Johnson: X-raying the Jonathan years
RECENTLY, some APC stalwarts, principally the party chairman claimed that Nigeria has deteriorated under the administration of President Jonathan and that APC offers a better solution, but is that true ? Rather than make subjective claims, it is better to examine the facts by global verifiable standards. The most acceptable global composite standard for judging progress or development is the HDI Index. Many accept that Nigeria has not moved as fast as it should in this index. It measures three basic dimensions of human development, namely, long and healthy life, knowledge and a descent standard of living. The highest development is measured as 1, and anything below from 0.9 to 0.01 are a continuum from very high to very low respectively. But if we examine the facts from this measurement, in 2013 the Nigerian measurement on this index is 0.504. ln 2010 when Jonathan came to office, the Nigerian measure was 0.492, but in 1985 when Buhari left office Nigeria was second from last at the bottom of the table with our rating at 0.421. So even though Nigeria has not reached the highest ratings such as 0.810 to 0.870, under the Jonathan administration Nigeria has moved up the Index since the time of Buhari.
But to show that this is a factual measure, if we examine some of the key indicators which make up this index such as life expectancy, which measures how long a person will live if all the prevailing conditions at his/her birth remain so throughout the person’s life, we also see that, in 2012 the life expectancy of a Nigerian was 52.7, in 2010 it was 51 when the Jonathan administration came to power. There are some who will say that this is an effort to polish the image of the administration, but these measures are not conducted by Nigeria but by independent organs allied with the United Nations to measure the progress of mankind, and they often speak frankly to developing nations to let us know that where we are currently is far from the ideal and we should keep aspiring to that ideal. But what is the APC offering? Looking back at the life expectancy of Nigerians in 1985 when Buhari left office, it was 47.18 years and by 1999 when the civilians took over from the military that claims to have come to correct the ills of democracy, the life expectancy of Nigerians had actually fallen to 46.71 years.
Moreover, it must also be pointed out that, although the national average in terms of HDI measurement is used as the standard for a country, it does not reflect the lived reality of everyone or the reality everywhere in a country. This is especially true for some of the indicators used to measure the HDI such as the standard of living which usually takes account of things like poverty rate and distribution of poverty. If we take the national distribution of poverty, low life expectancy and low literacy rates in Nigeria, it will be found that the worst indicator measurements can be found in states that were formally ANPP. The leadership value of ANPP can be directly associated with the leading presidential candidate that APC is offering as an alternative to the Jonathan administration. And the APC is saying publicly that the development that Nigeria is boasting about does not reflect on the people, but in actual fact, it is states under the leadership of the legacy members of APC which is pulling down the national average. The data from states under Buhari’s former legacy parties, are pulling down the national average. If we take away the data from these states, we might fare a lot better, but what it means is that what has worked better in other states should be emulated by these states, not the other way around. Speaking quite frankly, it means that the Buhari way does not offer objective and quantifiable progress.
So the question needs to be asked, what is APC offering Nigerians? Is it progress or regression? Because apart from these quantitative facts, the APC is also offering qualitative expectations; they tell us that Buhari is an upright leader without administrative blemish. But many have pointed to the public records, not political statements to verify this claim.
They point to human rights abuses, Tai Solarin spent 17 months in jail arrested with an illegal warrant of arrest which had only a photocopy of the signature of the Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters. A Nigerian journalist, Vera Ifudu published that she was informed by the late Chief Olusola Saraki who was then in the Nigerian Senate when the matter was probed that, the 2.8 billion United States dollars which was missing at the NNPC under the Obasanjo regime while Buhari was Minister of Petroleum was traced to a private account/s at the Midlands Bank in the United Kingdom. She was forced to resign because of this story without evidence to refute her story. Fela Ransome-Kuti was arrested for possession of foreign exchange by the Buhari regime, money that was meant for the upkeep of his band on a foreign tour, he was forced to spend 18 months in jail, by a judge who was forced to imprison him by the Buhari regime; whereas on the same matter of illegal foreign exchange, when the Buhari regime was kicked out, his head of security, Lawal Rafindadi was found to have operated several personal foreign accounts, and until he died he was still fighting to unfreeze the accounts seized from him. Also, Buhari and his deputy, Tunde Idiagbon, made a law for Nigerians, that no one, under 18 years, should go on pilgrimage to the holy land Mecca but Idiagbon himself was found returning from Hajj with his 14 year-old son, when they were dethroned. Buhari was aware that Idiagbon went on hajj with his under-aged son. So they made one law for themselves and another for the rest of the country. Similarly, while Buhari was Chairman of PTF, an audit of the Agency found that over N25 billion was stolen through the person appointed as the sole consultant in charge of all the transactions of the agency; and who died when the audit committee was constituted. Some say he committed suicide to hide the facts; we will never know, but the audit found many cases of clear over-invoicing and importation of expired products by the agency. Therefore, looking at the quantitative progress of HDI indicators since 1985 and qualitative evidence, the farce of Buhari’s mythical uprightness, it is hard to understand, where the confidence of the APC lies that it is offering Nigeria a better choice for 2015
• Johnson wrote from Lagos.