Jonathan’s next four years: My vision for a Nigeria that works for all (1)
Introduction and My Vision for Nigeria
WHEN I was growing up in Otuoke, a small town in Bayelsa, as the son of a boat builder, life was hard. Of nine children to my parents, only two of us survived. But I had the chance to go to school. Many did not. I worked at my studies. God smiled on me. I am here today as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I tell you now: there is not a moment that I forget where I come from, or how tough life can be for so many of us.
I have no sense of entitlement. I am not from a big family. I do not come from a profession or background that believes it has some God-given right to rule. I am here because of the will of the people and I will remain here because of the will of the people. I am willing and able to serve, but I am not desperate to serve. I am a living proof that Nigeria is a country that rewards hardwork, integrity and ambition. At its best, Nigeria is a country where, no matter where you come from, through honesty, hard work and by the grace of God, everything is possible.
I shall win this election because Nigerians know exactly who I am, and what I stand for. I fight for what I believe in. I don’t walk out of the door when the going gets tough. Nigerians know what I have delivered and I want Nigerians to know what I will deliver in the next four years. Our plan will build on the platform we have laid in the last four years, to deliver growth, prosperity, peace and justice to all. We are ready to take Nigeria to the next level.
The future I see and work for is for a Nigeria that works for all. I see a Nigeria where mothers and children do not die due to lack of medical attention. A Nigeria where no child goes to bed hungry or is out of school because of family circumstances. In the future of Nigeria that I see, the young and the youths will receive quality and sound education that provides them access to job opportunities and a higher standard of living. A Nigeria where the elderly have access to the medical care they require and life expectancy is significantly higher than it is today.
A country where the old people realize the benefit of their work and the disabled are not left behind. Nigeria will be a country of equal opportunities where every child is able to attain his or her full God given potential. Indeed, my dream is that someday, a product of the Almajiri Schools becomes the President of this great country. It will be a Nigeria where justice is not measured in any currency but available even to the most vulnerable in our society. My vision is that of a Nigeria that works for all, and not just a few.
This has been a long campaign. I welcome the challenge of a vigorous campaign. Democracy needs competition, but it should be the right type of constructive competition. It is a sign of strength that Nigerians finally have a choice. In this document, I present to you a very clear choice and path to Nigeria’s progress. It is a choice and path based on the foundation that we laid during my first administration. You will find our plan for security, education, health. Also, our plans for the economy, jobs and the different forms of infrastructure to support our growth. We have not left out the environment and how we will leverage international economic cooperation for our growth and development. Most of our plans have been costed and some are obviously a continuation and completion of what we began. This is my promise to Nigeria, a vision for the next four years.
Security, Education and Health
Nigeria’s Security and Territorial Integrity
Let me turn first to security. The definition of a modern state is the rule of law and the security of its citizens. My administration has faced unprecedented challenges. As a nation we have all felt the trauma and pain of international terrorism and extremist violence. The changing fortune on the battlefield that we have seen in recent weeks is a result of the sacrifices of our security agencies. I salute their courage and the determination of our military, they have done Nigeria proud.
Book Haram is part of an international phenomenon. It is a terror that does not know borders or boundaries. We understood this from the beginning. Nigeria was on the right side of the argument in Mali against the extremists; and in support of democracy in Ivory Coast, Guinea, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau. What we support abroad, we champion at home: democracy, freedom and the rule of law. It is a proud record and a reflection of Nigeria’s role and responsibilities in Africa and the broader community that we have upheld and deepened.
We have formed a formidable team with Cameroon, Chad and Niger to effectively dismantle Boko Haram. Infact, everywhere that terror has been successfully tackled, it is through partnership. And that is what this government has championed. In the past four years we have worked hard to improve the capacity of security agencies. We have provided specialized training to our armed forces, established police academy in Kano to beef up policing capabilities. In addition, we have now provided better and improved equipment to our security agencies. This process is ongoing. We have made these investments in order to improve the capacity of security agencies to protect all Nigerians.
There is still a real risk of further terror attacks, against the kind of soft, innocent target of which there are so many across the country. And there will be further battles ahead. But Boko Haram’s claims of a Caliphate have been shown to be as empty and bankrupt as the rest of their hateful philosophy. Nigeria remains one, and undivided. We shall root out Boko Haram.
We salute the extraordinary courage of the families of the Chibok girls, and we shall never give up on these girls. We also salute the families of the Buni Yadi boys, and indeed all the victims of terror. We cannot undo their suffering. We can only use it as an inspiration to overcome this evil in our midst, and to rebuild a better world for those who have seen their lives turned upside down.
In the next four years, we will build on the progress we have made so far. Our military efforts, both domestic and through international cooperation have enabled us make progress in our fight against Boko Haram. We will expand and intensify our military presence in the affected region and communities to ensure that we leave no gaps for Boko Haram to take advantage in the future. We will continue to equip the military and other security agencies to meet the security challenges of modern Nigeria.
In order to cement our progress, we are implementing three strategic security initiatives that will be the focus of our administration in the next four years. These initiatives are the Safe School Initiative (SSI), the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), and Nigeria’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme.
Under the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI), our administration will:
Accelerate the enrolment of displaced children in schools in their host communities and secure places in schools for children in IDP camps. This a temporary arrangement that will be replaced as displaced persons move back to their communities. Our goal is to secure communities as soon as they are rid of the terrorists so that citizens can return safely and children go back to school in their community.
If and when necessary, transfer children living in LGEAs at high risk of insurgent activities to secondary schools in safer locations.
Under the Expand Safe School Initiative (SSI), which is a national initiative across the country, we shall introduce guidelines for all schools on what constitutes a safe school. This will be piloted in selected schools in the North East, and across the country. Over the next four years, we will build safe schools that take into consideration all forms of security vulnerabilities.
Under the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), we will achieve the following:
Address immediate human suffering by empowering response agencies to better deliver much needed humanitarian relief – food, non-food items, medicines etc. as a foundation for other interventions. This is ongoing.
We will embark on reconstruction and rehabilitation of the North East. Infact, the North East will be rebuilt and experience economic renaissance.
Leverage the region’s strategic agricultural and solid mineral assets to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for the youths, and ensure long-term peace and prosperity.
We will exploit long-term opportunities that are unique to the North East where national progress is contingent on the region’s progress (Sahelian trade, strategic power projects, national food security etc).
Under the Nigeria’s CVE programme, we will focus on the following:
De-radicalisation and reintegration of suspected and convicted extremist offenders back into the society.
Development and implementation of an after care programme for the deradicalised involving community reintegration and rehabilitation. This will give rehabilitated prisoners opportunity to make a living after they have been released.
Quality Education, Skills and Training for All
During my visit to one of the Almajiri schools that have been established under our policy, I met excited young children. These are bright, lively children, now receiving the best Nigeria can offer. With public funds, the next generation now has the tools it needs to make for themselves better lives and to make this a better country. I know very well what education means. Education is the key to transformation. My dream is that one day, a product of Almajiri schools will become President of this great nation.
This is not a slogan. It is the story of my life.
In the next four years, no child will be out of school in Nigeria. Our schools will not only be safe, but will also be centres of excellence that mould national character. We will reverse the brain drain in our universities and tackle the most critical important challenge to university education in Nigeria – access and quality. We will devise a sustainable and effective system for our University education to bring it up to global standards.
When I first assumed office, providing quality education was a challenge for government. There had been decades of decay. Consequently, many of the graduates our system was producing were not fit to meet the needs of our industries. Many lacked the skills of the new, technological era. We have refocused the educational system in the area of access, quality, infrastructure, teacher quality and development, curriculum relevance, funding, planning and targeting out-of-school children. Our renewed focus is based on some of our initiatives, including the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the revision to the National Policy on Education, the support provided to states to conduct the annual school census, and the Almajiri Education programme. We have established 12 new universities so that every state in Nigeria now has a federal university. Nine of the new universities are in Northern states.
In the next four years, my government shall:
Work with states and local governments to ensure that none of our children of primary school age is out of school.
Continue our reforms in the education sector, to improve access and quality at all levels, and ensure sustainability and adequacy of education funding. We will continue to work with state governments to improve access and quality at all levels.
Provide technical educational institutions with additional well-equipped workshop and adequate and well-trained-teachers. There will be a renewed focus on vocational training that effectively links the needs of our industries with skills acquired.
Will forge a closer partnership between employers and the educational system, especially at the tertiary level, and encourage greater, properly regulated involvement of private individuals and agencies in the delivery of education services.
Establish new adult and continuing education centres, strengthen the old ones in order to promote mass literacy among Nigerians.
High Quality Healthcare for all Nigerians
Nigeria produces some of the finest health care professionals but has not had the health care system the general public deserves. In the next four years, we will lay the foundation for Nigeria to become a centre of medical excellence in Africa, and begin to reverse the embarrassing trend of medical tourism. All Nigerians will have access to high quality healthcare and National Health Insurance (NHIS) coverage will be expanded, and we will accelerate the implementation of private sector health initiatives.
Let us for a moment remember the eight victims we lost last year to Ebola. Let us also praise the bravery of Dr. Stella Ameyo Adedavoh and other heroes who identified the virus and cared for the sick, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us also remember the efforts of all the agencies of government, both at the national and sub-national levels, which helped to prevent this tragedy from becoming a catastrophe.
That same commitment and energy has also helped us eradicate Guinea worm. In the next four years, with that same determination, we shall also rid Nigeria of polio.
At the start of this administration, access to healthcare was a challenge, particularly for women and children. We established the ‘‘saving one million lives” initiative to reduce birth related deaths to mothers and children. I know the pain of loss that a properly resourced and managed health service will help to eliminate.
We have put in place measures to eliminate counterfeit drugs and equipment. I signed the National Health Bill into law to enable quicker improvements in both quality and access to primary and tertiary healthcare. We have refurbished and upgraded our hospitals including the Enugu Teaching Hospital (ETH), Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital, Zaria, the National Trauma Centre at the National Hospital, Abuja, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), and the Federal Medical Centre in Umuahia.
In the next four years, my government shall:
Facilitate the expansion of the NHIS to cover previously excluded illnesses. This will enhance the medical insurance system and improve access to healthcare. We will also modify existing arrangements to provide free healthcare to children and the elderly.
Work with the private sector to reverse the trend in medical tourism. We will enhance and speed up the private health care initiative for the establishment of world-class specialist hospitals across the country.
This will complement our plan of one general hospital per local government and one specialist hospital per state. It will require the intensification of the current training and incentivisation of paramedical personnel to expand healthcare in rural areas.
Stimulate the local production of medicines and other supplies, while enforcing stringent laws against the manufacturing and sale of fake and adulterated drugs.
Let me share with you the progress we have made to diversify our economy, create jobs and our plans for the next four years.
As I look forward to your support for the next coming four years, I can report some distinct forms of progress that demonstrate not only our commitment to increasing the standard of living of Nigerians, but show that our efforts are already yielding good results. First, following the rebasing of our country’s Gross Domestic Product last April, we now know that our economy, estimated at US $510 billion for 2013, is the largest in Africa. This was more than just a statistical exercise: it gives us the data to show how much more diversified and broad-based the economy has become since 1990 and where targeted government intervention can be most effective.
Our economy has been growing at an average of seven per cent per annum in the past decade. That growth is a necessary but not a sufficient factor for judging our economic wellbeing. What we need is more inclusive growth that translates into dividends for all strata of our growing population.
Second, since I assumed office as President of our great country, we have established a reliable mechanism for tracking employment trends. We now know that between 2012 and 2014, we created 2,826,552 total number of jobs. We know where the jobs were created and in what sectors. These are powerful tools in helping to understand what is happening and where we can make best use of public funds. In addition, poverty in Nigeria today is much lower than in 2010. The World Bank recently released its 2014 Nigerian Economic Report (NER), providing the most up to date analysis of the poverty and living standards in the country. It provides evidence that Nigeria’s poverty rate is significantly lower than had been previously reported. From the survey, it is estimated that 33.1 per cent of the population lived below the poverty threshold in 2013.
On three critical economic fronts therefore, we have made progress in the last four years. The foundations for future economic progress have been laid. In the coming four years, I will build on past successes to advance our collective efforts towards creating a new Nigeria. The plans we have are detailed, comprehensive and the product of a wide-ranging consultation exercise that has tapped into the best talent we have at home and abroad.
Before I discuss the plans we have for growth in each sector of the economy, let me first discuss our plans to ensure that we sustain our macroeconomic stability.
Macroeconomic Stability and Nigeria’s Future Economic Growth
I have my share, my goals and aspirations in critical areas of our lives, including security, education and health care. However, progress on all of these will not be possible without a stable macroeconomic environment. The foundation of the future economic progress we seek to make depends on macroeconomic stability. The realization drives our commitment to prudent economic management, fiscal discipline and economic reforms.
During my first administration, to ensure macroeconomic stability, we promoted policies that guaranteed non-inflationary growth as well as protected against the negative impacts from the rest of the world. Such policies, which include proactive fiscal consolidation, flexible monetary policy, effective management of foreign exchange reserves, prudent budgets and price stability in the financial services sector. Recent falls in oil prices have significantly impacted our revenues and the value of our currency. We shall remedy this in the coming years.
In the next four years, we shall rebuild our resources, shore up the value of the naira, grow our economy, and create wealth. Specifically, we will accomplish the following:
We will diversify our sources of revenue and make Nigeria less dependent on oil. We will build on the progress we have made on non-oil revenue sources and move from the current 70:30 ratio to 60:40 for oil and non oil government revenues, respectively.
While respecting the autonomy of CBN, I have directed the monetary and fiscal authorities to work together to enhance our macroeconomic stability, especially price stability.
We will work with the states to strengthen savings in the Excess Crude Account (ECA), increase investments in the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and continue to maintain healthy foreign exchange reserves.
We will continue to increase the short and long term access to finance to critical sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, housing and construction etc and address the long term finance challenges in the economy through deepening our financial system.
Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) will continue to receive special attention as they account for over 45 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP and employ over 60 per cent of the workforce.
We shall revitalize the insurance sector to ensure it fulfils its huge potential, expand the level of risk businesses undertaken and expand insurance sector jobs from the current 30,000 to 300,000.