IS BRAND NIGERIA BEING TRANSFORMED BY GOODLUCK JONATHAN?
What will your answer be if you are presented with the above poser? That will depend to a great extent on your personal experience of the effects of President Jonathan’s administration. Since a brand is a sum of its attributes, benefits and associations. As individuals and institutions we strive for the higher ideals of burnishing our physical attributes in order to belong in certain associations but what we offer to people around us (the benefits) is the true essence of the personality brand.
President Goodluck Jonathan has articulated his transformational model in the now famous Transformation Agenda. This is a medium term strategy (2011-2015) which has been designed to shape the focus and direction of his administration in meeting Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges and long term development aspirations.
The Transformation Agenda is founded on, and draws inspiration from the Vision 20:2020 Economic Transformation Blueprint, which is a long term plan for stimulating Nigeria’s rapid growth and development through a diversified, sustainable and competitive economic environment. An improved budget process following the launching of Medium Term Economic framework aimed at reducing recurrent expenditure and freeing more resources for capital projects is on-going and the country now enjoys a sovereign rating of B+/B by S&P, with a target to achieve investment grade (BBB) by 2015. The president has rightly identified the implementation of the Power Roadmap, as critical to the success of his administration. A lot of transformation is taking place in Agriculture as well as trade and investment. However, a key factor needs to be critically addressed. This is the transport sector.
President Jonathan’s administration expects total investment for the transport sector during the period 2011-2015 to be approximately N4, 465 billion. The investment would cover roads, railways, inland waterways, ports and airports development. The main policy thrust during the Plan period is to evolve a multimodal, integrated and sustainable transport system, with greater emphasis on rail and inland waterways transportation. An enabling environment for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is to be created by designing new policies, legislation and institutional framework that would support the envisaged transformation of the sector.
The above planned budget is definitely inadequate. That is why we need to urgently put in place an integrated transportation policy now. It is common knowledge that economic activities thrive when there is a free flow of goods and people. Nigeria is losing a lot to the absence of an efficient transport system. People spend too much time transiting by road and even by air while marine transportation is almost non-existent except for international cargo ships. It is not uncommon these days for an air traveller to spend as much as 10 hours for a one-hour flight due to cancelled or rescheduled flights. It is clear that present operators are simply over-whelmed. The Central Bank of Nigeria made some critical intervention about 2 years ago but the result was more in favour of banks that had previously exposed themselves to the airline owners, as they were able to recoup some of their loans. Government should also launch a roap-map to transport efficiency for Nigeria. This should involve the CBN, ministries of works, transport, aviation, marine and rail agencies as well as other professional stakeholders. This is necessary because much of the problem may be due to the separation of the various agencies handling different aspects of transportation. If the works ministry is on the same page with his transport and aviation counterparts, they will play complementary roles to one another for the overall benefit of the nation.
President Jonathan set the tone for his transformation crusade with the appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega. It is true that though we are not yet in the Promised Land, elections have since been generally seen as fair and credible. A lot of great things are unfolding in the agriculture sector, telecommunications, trade and investments is improving and there is a general consensus that power did improve within the course of the year though some people believe that performance in this sector is abating with the exit of erstwhile Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji. The dire security situation in the country, systemic corruption and cake-sharing mentality poses a great challenge to the Jonathan administration. Many commentators agree that fixing corruption will greatly lift Nigeria to the path of development. This fact is obviously not lost on President Goodluck Jonathan who is reported to have said “corruption is the system where equals are treated unequally”.
I look forward to seeing great brands emerge from the agric value-chain transformation, with the FDIs pouring into the country from the activities of the trade and investment ministry, as well as our GDP rising well above global average, the economic condition of the average Nigerian being greatly enhanced while our educational and health sectors become greatly revamped. The president’s team has consistently asserted that the rot that President Goodluck Jonathan met on ground was too deep and too far-reaching. It would take time to rebuild. They have also promised that Nigerians shall begin to see some of the dividends of the transformation agenda from 2013. Well, 2013 is just around the corner. We shall definitely celebrate the achievements and condemn any setback or failures as we collectively view our president and nation from the threshold of history, I cannot but pray that we shall have more reasons for celebration.
Generally, I would say President Jonathan is doing the right things with the right people in some key places while he may have to review his policies especially in the area of transportation, security and the fight against corruption. In another year or so one would be in a better position to answer categorically if President Goodluck Jonathan is indeed the transformer that Nigeria deserves. Meanwhile, I wish us all goodluck!