Mr. Jonathan was speaking at the Presidential Villa where he unveiled a new performance assessment scheme for his ministers, a mechanism which, he said, will help highlight government’s targets and achievements in all sectors of governance.
He blamed the necessity for the new performance evaluation mechanism on the mass media, which he said no longer reflects the voice of the ordinary man.
“Before, the media used to be the voice of the ordinary people,” he said in his speech. “But now, the media is the voice of those who own the media houses and those who owned the media houses have private jets and those who own private jets are not ordinary people.”
The remarks came at a time that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who leads the opposition Action Congress (ACN), and who owns newspapers of his own, was describing the government Jonathan leads as a massive bureaucracy suffering from “elephantiasis.”
Mr. Tinubu was in Washington DC, and speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the subject, “Current Developments in Nigeria; The View of the Opposition.”
The former Lagos State governor has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the Jonathan administration. Mr. Tinubu is also known to be working with other opposition parties towards unseating the PDP federal administration in 2015.
He told his American audience that the federal government is too powerful, and that this has led to deeper corruption as well as other problems.
Said Mr. Tinubu, “We are at our worst poverty level, education is degenerating, industries are moving out of Nigeria, we have zero capital development project, the only thing the government is doing is borrowing, and we have Boko Haram.”
He spoke about the need to decentralize political power as a panacea for these problems, pointing out how Mr. Jonathan has authority over the federal legislature, a pattern that he said has been the case since the PDP assumed control in 1999.
Mr. Tinubu cited some examples to illustrate how the federal government ignores other political voices in the country, stressing that Mr. Jonathan ignores such suggestions because he is a beneficiary of the system.
“You can’t fight corruption because the government itself is corrupt,” he said. “Majority of the perpetrators made financial contributions to ensure the president wins the election, so he cannot prosecute them.”
He said that as a result of the record of the PDP, Nigerians have lost faith in government, stressing,
“Enough of PDP in our lives, they have been tagged as Poverty Development Party.”
On the current insecurity in the country, he said that as leader of the opposition, the ACN has made proposals to the federal government, including subsiding farming, especially in the North, so that Boko Haram will no longer be able to recruit the unemployed and beggars.
“If they have jobs, they won’t be going about killing people, and it will improve their nutrition value,” he said of the militants. “Concerning Jos, all the federal government needs to do is create another local government for the people.
Mr. Jonathan’s blame of the media returns attention to the subject of his performance in office, as he has so far failed to honour any of his electoral promises, including fighting corruption and providing jobs. Only last month, he refused to declare his assets publicly, which gave an additional black eye to his government.
“So the same man who says he does not give a damn about declaring his assets wants to blame the media for not polishing the awful image of his government?” a media analyst asked today. “And now he wants a “performance evaluation” designed and implemented by his government that will make the government an achiever? Why does he not begin by giving a damn?”