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52 Years after Independence, Nigerian President Jonathan Says It Will Rise to Greatness

On the 52nd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan today gave a speech spelling out the ways that the country has progressed in recent years and telling his citizens that the future will see Nigeria rise to become an even greater economic power.

Jonathan, who became president in May 2010, sought to reassure Nigerians that despite all its recent challenges with issues like security and the failures of the power grid, the nation is making progress.

“I call on every Nigerian to rediscover that special spirit that enables us to triumph over every adversity as a people,” said Jonathan, whose speech was broadcast nationwide. “We weathered the storm of the civil war, we have refused to be broken by sectarian crises; we have remained a strong nation.  I bring to you today, a message of renewed hope and faith in the immense possibilities that lie ahead.”

Jonathan pointed out that the “Transformation Agenda” has brought significant change in recent years, such as the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product rising by an average of 7.1 percent in the last two years in the midst of a global economic meltdown—and Jonathan pointed out the significance of the growth being driven by the non-oil sector.

“We are working hard and making progress on many fronts. We have cleaned up our electoral process; our elections are now globally acclaimed to be free and fair. Nigeria is now on a higher pedestal regarding elections,” he said.

The president said Nigeria has become “the preferred destination for investment in Africa,” receiving more than 20 percent of the foreign investment that flows into Africa. To this end, Jonathan pointed to a new streamlined visa process making it easier for legitimate investors to remain in the country for extended periods—leading to the registration of nearly 7,000 companies in the second quarter of 2012.

“Even as we remain focused on the issue of security, the fight against the scourge of corruption is a top priority of our Administration,” Jonathan said. “We are fighting corruption in all facets of our economy, and we are succeeding. We have put an end to several decades of endemic corruption associated with fertilizer and tractor procurement and distribution.  We have exposed decades of scam in the management of pensions and fuel subsidy, and ensured that the culprits are being brought to book. In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption.”

Jonathan concluded by invoking his predecessors, who built the foundation upon which he works.

“The baton is now in our hands. Let me assure all Nigerians that we shall not fail,” he said. “I am confident that Nigeria will continue to be a source of pride to its citizens; to Africa and the Black Race and to humanity; a land that is known for progress, freedom, peace and the promotion of human dignity.”

But while Jonathan spoke to his countrymen, an analysis on by Omoh Gabriel wasn’t quite as soaring in its assessment of Nigeria’s leadership. Gabriel said that effective leadership means action, much more than giving good speeches. He said the nation is still waiting on Jonathan to prove he is a man of action, but that Nigeria’s future could be great if it takes the proper steps.

“Many have asserted that Nigeria is a failed state,” Gabriel writes. “This is far from the truth. Nigeria is a land of ample opportunity and immense possibility. In a fast changing and evolving world, where weaklings of yester years have become economic giant and the strong of yesterday are fading in economic glory and becoming weaklings Nigeria has a chance to make a difference.”

Gabriel said that judging by Nigeria’s growth of 6-7 percent in recent years without a regular reliable power supply, “when eventually the country gets the power equation right, the economy will frog leap.”

“President Barack Obama himself declared Nigeria as the world’s next economic success story,” Gabriel writes.

But many obstacles remain, according to Gabriel, primary among them is the country getting back to its well-planned program of development.

“Nigeria needs to return to its roots, plan, strategise and push to become relevant in the eyes of other nations,” he writes. “This will require greater sacrifices especially in terms of established consumptions habits if resources are to be freed for pressing development needs. There will be no room for subsidy. It must free resources for development. This strategy will demand a greater spirit of innovations, hard work, and greater utilization of domestic resources and in particular, the involvement of the masses especially at the local level in the development process. A conscious effort must be made to mobilize the Nigeria masses–the entire Nigeria population for the implementation of the new Nigeria vision.”

According to Gabriel, if China could rise from obscurity to become the world’s second largest economy behind the United States, Nigeria can rise as well.

“Nigeria and China has certain things in common, a growing population, an emerging middle class that constitute a huge market for industrial products, a huge land mass,” he writes. “Yes, Nigeria can move into the league of top economies of the world. All that Nigeria needs is an effective leadership.”

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