Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime recorded landmark achievements through its transformation agenda and Nigerians have not been fair to win to accord him the right honour and respect, a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Benue State and former Minister of Interior, Comrade Patrick Abba Moro, has said.
Contrary to the general impression that Jonathan’s performance as president was abysmal and woeful, the ex-Minister, in an interview, insisted that the immediate-past number-one citizen left an indelible mark in the various sectors of the country.
Moro said: “Let me tell you that many Nigerians have been very, very unfair to the last administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The last administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, was anchored on a transformation agenda. And the essence was to transform Nigeria to the next level. Is it in the area of road transportation? Yes, we may not have gone all the way. But you are aware of so many roads that were flagged off in this country.
“The second Niger Bridge; the Oweto Bridge with its corresponding routes; contracts awarded for the Enugu-Port Harcourt road; contracts awarded for the rehabilitation of several roads in Nigeria; contracts awarded for the redesign of the dualization of the Keffi-Makurdi-Enugu road. Look at the new looks that Nigerian airports are wearing and the construction works that are going on there now. They were not started by this administration. They were started by the last administration.
“Only recently, the Kaduna-Abuja railway was commissioned. You know certainly it was not started by this administration. But government is a continuity. Look at the Lagos-Kano railway; Look at the Port Harcourt- Makurdi-Maiduguri railway line. All these are efforts that were engineered towards raising Nigeria to the next level. Is it in the area of power and housing? Look at the electoral process. Throughout the last administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, we’ve never heard of any inconclusive election.
“We never heard that you have supplementary election here because the election was inconclusive. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan laid a foundation for a sustainable democracy and left the Independent National Electoral Commission as independent as it could be.”
Reacting to a statement once credited to the former Comptroller General (CG) of Immigration, Mr. Martin Abechi, that he achieved nothing as the Minister of Interior, Moro argued that he did a lot to boost the morale of the staff and left the Ministry and parastatals under his watch much better than he met them.
“It was very laughable for somebody who was a Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Services to say that I didn’t achieve anything as Minister of Interior during my tenure. First of all, let me say that it was during my tenure that he was promoted to the position of Deputy Comptroller-General. It is on record that by the time I came to the Ministry of Interior people had stagnated on one position for upward of 14 to 16 years.
“And I can tell you that in the last exercise of promotion that we undertook in the ministry of interior we promoted somebody who had last been promoted in 1995. Where the leadership of the organization especially of the Nigerian Immigration Service didn’t like your face they will not declare vacancy for your position. These were the issues that I tried to correct.
“These were the issues that of course angered some entrenched interests. But it didn’t bother me. I went ahead. We tried to redress the situation and ensure that everybody get fair treatment in the whole concept of promotion,” Moro stated.
Continuing, he added, “Since the inception of the Nigeria Immigration Service whose sole responsibility was the control of entry and exit out of Nigeria and principally the issuance of international passports to Nigerians, you won’t believe that it didn’t have a corporate passport office. It was when I assumed office that I completed the passport office that you know today as the passport office in Nigeria Immigration, what they call White House, an annex to the corporate office of the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“It is there for everybody to see. I can tell you that Nigeria Immigration Service today has two set of passports – a 32-page passport and 64-page passport. It was under my watch that (former) Mr. President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR launched the 64-page passport. That is the first time since the life of the Nigeria Immigration Service that the booklet of the Nigerian passport was reviewed. We made it possible for people who are going to invest substantial sums of money in Nigeria to get VISA very easily to come to Nigeria by reviewing the VISA regime.
“And one of the highpoints of that review was the introduction of the acquisition of VISA at ports of entry. We went further to reposition the Nigerian Immigration service to effectively discharge its duty of patrolling our borders. First, we identified the number of controlled borders that we have in the country. As at the time I left office it was 84.
“At the same time as at the time I left office we had also identified 1, 497 irregular border entries. Before I assumed office we had eight centres for Combined Expatriate Resident Permits and Aliens Cards (CERPAC). It was discovered that this eight was grossly inadequate. I gave approval for 28 bringing the total now to about 36 covering the 36 states of Nigeria and the FCT. Certainly, this was a milestone. Before I came to office we had only 15 Nigerian Missions issuing Nigerian passports and VISAs with Immigration Officers.
“I introduced 23 additional centres and as I am talking to you today, Nigerian Immigration personnel are in charge of issuing Nigerian VISA and passports in 38 Nigerian missions. By the time I signed the performance agreement with Mr. President (former President Jonathan), one of the items was the issuance of VISA and passports to Nigerians and foreign investors within 24 hours.
“Before then it was weeks. It takes weeks for investors to get Nigeria’s VISA; weeks for Nigerians to acquire Nigerian passports. As at the time I left office, it is on record that people were acquiring Nigerian passports within 36 hours. Also, I ensured the construction of so many infrastructures in Immigration. The list is endless. Flag houses, corporate offices for immigration all over the place.”
Moro disclosed that throughout his period as Minister of Interior, he never got up to 50% release of his budget, saying “The highest I got was 48.5%. Yet, we involved external bodies to complement our efforts through the Public Private Partnership model. That is how we were able to undertake most of the projects that we did. And so, I leave my tenure in the Ministry of Interior to history to judge.
“But I can tell you without any fear of contradiction that I tried my hands at very many reform initiatives in line with the transformation agenda of the last administration and we recorded some achievements.”