- Title: NIGERIA: Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua marks 100 days in office
- Date: 5th September 2007
- Summary: (AD1) ABUJA, NIGERIA ( FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MILITARY PARADE AT THE INAUGURATION OF PRESIDENT UMARU YAR'ADUA YAR'ADUA IN VEHICLE NIGERIA FLAG
- Embargoed: 20th September 2007 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA96FI5IZZ67LWHBUZLLGPWIOR3
- Story Text: Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua marked his first 100 days in office with promises to revamp the economy and sort out problems in the Niger Delta that have hamstrung oil output.
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua marked his first 100 days in office with pledges to continue revamping the country's economy and improve security.
Yar'Adua took over power from former military strongman turned civilian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, after winning April elections that were criticised by international and domestic observers.
But since his inauguration, Yar'Adua has surprised critics and loyalists alike by taking several bold steps. Recently, many Nigerians cheered as several former state governors implicated in corruption and looting of state funds were arrested and jailed.
Yar'Adua also set free the leader of the Niger Delta militants - Asari Dokubo - and has initiated dialogue to curb violence, kidnapping of oil workers and attacks on oil supply infrastructure. During the end of Obasanjo's tenure in office, attacks by militants in the Niger Delta region cut crude oil production by 25 percent, contributing to the sharp increase in global oil prices.
"He's trying. He is going to be better than his predecessors," said Kayode Ogundipe in the south-western town of Oshogbo.
Nigeria, an OPEC member, is the world's eighth-biggest exporter of crude but its output has been cut by attacks on pipelines. Electricity production is so low that most Nigerians live in perpetual blackout.
"We still give him kudos, but at the same time I would say, let him go and do more in the energy sector. Because I believe that any country makes full use of their energy sector, there is no need of complaining about investing not coming. Investment will come once there is energy," said Vincent Chukwumenje also from Oshogbo.
Vincent's views are shared by many people in Africa's most populous country. The old National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), derided by most Nigerians as "Never Expect Power Always", was split into 19 pieces under the last administration as a prelude to a privatisation that never took place.
The new Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was quickly nicknamed "Problem Has Changed Name".
Yar'Adua came to office on May 29 pledging to declare an emergency in the power sector but he has yet to do so. He says he will make good on the promise once a detailed road map had been worked out, but gave no timeline.
"Our belief is that the power and energy are critical infrastructure and very critical to the development of a modern economy. And until and unless, we solve our problems and provide sufficient power and energy, we can never power an economy that will provide the kind of employment and quality of life that we need. Now, to declare the emergency first we must have a road map," Yar'Adua said.
Yar'Adua's critics accuse him of being too understated, especially when it comes to the issue of the Niger Delta. Yar'Adua said he had a two-pronged strategy to stem the violence there.
"The Niger Delta problem, there are really two aspects to it. The development aspect which is what we are doing, with regards to the implementation of the master plan, and the security aspect, which we have chosen and followed the path of dialogue. And then wherever there needs to be a decisive security action, we will also take that action to maintain law and order."
Yar'Adua says he will seek emergency powers to combat sabotage of energy installations.
During the interview with Reuters and two Nigerian newspaper editors, Yar'Adua added that the emergency would mean he would seek special powers to "deal much more severely than is normal" with criminals who damage pipelines or electricity lines.
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