My critics have no solution to Nigeria’s problems, says Jonathan

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goodluck_jonathanPresident Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday took his critics to the cleaners, saying their criticism is subjective.

To him, the critics should rather praise his administration for moving the country forward.

He also advised them to proffer solution to the country’s challenges, rather than criticising him endlessly.

Speaking while presenting his administration’s mid-term report during the Democracy Day celebrations at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, he challenged analysts and critics to develop a criteria before assessing his administration to avoid being subjective about his performance so far.

He specifically mentioned a newspaper publication which rated his ministers and described the low grades given to his cabinet members as faulty.

Presenting a 234-page document containing his achievements in the last two years, he said: “Today, I am here for a special programme and they asked me not to talk. Last year by this time, I addressed this country from my office and I spoke for about two hours. That was the end of the first 12 months. Today, we are marking the first 24 months. That’s our mid term review and my duty is to formally present a document that all Nigerians should be able to read.

“But because I am going to present a document that will enable Nigerians assess us, let me crave your indulgence. I am going to talk.

“Only on Monday, one of the dailies did an assessment of the ministries and performance of ministers. The first thing I looked for but didn’t see is the criteria that were used to assess the performance of the ministers. Because when people mark, they mark with marking scheme. A number of comments about the performance of this administration are based on the heartbeat of people.

“Sometimes, people assess governments based on their heart beats. Two ministries – National Planning and Trade and Investment – were given average. These two ministers’ performances, in the last two years, are unprecedented. In terms of businesses, the Minister of Trade and Investment has attracted to the country, in spite of our security challenges, so many businesses. Before now, Trade and Investment Ministry was like dead end, but that has changed. Until Shamsudeen Usman came on board before 2011, we never even knew we had a National Planning Ministry. That is why I asked what was the criteria.

“I plead with those who want to write and assess to prepare a marking scheme, compare with previous governments and so on and so forth. Develop your marking scheme and mark us,” the President said.

In the foreword to the Executive Summary of the report, Jonathan lauded the nation’s thriving democracy, observing that there was stronger evidence of an evolving culture of better consultation, better input and better mass buy-in on all major issues of national development.

He said: “It is within this context that I have articulated a Mid-Term Performance Review Report of my administration to enable Nigerians see the progress made so far in implementing the policies, programmes and projects encapsulated in the Transformation Agenda (2011 – 2015).

“The economy has recorded an impressive GDP growth and we surpassed our annual targets in eight out of the 14 broad areas of the Transformation Agenda. Consequently, Nigeria’s global ranking by GDP has improved from 44th position in 2010 to the 36th.”

He added that the celebration of Democracy Day should be used to think about how to sustain the nation’s collective resolve to face the future together as a people, guided by the principles of constitution, mutual respect and equity.

“That is the only way to gird our loins for the distance ahead, because democracy is more a journey across wide terrains than arrival at some secluded waterhole,” Jonathan declared.

Earlier in his welcome address, Vice President Namadi Sambo said the administration has in the last two years worked hard to expand the democratic space, ensure accountability in governance and pursued the achievement of free and fair elections.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, and the Minister of National Planning, Dr Shamsudeen Usman, had earlier carpetted the media and accused it of constantly carrying false reports against the government.

Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke on the state of the economy and the general achievements of the Jonathan administration, noted that the President is leading the country in the right direction

According to her, the exchange rate has been stable for two years and it is because the government has been able to keep $50 billion in the reserves.

Inflation rate, she said, has dropped to nine per cent from 12.5 per cent.

” We have one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Recurrent expenditure was 74 per cent when we came on board. It came down to 68 per cent in the last budget and we plan to keep it down further.

“We borrowed N800 billion in 2011 but borrowed N500 billion in 2013. We are working to reduce it further. The balance of the economy is shifting to non oil.

“We are trying to stem leakages and disappearance of money through electronic transfer of money within MDAs as e- payment. We are the highest destination for investment,” she added.

Former presidents, ministers, service chiefs, permanent secretaries, leaders of the National Assembly, present and former chief justices, and presidential aides graced the occasion.

Famous American civil rights activist, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and head of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism, Professor Amos Sawyer, were also at the event.

But former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Muhammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida shunned the event while Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, was also conspicuously absent.

 

 

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