President Muhammadu Buhari, in the early hours of today (Tuesday), delivered an Independence Day speech to mark the 59th independence anniversary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. John Chukwu takes a look at 11 things the president noted in his speech.
1) Our administration inherited a skewed economy: While urging Nigerians not to forget the sacrifices made by the nation’s founders, great leaders past, soldiers, traditional leaders, workers on which Nigeria has been built over the 59 years since 1960, he declared that his administration inherited a skewed economy.
“This administration inherited a skewed economy, where the oil sector comprised only 8% of Gross Domestic Product but contributed 70% of government revenue and 90% foreign exchange earnings over the years,” he stated.
2) We have combatted Boko Haram in the last four years
Boko Haram insurgency remains a problem to Nigeria, especially those in North-east geo-political zone. Defeating the terrorist group was one of the prominent promises President Buhari used to ascend the Presidency in 2015. Though the insurgency is still on, the President noted that: “in the last four years, we have combatted the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram.”
He thanked the military and neighbouring countries and allies for their efforts in combatting the insurgency in the last four years of his administration. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our gallant men and women in arms, through whose efforts we have been able to achieve the present results. We are also grateful to our neighbours and allies – within the region and across the world – who have supported us on this front,” he said.
3) No to spread of hate speech and divisive material on social media
The President declared that his government will take firm and decisive action on anyone who uses the social media to spread hate speech and any divisive material which can undermine National Security.
“Our attention is increasingly being focused on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material being propagated on social media. Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action. To exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing their grievances and frustrations,” he stated.
4) Combat militant attacks on our oil facilities and quicken the Ogoni clean-up in the Niger Delta
President Buhari noted that he is keen to fight militancy and safeguard oil facilities in the Niger Delta region and speed up the Ogoni clean-up exercise which his administration kicked off on June 2, 2016.
“We remain equally resolute in our efforts to combat militant attacks on our oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta and accelerate the Ogoni Clean-up to address long-standing environmental challenges in that region,” he declared.
5) No to illegal bunkering of crude oil and smuggling of petroleum products
The President assured that his administration was determined in its fight of illegal Oil bunkering and smuggling of petroleum products which have plagued the economy of the country.
“We will also continue our fight against illegal bunkering of crude oil and the smuggling of refined petroleum products across our borders, including the diligent prosecution and conviction of offenders found guilty of these acts,” he said.
6) P&ID case caused by corrupt Nigerians
Buhari pointed out that the current judgement granting Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) – a British Virgin Islands-based engineering firm – the right to seize the country’s assets worth $9.6 billion has shown how huge an economic damage has been caused by the past activities of a few corrupt and unpatriotic Nigerians.
He. However, assured: “the policies that we are putting in place today are to ensure such criminal and unpatriotic acts do not go without consequences.”
7) N600 million to be released for capital expenditure
In his speech, the President declared that the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been instructed to release N600 million for capital expenditure in the next 3 months. He noted that 2019 Capital Budget which was approved in June 2019 will be accelerated to ensure that important projects across the country are completed.
8) Partnership with friends abroad helped to combat tax evasion, smuggling, terrorism and illicit financial flows
He disclosed that the country’s partnership with friends in other countries yielded fruits as tax evasion, terrorism and illicit financial flows have been combatted. He revealed that in June 2018, he assented to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, to give domestic legal framework for obtaining international assistance in criminal matters as this has helped in getting evidence, investigating suspects and facilitating the recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of property implicated as proceeds of crime. He gave an example of the US$300 million recently identified as part of the Abacha money-laundering case, working closely with the Government of the United States of America.
9) Reformation of the power sector
He stated that his administration is resolute in reforming the power sector. “In August this year, we launched the Presidential Power Initiative to modernize the National Grid in 3 phases: starting from 5 Gigawatts to 7 Gigawatts, then to 11 Gigawatts by 2023, and finally 25 Gigawatts afterwards,” he said. He assured that the programme – in partnership with the German Government and Siemens – will provide end-to-end electrification solutions that will resolve our transmission and distribution challenges
10) Institutional reforms have saved billions of Naira
While stating his administration’s stand on fighting corruption, he revealed that “institutional reforms to enforce the Treasury Single Account policy, introduce the Whistle-blowers Initiative, expand the coverage of the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System as well as the Government Integrated Management Information System have saved billions of Naira over the last four years, and deterred the rampant theft and mismanagement of public funds that have plagued our public service.”
11) Police empowered to ensure internal security
President Buhari also noted that the Ministry of Police Affairs has been resuscitated to oversee the development and implementation of strategies to enhance internal security. “My recent assent to the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act has created a legal framework to support our Police with increased fiscal resources to enhance their law enforcement capabilities,” he stated.
He disclosed that these initiatives are complemented by the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 constables into the Nigeria Police Force.