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Non-Governing Governance (3 of 4): A Mountain Of Promises By Sonala Olumhense*

Starting next Sunday, you could call Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan the Busiest Man in the World, or BMW.  That is the day the clock will start ticking for him until May 2015 when his successor is expected to be sworn in. 

Starting next Sunday, you could call Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan the Busiest Man in the World, or BMW.  That is the day the clock will start ticking for him until May 2015 when his successor is expected to be sworn in. 

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As everyone now knows, as the presidential elections approached, Jonathan was overflowing with promises.  The first category of promises applied to the general issues.  He promised such things as electricity, security, jobs, and education, as well as to transform the economy and combat corruption.
The second concerned specific strategic “plans”:

•    A five-year plan to revolutionize agriculture and establish industries in the country (Oturkpo, Benue State February 17);

•    A four-year development plan that would open up the South-South geo-political zone (Calabar, Cross River State, March 7); it includes a blueprint for coastal roads and railways;

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•    A five-year development plan to accelerate development in the country (Asaba, 25 February);

•    Roads and other basic infrastructure to be developed in four years (Akure, March 2).

•    Road construction to take new five-year structure, ending yearly budgetary allocations (Ibadan, February 9);

•    Five-year strategic plan for road projects (Bida, February 22).

•    A holistic review of the nation’s our education policy (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, March 12)

Dispensing the third category of promisory notes, Jonathan seemed determined to give unto each Nigerian in the next four years and sometimes right away, a remarkable slice of fulfillment, with promises that teased and tantalized.  Here, in state by state order, are a few:

In Aba on February 12, he promised to stamp out kidnapping; provide facilities that would boost the enterprising spirit of the Igbo; upgrade the Enugu airport to international level; dredge the River Niger; build a dry port in Aba for Igbo businessmen; complete the Second Niger Bridge; rehabilitate all the main roads into Abia; tackle the erosion crisis; and make Aba the Ground Zero of eventual aircraft production in Nigeria. 

In Uyo on March 7, he promised to build coastal roads and rail from Lagos to Calabar. 

In Awka on Feb 26, he said he would construct all the major roads which link Anambra with its neighbors; complete the ongoing aero-dynamic survey of gas in the Anambra River basin, which [leading to] power supply, then Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry”; complete the second Niger Bridge; and complete the Onitsha Inland Port.  Nigerians would not be talking about generators after his four years in office, he vowed.

In Bauchi on February 9, he promised to intensify oil and gas exploration in the North-East Zone; boost agriculture, power and water supply; provide dams and power projects; establish two universities in the region; construct schools with modern facilities for 9.5 million Almajiris; and combat rising terrorism in the area.

In Asaba on February 26, he announced that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation would create jobs for over 5,000 youths in the region; promised to transform the Nigerian oil and gas industry and make it the destination of choice for investors in Africa; convene a stakeholders meeting across the country where communities will be able to determine their priority programmes.
In Dutse, on March 17: Jonathan promised to establish airports in all the states without airports, with Jigawa as his starting point.

In Abakaliki on Feb 25, he promised the South East geo-political zone priority attention, especially in fixing its dilapidated road network and in healthcare delivery; dualize the Enugu-Abakaliki Express Road within one year; convert the Federal Medical Centre in Abakaliki to a teaching hospital.

In Enugu on February 12, he promised to stamp out kidnapping, ensure facilities that would enhance the enterprising spirit of the Igbo; upgrade the Enugu airport to international level; dredge the River Niger; build a dry port in Aba for easy access to Igbo traders; and complete the Second Niger Bridge.
In Birni Kebbi on March 20, he promised to establish schools for Almajiris, boost agricultural produce, ensure the take-off of the Federal University in Kebbi next year. 

In Lokoja on February 21, he promised to revive the Ajaokuta Steel Complex and the Itakpe Iron Ore Company; explore the agricultural potential of the state to boost food security; establish a new federal university; ensure the speedy completion of the Lokoja-Abuja road project, and dredge the lower and upper River Niger.

In Ilorin also on Feb 21, Jonathan promised to end discrimination along ethnic and religious lines; tackle poverty; agricultural transformation of Kwara State; rehabilitation of the nation’s railway system; rehabilitation of the Ilorin-Mokwa road.  He would also revitalize ailing industries and grant loans to farmers (objectives for which, he said, funds had already been earmarked).

In Lafia on February 7 at the North Central Zone launching of his campaign, Jonathan promised to end chronic power shortages; improve health and education; ensure food self-sufficiency; manage oil revenues better; create a Sovereign Wealth Fund.  He would also clampdown on kidnappers and criminals; pursue law breakers to the ends of the Earth, and ensure there would be no sacred cows.  He guaranteed a university in every state; proper care for communities along the water ways; and construction of a refinery.

In Lagos on February 28, Jonathan promised to partner with Lagos State in the interest of its continuous growth and the nation’s economic buoyancy. “We have taken this period to study what we are going to do and by your mandate in May 29, we will hit the ground running,” he said.

In Jos on February 17, he promised “a straight fight” against poverty; to create wealth by improving power and water supply; to build more dams and complete ongoing ones in order to boost irrigation farming in Plateau; to complete the Vom-Manchok-Jos road to boost economic links between Plateau and Kaduna states; to encourage more agricultural research institutes; refocus on solid mineral development.

In Minna on Feb 15, he promised to establish three power projects in the state at a cost of $2.1bn (about N315bn).

In Port Harcourt on February 12, at the launching of his South-South Campaign, he promised to commence “transformational changes” in the South-South; said the NNPC had begun investing in the petrochemical industry in the region; that the people in the region would be given a voice in the oil and gas sector.  He promised to make the Niger Delta region the hub of the petrochemical industry in Africa.

In Abeokuta, on March 12, he promised to revive the railway system; revive ailing refineries; build new refineries.

In Akure on March 2, Jonathan promised that the bitumen deposits in the state would be exploited for economic development and employment generation; to provide funds for small and medium scale enterprises, mechanised farming and agro-based industries; and to partner with relevant agencies to harness the agrarian nature of the State “to open up the flank of semi and mechanized farming in the State to engender a paradigm shift from subsistence farming to reliable modern agricultural practices.”

In Osogbo on March 2, he promised to complete the Lagos-Jebba rail project right away; complete the Ife-Ijesa dam; enhance agricultural irrigation; provide farmers with adequate information; invest in petrochemicals, mining, research and development.

In Ibadan on February 9, at the SouthWest launch of the campaign, he promised to: run a transparent government; treat all citizens equally; respect law and order; turn around the nation's bad road network.
In Gusau on March 15, he promised to establish a federal university of technology within one year.

Jonathan’s fourth and final confetti carton of promises seemed designed to overwhelm anyone who had not yet folded under the avalanche:

•    N50 billion set aside in 2011 Budget to facilitate employments for the youths (Ondo, March 2);

•    build car manufacturing or assembly plants (meeting with leaders of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Abuja, March 21);

•    Revive ailing oil refineries and build new ones (Abeokuta, March 12)

•    Collaborate with state governments to explore the solid minerals sector (Gusau, March 15);

•    Spend N350 billion in building small dams across the North in the next four years to stimulate “massive irrigational farms” (Northern Economic Summit, Kaduna, March 19);

•    Expand and develop the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry to provide about one million jobs (one-man presidential “debate,” March 31, Abuja);

•    Make Nigeria an exporter of rice (Presidential Summit on Job Creation, Abuja, April 12);

•    Crackdown on piracy in the entertainment industry (Presidential Summit on Job Creation, Abuja, April 12)

This is an abbreviated description of Jonathan’s election campaign which seemed designed to tell the immediate listener whatever he wanted to hear, and to ensure he receives the keys to the presidential palace and the Central Bank next Sunday. 

I have saved his most memorable promise, made in Onitsha on February 27, for last: "I do not make empty promises in my campaign because whatever I promise to do, I had already carried out adequate study to make sure I can accomplish it in the next four years." 

I can’t wait.  National anthem, please.
•    [email protected]*

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