President Goodluck Jonathan said on Monday he would prove critics of his administration wrong by 2013, when the dividends of new policies introduced begin to manifest.
Jonathan said this while declaring open the 52nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja. He said he was the most criticised President in the world at the moment because his critics failed to understand that the country’s current challenges predated his administration.
He assured that his critics would have the cause to praise him at the end of the life of his administration, when his Transformation Agenda would have yielded the expected dividends.
"I think I am the most criticised president in the whole world, but I tell this noble audience that before I leave, I will also be the most praised president.
"I have experienced that before in my governor journey in Bayelsa state. In fact, people who were close to me will tell you that even after the election, I told them that in my first 12 months please cover your ears because you will hear all kinds of things. But as we progress, you will see (changes).
"We are working very hard to stabilise power. We are working very hard to resurface our roads. We have security challenges, which we are also working very hard to bring to reasonable control. It is not easy; we don’t have the magic wand, except the miracle worker that with the wave of the hand, probably will help to throw all these challenges away and prosperity will appear. But in pure governance issues, it takes time.
"Sometimes, even people who have held offices in government criticise me to the extent of personal abuses. Sometimes I ask, were there roads across in the country and Jonathan brought flood to wipe out these roads? or we had power and I brought hurricane to break down the entire infrastructure?
"If they say Boko Haram is because of poverty; were there massive irrigation projects in the North where agriculture can thrive and massive farms, and Jonathan brought drought to wipe out these farms? under two years is it possible?"Well, time will tell. What I can tell Nigerians is that let those who criticize continue to criticise.
"We will do our best and as we progress, Nigerians will know the truth and we’ll see that we are committed and will surely transform this country," he said.
The President said he promised to deliver free, fair and credible elections before the conduct of the 2011 general elections, and the assessment of the polls by local and international observers was a testimony that he kept his promise.
He said his administration had initiated policies that would ensure the political, social and economic transformation of the country.
Jonathan said the Federal Government had proposed a new Anti-terrorism Bill 2012 to address the current security challenges in the country.
The President said he disagreed with the position of the NBA on the urgent need to create State Police to address the security challenges in the country. According to him, the country is not ripe for State Police because it can easily be abused by the governors, a development, which can worsen the security situation in the country. He said the Police became worse for it, when it introduced the policy of deploying men from the rank of Inspector downward to their states of origin. Jonathan said his administration considered the NBA as a partner in progress and commended the association for choosing a topical theme for the conference. The theme "Nigeria as an Emerging Market: Redefining our Laws and Politics for Growth", according to Jonathan, was in line with the public-private-partnership-oriented policy of his administration.
He urged the association to review its rules of engagement, which he said, barred its officers from directly getting involved in day-to-day governance either in an advisory or participatory capacity. He disclosed that he had appointed the outgoing President of the NBA, Joseph Daudu (SAN), as Honorary Legal Adviser, but he (Daudu) declined the offer based on the rules of engagement of the association.
Jonathan said he was still willing to appoint the incoming President of the association to the position if the rule could be reviewed.
Earlier, Daudu had advocated state policing and called for the devolution of the power of the office of the President for the country to achieve peace, security and economic progress. He contended that the office of the President of Nigeria was the most powerful when compared to other countries of the world practicing the same system of government.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN), in his goodwill message, said the theme of the conference took cognisance of the synergy between economy, law, government and the private sector. Adoke noted that the position of Nigeria as an emerging market in the globe was not in doubt but there was the need to review the country’s business laws to attract the investments. He said his office had taken various initiatives toward making relevant laws that would make Nigeria the favorite investment destination for investors.
Guest speaker at the conference, Rev. Matthew Kukah, berated the media for portraying Nigeria in bad light using negative reportage, which he said, could discourage investors.
Kukah, a Catholic priest, in a speech titled "Nigeria, an Emerging Democracy", agreed with former CBN Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, that Nigeria was an economic miracle waiting to happen. He said for the national miracle to happen, the political class needed to be creative by initiating programmes that would win the trust and commitment of the followership.
Kukah also admonished the followership to believe in the country and endeavour to contribute their quota toward the development of the country. He proposed creative instruction and courage by the government and the governed to decide whether they needed a new constitution to forge ahead, or a review of the existing one.
The priest also agreed with Daudu’s position on the need to decentralise the power of the office of the President for peace, security and development of the country.