Otuoke is the village of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan – the immediate past President of Nigeria. Jonathan was in power for more than five years as President, from April 2010 to May 29 2015. Before then he was Vice President from 2007 to 2010. Before emerging on the national level, he was Deputy Governor and Governor of Bayelsa State from 1999 to 2007. Simply put, Jonathan – Otuoke's most prominent son – was one of the most powerful men in this country from 1999 to 2015 – 16 whole years. More than enough time to have developed his community. You'll then understand why I was taken aback when I read last week that Otuoke lacked potable water.
If Jonathan could not provide or influence the provision of drinkable water for his community, any wonder he performed woefully as President of Nigeria?
Nigerians have generally come to accept the Jonathan administration as one of the worst attacks against their country but Elijah Ateki, Otuoke's Community Development Committee, really brought this fact home.
"Otuoke community depends on rivers and now that all the rivers are polluted by oil, it is difficult for us to get potable water here," Ateki was reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as saying while one Emmanuel Agede, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving in the area expressed dissatisfaction with the situation and called for government's intervention.
"You will not believe it that here in Otuoke, we use water from an unused suck-away pit dug near our lodge for washing clothes and bathing. For cooking and drinking, we buy sachet water; life is very difficult here; we spend the bulk of our monthly allowances on water for survival."
Did I hear you say what? In Otuoke? Unimaginable and unbelievable. With the multi-million dollar mansions, hotels and hostels built in that small town and mostly owned by the Jonathans, the one thing the former President failed to do was develop his community. The roads are bad, electricity is scarce and the roads are in terrible conditions. But that was the story all over Nigeria while Jonathan held sway as the nation's first citizen. This is rather unfortunate because his government came to power on the back of popular support and one that enjoyed a lot of public goodwill in its early years.
In 2010, when Jonathan was sworn in as substantive President after the death of his former boss, Umaru Yar'Adua, power generation in Nigeria was 3,000 mega watts but by May 29 when he handed over to Buhari, power generation had dropped to less than 1000 mega watts.
"If I'm voted into power, within the next four years, the issue of power will become a thing of the past. Four years is enough for anyone in power to make a significant improvement and if I can't improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything," Jonathan had promised Nigerians while campaigning for their mandate in 2011. Truly, he proved that he "cannot do anything".
Security was worse. Jonathan's administration practically dozed off while insurgents ran amok killing Nigerians in tens of thousands and displacing several million others especially in the North East.
Corruption was at its peak with Jonathan incurring the wrath of many Nigerians no thanks to his infamous declaration that "stealing is not corruption". He had no qualms shielding his top aides and Ministers accused of corrupt practices. Oil theft was also at its apogee despite huge sums voted for the fight against piracy. Nigeria reportedly lost an average of one million barrels of oil daily. Ministers and top government officials were said to be behind this criminality.
The maritime industry did not fare any better. Rather than develop the industry, Jonathan installed his cronies and unqualified associates to head very sensitive maritime agencies. The result of his unpopular decision is the looting of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and other important agencies to the detriment of the growth and development of the sector.
It is on record that more than 80% of Nigerian shipping companies went under during Jonathan's reign. He could not be bothered. He was only concerned about awarding juicy maritime appointments and contracts – including the unbelievably absurd contract of securing the waterways – to his kinsmen and ex-warlords.
When asked to assess the Jonathan administration, founding President of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Chief Isaac Jolapamo said, "I was pauperized so how would I have assessed it? For five years, I was doing nothing. I took my vessels out of NNPC because they are frustrating me and they started the subsidy scam and my ships cannot be used because I cannot carry 20,000 tons and discharge 5,000 tons and say the 20,000 tons has been discharged."
That was Jonathan's legacy. Hopefully, President Buhari will clean up the mess and place Nigeria back on track.