Tuesday, 25 September 2012

VFS Makes Visa Application Process Easy in Nigeria'

President Goodluck Jonathan after one year and four months in office produced a 155- page catalogue of achievements; all to keep criticism of his administration at bay,
writes Adeola  Akinremi

“Over the next four years, attention will be focused on rebuilding our infrastructure. We will create greater access to quality education and improved health care delivery.  We will pay special attention to the agricultural sector, to enable it play its role of ensuring food security and massive job creation for our people”.
To a spell-bound audience who sat glued to their television and radio on May 29 last year President Goodluck Jonathan said his promises in ways that elicited emotion and applause.  It was the first time the son of a minority will take the gearshift at Aso Rock.  To affirm, he said, “Together, we will unite our nation and improve the living standards of all our peoples whether in the North or in the South; in the East or in the West”.  He spoke too of transformation, “Our decade of development has begun.  The march is on.  The day of transformation begins today.”

Surely, transformation instantly became the signature of his administration. It also stands as the standard by which Jonathan’s words and actions are being measured today. One year after, Nigerians are going back into the book to check Mr. President’s promises, but last week his aides came to town to make a revelation.

Mr. President’s Special Adviser on Research, Strategy and Documentation, Mr. Oronto Douglas and Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe presented a scorecard in a live through way.  A 155 pages account of Jonathan’s achievement through different ministries and agencies of government were captured in one book.  It is called, Sure & Steady Transformation: Progress Report of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The 155 paged book that is beautifully laid out with good pictures is a mantra of progress. The focus of the ministry of Agriculture to assure food security, reduce expenditure on foreign exchange on food imports, diversify the economy, generate foreign exchange and create jobs according to the self score is fulfilling the promise made.
Within the first 12 months, it has recorded great achievements in agricultural policy reforms; transformation of several crops; institutional reforms and international donor support for the agricultural transformation agenda. Corruption in fertilizer distribution has been eliminated, a database of 4.5 million farmers developed, a growth enhancement programme launched to provide targeted support for seeds and fertilizers; electronic wallet system developed using mobile phones to deliver subsidized seeds and fertilizers to farmers  and thirty billion naira leveraged from commercial banks to finance seed and fertilizer supply. The crops with specific transformation programmes include cassava, rice, sorghum, cocoa, cotton and oil palm.

The Ministry of Aviation is also implementing an Aviation Master Plan designed to provide a safe, secure, profitable and self sustaining world class industry with a distinct airport experience for travelers. The ministry has developed a business code for engaging domestic and foreign operators on the flag carrier and national carrier models; an enhanced safety programme/projects; improved regulatory oversight; massive remodeling and reconstruction of airports across the country and capacity building for workers in the sector.

Amongst others, the Ministry of Communication Technology is developing ICT infrastructure and policy for the country. The ministry has launched the NigComSat-IR satellite; deployed PCs to 766 secondary schools; PCs and internet access to 193 tertiary institutions; IT centres in 240 locations; scholarship scheme for masters and PhD students and many other projects.

All listed. The Ministry of defence has rehabilitated several infrastructure including the national war museum; workshops and equipment for the armed forces. There has also been construction and rehabilitation of several barracks, hospitals, cemeteries and procurement of patrol vehicles and vessels. It has also tried to tackle the problems confronting the country including measures to curb the activities of terrorists and criminals and proliferation of small arms and weapons.

The Ministry of Education has developed a 4 year strategic plan for the development of the education sector. The ministry is implementing an Almajiri Education programme; Girl Education programme; back to school programme in South East geo-political zone; technical/vocational education and training and capacity strengthening for principals and teachers. It has also developed library resources; constructed classrooms; awarded scholarships and developed centres of excellence.

The Ministry of Environment within the period of one year has completed the first phase of National Forest for biodiversity conservation; tackled deforestation in seven Northern states by raising six million tree seedlings; engaged in erosion and flood control projects in 62 locations nationwide and increased policy efforts towards the revival of Lake Chad.

The Federal Capital Territory has developed a roadmap for sustainable development of FCTA. It is also engaging in land administration reform; re-established the Satellite Towns Development Agency and massive infrastructural development. The FCT has increased internally generated revenue by 35 percent since 2011.

The Ministry of Finance is focused on restoration of fiscal prudence and steady and successful macroeconomic management resulting in lowering of government fiscal deficit from 3.35 percent of GDP in 2010 to 2.85 percent by 2012; reduction in recurrent expenditure from 77.18 percent of Federal Government budget in 2010 to 71.47 percent by 2012 and raising capital expenditure from 22.82 percent of budget in 2010 to 28.53 percent by 2012 and development of a fiscal framework for 2013 budget that will reduce fiscal deficit to 2.17 percent of GDP, reduce recurrent expenditure to 68.7 percent of budget and increase capital expenditure to 31.3 percent of the budget. Other achievements of the ministry include improved management of government debt; improvement in Nigeria’s sovereign credit rating by Fitch Ratings Agency and Standard and Poor; reinvigorating the capital market; sovereign wealth fund; establishment of the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment (SURE-P) programme and spearheading the YouWIN programme. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs pursued a strong commitment to the promotion of democracy and democratic values in foreign policy, promotion of good neighbourliness, regional security and ensuring the election of Nigerians into international organizations.

The Ministry of Health is implementing the National Strategic Health Development Plan. It is rehabilitating and equipping several teaching hospitals including OAU Teaching Hospital, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and University of Calabar. It has procured syringes, ambulances, blood banks, etc. It is also implementing programmes on disease control and surveillance as well as treatment of diseases and developing human resources for the health sector.

The Ministry of Information has developed a comprehensive communication strategy to communicate government programmes and policies to the public. In addition, the ministry has developed a multi-media communication plan, campaign for nationwide security awareness and anti-terrorism, promotion of vision 20:2020 and the transformation agenda,  and capacity building for staff of the ministry.
The Ministry of Interior has formulated a new investor/tourist friendly visa policy; and has  been involved in control of illegal immigrants; and control of private guards companies. It has also constructed paramilitary villages and offices across the country.

The Ministry of Justice has articulated a strategy for implementation of Justice Reforms in Nigeria. It has also drafted and gazetted subsidiary instruments to give effect to principal laws and collaborated with various organizations on the anti-corruption crusade.

The Ministry of Labour and Productivity managed the fuel subsidy removal crisis and negotiated with several labour unions on the national minimum wage and other labour issues. It has also constructed training centres and conducted training on entrepreneurial skill.

But, as the nation grew in population and economic prowess, Analysts say pragmatic, practical actions are required for public works like good roads to grease the wheels of nation’s automobiles, stable electricity to improve investment drive, public goods like schools to create more skilled workers, and social security to help those who the market failed.

The Director of Centre for Social Justice(CENSOJ), Mr Eze Onyekpere whose work in the civil society is well acknowledged said some urgent actions much more are needed. “I am aware of the sure and steady transformation book, but something more is required. I have not seen the book though and that means something is fundamentally flawed, if I am a part of those who worked on the book and I have not seen a copy.”


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