- …Blames Igbo elders over Biafra agitation
- …targets 10,000mw electricity by 2020
By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has told agitators for restructuring of the country to pass through the legal process by canvassing their debates through their representatives in state and national Assemblies.
The President, in his broadcast on the nation’s 57th Independence anniversary yesterday, also blamed elders for not warning their youths about the consequences of war having witnessed the nation’s civil war in the past.
Buhari also stated the determination of his government to revamp the nation’s comatose economy by diversification.
This came as he set the target of providing 10,000 megawatts of electricity for his administration by year 2020.
Buhari noted that even though the nation has gone through traumatic experiences, the independence day still remains a day for celebration.
In the same vein the President expressed disappointment over the lackadaisical attitude of some highly placed Igbo elders who failed to call the youth agitating for the resurgence of Biafra. According to him, such elders, who were witnesses to the Civil War should have been bold to caution the belligerent youths to behave responsibly.
“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,” he noted.
He regretted that his predecessor neglected development of infrastructure and failed to save for the raining days even when crude oil was selling above 100 dollars per barrel at the international market.
According to him, “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.”
Buhari acknowledged the political developments in the polity as he noted
“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.”
“Added to these are complete freedom 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.
“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 can not 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 pre-determined set of objectives.”
He said the government would continue to dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to maintain the peace.
He ssid “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, the President thanked the military for their efforts in vanquishing the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents.
He assured that his government would ensure the release of all those in their captivity, including the remaining Chibok girls.
The President added that other security issues including armed robbery, and kidnapping would be tackled.
On the issue of the economy, Buhari said his administration remains resolute in his diversification drive.
He mentioned the government’s agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme, which he launched last year.
As part of the success stories of the program, Buhari outlined the N43.92 billion released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions; 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation benefitting and the 233,000 hectares of farmland cultivating eight commodities, namely Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, soya-beans, Poultry, Cassava and Groundnuts, in addition to fish farming.
He said “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 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.
Furthermore, 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.”
He assured that his government would continue to improve on power supply hinting that his government targets supply of 20,000 megawatts by year 2020.
He added that his administration has succeeded in reducing inflation and strengthening the Naira as it now exchanges for N360 pre Dollar as against N525 in recent past.
On fight against corruption, he said “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.”
He continued “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 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.”
He also commended the National Assembly for refocusing on its oversight committees urging them to ensure swift passage of enabling corruption laws.
“As we enter the second half of our term of office, we intend to accelerate progress and intensify our resolve to fix the country’s challenges and problems,” he assured.