As further evidence that next month’s elections are unlikely to be free and fair, SaharaReporters has obtained a document which shows that the media group which is organizing today’s debate did prepare advance questions for President Goodluck Jonathan at least a week ago.
It is the equivalent of one student receiving the exam test papers in his own home while the others sweat in libraries and study rooms.
Although the event is supposed to treat all the debate participants equally, the questions prepared by the media group for President Jonathan demonstrate that the group is biased in his favour. This was one of the reasons given last week by three of the leading contenders who pulled out of today’s debate, but the charge was denied by the so-called “media group.
The targeting and phraseology employed in the questions also show a tendency not to challenge President Jonathan, but to help him formulate favourable responses. On the PDP’s zoning quagmire, for instance, he is merely asked such a penalty-spot question as whether he does not carry a moral burden. On the question of transformation, he is lobbed another “Help Yourself” question: “What are you really saying to Nigerians?”
On the vexed question of infrastructure, the media group says, “The complex of infrastructure in Nigeria is allegedly notoriously inefficient, inadequate, underdeveloped, derelict and neglected,” but again points to the penalty spot, “Its (sic) all the noise about power not just a hype?”
In addition to the questions submitted by the media group, the document also shows government functionaries feverishly trying to help Jonathan pass the test, with both questions and suggested answers carefully laid out for him. An e-mail dated 25 March from Kassey Garba, the Chief Economic Adviser to the President to Professor Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah, the Minister for Agriculture, covers Questions 23 & 24, supposedly for that Ministry. Since the questions from the media group are numbered 1-16, this suggests that Questions 17-22 were expected from other government bodies.
The emergence of this document will provide further worry to many Nigerians and the international community that although Jonathan has repeatedly said he wishes to see elections that are free and fair, he is desperately trying to employ short cuts to ensure his victory. On December 25, SaharaReporters reported the presence of a rigging manual that had been prepared by the Jonathan Campaign.
The television debate advisory by the media group is particularly worrying because the group is supposed to be a professional one and has asked to be seen as such.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” said a political analyst in Abuja this afternoon.
“This is a sad day for both the media and this government. It is the old story of power being desperately sought by every desperate measure. This is a terrible tragedy.”Full text of the document:
Questions submitted by the media group
1. Your emergence as PDP presidential candidate was mired in controversy as a result of the conflicting interpretations of your party’s zoning and rotation principles: do you not carry a moral burden?
2. When you talk of “transformation” what are you really saying to Nigerians?
3. The Nigerian economy seems to be in the grip of an unending crisis, characterized by a poor growth rate, low capacity utilization, unimpressive direct foreign investments, bank failures and now a rapidly weakening naira. Is the situation redeemable?
4. The complex of infrastructure in Nigeria is allegedly notoriously inefficient, inadequate, underdeveloped, derelict and neglected. Its all the noise about power not just hype?
5. What is your programme for taking the Nigerian Railways, roads, marine and air transportation into the 21st century?
6. Employment is one area of crisis. 80% of Nigerian school leavers/graduates do not get jobs for years after graduation. What will your government do to cure this dangerous scourge?
7. With Boko Haram in Bauchi and Borno States, endless killings in Jos, bombings everywhere, kidnappings in the South-East and armed robbers operating with impunity everywhere. Could it not be said that your Government has lost grip of the management of security in the country?
8. Has your Government abandoned the fight against corruption in Nigeria? All the former Governors indicted since 2007 are sitting in the Senate, seeking re-election and playing active roles in the current electoral dispensation!
9. Is the lackadaisical way the reform agenda in the petroleum sector has been handled not symptomatic of your approach to governance? Why has the Petroleum Industry Bill been so shabbily treated?
10. Please, give us an insight into how you intend to tackle the rot in the education and health sectors.
11. Are you satisfied with the outputs and growth rate in the agricultural sector? If not, give us an insight into your programme for the sector?
12. Your foreign policy seems to be defined by the contradiction between declaration and action on the election crisis in the Ivory Coast. Do you really have a coherent Foreign Policy?
13. Is your corruption fight not compromised by the alleged involvement of your wife in money-laundering and what is seen as your own indictment by the Code of Conduct Bureau?
14. Your wife is already exciting women about getting 35% of public offices under your Government, if you are elected. Are you really serious about fulfilling this promise?
15. With hindsight, do you approve of your handling of the bombing incident at the Eagle square on 1st October 2010?
16. Are you confident that your strategy for peace and development in the Niger delta is working?
• Question 23:
It has been argued that government subsidies on agriculture and other products have not achieved the desired goals, what is your view on this?
Why is Nigeria spending so much on food importation despite the abundance of resources?
Subsidy is not getting to the farmers
• This is because we have not embarked on developing the full value chain for our agricultural products and not paid enough attention to reducing post-harvest losses. Once this is done, food importation will reduce.
• As a developing country, subsidy is still very important if we are to achieve the desired growth. Even developed countries have one form of subsidy or the other.
• Government will continue to subsidize agriculture but with better management approach to its administration. The Fertilizer voucher scheme which we have piloted in partnership with private sector since 2009 appears to be working well. We shall use it to reach the desired target population that needs the subsidy.
-Between 2007 and 2009 a total of 1.23 million metric tons of fertilizer were procured and distributed at a total subsidy cost of N29.16 billion. In 2010 alone, 900,000metric tons were procured for distribution at a cost of N89.31billion with total subsidy of N22.30 billion.)
♣ There have been a lot of investments in irrigation, (HMIC) in addition to fertilizer supplies, GMP support for farmers,
What will be your government’s programme for agricultural transformation in the country?
Agriculture is an important sector of Nigeria economy; employ over 75 % of the population; contribute 41% to GDP and accounted for 30% of the growth in the non- oil output
Creating of enabling policy environment and provision of essential infrastructure that will boost the productivity and output of smallholders and large scale producers. Areas of focus of my government will include;
• provision of improved seed and other farm inputs at subsidized rate
o ( 25 % subsidy level on fertilizer) with emphasis on expanding the new fertilizer voucher scheme subsidy model; one-stop shop agro- input centres,
• agricultural financing / Credit facilities to boost agric value chains
o ( N200billion Commercial Agric Credit scheme, N100billion Textile and cotton fund, Revitalization of Bank of Agriculture)
• Increase irrigation facilities and dams across the country to support dual season production
o cover 200,000 ha of irrigated farm land from the present 40,000ha.
• attracting private investment into agriculture through Public-private partnership in all the agriculture value chain process,
• Facilitate agriculture value chain process to reduce post harvest waste and market for producers ( establishment of agricultural value chain infrastructures:- two fish processing estate, five integrated livestock processing centre; eighteen agro-industrial estates; nine farmers’ markets
• Development of strategic food reserve to ensure national food security, stabilize food prices and guarantee producers’ farm income. ( increase reserve from current 300,000 metric tons to 1.3million . In addition to current 14 silos that are operational , 20 more are at various stages of completion across the country.
• In my transformation plan, opening up the rural roads is a top priority so that agricultural products can be moved to the consuming areas.
From: Abdul and Kassey Garba a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Q & A
Date: Friday, March 25, 2011, 3:20 AM
Dear Honorable Minister,
As discussed at the meeting yesterday, I am sending you the proposed questions and suggested answers in preparation for the presidential debate as it relates to your Ministry / sector.
You are kindly requested to review the suggested answers and provide alternative answers as may be necessary, preferably less than half a page.
Please note that the 'questions submitted by the media group' are included for your information only.
I will be grateful if you could make your contribution available by 2pm please. This is because the final document must get to His Excellency by 3pm today.