To commemorate Nigeria’s 57th Independence Day celebrations, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians this morning. In his speech, President Buhari reminded Nigerians about the significance of celebrating Independence Day and why there will be no Biafra. He also spoke about the state of the nation’s economy, power, the fight against corruption and security.
1. October first is worth celebrating
“October 1st remains a special date for all Nigerians as this marks the day when we attained one of the most precious of human desires — freedom. Over the years the country has gone through trials and tribulations, but October 1st is always a day for celebrations. It is a day for thanksgiving, reflection and re-dedication. It is also a day for remembrance. We should remind ourselves of the recent journey from 1999 – 2015 when our country happily returned to democratic rule.”
2. Campaign promises…
On keeping to his campaign promise during the 2015 election, the president said that
“The APC Government’s Campaign rallying cry to restore security, re-balance the economy and fight corruption was not all rhetoric. The country must first be secured. The economy must be re-balanced so that we do not depend on oil alone. We must fight corruption, which is Nigeria’s Number One Enemy. Our Administration is tackling these tasks in earnest.”
3. There will be no Biafra
“Recent calls on re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for the dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy.
As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2m lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict, which we went through. I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through. Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly.
At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the National and State Assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for National debate, not some lop-sided, un-democratic body with a pre-determined set of objectives.”
4. On Niger Delta
“Government is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace. We intend to address genuine grievances of the communities. Government is grateful to the responsible leadership of those communities and will pursue lasting peace in the Niger Delta.”
“On security, Nigerians must be grateful to our gallant Armed Forces for rolling back the frontiers of Boko Haram’s terrorism, defeating them and reducing them to cowardly attacks on soft and vulnerable targets. Nigeria is grateful to its neighbours and the international community for the collective efforts to defeat this worldwide menace of terrorism.
Not even the most organized and most equipped police and security forces in the world can escape the menace of modern-day terrorism, as we have seen in recent years in Europe and other parts of the world.
But we are not letting up. Our Armed Forces in an effort to enhance the operational capability of troops of OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE have established Mobile Strike Teams in the North East. These will ensure the final push to wipe out the remnants of Boko Haram.
In addition, through targeted air strikes most of the leadership and identified logistics bases and routes of the insurgents have been neutralized. The Armed Forces have established a Naval presence in the Lake Chad Basin as part of the coordinated military efforts to curtail the movements or re-emergence of the sect in the area.”
6. Chibok girls
“Government is working round the clock to ensure the release of the remaining Chibok girls, as well as other persons in Boko Haram captivity. The government will continue to support the Armed Forces and other security agencies to fight not only terrorism but kidnapping, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers violence and to ensure peace, stability and security in our country.”
7. State of the economy
With respect to the economy, the Government has remained pro-active in its diversification policy. The Federal Government’s agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme, which I launched in November 2015, has been an outstanding success with:
- N43.92 billion released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions,
- 200,000 smallholder farmers from 29 states of the federation benefitting,
- 233,000 hectares of farmland cultivating eight commodities, namely Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, soya-beans, Poultry, Cassava and Groundnuts, in addition to fish farming.
These initiatives have been undertaken in close collaboration with the states. I wish to commend the efforts of the Governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi and Jigawa State for their support to the rice and fertilizer revolutions.
Equally commendable are contributions of the Governors of Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Cross River, Benue, Ogun, Kaduna and Plateau States for their support for the Presidential initiative for palm oil, rubber, cashew, cassava, potatoes and other crops.
With the abundance of rainfall last year and this year, agriculture has enjoyed Divine intervention.
Since December last year, this Administration has produced over 7 million 50Kg bags of fertilizer. Eleven blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tons have been reactivated. We have saved $150 million in foreign exchange and N60 billion in subsidy. Fertilizer prices have dropped from N13,000 per 50Kg bag to N5,500.
The country has recorded 7 consecutive months of lower inflation, Naira rate is beginning to stabilize, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.
Furthermore, in order to stabilize the polity, the Federal Government gave additional support to states in the form of:
• State Excess Crude Account loans,
• Budget Support Facility,
• Stabilization Fund Release to states and local governments as follows:
- N200 billion in 2015
- N441 billion in 2016
- N1 trillion in 2017
Altogether totalling N1.642 trillion.
This was done to enable states to pay outstanding salaries, pensions and small business suppliers who had been all but crippled over the years.
8. Special intervention programmes
“In addition, the Government’s current N500 billion Special Intervention Programme is targeting groups through;
• Home Grown School Feeding Programme,
• N-Power Job creation to provide loans to small-scale traders and artisans,
• Conditional Cash Transfer,
• Family Homes Fund and
• Social Housing Scheme.
Elsewhere in the economy the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7 billion has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.”
9. Power in Nigeria
“Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12th, production of power reached an all-time high of 7,001 Megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial log jam bedevilling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.
Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and Hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years of limbo, Mambilla Power Project has taken off.”
10. The fight against corruption
“We are fully aware that fighting corruption was never going to be a straightforward task. We expected corrupt elements to use any weapon to fight back, mainly judicial obstruction and political diversion. But we are determined to eradicate corruption from our body politic.
In this fight, the Government has:
• Empowered teams of prosecutors,
• Assembled detailed databases,
• Accelerated the recovery of stolen funds.
The Administration’s new institutional reforms include:
• Enforcing Treasury Single Account,
• Whistle-Blowers Policy,
• Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System.
We have signed multi-lateral cooperation agreements on criminal matters with friendly countries. There are signs of increasing cooperation from the Judiciary. Recently the Chief Justice of Nigeria directed Heads of all our Courts of the first instance and Appeal to accelerate hearings of corruption cases and dismiss any judicial officers found to have been compromised.
Justice Salami has just been appointed to chair the Judiciary’s anti-graft committee. The government expects a lot from this Committee.”
Click here to read the full transcript of President Buhari’s 2017 Independence Day Speech