Change of Guard: Jonathan’s programmes face extinction

Change of Guard: Jonathan’s programmes face extinction

Sharing is caring!Facebook0Twitter0Google+0Pinterest0Ahead of the May 29 hand-over date, there is heightened concern in the camp of the Peoples Democr...

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Ahead of the May 29 hand-over date, there is heightened concern in the camp of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over emerging signals that some of its projects and policies may be abandoned by the incoming Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

President Goodluck Jonathan found himself in this position immediately after the conclusion of the last presidential election which he lost to General Muhammadu Buhari, the then standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

He let out the sentiment last Thursday when he pleaded with the incoming Buhari administration against abandoning his administration’s ongoing projects especially the Light Rail project in the nation’s capital city of Abuja.

Speaking when he inspected three major ongoing projects within the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to ascertain their levels of completion, President Jonathan stressed that settling the bills of the projects became imperative against the backdrop that they had changed the face of Abuja.

He then tasked the President-elect to ensure the completion of all ongoing projects initiated by the retiring administration.

After taking a ride in the yet-to-be completed Abuja Mass Transit Light Rail project to personally assess the extent of the contract’s implementation, Jonathan stressed on the benefits an operational rail transport system would bring to the FCT.
He consequently said, “I have been wanting to come and inspect the project for a very long time but for challenges in terms of my commitments. I think, this period, I really need to so that when I am having conversation with the incoming president, I will know exactly what to tell him because I have seen it myself, I have seen the level of completion.”

Meanwhile, barely a day before Jonathan made his concern known, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo created a more frightening picture of why the incoming government should not contemplate revising some of the programmes of the Jonathan administration particularly those in the power sector.

The Minister spoke while unfolding a new draft National Policy on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, NPREEE, approved by the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Declaring that the power sector reform had progressed to the point where only sufficient gas supply is all that is needed for its impact to be felt by Nigerians, Nebo stressed that “the incoming government will be ill-advised to reverse privatization and liberalization of power generation, transmission and distribution because any attempt to do that after May 29 would amount to setting Nigeria backward by many decades”.

He further explained that “The gains of privatization are very obvious. We are talking about energy mix, we are not just going by gas, we are doing hydros. It was this same administration that flagged off Zungeru hydro-power plant for 750 megawatts and is to flag off Mambilla 3,050 megawatts; Shiroro has been improved, revamped; Kanji revamped and improved; the same as Jebba.

“So, there is a lot of work being done by the government. However, to turn back on privatization would mean stopping all of these companies and then reversing the massive inflow of investments coming into the power sector,” the Minister pointed out.

Notwithstanding the passionate and convincing manner with which Prof. Nebo argued for the continuation of the reforms in the power sector, National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, wasted no time in countering the Minister’s position, calling for a thorough review of the privatization of the PHCN. This was as they alleged that the processes which birthed it were riddled with irregularities.

While observing that “it is wrong for an out-going minister to be setting agenda for Buhari to reverse or not to reverse the privatization of PHCN,” the union said: “A Minister who inherited about 4000 megawatts and is today, battling with just 2000 and something megawatts, doesn’t have the moral courage to advise the incoming government on what to do”.

The NUEE General Secretary and factional President of Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, who made the call while taking journalists round the site of abandoned 60 containers of 52KVA electricity transformers in Abuja, regretted that privatization has made the generation and consumption of power in the country to be ineffective.

He insisted that the payment of over N200 billion to the private sector by the government after the privatization exercise leaves much to be desired, and called on the incoming President to revisit the exercise.

Still, even the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has also advised the incoming administration to toe the same path the Jonathan administration trod by formulating policies that would build up macro-economic stability for the country.

Speaking at one of the sessions of the World Bank/IMF spring meeting in Washington DC, titled ‘Nigeria beyond Oil’ where she advised Buhari and his team to come up with policies that would diversify the economy, rebuild buffers and block leakages, Okonjo-Iweala stressed that if such courses of action are well implemented they would address the shortfall in the revenue derived from crude oil sales and in the long term, end poverty in Nigeria.

This suggestion by the Finance Minister immediately attracted the reaction of Prof. Tam David-West – a long time associate of Buhari who he recently appointed into his transition committee.

The former Minister of Petroleum replied Okonjo-Iweala that the incoming President, as a highly experienced person in the art of governance, knows what to do to manage the economy well and does not need her counsel.

In his words, “I read Okonjo-Iweala’s advice to Gen. Buhari on how to raise revenue with interest and amusement. I don’t think that Buhari needs any advice from her on the subject. He is not new on the terrain. He is a very knowledgeable person on how to move the economy forward. I don’t believe he needs advice from Okonjo-Iweala”. Prof. David-West regretted that
“Nigeria is the only country in the world where Okonjo-Iweala is the Finance Minister and coordinating the economy where provision is made for fraud in the annual budget by way of subsidy. So, Buhari does not need her advice.”

Analysts believe that this response from the petroleum minister who served under the military regime of Buhari is indicative enough that the incoming administration would not be going the way of the Jonathan government in managing the economy of the nation.

This much is to expected considering that both Jonathan and Buhari are coming from different parties with distinct manifestoes and ideologies.

Pundits say that if Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan sponsored by the same PDP could run different programmes, with the last two abandoning many projects initiated by their predecessors, then the President-elect should not be expected to act differently.

Ever since he emerged victorious at the polls, Buhari is yet to expressly make a pronouncement on whether he would continue with Jonathan’s projects and programmes or not, but some of his utterances suggest lack of interest for whatever projects Jonathan may want completed.

While receiving a delegation of northern elders led by Maitama Sule, he urged them to enlighten their constituencies that the state of things had so deteriorated such that there will not be quick fixes to the nation’s challenges.

According to him, “in the last 16 years and those 16 years, most of you know it better than myself; Nigeria earned revenue more than what it earned from 1914 to then. Now, we have invariably inherited all the problems, especially in the North-east. You know that we use to have Nigeria Airways, Nigeria shipping line, Nigeria Railways. Where are they now? Where is the infrastructure? Consider what we earned between then and now and what we earned in-between and what is on ground. That is how efficiently how the PDP managed Nigeria in the last 16 years.”

But then the feeling in some quarters is that government is a continuum hence Buhari should try as much as possible to see to the conclusion of projects already begun by the Jonathan’s government.

Nonetheless, a statement credited to the APC mouthpiece, Lai Mohammed, when he was interviewed by one of the radio stations in Abuja weeks before the elections may be an indication of what the weeks ahead hold for Jonathan’s legacy projects.

Mohammed noted that some of Jonathan’s frivolous contracts and projects which do not have a direct bearing on the lives of Nigerians would have to go with Jonathan save for the ones that the processes leading to them were corrupt-free and promises to be of great benefit to Nigerians.

However, the fact that the incoming President has openly endorsed the aspiration of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, to become the African Development Bank president is one that a good number of analysts believe showed that he is pleased with the activities of the Minister in the Agriculture sector.

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