Goodluck: A Leap To Limelight
That Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is sitting on the pinnacle of power in Nigeria today as President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces may well be described as an act of fate.
In about a decade ago, Jonathan himself barely knew how fate and fortune would smile at him. But between 1999 and 2010, Goodluck’s life has been one of luck and surprises. He has lived up to his name: Goodluck!
Born on November 20, 1957 to a peasant farmer called Jonathan, nobody, not even his parents, ever imagined that the little Goodluck would become so famous beyond the rural confines of his humble homestead in Otuoke, Ogbia Kingdom, Bayelsa State.
Although, his parents christened him Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, his grandmother preferred to call him Azikiwe in the hope that the illustrious name would leave a political imprint of glory on his impressionable mind, and lead him to repeat the exploits of the great Zik of Africa. Today, that hope has not only come to reality, Jonathan has lived up to all his names: Goodluck, Ebele, Azikiwe.
Luck began to thrust himself on Jonathan since his secondary school days at Mater Dei High School when he was appointed, in form three, a class prefect and secretary of the Food Committee, an administrative body of hostel masters and senior students in 1973. He later assumed the exalted office of the Chairman, Committee of Prefects, the position he held till he graduated from the school with a distinction in the West African School Certificate (WASC) examination.
After his university education in the University of Port Harcourt, where he bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology with second class honours, Goodluck Jonathan began his career as a teacher in 1982 at lresi town in Oyo State (now in Osun State) where he had his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. He later took up appointment as a classroom teacher in Rivers State and was later upgraded to the rank of Science Inspector of Education in the Rivers State Ministry of Education. A year later, he moved to the Rivers State College of Education where he picked up his chalk again as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Since then, providence has begun to play a great role in the life of Jonathan. From the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Commission (OMPADEC) where he served as an Assistant Director between 1993 and 1998, Goodluck ventured into the rough waters of Nigerian politics. And within a twinkle of an eye, he rose to become the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This appears to be the starting point of his rising profile.
As Deputy Governor, Jonathan showed himself to be an exemplary lieutenant and a pillar of support to his boss, Chief Diepriye Alamieyeseigha.
Providence, however, played the impartial umpire when the wind of fate threw DSP Alamieyeseigha down from the rostrum over allegations of money laundering, and Jonathan succeeded him first the Acting Governor on December 12,2005 and later as substantive governor after the impeachment of Alamieyesigha.
Within the short period he ruled as Bayelsa State governor, Jonathan endeared himself to the hearts of the people, such that many Bayelsans were pleading with him to contest the 2007 gubernatorial election in the state. Goodluck too could not resist the temptation. He had already prepared to run for the governorship election. But fate and luck had a better offer for him.
In 2007, Jonathan, to the surprise of many Nigerians, including his friends and close associates, was picked by the ruling party, PDP to run as vice-president, on the same ticket with the presidential flagbearer of the party, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Even though, many commentators, in the run-up to the presidential election in 2007, denigrated. Yar’ Adua and Jonathan as lame ducks or better still puppets, the duo emerged the winners of the election.
Jonathan’s loyalty to his former boss, in the course of Alamieyeseigha’s trial, and his commitment to service and unity of the country were said to have endeared him to the the PDP leadership which chose him as Yar’ Adua’s running mate. And throughout the period he served as the vice-president of the country, Jonathan demonstrated unshakable loyalty both to his boss and the PDP leadership.
For the umpteenth time however, providence came into play and luck thrust itself on Jonathan when President Yar’Adua was flown to Saudi Arabia on November 23, 2009 for treatment of pericarditis-acute inflammation of the membrane around the heart.
In the midst of the confusion that reigned over Yar’Adua’s ill-health and the cacophony of voices that trailed the president’s long absence from office, the two arms of the National Assembly, on February 9, this year, passed a resolution that mandated the Vice-President to take over the presidential power in acting capacity. Since then, Jonathan has proved himself to be a visionary leader with exemplary character.
Yesterday, however, Jonathan rose to the peak of his political career when he was sworn in as the 14th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following the death of Yar’Adua on Wednesday, May 5, 2010.
There is no doubt that Jonathan is a gentleman of no mean repute and a modest leader who does not give to flamboyance. But, he is a man of strong will and character whose stint as a former deputy governor of Bayelsa State for six years, Governor for two years, Vice-President for two and half years and Acting President for three months had offered him some kind of training on quality leadership.
The recent changes he made in the Federal Executive Council are living testimonies. He fired the first salvo by demoting Mr Michael Aondoakaa, whose utterances were causing the Federal Government an embarrassment, from the prestigious position of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to a less fancied Ministry of Special Duties. He, however, demonstrated his rare political skills and ability on Wednesday, March 17 when he threw many ministers off balance through a cabinet reshufflement.
Meanwhile, Jonathan’s recent visit to the United States President Barrack Obama added more grease to his rising profile. Not many leaders have that kind of opportunity. He particularly gave a good account of himself as one of Nigeria’s most educated and intelligent political leaders during his interview with the CNN last month.
Given Jonathan’s low-profile background, and as a man who had tasted the other side of life before his sudden rise, the President abides in the consciousness of many Nigerians, especially the people of the Niger Delta who see him not only as a bridge builder, but also as an agent of change and development.
It is also in the light of this that many Nigerians are demanding that he translates his fortune and names: Goodluck and Ebele (which mean luck and mercy) into goodluck and mercy for the Nigerian populace, especially workers who are demanding for a reasonable wage increase.
Developing The Non-Oil Sector
A common feature in the Christmas messages last year, was “hope”. From the political leaders to religious heads and many others, Nigerians were encouraged to be hopeful for a better Nigeria from this year and beyond despite the daunting challenges facing the nation. The citizens were urged to do everything within their powers to ensure that Nigeria bounces back again both economically and otherwise.
The most striking of them all was the message by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Hassan Mathew Kukah. It partly reads, “… So, we need a change of strategy so that we can turn a new page. We need a new strategy to confront those who sit on the throne of power in arrogance and are determined to reduce our country to a jungle. We need a new strategy that separates men and women of honour from those who have chosen dishonour. We need a new strategy that provides a clearer moral guide for ordinary citizens who, based on the moral strength of culture and religion, are seeking to build a good society, even if with straws. We need to stand up and stand firm. We need new mechanisms for saying no to the violence of governance”.
Indeed, in the coming year, 2023, there must be a deliberate effort to change how things have been done in the past in the country so as to birth a better Nigeria. One of the greatest desires of any nation is the need to build a resilient economic system that is self-sustaining, highly competitive, and externally visible. Citizens of every nation too desire a strong and reliable economy and a conducive environment where they could live and operate satisfactorily. To this end, nature endowed nations of the world with natural and human (intellectual) resources through which they could develop economically and sustain her citizens.
However, no country of the world, Nigeria inclusive, could grow or develop effectively despite her natural endowments without depending on another country. This growth is mostly enhanced through trade and export.Before Nigeria gained independence in 1960, her economy was dominated by trade and export and the non-oil sector (agricultural and solid mineral sub-sector) was the mainstay of her economy and the greatest foreign exchange earner contributing about 65 per cent of her (Nigeria) aggregate income.The non-oil economy can be defined as economic activities that are not directly or indirectly related to the petroleum and gas industries. These are the manufacturing, agriculture, services, telecommunications, the financial sector (banking and insurance) activities and tour operator (hotel, restaurant, park) aside others.
According to a recent research, seven non-oil activities in percentages contributed to the Nigeria Economy in Q2 of 2022 and they include Agriculture – 23.2 %, Trade- 16.8 %, Telecoms -15.0%, Manufacturing- 8.65 %, Crude oil and Gas -6.33 %, Real Estate -5.33% while Financial and Insurance contributed 4.25%. On August 23, 2022, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) announced that Nigeria exported over 4.146 million metric tons of non-oil products worth $2.593 billion from January to June 2022.
From the Executive Director of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak, the progress report of $2.593 billion represents a 62.37 per cent increase in non-oil export recorded in the year as against the $1.59 billion and $981.44 million recorded in the first half of 2021 and 2020 respectively. Yakusak said that the report was also the highest half year non-oil export performance since 2018 which contributed significantly to the nation’s economic growth in the face of a global economic recession that affected most businesses in 2021.
He said it also contributed to poverty alleviation, industrial development and foreign exchange employment earnings for the country. “The figures of 4.146 million metric tons of product worth $2.593 billion exported between January and June 2022 culled from the non-oil export performance reports of various pre-shipment inspection agents, reinforces NEPC’s campaign to embrace non-oil export trade as a viable means of economic growth,” he said. The NEPC Executive Director equally hinted that over 200 different products, ranging from manufactured, semi-processed, solid minerals to raw agricultural products, were reportedly exported in the period under review.He said that unlike what was applicable in the past, products exported from the country were gradually shifting from the traditional agricultural products to semi-processed/manufactured goods.
Yakusak equally said that during the period under review there was no incidence of export rejections while different Nigerian products were exported to 112 countries including America, Asia, Europe, Oceania regions and some Africa countries adding that of this number Brazil, US and India were the top three export destinations based on the value of imports. “With 572 companies reportedly participating in exporting products, analysts’ belief it is an indication that Nigerian businesses are gradually embracing the diversification campaign of the NEPC by venturing into non-oil exports,” he said.
On their own part, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) said it is working assiduously with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies to end the rejection of Nigeria’s products in the international market. To this end, the Minister of FMITI, Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo, recently inaugurated a Technical Committee on Export Rejects charged with the responsibility of identifying the major causes of the rejection of the agro produce and proffering appropriate recommendations.
The committee headed by the Director, Commodities and Export Department, Mr. Suleiman Audu, is expected to make recommendations that would assist the promotion of non-oil commodity exports which had led to farmers and product aggregators partnering to explore the export market for their products. Before Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, her economy was mainly dominated by trade and export of non-oil producing products. With the discovery of crude oil, the country’s economic dependence shifted from non- oil products to crude oil. Today, the near negligence of non-oil products is having its toll on the nation’s economy.
Despite its abundant arable land and over 200 million people, Nigeria cannot feed its citizens. Successive administrations at both federal and state levels have claimed to be investing in agriculture with little or nothing to show for it. Rather, the country has become one of the largest importers of food in the world. All kinds of good items from all over the world find their way into Nigeria. We import wheat, sugar, fish, milk, vegetables, fruits, rice and other food items which could be abundantly produced locally. Incidentally, the constant plummeting of the naira has sky-rocketed the prices of virtually every item in the market. The result is that many Nigerians today go hungry. The incoming administration across all levels must therefore make improvement in agriculture, manufacturing, the creative industry and other non-oil sectors a top priority.
As stated earlier, the current administration claims to have done so well in exportation of non-oil products, although many Nigerians have disputed such bogus claims, the incoming government is therefore expected to take it a notch higher. Some stakeholders in the agricultural sector have posited that with over 79 million hectares of arable land, diversified ecological conditions, abundant water resources and adequate rainfall and sincere commitment by the government, poverty, joblessness, and hunger will be completely eliminated in the country and the country will have enough to export. But all these will remain a tall order, thereby dashing the hope of a better nation if the problems of insecurity and corruption are not sincerely dealt with.
Other issues affecting the non-oil sector like the weakening of the naira, lack of infrastructure, poor power supply and many others must be adequately addressed. The next leaders of the country must think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions that will skyrocket the Nigerian non-oil sector to an all-time high performance. It is important that Nigerians take their fate by their hand by ensuring that they elect the best persons that will pilot the affairs of government at various tiers of government in this general elections.
By: Calista Ezeaku
Gender Equality And Path To Sustainable Development Goals
Disparities between women and men with regards to access to and control of economic resources and political power constitute a hindrance to bridging gender equality gaps.
As the gender variable enters the sustainable development equation, attention is now drawn to creating a better understanding of the role of gender equality and equity in poverty alleviation and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is pertinent to advance that gender equality agitation does not ignore the biological differences between men and women especially as regards reproductive roles.
Rather, it helps to appreciate the uniqueness of each gender group and the importance of bringing the different needs and priorities of both women and men into development plans.
According to the Gender Snapshot 2022 Report by UN women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), at the current rate it will take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report further reveals how gender disparities are worsening due to COVID-19 pandemic, violence, climate change and backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health rights.
It said these factors will make it difficult for many countries to meet SDG number 5 by 2030 deadline. SDG number 5 seeks to achieve gender equity and empowerment of women and girls.
The report highlighted the need for cooperation, partnership and investment to put the world back on track towards achieving the goal.
“Without swift action, legal systems that do not ban violence against women, or protect their rights in marriage and family, may continue to exist for generations to come”, it said.
Some stakeholders have advocated increased gender response in budgeting to promote awareness, equity and equality as part of the measures to close the widening gaps.
They said there is the need to ensure that women and men are free to develop their full potential and are able to make choices without restrictive gender roles.
Mrs Felicia Onibun, National Coordinator, 100 Women Lobby Group, at a workshop on Gender Responsive Budgeting Framework in Abuja, highlighted the need for a gender budgeting that is inclusive and captures women, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and all vulnerable people.
“Budgeting for gender response is important because women’s needs are different from men’s need. What a woman needs to achieve her goal is different from what a man needs”, she said.
Similarly Mrs Tayo Erinle, Executive Director, Talitha Cumi Foundation, said increased gender budgeting and budget performance will address discrimination, bias and other forms of violence against women and children.
Therefore, women and men’s need and interests are to be equally valued and protected if any nation is to achieve sustainable development.
Countries with wide gender gaps are found to exhibit poor indicators of growth like poor nutrition, high maternal and infant mortality rates, poverty, low life expectancy, low level of education and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
A major concern in many African countries is the continued low representation of women at all levels of governance and economic negotiations, especially at grassroots level.
A gender activist, Chinonso Okechukwu, at a recent media forum in Lagos said this anomaly must be addressed for any meaningful development to take place.
Okechukwu, the Focal Person of Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), decried the low female representation and participation in the public service and politics in Nigeria.
According to her the national average of women’s political participation has remained at 6.7 per cent in elective and appointive positions, a figure she said was not good enough
Women and men’s voices must be heard in all areas of development, including climate change, poverty and drafting of strategies and programmes for sustainable development.
Experts say governance must be gender-sensitive for it to be equitable, sustainable and effective.
Prof. Joy Ezeilo, the Founder of Women of Aid Collective (WACOL), an NGO, also frowns at the dismal participation of women in politics, saying many of them have continued to be disenfranchised.
“And there is no way we can make claims to sustainable development without full participation of women in governance and indeed in all sectors including economy,’’ she was quoted by the media as saying.
According to her because of the ‘mercantile politics‘ practiced in Nigeria most women cannot afford to venture into politics and be part of decision making and implementation processes.
“Sometimes women economic status also affects their political careers,’’ she said.
The Church And A New Hope For Nigeria
When a famous French statesman and writer,Alexis de Tocqueville,visited the United States of America not too long after its revolutionary independence from the colonial English power, he discovered a pleasant serenity that was present all over the vast land. He said he sought the answer everywhere, schools, offices, government institutions etc. After a diligent search, he got nowhere near resolving the puzzle.
Finally, the European wrote: ‘’I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbours, her ample rivers, her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich higher learning and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic congress and her matchless constitution and it was not there. Not until I went to the Churches of America did I understand the secret of her genius and power.’’ Tocqueville said the prosperity of the United States at the time of his trip in the first half of the 19thCentury was due to the reliance of the citizens and their leaders on the messages of their Church leaders.
He was not speaking of a US version of Christian theocracy. He was simply saying that although the Americans ran a secular system with human beings and their business, administrative, educational and economic organs fully in place, they still allowed room for the messengers of God to guide them. In other words, the people were not overwhelmed and distracted by physical pursuits to satisfy physical needs. They sought the balance commanded by Jesus Christ: man must not live by bread alone, but by every word that flows from God.
Man is in grave danger if he dwells on materialism to the utter neglect of the spiritual. This is the point repeatedly made by Pastor William FolorunsoKumuyi, the General Superintendent (GS) of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, DCLM, as he mounts the rostrum to preach at his now well-received world-wide revival programmes called Global Crusade with Kumuyi, GCK. Being an unrepentant servant of Heaven determined to heed the call of God to preach only the truth that frees man from bondage, Kumuyi has been noted to do just that over the decades.
So, when in October 2021, Kumuyi’s GCK train arrived in Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria’s South-South Rivers State, no one doubted that he brought a message amounting to a full-orbed teaching to humanity. Like the Frenchman Tocqueville, Kumuyi showed that true and lasting prosperity goes beyond material wealth and riches, plenty of which Rivers State, through its oil resources could boast of. But the point is not to trust in the gift of this abundance. Instead, the Lord wants man to honour the Giver of these riches more. That, according to Kumuyi, is the non-negotiable demand from Heaven to trigger more blessings.
So, coming with the theme, Showers of Blessingsthrough Christ, the cleric said that all humanity was truly promised the goodness of their Creator. Starting with God’s famous proclamation in the Bible in Ezekiel 34:26 where He prophesizes ‘’showers of blessing’’, Kumuyi said man should go deeper than thinking of these showers only in terms of material possessions. He spoke of a transcendent possession, namely salvation of the soul, which, according to him, opens up fuller and more meaningful relationship with Heaven, the headquarters and home of all good and lasting riches.
In effect, the revered evangelist was taking his audience back to the spiritual grundnorm enunciated by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:33: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
This is the message the whole materialistic world needs. But let’s start with Port Harcourt, capital of wealthy oil-soaked Rivers State. Its people must not be spiritually complacent, feeling self-sufficient, not conscious of a missing factor, because they have some showers of blessings already. Pastor Kumuyi said he brought the crusade to Port Harcourt to open the eyes of the people to see more depths of blessings. He told them that without first embracing Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, they would not only lose those blessings, but also they would be bereaved of joy here in the world and in the life after death. Kumuyi said “all humanity comprising all races, tribes and peoples have sinned and stand condemned before God,’’ no matter the level of their prosperity. The General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry said the only solution is Christ’s Salvation, not a rat race for more riches or acquisition of property.
This applies to a world ensnared in the fever of explosive scientific and technological inventions and discoveries. Of course, all these are leading man to an unprecedented age of material blessings, threatening to ostracize God altogether from his world. This, argues Kumuyi, is the path of destruction, self-immolation. He called on the people to step away from the tip overlooking the consuming valley.What will follow such a wise decision to renounce worldliness and opt for the counsel of God?
Kumuyi said man will be positioned for unspeakable bliss as he settles for Christ. He proved this at the Port Harcourt crusade as he led thousands of sinners to salvation. Thereafter, following breakthrough prayers byKumuyi, God brought down miracles, healings, deliverances and signs with wonders to the people.
A man afflicted with prostate enlargement and high blood pressure was delivered. Another who was a member of a cultic society said after Pastor appeared to him in a dream he was saved from the demonic affiliation. There was the case of one who was freed from the unbearable pain after 13 years’ dislocation of his right arm. There was also the great miracle of a woman who was born with two navels. She lived with that condition for 21 years, until Kumuyi prayed and one of the navels disappeared. Incredible!
Pastor Kumuyi says the lesson from all these supernatural miracles from Heaven is that there is hope for lost man with room for more blessings than the relatively meagre showers we are celebrating at the moment. But first, he pleads, we must forsake the waywardness that separates us from God and prevents us from enjoying Him full length.
That is how Nigeria and its people can also be delivered from the challenges besetting us, the same way the United States of America was in the first half of the 19th Century.
By: Israel Mkpaoro
Dr. Mkpaoro is the Coordinator of the International Friendship League (IFL), Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
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