By Dan Amor
The Federal Capital Territory FCT, Abuja was literally shut down Saturday October 18, as the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria TAN rounded off its nationwide rallies with the Grand Finale at the Eagles Square. The crowd was unprecedented and the atmosphere seductive even as the weather which hitherto was heralded by an early morning rain suddenly became summarily bright. In attendance were very important government officials including the Vice President, Arc. Namadi Sambo who represented President Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who represented the Senate President, Dr. David Mark, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba. Others include Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Governors Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa, Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna, Ag. Governor of Taraba Umar Garba, Bala Ngilari of Adamawa.
Ministers that came include Osita Chidoka, Aviation; Prof. Chindu Nebo, Power; Emeka Nworgu, Labour; Dr. Akinwunmi Ishola, Agriculture; Mike Onolemenem, Works, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Petroleum; Bala Mohammed, FCT and his Minister os State, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide. Hassan Adamu of the Nigerian Shippers Council was also there. Others are Alhaji Bello Haliru, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammed, and a host of others. The climax was the handing over of 17.8million signatures collated from TAN zonal rallies urging President Jonathan to seek reelection come 2015 and the unveiling of the man behind TAN, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah who has single-handedly funded the organization from inception till date, and his Directors.
In the past six months of its stringent activism in the advocacy space during which it has successfully dwarfed all superlatives, TAN has been unambiguous as to what it stands for. No doubt,the organization has consistently told Nigerians that as a public trust, it will surely outlive even the Goodluck Jonathan administration especially in the arduous task of moving Nigeria to the next level as we strategize towards the next one hundred years of our great country. From public advocacy and media campaigns on television, radio, print and social media, TAN has consistently confronted Nigerians with verifiable facts of President Jonathan’s achievements in the past three years of his first term. Having done that with tremendous success, TAN, as a mass-oriented organization with a drive to ignite grassroots participation in politics therefore has no choice than to get into the field and have a feedback from the people to the government. This is to fulfill the age long maxim that information is a two-way process.
There was even a time when the President himself confessed that he couldn’t sleep due to attacks by critics who would not appreciate all his efforts at changing things in the country. He said that he was the most investigated President in the world, but that he would soon be one of the most celebrated. Whereas Mr. President took a resolution to make a difference and signed a performance bond with his ministers, aides and key appointees, skeptics were busy maligning him as being “clueless” ; but he was soon to confound the bookmakers and pundits that he is focused. Sector after sector, Mr. President demonstrated a commitment to service. TAN, having resolved to be part of the unfolding history decided to investigate the achievements of the Jonathan administration, and the revelation was starling even to the hitherto doubting Thomases. Besides being rule of law-compliant President, he guaranteed freedom of the Judiciary and made some of the most decisive appointments in the Judiciary. It was he that appointed the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria; the first female President of the Court of Appeal; and ensured a comprehensive judicial reform in Nigeria. In the Transport sector, the Jonathan Administration established a new Maritime University in Oron, Akwa Ibom State; it established an Aviation Institute in Ogbaru, Anambra State; he got the moribund Nigeria Railways rehabilitated, procured 25 new locomotives and 200 coaches refurbished and now functioning across the country.
The administration has increased access to portable water and has constructed and rehabilitated 61 dams. It has also doubled irrigated farmland for enhanced food production, and this has led to over 35 per cent reduction in food import in three years. Jonathan has increased Silo Capacity by 400 per cent and over 6 million Nigerian farmers are on database. Introduction of e-wallet has facilitated input delivery. This is an unprecedented revolution in the Agriculture Sector. His administration’s achievement in the Education sector is even more pronounced as he will go down in history as the first Nigerian leader to have established 12 Federal Universities in one fell swoop. He modernized Almajiri schools to rehabilitate the downtrodden and scum of society who were hitherto exploited and used by politicians to perpetrate violence in the society. The administration has enhanced girl-child education while instituting Presidential scholarship to 25 top universities globally. Under Jonathan, 7,500 lecturers have been sponsored for postgraduate studies while the annual enrollment capacity at National Open University of Nigeria has reached a record 250,000 and laboratories in 51 Federal universities are rehabilitated. Also, 72 Federal Government Colleges have been provided with state-of-the-art libraries. Jonathan is the most supportive president of the automobile industry having provided investment-friendly automotive policy which has enhanced local manufacture of vehicles in Nigeria. The just concluded National Conference which the administration husbanded is the best assemblage of Nigerians of all walks of life to have gathered to discuss freely the state of the nation without inhibition or no-go areas from any quarters.
More than any other administration in the annals of the country, this government has invested heavily in the aviation industry. There is now total radar coverage nation-wide even as five new terminals are under construction. In all the 22 airports modernized by the Jonathan administration, full navigational aids are installed while communication and surveillance tools are revamped. Jonathan has thus set a pace in the aviation sub-sector in Nigeria. In culture and tourism, he is the most supportive President in the Movie industry who provided a support fund of N3 billion for Nollywood. Before the rebating that made the Nigerian economy Africa’s largest with GDP of $510 Billion the administration had doubled tax revenue to N4.8 trillion in four years and had seeded Sovereign Wealth Fund with $1 billion. The economy has recorded double-digit Market Value Growth in Nigerian Stock Exchange thereby attracting in 2013 alone $7billion Foreign Investment. The implementation of the 24hour operation at Nigerian ports for the first time since 1970 has ensured the streamlining of bureaucratic procedures thus making the seven days Clearing Time for Trouble-free Cargo effectual. President Jonathan has broken the record in road construction and maintenance in recent times. More than 2,000 kilometers of roads were built and rehabilitated in 2013 alone, the highest in a single year by any government in the history of Nigeria. Not only has construction work begun at the Second Niger Bridge, the Federal Government has almost completed the construction of the Oweto Bridge in Benue State to link the East to the North and reduce travel time significantly. Several roads in the northern part of the country have been rehabilitated while the usually disturbing experience of road users on the Shagam/Benin Expressway has become a thing of the past even as the notorious Lagos/Ibadan Expressway is being reconstructed.
In the Oil & Gas sector, Nigerians have not had it so good in spite of obvious challenges. We all know where the rain started beating us before the inauguration of the Jonathan Presidency in May 2011. Now, the story has changed. There is increase in oil production from 700,000bpd to current 2,500,000bpd. The growth and stability in the sector is manifested in the stable supply of petroleum products nationwide. A significant development is the 72 per cent increase in gas supply to support the power sector while ensuring a 6 per cent reduction in gas flaring in the Niger Delta. In the health sector, the vigor with which the Federal Government has tried to contain the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is legendary. It is a practical proof of how serious the government has taken the business of the health and well-being of Nigerians. For an administration which has refurbished 1,500 primary healthcare facilities; rehabilitated and modernized Teaching Hospitals across the country and ensured about 50 per cent drop in maternal mortality, this is not a surprise. If the sponsorship of 60 doctors to benefit from the Overseas Residency Training Programme is not enough, the resumption of of Open Heart Surgeries at the UNTH, Enugu and UCH, Ibadan is enough cause to thank God. The feats are replicated in other sectors of the economy including youth empowerment in which over 30,000 jobs have been created at the Onne Oil & Gas Free Trade Zone and over 6,000 Nigerian youth have been employed under FERMA Sure-P. Also, the Federal Government has bankrolled thousands of aspiring youth entrepreneurs through YouWiN loan facility.
Having tried to showcase the above achievements, and many more accomplishments of the administration in the media, TAN therefore has no choice than to move into the field to get a feedback from the people to government since information management is a two-way process. On Saturday August 16, 2014, the rally debuted in Awka, Anambra State for the five states in the South East geo-political zone with a bang attracting a mammoth crowd that was unprecedented in Igboland with over 1.6million verifiable signatories placing a demand on President Jonathan to run for the 2015 presidential election. On Saturday August 23, 2014, the train moved to Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, Oyo State where the Awka show was reduced to a mere town hall meeting due to the surging crowd that stormed the venue. The rally which reminded one of the days of yore when our founding fathers such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo , Dr. Azikiwe and Alhaji Tafawa Balewa were still mounting the rostrum to address the people handed over 1.8 million signatures of people of the South West zone urging the President not to disappoint them in contesting the 2015 presidential election to complete his Transformation Agenda programme. According to them, Jonathan has no choice on this.
The train thereafter, moved to Port Harcourt for the South South show on Saturday August 30 where over 4.1million signatures were gathered for their distinguished son, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and observed a two week recess before proceeding to Minna on Saturday September 13 where the North Central zone handed over 1.2million signatures to TAN urging the President to contest the 2015 Presidential race. TAN had modified its strategic programming for the North East and North West rallies. On Saturday September 20, the train moved to Gombe in the North East, where leaders of Nigeria’s two major religions, Christianity and Islam led Nigerians in praying for peace to reign in the country. This was repeated in Kano in the North West on Saturday September 27 where TAN collated 1.39m signatures for Mr. President. Yesterday’s event was the climax. In spite of the usual filibustering of the opposition who feel threatened by TAN’s superlative performance in the public advocacy space, it is an idea whose time has come.