‘South West has no basis to distrust President’
The Coordinator of Presidential Strategy Team, Akin Osuntokun, told SEYE OLUMIDE that the Southwest geo-political zone has no reason to doubt President Goodluck Jonathan’s second-term promises for the region. Excerpts:
THERE is no basis for Yoruba to distrust President Jonathan. The strong point Jonathan is using to campaign in the South West is the pledge of establishing the recommendations of the National Conference to make constitutional amendments that would lead to the decentralization and devolution of power.
The process of implementing the resolutions of the conference is already on and there is no reason to doubt the fact that the process would be concluded. Don’t forget that the conference itself comprised delegates from all over the country and the decision they took was arrived at by consensus.
President Jonathan is not going to dictate to Nigeria to do something on behalf of the South West. He is not going to dictate a policy that favours the region against the rest of the country.
He is accepting what the country has decided, which the South West believes servers its interest, particularly in the areas of decentralization and devolution of powers. I don’t think any question of trust arises.
If it appears that his government in the past six years marginalized the region, it wasn’t deliberate on his part but it came about as a result of a default and also a scheming perpetuated by the Yoruba people against a fellow Yoruba person, to the highest position that was zoned to the region, the Speakership.
The South West lost that position because of the collusion that was designed and manipulated by the Yoruba people that were in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) now All Progressives (APC), in collaboration with some renegade PDP members.
They made that position eluded the South West. Therefore if you are looking for somebody to blame, we should know where the blame properly lies.
Why Jonathan deserves the region’s support
In the expenditure of national resources under Jonathan’s government, the South West has the second highest distribution in terms of money spent, zone-by-zone.
If you are thinking about where the infrastructure is located, what about the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, that is the biggest road in the country, although it favours the whole country but it is in the domain of the South West. That is not the only one. If you travel between
Ilesha and Akure; you will see that the road has just been reconstructed. There are other things he achieved in the region.
I am telling you what you should verify on your own and what you should tell people and not the issue of the South West being marginalized. The South West has never been known for running after appointments, it believes in what it can do.
Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was in power for eight years, was there any indication that the Yoruba were favoured in terms of appointments to the exclusion of other zones? If I could remember correctly, almost the opposite was being asserted that the Yoruba people didn’t gain anything under Obasanjo.
There is a limit to how you can stress the issue of appointment as a basis for assessing what somebody has contributed to your zone. For now, the priorities of the South West are not for appointment but that those resolutions of the conference are implemented and anybody who does that would have done wonders.
Allegations of failure against Jonathan
It is an illiterate argument to condemn President Jonathan on the falling economy situation because Nigeria is not isolated from the global economy. Nigeria itself is a very weak member of global economy and it is that weakness that is reflecting on the devaluation of the naira. The price of oil falls drastically and there is no way it won’t have a direct impact on the economy. It leads to the devaluation of the naira.
But he has also not done well in the area of electricity…
I accept that he should have done more in the area of power but at least the ongoing privatization of the sector is a successful unbundling of PHCN. By their nature you are bound to encounter some little itches along the road in implementing things like these.
In regards to power, I want to agree that we ought to have gone further in actualizing stable power but we have to realize that where the problem is now, is mainly in the supply of gas. But this is because of the destruction of the gas pipeline by vandals, which is causing inadequate supply of gas to power the turbine for the generation of adequate electricity. To get power right, there is the need to get that area right as well.
On the economy, I don’t think he has fared badly. I am convinced the administration has done relatively well. Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa now and we have a GDP growth rate of consistently at least 6 or 7 per cent under Jonathan and we have almost a turnaround of the agricultural sector. He has also done well in the area of infrastructural development.