President Goodluck Jonathan declared, yesterday, that though the country was facing some challenges, especially in the area of security, he would discharge his responsibility in accordance with his oath of office and ensure that the life and property of every Nigerian is protected.
Speaking on the country’s democratic journey 13 years after, President Jonathan said his government would confront this (terrorism) “threat against our collective peace and security, and bring the perpetrators to justice. We will confront the few misguided persons who falsely believe that through violence, they can impose their agenda of hate and division on this nation of good people.
“We must confront all those who think they can derail us by engaging in indiscriminate violence and mass murder, perpetrated in places of worship, in markets and public places, against the media, and security personnel. Nigeria is a nation of resilient people. We will never yield to the forces of darkness. Nigeria will never, ever, disintegrate.”
Enjoins Nigerians to be loyal
The president further enjoined all Nigerians to “be loyal to our country. If we believe this to be a sacred obligation, it will not matter whether we are Christians or Muslims, or politicians, irrespective of political parties or divide. It really will not matter whether we are civil society agents, social activists or union leaders. What matters is Nigeria. This nation exists because we are one. We must, therefore, remain as one family and work together to defend our country.”
Achievements of his administration
Speaking on the achievements of his administration, President Jonathan said though there were challenges, he was determined to ensure that these challenges were over come.
He said: “Our democracy is stable. Its foundation is strong and firm. Its future is bright. Last year, I had spoken about the policy of ‘one man one vote, one woman, one vote, one youth, one vote.’ I am glad to see that the Nigerian people in all elections have continued to respect the principle of fair play. Since this administration came into office, we have gone to great lengths to strengthen our democratic institutions, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission. There are still persons who believe that elections should be violent and unhealthy, but they are in the minority.”
He reiterated that his administration was committed to fighting corruption, saying that though concrete steps have been taken to strengthen the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission, these agencies would need the support of the courts to ensure that corrupt persons are convicted and made to face the full wrath of the law.
According to the president, “the courts will have to do more in the area of fighting corruption in the country that they are doing now.
“I want to reassure all Nigerians that this administration remains committed to waging a sustained battle against the menace of corruption. In the last one year, we have taken specific steps to reduce opportunities and avenues for corruption, and to strengthen the capacity and integrity of our institutions.
“We have strengthened the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Both agencies are being re-positioned for more effective service delivery. We will continue to strengthen the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies for optimal performance. We will also need the support of our courts. The courts have to do more.”
In the area of agriculture, the president said the ultimate aim of his administration was “directed at promoting local production, substituting for imported foods, and adding value to our locally produced crops. Government’s policy to ensure rice self-sufficiency by 2015 is already paying off.”
He said the emergence of new rice mills by the private sector to mill locally produced rice as see by Ebony Agro Industries in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Umza rice mill in Kano State and the Ashi Rice Mill in Benue State are indications that government action in the agricultural sector especially on rice production is yielding results.
On oil and gas sector
In the oil and gas sector, Jonathan said his administration had charted a new course that would ensure enduring transparency and accountability, adding that his administration has commited N11 billion provided in the 2012 Budget for Hydro-Carbon exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.
“We are re-drafting the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to ensure it meets the aspirations of all stakeholders given the current realities and future expectations in the global energy landscape. Work on the PIB will be concluded in June 2012 and formally submitted to the National Assembly. Additionally, Special Task Forces dealing with Governance and Control, Petroleum Revenue and National refineries are finalizing their work to ensure probity across the oil and gas sector, and self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.”
On the power sector, the president said the commitment of his administration to the provision of regular and uninterrupted power supply remained strong and unwavering, pointiong out that “adequate and regular power supply will be the significant trigger to enhance this nation’s productive capacity and accelerate growth.
“It is for this reason that I remain optimistic that the reforms we have initiated, the decisions we have taken so far and the plans we intend to faithfully prosecute will yield the desired results.”
Way forward for Jonathan, by Reps
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives, yesterday reacted, to President Jonathan’s democracy day broadcast, saying the president should not pay lip service to the issues of security and governance while others asked him to tread softly and face governance headlong.
Mohammed Zakari, House Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, said “Mr president should first and foremost call his constituency to order as comments by activists like Asari Dokubo are capable of over heating the polity. “
On his readiness to combat acts of terrorism in the country, Zakari stated that”nobody wants terror, government should get proactive and stop playing lip service to the issue of security.”
Hon Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges said”it is important to give sometime to governance in other jurisdictions there is time for governance. Abandoning governance for politics one year into a tenure is not a good omen. “
On his part, House Committee Chairman on Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and Amnesty Programme, Hon Warman Ogoriba said ”well, I think that Mr President is right because some politicians are playing politics with an issue that is considered a national security.
“Politicians should try to differentiate between politics and issues that undermine our collective interest as one indivisible nation.”
Nigerians task Jonathan on development
Nigerians, yesterday in Lagos expressed diverse expectations from him.
Some told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews that although Jonathan did not perform badly in the past one year, but that he needed to do more.
The Leader of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), Dr Frederick Fasheun, hailed Jonathan for holding the country together under a democratic system.
“Jonathan has not been doing too badly at least for holding the country together under what is called seeming democracy.
“The entire system had been damaged before he came in to office so let us give him peace of mind to work hard after all he has four years to his first term,” he said.
Also speaking, President, Aviation Round Table, Capt. Dele Ore, also agreed that Jonathan had not performed badly in his one year in office.
“I think his one year in office has been very okay but we expect that his second year in office, Nigerians will get power and have a secured environment so that every one will feel safe whereever they are no matter which tribe they are.
“He also has to really take seriously the issue of youth unemployment as well as tackling very seriously the issue of corruption besides these I think everything seems to be okay and we wish him all the best,” he said.
However, the Executive Secretary of Campaign for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (CCHR), Mr Toyin Raheem, did not agree that Jonathan did well in his office.
“We expect that as he commences his second year by tomorrow, he should ensure that he put in place machineries to ensure that we have a sovereign national conference because it has become important that we have it.
“It is important for Nigerians to come together to decide the way we should live as Nigerians in the face of the security, unemployment and civil unrest everywhere in the land,” he said.
Locomotive assembly plant
The Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with General Electric (GE) to establish a locomotive assembly plant in the country.
President Jonathan disclosed this in his broadcast yesterday.
Jonathan said the project would enhance the sustainability in the rail sector and make Nigeria a major hub in West and Central Africa.
The President said the administration was committed to efficient and affordable public transport system.
He said the transformation agenda in the road sector would deliver better and safer roads to Nigerians and link the six geo-political zones in the country with dual carriageways.
“There have been increased construction activities in the ongoing dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road, Kano–Potiskum–Maiduguri Road.”
Others are the Benin–Ore–Shagamu Expressway; the Onitsha–Enugu Expressway; and the construction of the Loko–Oweto bridge, across River Benue.
“In other parts of the country, about 21 other road projects are in different stages of completion.
“These include the Yola–Numan road, Aba–Owerri road, Owerri–Onitsha expressway, Oyo–Ogbomosho old road and the Gombe-Potiskum road,” he said.
Jonathan said that the administration in the last 12 months had completed the capital dredging of the Lower River Niger.
He said that work would soon commence on the dredging of the River Benue in the year.
Jonathan said that the administration had begun the development of four new international terminals at Lagos, Port- Harcourt, Kano and Abuja airports.
He said that work was also going on with the renovation of airports across the country.
The President reassured Nigerians that the administration would remain committed to waging a sustained battle against the menace of corruption.