Dear President Jonathan,
You seem completely unperturbed by the pain the country is going through.
There is deep suffering all across the land on the eve of your departure after 6 years as president. The entire country is spluttering along on less than 1500 mw of power and the fuel scarcity is crippling everything including hospitals, airlines, and radio services. Soon, mobile communication and banking services will be affected.
This state of affairs is costing jobs, costing lives and costing us whatever development has been achieved over the last few years. Analysts say the current state of the nation is reminiscent of the 80s. That is an absolutely depressing thought. Where have 30 years gone?
Maybe that is not the right question. There has always been a ready defense for the shortcomings of your administration along the lines of: “the country already had pre-existing conditions”. Therefore, in the spirit of generosity there is no need to catalogue the hallmarks of your presidency in order to assess you. Four days before your tenure is finally over, one can merely look to two of the most painful aspects of living in Nigeria today and the things that you said about power and the petroleum sector.
Two years ago, precisely around this time, when it was clear to you and to many that you were going to contest the 2015 elections, you and your ministers presented a mid-term scorecard. For Power there were a total of 13 achievements and promises. These included “improved power generation from around 2000 megawatts to 4502 megawatts in December 2012 the highest since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999”; “improved power supply has been boosted in part by the emergency declared in the Gas sector last year (2012) and Nigeria now produces more gas than is required for domestic consumption”; “privatized the power distribution companies (DISCOs) under a most transparent bid process”; and “an unprecedented number of cities and towns across the country are enjoying between 14 to 16 hours of uninterrupted power supply.” The mid term score card promised that by July 2013, “power generation will hit 6,000 megawatts and by December it will hit 10,000 megawatts and that all 10 plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) scheme will be “commissioned by the end of this (2013) year”.
You are leaving two years later and there are Nigerians who have not had a flicker of electricity for four days and babies are dying in incubators. The privatized power companies are struggling and not just because of gas pipeline vandalism. They are battling incompetence, incapacity, price controls and a government transmission company that allegedly cannot successfully execute projects. These were all things that were within your control to do something about.
On oil industry reforms some of the things your administration was most proud of included: “forwarding the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the National Assembly for passage into law”, forensic scrutiny of the fuel subsidy regime “by various agencies and committees” and the “arrest and arraignment of a number of individuals and firms by the EFCC.” Despite rumors about the possibility of one version of the PIB being passed before May 29, this is not going to happen. It is telling though that even two years into your 4-year term and 18 months after the 2012 fuel subsidy removal protests there was nothing about improving our refining capacity in your scorecard. Promises about our refineries were made during the Occupy Nigeria yet as you leave after 6 years in charge, our refineries are allegedly not even at 15% of their installed capacity.
How will you feel as you drive out of Aso Rock and see long queues everywhere? What will you say when your children ask why the generator has to be turned off during the day now that you realise for the first time in 16 years what it is to pay for your own diesel, if you can find it? Stripped of hype and stretch what do you honestly think your lasting legacies will be in power and petroleum? Do you see the death and destruction you leave in your wake or is there still a small voice telling you that you will be vindicated and extolled as Nigeria’s ‘best president’? Perhaps.
You can be proud that in addition to all the legendary hash tags that trended because of your policies and (in)actions #AintNobodyGotFuelForThat will escort you out of Aso Rock on May 29. If there were any justice there would be no fuel for you and your companions and no electricity to light your path when you get home.