President Buhari says there is hope for Nigeria

Ben Adam Shemang, Abuja

As Nigeria mark its 56th independence anniversary; President Muhammadu Buhari has assured citizens that there is great hope ahead.

He praised Nigerians for resilience in spite of the odds against them as he lamented that past governments never saved for the future “Today – 1st October is a day of celebration for us Nigerians.  On this day, 56 years ago our people achieved the most important of all human desires – freedom and independence.  We should all therefore give thanks and pray for our founding fathers without whose efforts and toil we would not reap the bounties of today,” the President said.

The president appealed to Nigerians to understand with government, saying that solutions would be found so soon, in terms of the difficulties they are facing.

He said also that the recession the country is facing will not last forever.
“Temporary problems should not blind or divert us from the corrective course this government has charted for our nation.  We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions. There are no easy solutions, but there are solutions nonetheless and Government is pursuing them in earnest.  We are to repair our four refineries so that Nigeria can produce most of our petrol requirements locally, pending the coming on stream of new refineries.  That way we will save ten billion USD yearly in importing
fuel,” President Buhari explained.
In this direction too, he said  the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank have been mobilized to encourage local production of rice, maize, sorghum, millet and soya beans.
He said a lot of work have been done and achieved on Security.

 “Boko haram was defeated by last December, only resorting to cowardly attacks on soft targets, killing innocent men, women and children.  Nigerians should thank our gallant men of the Armed Forces and Police for rescuing large areas of the country captured by insurgents.  Now, residents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, as well as several neighbouring states go about their daily business in relative safety.  People can go to mosques, churches, market places in reasonable safety,” he said.
Besides boko haram, the president said government is confronting other long-running security issues, namely herdsmen versus farmers, cattle rustling, kidnappings and he promised to solve them.
The issue with the Niger Delta also got the president’s attention.

”A new insurgency has reared up its head in the shape of blowing up gas and oil pipelines by groups of Niger Delta Militants.  This Administration will not allow these mindless groups to hold the country to ransom,” he stated.

The President promised to continue dialogue with all groups and leaders in the region to bring lasting peace.

“No group can unlawfully challenge the authority of the Government and succeed.  Our Administration is fully sympathetic to the plight of the good people of Niger Delta and we are in touch with the State Governments and leaderships of the region.  It is known that the clean-up of the Ogoni land has started. Infrastructural projects financed by the Federal Government and post amnesty programme financing will continue”.
Again, the president said the economy will receive full attention because no nation survives without a strong economy.

“The Third Plank in this Administration’s drive to CHANGE Nigeria is restructuring the economy.  Economies behaviour is cyclical.  All countries face ups and downs.  Our own recession has been brought about by a critical shortage of foreign exchange.  Oil price dropped from an average of hundred USD per barrel over the last decade to an average of forty USD per barrel this year and last,” president explained.
He said the damage perpetrated by Niger Delta thugs on pipelines sometimes reduced Nigeria’s production to below One million barrels per day against the normal two point two million barrels per day.

Already, farmers in 13 out of 36 states are receiving credit support through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.

He said Kebbi state alone is expected to produce one million tonnes of locally grown rice this year.

“Apart from the 13 states, Lagos and Ogun are also starting
this programme. Rice alone for example costs Nigeria two billion USD to import,”
he noted.
President Buhari said that the country should be self-sufficient in basic staples by 2019, and that Foreign exchange saved can go to industrial revival requirements for retooling, essential raw materials and spare parts.

“It is in recognition of the need to re-invigorate agriculture in our rural communities that we are introducing the LIFE programme. Government recognises that irrigation is key to modern agriculture: that is why the Ministries of Agriculture and Water Resources are embarking on a huge programme of development of lakes, earth dams and water harvesting schemes throughout the country to ensure that we are no longer dependent on rain-fed agriculture for our food requirements,” he explained.
In addition to the above, Buhari said the  government is introducing Water Resources Bill encompassing the National Water Resources Policy and National Irrigation and Drainage Policy to improve management of water and irrigation development in the country.
He said government will revive all the twelve River Basin Authorities, namely; Anambra – Imo, Benin – Owena, Chad Basin, Cross River, Hadejia- Jama’are, Lower Benue, Lower Niger,       Niger Delta, Ogun – Osun,  Sokoto – Rima , Upper Benue, Upper Niger.
President Buhari explained that government will revive Lake Chad and improve the hydrology and ecology of the in tune with efforts to rehabilitate the thirty million people affected by the boko haram insurgency in the Lake Chad basin countries.

The second plan of the Buhari administration is the economic revival strategy centred on the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. And to this effect, the president said “The Ministry will lead and oversee the provision of critical infrastructure of power, road transport network and housing development.”

To read full speech click here.

Confidence O