When a man who refers to himself as a researcher writes an opinion piece, it is expected that he would rely on research and facts given that that is what researchers do, but I am rather surprised that Uche Igwe sacrificed research and facts in favor of sentiments in his piece ‘Isn’t Jonathan losing grip?’ published in The Punch of November 26th, 2014, and I would now go ahead to cure the defects in his piece using what he should have used – research and facts.
Right off the first paragraph of his piece, we encounter the first inaccurate statement when Uche Igwe in trying to justify his flawed conclusion about the Jonathan administration says “the citizens are angry that there is little trickledown effect on the population”.
Nothing could be further from the truth than that assertion. On the 22nd of July, 2014, the World Bank published its Nigeria Economic Update and revealed that poverty in Nigeria had fallen by 2.1 per cent. As a researcher, Igwe ought to be familiar with this report. If he is not, then any institution for which he does research ought to be concerned. But to help him, he can find the report here-http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/22/nigeria-economic-update-world-bank-cites-positive-economic-trends-and-progress-in-poverty-reduction
Not only has poverty reduced in Nigeria, another independent global research institute, International Food Policy Research Institute, has revealed that while hunger levels remain a concern in Nigeria, they have continued to drop year over year.
The 2014 Global Hunger Index published by the International Food Policy Research Institute in October 2014, showed with verifiable data that Nigeria’s hunger levels dropped from 16.3 in 2005 to 15 in 2013 and 14.1 in 2014.
When you juxtapose this research data with the IMF verified fact that Nigeria’s food import bill has reduced from 1.1 trillion in 2009 to 684 billion today, it becomes obvious that there is a trickle-down effect on the populace of the macro economic progress the nation has been making under Jonathan.
Is Igwe aware for instance that 14 million farmers now directly access fertilizers and enhanced seeds via their mobile phones thereby cutting out the middle man with attendant price reduction? Of this number. 2 million are women! What do you call that if not a trickling down?
Continuing in his piece, Igwe writes about “decaying infrastructure” under Jonathan.
That phrase alone makes one doubt if Mr. Igwe has visited Nigeria in the last four years of if he remains ensconced in Sussex in The UK where he is pursuing further studies!
The doubt is justified because in the last four years infrastructure in Nigeria has received a major boost in what could best be described as a bear revolution.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation has been rejuvenated, and cross country rail services from Lagos to Kano have been revived along with intra city services within Lagos on, wait for it-air conditioned trains! The annual passenger volume of the NRC has increased five fold from less than 1 million in 2009 to almost 5 million in 2014. Along with the movement of passengers, cargo is now hauled straight off Apapa Wharf all the way to Kano over 1,000 kilometres away, reducing wear and tear on trunk roads in the process.
The Abuja-Kaduna rail line has reached 95% completion and when completed in the first quarter of next year, it will be possible for Nigerians to live in Kaduna and work in Abuja.
A coastal line from Lagos to Obudu in Cross River state has just been kicked off even as the River Niger has been successfully dredged up to Baro in Niger state making it possible for maritime activity to extend to the Northern hinterland!
The Lagos-Ibadan Road which had not been repaired in 34 years is now being rebuilt at some of the fastest construction paces in the world with construction giant, Julius Berger working from the Lagos end of the route backward while RCC construction does same at the Ibadan end to meet up with Julius Berger in the middle. This is a first of its kind in Nigeria!
The previously notorious Benin-Ore road has been rebuilt and it is now possible to complete a trip from Benin to Lagos in three and a half hours whereas even Mr. Igwe can testify that it used to take him and others nine hours in the past.
New terminals have been built in our airports along with a Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria which has earned Nigeria the coveted Category One aviation certificate from the US FAA and for the very first time in Nigeria’s history, the Jonathan Administration has delivered two eight lane Super Highways in the nations capital.
The administration has released verifiable pictorial evidence of these advancement in infrastructure in a book form and online at http://sureandsteadytransformation.org. I advise Igwe to familiarize himself with these documents before he puts pen to paper in future.
But perhaps nothing typifies the blindness of Igwe to current events in Nigeria as when he writes that “Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party is currently embroiled in a multi-level intra-party crisis”.
The Peoples Democratic Party today is the most disciplined and cohesive political party in Nigeria as evidenced by the fact that whereas the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, is being torn apart at the seams by fractious infighting by its four strange bedfellows presidential aspirants, the PDP has only one aspirant in President Jonathan.
At his declaration for the Presidency on Tuesday, November 11, 2014, there was an unprecedented display of unity in the PDP family as virtually all PDP governors were present as well as the Senate and House caucuses of the party.
Before that, the PDP had displayed unity in its regional rallies which commanded mammoth crowd.
Even before that, the PDP had demonstrated its electoral supremacy by democratically reclaiming Ekiti State, previously an APC stronghold, from an incumbent governor!
This is even as the PDP has received the Governor of Ondo state and the immediate past governor of Anambra state into its fold.
As the PDP continues to receive decampees, the APC continues to shed them. Igwe can not be said to be unaware of the recent decampment of the former governor of Ogun, Chief Segun Osoba, a founding member of APC, from the party.
With the above, it is overly obvious that Mr. Igwe’s conclusions have no bearing in reality but are at best a product of a head in the clouds detachment from reality or at worst an opinion procured by an opposition made desperate by the ever looming fate that beckons at them in February 2015.
The second scenario is a more likely option giving that Igwe is a recipient of the Rivers State government scholarship to the United Kingdom and a known acolyte of the governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi. This is a fact not an opinion.
Henry Omoregie writes from the Niger Delta.