Jonathan: Changing Times And Tide,By Daniel Alabrah



President-Goodluck-jonathan 600A well-known Nigerian church leader once stunned a large gathering of worshippers when he said that each time he stood before the pulpit and prayed blessings and miracles upon the flock, he saw what others did not see. He claimed that when, for instance, he pleaded God to open the eyes of the blind, he believed without any shadow of doubt the healing had taken place because during the prayer he would see someone not visible to others performing the miracle. He said that was what always gave him the assurance that the healing had taken place.
In other words, while those who did not see what the man of God saw doubted, he needed not to doubt. He believed his prayers had been answered even if there was no instantaneous evidence. He had faith to believe because he could see the evidence – the presence of an invisible Being made visible to him in the midst of multitudes.
We are witnessing the secular or physical parallel of this on the political scene in Nigeria. While naysayers are stuck to the same spot they pitched their camp yesterday and are viewing the Dr Goodluck Jonathan Presidency with jaded and discarded parameters, a great number of citizens and interest groups are looking deeper and farther to see what the pessimists are not seeing. Whereas there is a fresh awakening prompting the adjustment of views about President Jonathan, some of our compatriots are still wearing disoriented spectacles to watch the man.
In the past few weeks, groups that had hitherto stood on the fence or had distanced themselves altogether from the President, who had declared that they would look elsewhere for another candidate in the presidential poll in 2015, have suddenly turned in a new verdict: Dr Jonathan will be the man to beat in 2015 if he decides to re-contest! They are even asking those not in their new camp to join them.
To be sane, they are seeing what others are not seeing in the manner of the cleric at the beginning of this piece. I am referring to the South-West politicians, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership, the South-East, the North Central, the South-South, and the North-East among several others who have unanimously endorsed Jonathan for the 2015 presidential election.
Another prominent group, the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) led by the respected former Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, has endorsed Jonathan for a second term. The group declared recently after a two-day meeting in Lagos: ” …the Assembly passes a vote of confidence on Mr President and notes that within the realm of constitutionality, nothing inhibits him to seek re-election if he so desires.”
Also, founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun, has joined those calling for a second term for the President. He had been critical about his administration but today he says Dr Jonathan “should be given enough time to prove his mettle.” According to him, “we all talk about Jonathan, (but) he is not responsible for our ill luck. These problems have been building up for decades and are the results of problems of the activities of past governments. Jonathan is not a magician. The problems that have built up for decades, you wouldn’t expect Jonathan to come up and solve them all. And Nigerians are not giving him the opportunity to have the peace of mind to deal with the problems. During the (2011) election, certain people said they were going to make the country ungovernable for him. Is the country governable now?”
Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and respected Second Republic Senator, Bode Olowoporoku, have also thrown in support for an encore for Jonathan in 2015 with the latter saying: “Jonathan’s adoption (for 2015) is a good omen for the country … This is the first time the minority will have the opportunity to rule the country. Therefore his adoption for a second term would be a welcome development … It is the minority who do not want Nigeria to scatter. The other major ethnic groups had one time or the other threatened the unity of Nigeria. Therefore giving him the opportunity of second term is a good one.”
It is obvious that these groups and notably the prominent individuals who are not given to frivolity would not risk their hard-earned image and name to be rubbished by a plunge into the camp of the Jonathan enterprise if they did not believe in him as worthy of support. So what are they seeing that is moving them to put complete trust in Dr Jonathan’s Presidency?
First, let us throw away our skewed thinking caps blocking us from noticing the positive changes in our nation under this government. Secondly, let us desist from misanthropic criticism that seeks to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And, thirdly, let us admit that President Jonathan is operating in a war-like situation where the gains you make are only discernible after you have contained the enemy.
Those who laud the President have exorcised these demons from their souls and are now able to see the grounds the country has covered under the present administration.
Today, the amnesty deal for former agitators in the Niger Delta is being applauded as highly successful. Prior to this scheme, youths that were bent on fighting the state with the last drop of blood because they believed they had nothing to lose, have today, thanks to the Presidential Amnesty Programme being executed by the Jonathan administration, being given hope for a better tomorrow.
Rail transportation, which had been abandoned by successive governments, has been revived under this government. The Lagos to Kano route, which some thought would never be revived in their life-time, is back and now functional. Gradually, the stress on the roads as well as the time, road accidents and the economic challenges of hauling goods between the South and North is being reduced.
It is doing more: uniting the country. According to a citizen who enjoyed a train ride from Lagos to Kano, “I see all of us as passengers – Nigerians whether Northerner, Southerners, Christian or Muslim. Everybody is the same – we are just one … Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, with the help of the train we become friends.”
The same success story is being recorded in road construction and renovation. Mileages are being covered to improve the movement of goods and provision of services across Nigeria’s vast land space. Interestingly, the biggest beneficiaries of these federal projects are indigenous contractors. True, foreign firms are involved in juicy contracts. But, unlike in the past, local companies are now major players in the road construction sector.
How about power? The Federal Government has commenced plans to generate additional 4,000 megawatts of electricity from coal. This will eliminate our dependence on the erratic traditional sources of hydropower and natural gas.
The agriculture sector has also witnessed pacy developments with immense benefits to millions of farmers. The two biggest initiatives are the move to repeal the Land Use Act of 1978 to free land for massive investment in agriculture as well as the revolutionary plan to launch “Nagro-preneurs” to involve about 760,000 young commercial farmers (graduates) from the universities. According to the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, “this new generation of farmers will take Nigeria well into the future with efficient and competitive agricultural sector. It is a presidential initiative.”
It is policies of this nature that recently earned Nigeria an international award in the war against hunger.
All these constitute critical intervention in critical sectors of the socio-economic and political segments of the polity. Serious-minded observers have noted them as salutary developments and interjections that cannot be ignored. Those who see these with unbiased eyes, who previously sat on the fence, are now jumping into the field, saying the man behind these transformation projects deserve to be saluted not contemned. They cannot be wrong in the face of the overpowering evidence everywhere.
.Alabrah is Head of Media and Communication, Presidential Amnesty Office, Abuja

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