We Have Recorded Appreciable Political Freedom, Says Buhari

  • Harps on Proper Dialogue, Debate for Restructuring
  • Tells Nigerians to be grateful to Armed Forces

 

By Abdul Rahman Aliagan

 

On the 1st of October, 2017, in his Nationwide broadcast message to Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari said that Nigeria has recorded appreciable gains in political freedom, saying that a ruling party losing elections of state governor, National Assembly seats and even the state assemblies to the opposition parties, saying that such development is very new to Nigeria.

 

According to President, “In the past two years, Nigeria has recorded appreciable gains in political freedom. A political Party at the Centre losing elections of State Governor, National Assembly seat and even State Assemblies to the opposition parties is new to Nigeria.”

 

Mr Buhari added that, “these are complete freedoms to associate, to hold and disseminate opinions. Such developments clearly attest to the country’s growing political development. But like all freedoms, this is open to abuse.”

 

Mr President also pointed out in the speech that, “in spite of oil prices being an average of $100 per barrel and about 2.1m barrels a day, that great piece of luck was squandered and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected. We were left with no savings and huge infrastructure deficit.

 

“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.”

 

While speaking on restructuring, President Muhammadu Buhari described those calling for dismemberment of the country  and restructuring of Nigeria as lop-sided and un-democratic body, saying that the Federal government will not allow such advocacy.

 

According to Mr President, “Recent calls on re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy.”

 

Mr Buhari went down memory lane, said as young officer in the military; he took part from the beginning of Civil war in 1967 to the end of the ugly incident.

 

“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.”

 

The President expressed his disappointment that responsible leaders of communities failed to warn their youths what the country went through during the civil war. “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.”

 

Nigerian President however emphasised proper dialogue, debate and legal fora that take place in rational manner remain the best way to achieve any constitutional change and not body with pre-determined set of objectives.

 

“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 pre-determined set of objectives.”

 

He however assured Nigeria that 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.” Buhari said in his national broadcast.

 

On security, the President said that “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.”

 

He added that “Nigeria is grateful to its neighbours and the international community for the collective efforts to defeat this world-wide menace of terrorism.”

 

He however pointed out, that, “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.”

 

The President promised that, Government will not relent in its effort to wipe out the remains of the dreaded Boko Haram in the country. “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.

 

“Government is working round the clock to ensure release of the remaining Chibok girls, as well as other persons in Boko Haram captivity. 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.”

 

Speaking on economy, Buhari said the government remained proactive in its bid to diversify Nigeria, saying that the Federal Government’s agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme, which he launched in November 2015, has recorded outstanding success with:

He said, “N43.92 billion released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions, 200,000 small holder 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 States 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 others 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.”

 

According to him, “a new presidential initiative is starting with each state of the Federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, again with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.”

 

Also in the National Broadcast, the President acknowledged that fact that power remains a huge problem of the country, he maintained that as of September 12th, production of power reached an all—time high of 7,001 Megawatts. He reiterates the Government commitment at increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial logjam bedevilling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.

 

In his word: “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.

 

“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.

 

“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.

 

The President said in the national broadcast, ‘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 state and local government as N200 billion in 2015,  N441 billion in 2016 as well as N1 trillion in 2017 totaling N1.642 trillion.

 

Buhari said all these were done to enable states to pay outstanding salaries, pensions and small business suppliers who had been all but crippled over the years.

 

According to the President, APC-led Government provides for N500 billion Special Intervention Programme 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.

 

In  his message to Nigerians, Mr President acknowledged that fighting corruption was never a straightforward task. He added that government expected corrupt elements to use any weapon to fight back, mainly judicial obstruction and political diversion. He maintained that government is determined to eradicate corruption from our body politic.

 

He said, “In this fight, the Government has empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases and accelerates 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 the Federation directed Heads of all our Courts of 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. Government expects a lot from this Committee.”

 

President Buhari however commended the National Assembly for refocusing on its oversight committees, charging National Assembly to ensure swift passage of enabling corruption laws. He pleaded.

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