not to be caught unaware. He may however decide to change method and use Twitter. He can also offer to do a public declaration. Whichever method he wants to adopt, Nigerians are waiting.
Another event that will shape things this year is the planned national conference. Jonathan had given an indication that the conference would hold as early as possible this year.
He had disclosed in his new year message that the report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Conference was undergoing urgent review and that the approved structure, guidelines and modalities for the conference would soon be published as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion.
“It remains our sincere hope and expectation that the success of the national conference will further enhance national unity, peace and cohesion as we move ahead to the 2015 general elections,” the President said.
The celebration of the 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation is also a big event that will shape the year. Some pre-anniversary programmes were held in 2013. The nation is no doubt going to celebrate big. It will be recalled that Jonathan had been telling those who cared to listen lately that the nation’s independence anniversary would continue to be celebrated in low-key until 2014 when the country would celebrate its centenary in a big way. So Nigerians, put on your dancing shoes because it is celebration time!
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