Thursday, 14 December 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday charged the Armed Forces to remain loyal to the Nation in the face of agitations from various sections of the county.

The President, who addressed troops fighting the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East as part activities marking the Nation’s 57th Independence anniversary, said such loyalty was imperative to sustain the nation’s peace and unity.

“Even for selfish reasons, your loyalty ought to be to the centre, first.

“The security of this nation is in the hands of God and in the hands of the security.

“If you don’t stand firm, I assure you if Nigeria doesn’t exist, the first to be insecure are the security agencies because no matter how many parts Nigeria will be divided, nobody will take another General to preside over his country,” Buhari said.

On those agitating for separation, Buhari dismissed them as noise makers, adding that he knew much about the nation, having participated in the 30 months civil war which began in 1967 and ended in 1970.

“I was involved in civil war for 30 months, I know much about this country.

“Those making noise about the stability of this country were not born then. They don’t know what it means to be a nationalist,” he said.

To the troops, he said: “I thought the only honour I can present to the military and other stakeholders on this great day is to come and address you, who are in the frontline.

“I am pleased with the Nation and responsible opinions from all over the world, congratulating this administration for the progress we have made.

“I personally thank the Governor of this state, Borno, Kashim Shettima for his courage throughout the crisis – Boko Haram insurgency.”

The president gave the assurance that under his leadership resources would be made available to support the Armed Forces.

He said that unless the nation is secured nobody would be able to pursue his or her business.

“I expect in return from you to be loyal and loyalty is from the bottom upward, from private to Lance Corporal, Corporal, up to Sergeant, Generals, Service Chiefs, otherwise the centre will not hold.

“But this centre is determined to hold,” the President said.

NAN

Published in Headliners

Text of  President Muhammadu Buhari’s 57th Independence Anniversary broadcast to the nation. 

My dear Nigerians,

October 1st remains a special date for all Nigerians as this marks the day when we attained one of the most precious of human desires — freedom.

Over the years the country has gone through trials and tribulations, but October 1st is always a day for celebrations.

It is a day for thanks giving, reflection and re-dedication.

It is also a day for remembrance. We should remind ourselves of the recent journey from 1999 – 2015, when our country happily returned to democratic rule.

However, 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.

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 cannot 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.

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.

SECURITY

On security, 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.

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

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.

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.

ECONOMY

With respect to the economy, the Government has remained pro-active in its diversification policy. The Federal Government’s agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme, which I launched in November 2015, has been an outstanding success with:

  • 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 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.

Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12th, production of power reached an all — time high of 7,001 Megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial log jam bedevilling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.

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.

Furthermore, 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 follows:
  • N200 billion in 2015
  • N441 billion in 2016
  • N1 trillion in 2017

Altogether totalling N1.642 trillion.

This was done to enable states to pay outstanding salaries, pensions and small business suppliers who had been all but crippled over the years.

In addition, the Government’s current N500 billion Special Intervention Programme is 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.

CORRUPTION

Fellow Nigerians,

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.

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.

I commend the National Assembly for refocusing on its oversight committees. They should, in addition, ensure swift passage of enabling corruption laws. But fighting corruption is a bottom to top operation. I call on all Nigerians to combat corruption at every turn. By not asking for and refusing to accept a bribe, by reporting unethical practices or by blowing a whistle, together we can beat corruption. The government for its part will work for accountability at all levels – Federal, State and Local Governments. CHANGE will then be real.

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.

Thank you and a happy holiday to all of you.

God bless our country

Published in Headliners
Friday, 04 August 2017 03:02

Buhari’s wife returns from London

Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, on Thursday returned from London, United Kingdom almost one month after joining her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been receiving medical attention in the British capital since May 7.

Mrs. Buhari, who left the country on July 2 had a stopover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before continuing her journey to London on July 4.

The Director of Information to the Wife of the President, Suleiman Haruna, confirmed on Thursday that the President’s wife returned to the country in the early hours of Thursday.

Haruna added that Mrs. Buhari landed in Abuja and thereafter proceeded to Owerri, the Imo State capital, where she attended the annual August Meeting organised by the wife of the state governor.

“Yes. I can confirm that Her Excellency is back. She returned to the country this morning and proceeded to Owerri for a function organised by the state governor’s wife,” he said.

The July 4 trip was the second time Mrs. Buhari visited her ailing husband since he embarked on his second medical vacation of the year.

Haruna had announced the trip in a statement made available to journalists on July 2.

The statement read, “Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, left for London, United Kingdom on Sunday, July 2, 2017, to visit her husband who is on medical vacation.

“She will convey to the President the best wishes of Nigerians and their fervent prayers for his quick recovery.

“She is expected to stop over at Addis Ababa, to make a symbolic appearance at the meeting of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS on Monday, July 3, 2017.

“She will join other members to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the organisation, and use the opportunity to reiterate the voting rights of Nigeria in the upcoming elections of the organisation.

“She will continue her journey to the United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 4, 2017.”

The first time Mrs. Buhari travelled to meet her husband was on May 30.

She returned to the country in the early hours of June 6 after spending one week in London.

The President’s wife, on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja conveyed the President’s appreciation to Nigerians for their constant prayers.

She said Buhari would soon return to join Nigerians as, according to her, he was recuperating fast.

Mrs. Buhari had also called on Nigerians to continue to be strong in the face of challenges and to support the Federal Government in implementing the agenda for which the present administration was elected.

“Mr. President thanked the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his loyalty and called on Nigerians to continue to support the acting President in his effort to actualise the mandate of the All Progressives Congress,” Mrs. Buhari was further quoted as saying on her arrival during the first trip.

Published in News & Stories
It is very unfortunate that some elders who ought to be looked up to by the younger ones as towers of strength in a delicate and complicated federation are the ones making regular toxic statements that can destroy the country’s basis for unity. The provocative statements by a socio-political group, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), to the effect that its members would not allow strict adherence to constitutional provisions should ailing President Muhammadu Buhari find it impossible to continue in office are insensitive, careless and unpatriotic in the extreme. To start with, President Buhari is only human and the prayers of all Nigerians are that he gets well soon to continue the execution of the duties of his office.

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) which has been very dubious in defending so-called“ northern interests” since the reported illness of the president met in Kano the other day and warned that some leaders of the ruling party had been exploiting the absence of the president to undermine the presidency. If this was so, such persons should be seen to be just as odious.

The opening part of NEF’s statement was innocent enough. The forum reported that it would support what it called “genuine restructuring of the nation” even as it insisted that the north was never at any time opposed to the move.

Fair enough, the NEF then maintained that the ship of state must keep sailing uninterruptedly until Buhari returns. The elders noted: “We are aware that attempts are being made to exploit the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve dubious political goals.

“We, therefore, warn those seeking an undeserved political advantage to desist. The north is conscious of its obligations as well as rights and will discharge and defend same without reservations.”

Its deputy leader, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, a former minister from Benue State applauded the president for transferring power to his deputy in line with the dictates of the 1999.

The NEF then pledged its support for Yemi Osinbajo’s acting presidency, advising him to be wary of enemies in the discharge of his duties. His words: ”The forum expresses its full support and encouragement for Acting President Osinbajo and urges him to exercise responsibility, as he did in the past with commitment, sensitivity and respect for the constitution.” The group then urged him to ignore mischief makers who seek to pit him against the president or the people whose mandate they both exercise.”

Unongo, however, continued in a veiled reference to regular national discussion points on restructuring of the federation :“For the record, the forum wishes to state that the north welcomes honest and sincere discussion on all aspects of our existence and remains available to engage any group to discuss and advance the nature of our union. We will resist the attempt to create the false impression that the region is hostile to enquiries into the basics of the nation’s structure and operations.

“We will also join other Nigerians in resisting any attempt to seek sectional and parochial goals outside the constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” Certainly, what the Northern elders are referring to is the current relentless quest for fiscal federalism.

Curiously, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami echoed the statement of the northern elders the other day in Abuja at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) forum on federalism when he said the issue of federalism is though desirable but not possible at this time. This view, of course, is casual, so dismissive and without the depth or rigour required of a chief law officer of the federation.

The northern elders and indeed, all leaders should note that the task of nation building is not for the fainthearted, not for irredentists, ethnic and religious bigots, especially at a time when the complex diversity of the federation is clearly experiencing some strains on account of the age-long but unaddressed national question. The conflict-resolution efforts of past leaders have produced so many documents including the more recent 2014 national conference report to resolve the national question. Almost all parts of Nigeria’s delicate federation have hailed the contents of that 2014 report as a good starting point following the consensus that led to its adoption. But Buhari has surprisingly disclosed he has not read that report, he has indeed consigned it to the archives. Unfortunately, it is the peace building effort nurtured by democracy in the last 18 years that those leaders who speak recklessly are undermining with their unguarded statements on the illness of an incumbent president. There is nothing unusual about a president being ill. And the constitution is not ambiguous on how to handle such a condition. What is more, even great countries have been successfully governed by men who took ill in office and not by threats from a section of the national constituency of the president. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. (president, 1933-1945), one of the greatest leaders the United States has ever produced led his country through and out of the Great Depression from a position of infirmity.

Elders have the right to speak in a democracy but there is a time for everything and more important is the fact that their statements have tended to reduce Nigeria’s presidency to an ethnic throne. This perception is unfortunate when it is considered that Buhari was popularly elected into power with votes from majority of the people in the six zones in the country. The stance of the northern elders to the effect that they will defend the presidency of Buhari at all cost is therefore petty and uncalled for.

It is Nigeria’s presidency, not the leadership of any ethnic group. Nigerians are the employers of this president and he is responsible to them according to the constitution of the federal republic. The northern or southern elders should therefore not gather to issue such provocative statements as can lead to further strains on the polity. Their utterances should indeed be a balm to defuse tension, not to exacerbate it.

Nigerians decide for Nigeria. Nigerians, not the Northern Elders Forum, made Buhari President in 2015. If he would continue in 2019, Nigerians will say so through a peaceful democratic process. If he would not, the same process will determine that as no provocative statements from irredentists and parochial thinkers can stop the tide of democracy.

Published in Parliament

Newsletter