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New Nigerian Cabinet Faces High Expectations

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (file photo)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (file photo)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says his new Cabinet is facing high expectations from Nigerians who want a stronger economy and better security.

President Jonathan says his new Cabinet must rethink the way Nigeria is run to meet what he says are considerable expectations from voters demanding more jobs and better public services.

"We are expected to generate employment for our unemployed youth," he said. "We are expected to revolutionize the agricultural sector and ensure food security for the people. We are expected to sanitize the oil and gas sector. The people also want good roads, a more qualitative public school system as well as a more efficient public health and transportation system.”

Stagnant economy

Economist Oderhohwo Oghenevwarhe says university graduates face a stagnant economy where many bosses demand payment to give out jobs.

"You have a lot of youths who have finished, who have graduated for some years now, when they go to the office to look for employment they will tell you bring some amount of money, very huge amounts of money," said Oghenevwarhe. "How do you expect a graduate who do not have anything to bring money of that such?”

She says Nigerians want less talk and more action from the president's new cabinet.

"When they sit down in their meeting to discuss anything, they should discuss it and put it into practice," she added. "Not just going there to discuss, sit under the air conditioning then when you come back you just share your own allowances and you go to your house and sit down. That is not the expectation that people are expecting from them.”

Islamic militants fighting for a separate Muslim nation are President Jonathan's biggest security challenge following a series of bombings and ambushes in northern states.

"These expectations cut across all sectors," said Jonathan. "Most importantly, we are expected to protect life and property and guarantee the welfare and happiness of all Nigerians.”

Security improvements

Gabriel Asakene runs a non-profit group pushing for electoral reforms. He says the Cabinet can improve security by better training police.

"They should try as much as possible to promulgate a policy that will reach the grass roots," he said. "They should equip our police. They are not well organized. The security of this country lies in the police.”

President Jonathan met this week with northern elders to discuss the campaign of violence by the sect known as Boko Haram. Some leaders from Borno say he should withdraw soldiers from the state capital Maiduguri because troops there are attacking civilians.

Military commanders in Maiduguri say civilian leaders accusing soldiers of looting and rape are “sponsors, sympathizers and members” of the sect.

Boko Haram launched a coordinated uprising across much of the north in 2009. That revolt was put down by the military in violence that killed more than 800 people, including Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf. Yusuf was captured alive. Police say he was killed in a shootout while trying to escape.


Five policemen this week went on trial on charges of “unlawfully killing” Yusuf and other Boko Haram members. They pled not guilty, and defense attorney Nelson Ezeagu asked for bail.

"First of all, you have to agree with us that they have their rights. Do you understand? They are presumed innocent until the whole thing is gone. And we are ready to go on to trial. That is the main thing,” he said.

Prosecutor Ralph Ojabo says the recent attacks in Maiduguri have no bearing on the state's case but have brought it greater attention.

"We are prosecuting. We are not persecuting," he said. "The facts available to us we will put before the court. It is the court that will decide whether they are guilty or not guilty. There is a lot of media hype concerning this matter. We want to be able to try this case in court first before it is tried in the media.”

President Jonathan is appealing to Boko Haram to open talks with his government. The group has so far refused, setting among their conditions the prosecution of the Yusuf case and apologies from northern governors who used force against them. Several former and current governors have made public apologies.