First-ever Leader Appreciation Day held in New York for Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

DIASPORA NIGERIANS IN AMERICA
PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2014

SUCCESSFUL GOODLUCK JONATHAN APPRECIATION DAY OBSERVED THROUGHOUT AMERICA

NEW YORK, New York, June 28  -  A very successful first-ever in the world Goodluck Jonathan Appreciation Day was held on Saturday, June 28, and brought together Nigerians from all walks of life and throughout America in a global teleconference forum that the participants deemed intellectually stimulating and educationally informative.  The Appreciation Day was organized by Diaspora Nigerians in America, the nation-wide organization of Nigerians whose mission is the upholding of Nigeria's constitution and the practice of democracy in the country.

Participants praised the organizers for bringing Nigerians together and affording them an opportunity to show that President Goodluck Jonathan has a lot of support amongst Nigerians in the United States.

Dr. Chika Onyeani, Chairman of the Diaspora Nigerians in America started the meeting exactly at 4:06 pm, by thanking the participants and restating the mission statement of the DNA, describing the organization as a "grass-roots of Nigerians throughout the U.S. whose  aim is upholding the constitution of Nigeria and its democratic practices. In other words, we believe that the constitution of Nigeria should be observed and upheld in deciding issues affecting Nigerians, politically and otherwise.  We believe that Nigerians should be allowed to democratically elect its leaders.  Specifically, we don't believe in rotational presidency."

"More importantly, we believe that President Goodluck Jonathan has every right as a Nigerian to run for reelection in the 2015 Nigerian elections, if his party, the PDP, decided that he should be their flag-bearer, and that Diaspora Nigerians in America would mobilize all its forces and resources in getting him reelected."

In opening the discussion, Dr. Ewa Ewa, Vice Chairman of the Diaspora Nigerians in America, enumerated President Jonathan's accomplishments, including propelling Nigeria's economy to become the largest economy in Africa, providing the necessary environment for Nigeria to attract larger foreign direct investment, installing the right Permanent Representative at the U.N. to secure Nigeria's appointment into the Security Council twice within the four years of his administration, privatizing the power sector so that more electricity could be generated in Nigeria, the appointment of women to powerful ministries in his cabinet, and maintenance and encouragement of a free press.

NIGERIA: LARGEST ECONOMY IN AFRICA

Participants praised the revaluation of the Nigerian economy, making it the largest economy in Africa and surpassing South Africa's economy. but were dismayed that some Nigerians were discarding the revaluation as nothing but a ruse at window-dressing that did nothing in uplifting the lives of the average Nigerian.  Participants pointed out that other countries, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa which form the BRICS countries have used the same method in evaluating their economy.  It was pointed out that all these countries revalue their economies every three years, when Nigeria's revaluation had not taken place since 1990.  The re-basing doubled Nigeria's economy to $509 billion.

According to the Nigeria Development and Finance Forum, "The revaluing will advance Nigeria’s aim to be an African investment hub rivaling South Africa and make it more attractive for prized foreign investment, if its economy turns out to be nearly as big as its rival’s, analysts say.

That could also advance its claim to a permanent seat on the United Nations’ Security Council, if a proposal to expand the Council goes ahead."  In view of the high stakes involved, participants felt that Nigerians should tone down their criticism of the rebasing of the economy.

NIGERIA: FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT

On the issue of Foreign Direct Investment, participants learned that according to UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), "Nigeria remains one of the top three destinations for foreign direct investments (FDI) in Africa, despite current challenges."  UNCTAD said this just as the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) gave its nod, in Vienna, on Wednesday, for the establishment of an Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) in Nigeria.Nigeria's FDI grew by $23 billion during the eight years of Obasanjo's administration, while under the four years of Jonathan's, the FDI now stands at almost $30 billion.

Further, Kalilou Traore, the commissioner for industry and private sector promotion, ECOWAS, who spoke during the UNIDO Forum on Strategies and Instruments for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said the recently launched Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan was a model for Africa, noting that foreign investments would always thrive in the right environment.  It is a notable environment that President Jonathan has created for foreign businesses to thrive.

INFRASTRUCTURE - POWER SECTOR, NIGER 2ND BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION, BUILDING RAILWAYS

The conference proceeded to discuss infrastructure, especially the power sector, building the Niger River 2nd Bridge, from the West to the East, as well as building railways across the country.  I attended Congressman Meeks' Power Africa Wall Street three weeks ago, and witnessed the encomium of praises heaped on the President Jonathan's privatization of the power sector.  On the power sector, according to Guardian, UK, "Nigerian Power Breakthrough Provides New Hope for Millions", and went on to say that critical reforms that provide access to private sector capital will enable Nigeria to overcome its huge deficit in electricity supply.

The Guardian went to write, "On 30th September 2013, the president of Nigeria handed over share certificates and licences to the purchasers of electricity generation and distribution companies. This is a critical step forward for Nigeria, making more difference to the lives of ordinary people than any other in the past decade.

Nigerians have suffered for decades from the inadequate electricity service from the government owned monopoly PHCN, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, commonly known by other names such as 'Please have candle nearby'. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, produces less grid electricity than the Republic of Ireland. South Africans consume 55 times more energy per head, and Americans 100 times more. Over 50% of Nigeria's 160 million people receive no electricity at all.

The lack of a reliable supply and the constant blackouts cause severe economic damage. The cost of alternatives, mainly diesel generation, is at least four times the cost of a reliable power supply. In addition to this direct cost is the negative impact on people's time — this can mean the time spent accessing alternatives, or the time lost because children cannot read in the evenings. The modern world is dependent on access to information, which in turn is only possible with a reliable and constant source of electricity.

The reliable provision of affordable electricity has the potential to tackle both the symptoms and the causes of poverty. Electricity enables hospitals to function more efficiently and people to cook without suffering from wood-smoke pollution. It reduces CO2 emissions by removing the need for highly polluting diesel generators. Most importantly, it would remove the greatest obstacle to doing business in Nigeria and enable manufacturing and other industries to compete internationally. According to the president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Chief Kola Jamodu, 40% of the production cost of manufacturers goes into the provision of electricity, compared to 5-10% in other similar economies.

Annual public sector investment averaging US$2bn has only led to a limited increase in supply, so the Government took the logical decision to privatise the bulk of its power sector assets as one of the key steps in finally delivering an improved service to Nigerians.

2nd NIGER BRIDGE

On March 10, President Jonathan layed the foundation for the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge, the contract of which is being carried out by Julius Berger which pledged that the bridge will be completed on time.

NIGERIA'S MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR NATIONAL HIGH SPEED RAIL PROJECT

Nigeria has received $600 million of what will eventually be billions of dollars to build a 2,000 mile (3,218 km) nationwide high speed rail (HSR) system. The first tranche is a 20 year loan from China’s Export Import Bank to build an 850 mile (1,367 km) section. Eventually the project will cover 54 stations, freight and passenger travel serving the capital Abuja, surrounding areas and most of Nigeria.

Five-hundred million of the loan will go to the railway project and $100 million for Nigeria’s Galaxy Backbone project to improve security in the capital and provide young Nigerians with access to technology.

GENDER - MORE WOMEN APPOINTED TO CABINET

Jonathan had promised that his cabinet would consist of more than 35% women, and he has kept that promise, appointing women to highly sensitive and powerful positions.  According to the President, "Research has shown that countries with greater gender equality  have higher standards of living and significantly more achievements in all facets of the society."

ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY, DEMOCRACY, BOKO HARAM

The most contentious period of the conference was the portion devoted to the discussion of rotational presidency, democracy, Boko Haram, and the creation of the terror group as a means of destabilizing the administration of Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian state. Participants were unanimous in rejecting rotational presidency, contending that it was a way of the north maintaining their unfair advantage in ruling Nigeria.  Participants noted that Nigeria has been independent for 53 1/2 years, but out of those almost 54 years, the North has ruled Nigeria for 38 years, while the South has ruled Nigeria for less than 12 years, including the Obasanjo era of 3 military years and 8 civilian years, 3 months for Ernest Shonekan, making it 11 years and three months for the South West; and then 6 months for the South East under the rule of Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi.  That is a total of 11 years and 9 months for the South as a whole.  By including the 4 years that Goodluck Jonathan has been in office, the South would have had 15 years and 9 months.By next year when President Jonathan concludes his first term in office, the South would have ruled Nigeria for only 16 years and 9 months.  That's less than half the time that the North has ruled the country.  Another four years of Goodluck Jonathan's presidency would have brought only 20 years for the SouthParticipants expressed anger that the North would not want to allow Jonathan to seek a second term, based on an unconstitutionally discredited unverified so-called 'gentleman's' agreement of an rotational presidency.Participants spoke about the need for democracy in Nigeria, and that means that the process of selecting our leaders should be based on democratic principles.  In the case of Goodluck Jonathan, who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it should be up to the party to choose who should be their candidate during their convention.  There is no doubt that there will be people who will oppose Jonathan's candidacy.  If the PDP decides that one of those should be their candidate, rather than Jonathan, then Jonathan should withdraw, but if the PDP should choose Jonathan as their candidate, there shouldn't be any reason why he should not contest the post of the presidency on a second term.The most expressed view was that the North should wait for at least another 12 years before vying for power again in Nigeria.  That would at least bring a little bit of parity between the north and south, with 27 for the south and still a huge 38 years for the north.

THE BOKO HARAM

There was unanimity in belief by participants that Boko Haram was created by some northern leaders to destabilize the government of Goodluck Jonathan.  Having created Boko Haram, most participants argued, it has now outgrown the creators and became an albatross on their necks.  Even a Senegalese lady called in to participate and to assure Nigerians that the Senegalese are behind Nigeria in their fight against Boko Haram, and decried their murderous rampage throughout Nigeria.  "Unless they are defeated," she said, "the whole of the region could suffer from terrorist attacks."But the participants were unanimously in urging President Jonathan to use all the powers of his presidency to find and bring back the Chibok girls, and to stop the impunity of terrorism that Boko Haram is exercising in the country.

CONCLUSION

The Diaspora Nigerians in America has shown that it could mobilize the Nigerian community from all across the United States to participate in a major event, the Goodluck Jonathan Appreciation Day.  Some Nigerians have asked us what has Jonathan achieved to be appreciated?  Well, we showed through independent sources that the Jonathan administration has accomplished many laudable and exemplary projects that are bound to propel Nigeria to the modern era.  A lot of Nigerians operate on hearsay, without facts, but when presented with the facts some of them are bound to change their views.The Goodluck Jonathan Appreciation Day was, as the participants termed, an event that brought facts to them.  The participants want more of this kind of events to educate us about Goodluck Jonathan's notable accomplishments.  They want reasons to support Goodluck Jonathan if his party, the group stands ready to mobilize and support his reelection.

Ends#

To listen to the proceedings of the Goodluck Jonathan Appreciation Day conference, call:
605-562-3132 access code 771294#

For more information on joining

DIASPORA NIGERIANS IN AMERICA,
Please call: Dr. Chika Onyeani - 917-279-4038; Dr. Ewa Ewa - 773-289-7973;
Mr. E. Obebi Olali - 917-648-4260; Dr. Sam Chekwas - 347-445-2107;
Rev. David Kayode - 917-747-0837; Ms.  Ugoji Eze, Esq. - 917-444-2305;
Mr. Phillip Ani - 909-260-4388

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