Independence Day: Nigeria’s Economy has Improved – President Buhari

Nnenna Okoronkwo & Aisha John-Mark, Abuja

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Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari says his administration has improved the economy of Nigeria by lifting millions of its citizens from poverty.

The President made the declaration in a nationwide broadcast to mark the 62nd Independence anniversary of the country.

He said: “I then pledged to Improve the Economy, Tackle Corruption and Fight Insecurity and this was further strengthened by my commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years as the central plank of my second term in 2019.

To the Glory of God and His Grace as well as the commitment and passion displayed by many Nigerian supporters, we have made appreciable progress in these areas but not yet at our destination.

The President who noted that he was mindful of the task ahead added that his administration re-positioned the economy by providing strategic interventions in core areas at both the Federal and Sub-National levels.

Our efforts in re-setting the economy manifested in Nigeria exiting two economic recessions by the very practical and realistic monetary and fiscal measures to ensure effective public financial management. In addition, the effective implementation of the Treasury Single Account and cutting down on the cost of governance also facilitated early exits from recessions.

This administration removed several decades uncertainty for potential Investors in the Oil & Gas sector with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021. This landmark legislation created opportunities for foreign investments in addition to improving transparency in the management of the sector.

He also stated that his administration gave priority to the Agricultural Sector through a series of incentives to Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises that resulted in creating millions of jobs.

“Leading this initiative, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s intervention in a number of areas as well as the Anchor Borrowers Programme had created the required leverages for Nigerians towards self-sufficiency in food and the necessary attraction for farming as a business.

The growing contribution of non-oil exports, especially in agriculture, information and communication technology as well as the performing arts to our national economy will enhance our foreign exchange earning capacity.

We are confronting current economic challenges such as debt burden, growing inflation, living standards and increasing unemployment accentuated by our growing youthful population. These problems are globally induced and  we would continue to ensure that their negative effects are addressed in our policies.

President Buhari therefore pledged that his administration will continue to ensure that fiscal policies are supported by a robust and contemporary monetary policy that recognises our peculiarities in the midst of the growing global economic difficulties.

This is evidenced by the recent Monetary Policy Committee decision to maintain all parameters, especially interest rates and marginally increased the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) from 14% to 15.5% and the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) from 27.5% to 32.5%. It is projected that this would further insulate our economy from over exposure to uncertainties at the international market by restraining growth in core inflation.  

Fight Against Corruption
The president emphasised on the significant progress made in the eradication of  corruption.

One of the areas where we have made significant progress is in the eradication of deeply entrenched corruption that permeates all facets of our national development.

We strengthened the Institutions for tackling corruption and also cultivated international support, which aided the repatriation of huge sums of money illegally kept outside the country.

The increasing number of prosecutions and convictions, with associated refunds of large sums of money is still ongoing. Furthermore, we would continue to block opportunities that encourage corrupt practices,” the president noted.

Security
President Buhari explained how his administration de-escalated security challenges in the country, especially in the North-East region of Nigeria.

He Said: In order to address Insecurity, we worked methodically in reducing Insurgency in the NorthEast, Militancy in the Niger Delta, Ethnic and Religious Tensions in some sections of Nigeria along with other problems threatening our country.

As we continue to de-escalate the security challenges that confronted us at inception of this administration, newer forms alien to our country began to manifest especially in the areas of kidnappings, molestations/killings of innocent citizens, banditry, all of which are being addressed by our security forces.

I share the pains Nigerians are going through and I assure you that your resilience and patience would not be in vain as this administration continues to reposition as well as strengthen the security agencies to enable them to deal with all forms of security challenges. 

At the inception of this administration in 2015, I provided the funding requirements of the security agencies which was also improved in my second tenure in 2019 to enable them to surmount security challenges. We will continue on this path until our efforts yield the desired results.”

Education
In his Independence day Broadcast, President Buhari reiterated his earlier call on university lecturers currently on strike to sheath their swords and call off the strike.

He assured the striking lecturers that government will not relent in its effort to meet their demands.

As we put in place all measures to ensure that Nigeria takes her place in the Comity of Nations, we recognize the importance of a well-educated populace as a panacea to most of the challenges we face.

I must confess that I am very pained by the recurring disruption to our tertiary education system and I am using this Independence Day celebration to re-iterate my call for the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to return to the classroom while assuring them to deal with their contending issues within the limits of the scarce resources available. This administration has made appreciable progress in redressing these issues that have been lingering for over eleven years.

The Federal Government will continue to mobilize resources both internationally and nationally towards funding education to ensure that our citizens are well educated and skilled in various vocations in view of the fact that education is a leading determinant of economic growth and employment generation. 

Health
President Muhammadu Buhari highlighted the achievements of his administration in the health sector especially during the covid-19 pandemic when it broke out three years ago.

“We have also improved our health facilities, especially during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which attracted commendation of the global community.

As you are aware, Nigeria was one of the countries that defied global predictions of the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic because of our resilience, commitment and passion with which we individually and collectively managed the pandemic. 

Climate Change
Similarly, the President said his administration also gave adequate attention to climate change and ecological issues.

“This administration embarked on addressing critical ecological challenges across the country in order to mitigate the impact of climate change manifesting in the form of flood, soil erosion, desertification, air pollution, amongst others,” he said.

President Buhari pledged to sustain the provision of critical infrastructure, in order to boost Nigeria’s economy and impact positively on the lives of citizens.

“We will continue to ensure that our infrastructure drive remains the key to Nigeria’s economic growth and for which every Nigerian will feel the impact.

“The Nigerian government is already expanding port operations to ensure that they provide opportunities for the growth of the Nigerian economy. We have also continued to accelerate our infrastructure development through serviceable and transparent borrowing, improved capital inflow and increased revenue generation by expanding the tax bases and prudent management of investment proceeds in the sovereign wealth fund.

“To further open up our communities to economic activities, we have continued to boost our railway infrastructure with the completion of a good number of critical railways and at the same time rehabilitating as well as upgrading obsolete equipment,” the President stated.

He also said his administration has maintained its focus on reducing poverty and employment generation by intervening directly through its social investment programmes.

2023 Election
The President has pledged to ensure fair, credible and transparent elections as the country elects its leaders next year.

The President made the pledge in his nationwide broadcast to mark the 2022 Independence Day as the country clocked 62 years of self-rule.

He said: “Fellow Nigerian, no matter what gains we make, without a good governance system anchored on electing credible leaders on the basis of free, fair, credible and transparent elections, our efforts will not be enough.

“It is for this reason that I have resolved to bequeath a sustainable democratic culture which will remain lasting. The signing of the Electoral Act 2021 with landmark provisions further assures us of a more transparent and inclusive electoral process.

“You will all agree that the recent elections in the past two years in some States, notably Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun have shown a high degree of credibility, transparency and freedom of choice with the peoples’ votes actually counting. This I promise will be improved upon as we move towards the 2023 general elections. ”

Ahead of next year’s polls, the President implored all candidates to eschew violence and maintain issue-based campaigns as they canvass for votes.

“As we begin the transition process to another democratically elected government, I want to implore all candidates to conduct issue-based campaigns devoid of hate speeches as well as other divisive tendencies,” he added.

The Nigerian leader advocated for more female and youth participation in the elections, as he advised the youth to avoid being used to propagate violence, which usually mar elections.

International Relations
President Buhari said: On the international front, we have continued to take advantage of our bilateral and multilateral platforms to explore cooperation with friendly countries and partners whenever these areas of cooperation are to the advantage of Nigeria.

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