By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday launched out at critics of his person and administration daring any of them to match his achievements in government with contemporary indices of governance.
In a riposte to recent criticisms of his person, the former president cited his achievements in raising the Nigerian economy to continental reckoning, in infrastructure notably on roads and railways; in harnessing good talents and in electoral reforms which he said have remained unmatched.
Noting a CNN Money Report just before he left office that projected that the Nigerian economy would become the third fastest growing economy in the world, President Jonathan also reported that life expectancy in Nigeria jumped from 47 years in 2010 to 54 by the time he was leaving office.
Jonathan’s assertions were in response to comments made about his perceived incompetence in governance at the launch of a book written by a former minister in his administration, Bolaji Abdullahi.
The president in the statement issued by his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, particularly charged one of his critics, Governor Kashim Shettima to give account of the N60 billion he inherited from his predecessor even as he lampooned the governor for endangering students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok by refusing to relocate them despite security warnings. He also put the governor to task to explain why he promoted the principal of the school to a commissioner despite insinuations of conspiracy arising from the principal’s absence from the school the night the Boko Haram terrorists struck.
Dr. Jonathan also affirmed that he would not comment on Abdullahi’s book “On a Platter of Gold- How Jonathan won and lost Nigeria” which he described as a book lacking in rigour, in-depth investigations and laced with hearsay.
President Jonathan noting Governor Shettima’s comments said:
“We didn’t expect anything less from Governor Shettima, knowing the ignoble roles he played in frustrating the war waged by the past administration against Boko Haram, even in his own Borno State.
“He should be able to tell us if it was Jonathan’s poor choices that led the Governor to expose students of Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok to avoidable danger, in total disregard of a Federal Government directive to the Governors in the three states most affected by Boko Haram to relocate their students writing the West African School Certificate Examinations to safe zones.
“The governor is now denying that he had no hand in the kidnap of the Chibok girls even before anybody accused him of culpability. However, we share the view of those who insist that the governor had other things up his sleeve when he promised the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) that he would secure the girls, and ended up doing the very opposite, by deliberately abandoning them to their fate, without any security presence in their school.
“It is instructive that while other governors in the zone heeded the security advice, Shettima remained the only one that flagrantly flouted it. Should we also fail to point out that his decision to reward the principal of Chibok Secondary School, who was uncharacteristically absent on the night terrorists stormed the school, with the post of a commissioner, did throw up more questions than answers?
“Talking about accountability, perhaps, Shettima should also do well to explain to the good people of Borno State and Nigerians what he did with the over N60 billion Local Governments fund, left by his predecessor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
Noting his achievements in government, Jonathan noted:
* Nigeria’s Gross domestic Product rose to $503 billion in 2013 and became Africa’s largest economy and 26th in the world; from 3rd and 4th respectively.
* Nigeria became the number one destination for Foreign Direct Investment in Africa under former President Jonathan, with the numbers rising from $24.9 million as at 2007 to over $35 billion in 2014.
* Jonathan Government delivered over 25,000 kilometres of motorable federal roads from just a quarter of that number in 2011.
* The Jonathan Administration resuscitated the railways in the country after about 30-years of hiatus
*Jonathan’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda ended fertilizer racketeering, encouraged more young Nigerians to take to farming, boosted local food production and took the country closer to self-sufficiency in food production by recording more than 50% reduction in food imports. It was as a result of this that the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, for the first time, voted Nigeria the largest producer of Cassava in the world.
* Power generation under Jonathan was boosted to about 5,000 megawatts in 2014 up from 2,000 megawatts in 2011.
* Prices of food and other household items remained stable and inflationary pressure was down to a single digit.
*Under Jonathan, Nigeria controlled clinically Ebola outbreak to the admiration of the whole world, became Guinea-worm-free and also eradicated polio, with United States billionaire and renowned philanthropist Bill Gates, praising Nigeria’s successes against polio as one of the great world achievements of 2014. Sadly polio has returned to the country with the likes of Shettima in charge of the endemic states.
*Under Jonathan Life expectancy in Nigeria rose from 47 years in 2010 to 54 years in 2015.
*Just before Jonathan left office, CNN Money projected that Nigeria’s economy in 2015 would become the third fastest growing economy in the world at 7 per cent behind China at 7.3 per cent and Qatar at 7.1 per cent.
“Was it bad governance and poor choices that reformed the political and electoral processes to the extent that the United Nations is now pleading with the government of the day to strive to maintain the standards established by Jonathan?