Last Saturday when the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, announced the shift in the dates of the general elections from February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11, reactions trailed the pronouncement. While some viewed it as a welcome development, others saw it as defeatist just as many shrugged it off and remained indifferent. However, within a short time, President Goodluck Jonathan’s popularity soared as lobbiyists for his second term in office appear to be doing a better job this time.
Expectedly, all the affected stakeholders see that as an opportunity to re-strategise with a view to either consolidate on the covered grounds or expand the frontier for brighter electoral chance.
This is the case for the two main contending parties in the election-the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). While President Goodluck Jonathan is candidate of the PDP, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari is running on the platform of the APC. Since Saturday, some members of the opposition parties have been accusing both the Presidency and the PDP-led Federal Government of ‘shoddy’ preparation which, they said, led to the shift in the election dates.
Service Chiefs are not also spared for telling Jega that they could not secure voters in the North-East if the elections were allowed to hold as earlier scheduled. The reactions and counter reactions, seem to have deepened the belief that in certain quarters that, should the elections hold, Jonathan, being a democrat, as well as his party, PDP, would win the presidential election.
The reason is not farfetched, Nigerians have continued to clamour for his second term in office.
There is no arguing the fact that he is the most experienced democratically among the other 10 candidates. It is an undisputable fact that he rose through the ranks since 1999 when democracy debut in the national polity. He was deputy governor in Bayelsa State, acting governor, governor, vice president, acting president and then president. Talk of complete political metamorphosis and you would not be wrong.
This, according to the bundits, shows that, no Nigerian is more qualified to lead the country with this credentials, despite the campaign of calumny against Jonathan by opposition leaders.
Because of this, several groups across the country have been in the vanguard of the call for his re-election.
But some people are still asking: Has the President done enough to be rewarded with another term in office?
To former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Alhaji Muhammed Abba-Gana, who has been in public affairs of this country since 1979, Jonathan’s second term in office would not take anything away from northerners –Abba-Gana
He debunked the insinuations that the North is against Jonathan’s re-election this year, asserting that, “the North is not against President Jonathan because there are several well respected northern leaders the media may not know but are supporting him.”
He is of the view that, “there is nothing wrong in allowing President Jonathan to complete his eight years for fairness,” reminding that, “the north has produced about eight or nine former heads of state of this country and it did not take away poverty from the North.”
Since democracy is having the majority having its way and minority having its say, it is obvious the majority, who wants Jonathan back in Aso Rock, Abuja, will have their way on March 28.
The president’s re-assurance that May 29 is sacrosanct has also endeared him to many voters.
To the Niger Delta Youth Observers (NDYO), the President deserves a second term in office because since Jonathan assumed office five years ago, Nigeria has witnessed tremendous growth and development in every sector of the economy.
The outcome of the rebased economy is a clear indication of this and Nigerians will start feeling the good impact of this economic policy soon.
NDYO, speaking through its National President, Mr. Arthur Warefa and Secretary, Ogie Samson, said: “President Jonathan’s transformation programme has impacted positively on the lives of Nigerians through rapid development across the country.”
The Supervising Minister of Information, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammad, also said President Jonathan deserves another term in office to consolidate on the gains so far recorded through the implementation of the Transformation Agenda.
Muhammad said that through the creative management of the economy, Nigeria emerged as the fastest growing economy in Africa, with an inflation rate of eight per cent, against 12 per cent when the President came into power, adding that the micro and macro-economic framework introduced by the President and his consistency in policy implementation had boosted investors’ confidence in the economy, attracting over $65 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Other sterling performance of the President, which the minister said should earn Jonathan re-election, include the provision of infrastructure across the country, which he described as unprecedented, the construction of 62 roads, covering 25,000 kilometres, revival of the railways, introduction of the standard gauge rail-line, construction of 10 power plants, establishment of 12 universities and over 125 Almajiri schools.
Muhammad said through the purposeful leadership provided by the president, the nation was mobilised to defeat the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and contained the spread of polio from 300, when Jonathan came to power, to just six reported cases last year.
To former captain of the national team, the Super Eagles, Joseph Yobo, Jonathan deserves re-election to continue “the good work he started.”
Yobo said: “The president has done so well. The youth now have their own power, they have their own beliefs and they should understand that they have their rights in their own hands. They should follow what Mr. President has started.”
Political observers have also adduced other reasons Jonathan deserves re-election.
They argued that since taking office as president, Jonathan has not acted overbearingly towards political leaders, unlike some of his predecessors in office. Jonathan’s thoughtful approach in this regard has strengthened Nigeria’s democracy.
Analysts also argued that Jonathan’s cerebral, thoughtful and deliberative approach to national issues during his presidency, had nurtured the country’s nascent democracy to establish strong roots that can withstand any attempt at truncating it by subversion.
Under the Jonathan presidency, it has also been argued that distribution of federal resources, appointments and projects, has been even, with no geo-political zone, alleging marginalisation.
The South-East, which has been crying of marginalisation all the years since after the civil war, has enjoyed, among others, the Enugu International Airport, the refurbished Owerri Airport, the Onitsha River Port, the Oguta River Port, the second Niger Bridge, the new federal university in Ebonyi State, the 13th Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Ohafia, the courageous appointment of General Ihejirika as the first post-Civil War Igbo-born Army Chief of Staff and the free trade zone in Enugu to bring the South-East at par with sister geopolitical zones, which were awarded free trade zones by previous administrations.
In the South-West, there are: The newly operational Lagos-Kano rail line, the new federal university in Oye Ekiti, the remodelled Murtala Muhammed Airport, ongoing rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Shagamu-Ore Expressway, the expansion of the ports in Lagos, among others.
The most significant federal presence in the South-South zone is the curbing of militant activism, which has increased crude oil production by about 50 per cent, new federal university in Bayelsa State, rehabilitation of the Asaba-Benin Expressway, remodeling of the Port Harcourt International Airport, the Benin Airport and the Margaret Ekpo Airport in Calabar.
The North is not also left behind as it benefits in the Police University at Wudil, Kano State; remodelling of the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, establishment of over 200 model schools for underprivileged Almajiri kids, rehabilitation of the Tiga Dam in Kano, and the Sabke Dam in Katsina to boost agricultural production in the North-West; ten new federal universities located at Lokoja, Lafia, Kashere, Wukari, Dutsin-Ma, Dutse, Gashua, Birnin Kebbi, Gusau; the Abuja to Kano modern standard gauge rail line, ongoing work on a gas power plant in Kaduna, current construction of the Zungeru Power Plant in Niger State; the Mambilla Hydro Electric Power project; and the dualization and rehabilitation of the Kano-Katsina Road, Kano-Maiduguri Road, Kano-Zaria-Kaduna Abuja Road, and Abuja-Minna Road, among many others.
Alhaji Gidado Ibrahim of the Northern Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, in a publication in The Nation newspaper of January 14, 2014 said: “In terms of development, no one can honestly dispute the fact that President Jonathan has done more for the North in four years than any government led by a Northerner since the end of General Yakubu Gowon’s administration.”
Others also believe that the success recorded by the National Conference organised by the Jonathan administration, for the first time since independence, is also another reason Jonathan should be given the opportunity of a second term in office.
Also, Director-General of Grassroots Democratic Institute (GDI), Prince Maxwell Phillips Igwe, while throwing his weight behind Jonathan re-election, said that what Jonathan has put on ground to totally transform the country economically, politically and socially earns him a re-election.
Igwe said re-electing Jonathan would enable him continue and complete his transformation agenda, which he said has transformed the Nigerian landscape in virtually all sectors of national life.
Source: Sun News