by Sylvester Awenlimobor
President Jonathan’s responses to key issues raised by Amanpour during the interview were far from accurate, they at best dance about the burning issues, like a Moses who had heard the voice of God, they offered no concrete answers at a time when Nigerians require answers.
On Wednesday January 23, 2012, President, Goodluck Jonathan granted an interview to international journalist, Christiane Amanpour, where certain issues bothering on National Security, power and corruption were raised and quite disappointingly President Jonathan came across as inconsistent in several answers he offered. This inconsistency questions the altruism of the federal government under Goodluck Jonathan towards facing headlong the myriad of malaise that suffocates the Nigerian socio-economic space.
Radical Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, has undoubtedly been the biggest menace to security in Nigeria over the past four years and its activities has greatly affected socio-economic activities in the north greatly with ripple effect felt down south also. This economic worry was re-echoed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi on Tuesday in Abuja when he stated that “The current spate of bombings across the country by terrorist groups alludes to the fact that our business environment is becoming more and more threatened and therefore the need to urgently develop a framework that will enable us to effectively respond to any crisis and thus safeguarding lives and properties and ensuring stability and growth in our economic system.”
There seems to be a poor approach on the part of the government in tackling this scourge. But President Jonathan vehemently rejected that the security agents were getting it wrong.
The President regarded as ‘Insinuations by some interest group’ that the Nigerian Army and security forces are pushing more people into joining Boko Haram with their unsavoury tactics and haphazardly brutal clampdowns. It would appear that by ‘interest groups’ he was referring to political opposition parties. But a 2012 report by the United States Institutes of Peace (USIP), a body funded by the US Congress described as ‘counter-productive’ the Nigerian security agents approach
The report stated that “Tactics employed by government security agencies against Boko Haram have been consistently brutal and counter-productive Their reliance on extra-judicial execution as a tactic in “dealing” with any problem in Nigeria not only created Boko Haram as it is known today, but also sustains it and gives it fuel to expand. The police’s tactics have also made Boko Haram members harder to catch. The people of Maiduguri and Kano are, for the most part, more scared of the police and the army than they are of Boko Haram. Ordinary people would not now go to the police to report suspicious activities in their neighbourhoods.”
The report further surmised that “Boko Haram has grown at a time when there are many national issues that draw anger and feed the group. This includes the continued killing and corruption perpetrated by the police on people connected to the group; the brutal manner in which the police behave to the public at large; the financial corruption of the government; the moral corruption of the religious establishment”.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, also stated last year in Washington that “Boko Haram capitalises on popular frustrations with the nation’s leaders” but President Jonathan during the interview explicitly and emphatically declared that “Boko Haram is not as a result of misrule, definitely not”.
There seems to be a variance in perception between the Government at Abuja and the Western world on the Boko Haram menace, but with the President rallying the west to come to the aid of the country in tackling Boko Haram, would it not be a wise idea to first come to an agreement on issues regarding the group, rather than this public divergence of views and almost seemingly confrontational in its outlook?
On November 17th, 2010, President Jonathan in a meeting with then British PM, Tony Blair, projected that domestic production of power would rise to 6,000 MW by Dec. 2010 and about 20,000 MW by 2014.
Need I point out that both projections have failed?
The failure is acknowledged by the Presidency in its 2013 budget proposal by earmarking N654.02 m on generators, and just for good measure also budgeted funds for generators for foreign embassies in countries with steady power supply.
A 2011 report by the Federal Ministry of Power on its website enumerated the major challenges facing the power sector as; High Capital Intensive nature of power sector projects, Inadequate Public sector funding for both maintenance of the current system, and the development of new energy sources. These challenges are yet to be addressed two years later, the average daily generation still hovers about 3,900 MW and 4,000 MW with transmission accounting for a loss of about 5% for 170 million Nigerians.
With fellow developing countries like Brazil attaining electricity generation of over 100,000 MW it is practically shameful that a country that prides itself as the giant of Africa is struggling to produce 4,000 MW for its inhabitants.
It was a rather shocking response from the President then, when he was probed on why 60% of Nigerians are without regular light, and like most of his earlier responses this was another non-fact based one.
“That is one area that Nigerians are quite pleased with the government, that our commitment to improve power is working. So if you are saying something different I am really surprised”. Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere between the president and his people.
President Jonathan’s responses to key issues raised by Amanpour during the interview were far from accurate, they at best dance about the burning issues, like a Moses who had heard the voice of God, they offered no concrete answers at a time when Nigerians require answers.Follow us on Twitter @YNaija