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ECONOMY & POLITICS

Nigeria at 60: Full text of President Buhari’s Independence Day speech

It is important that we reflect on how we got here to enable us to work TOGETHER to get to where we aspire to be.

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INDEPENDENCE DAY ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE OCCASION OF NIGERIA’S SIXTIETH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY, THURSDAY 1ST OCTOBER 2020

Fellow Nigerians

I speak to you today as your President and fellow citizen on this epoch occasion of our country’s 60th independence Anniversary. As President, I wish to renew my appreciation to Nigerians for entrusting me with your hopes and aspirations for a better and greater Nigeria.

2. Today, it is my unique privilege to re-commit myself to the service of this great country of great people with profound diversities and opportunities. We are bound by destiny to be the largest and greatest black nation on earth.

3. At this stage in our nationhood it is important that we reflect how we got here to enable us work TOGETHER to get to where we aspire to be as a strong indivisible nation, united in hope and equal in opportunity.

4. On October 1st 1960 when Prime Minister Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa received the constitutional instruments symbolizing Nigeria’s independence, he expressed his wish that having acquired our rightful status as an independent sovereign nation, history would record that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace.

5. This optimism was anchored on the peaceful planning, full and open consultation and harmonious cooperation with the different groups which culminated in Nigeria emerging as a country without bitterness and bloodshed.

6. Our founding fathers understood the imperative of structuring a National identity using the power of the state and worked towards unification of Nigerians in a politically stable and viable entity.

7. That philosophy guided the foundation that was laid for our young nation of 45 million people with an urban population of approximately 7million occupying an area of 910,768 square kilometers. These demographics led to development challenges for which major efforts were made to overcome.

8. Today, we grapple with multiple challenges with a population exceeding 200million occupying the same land mass but 52% residing in urban areas.

9. Sixty years of nationhood provides an opportunity to ask ourselves questions on the extent to which we have sustained the aspirations of our founding fathers. Where did we do the right things? Are we on course? If not where did we stray and how can we remedy and retrace our steps?

10. Upon attaining independence, Nigeria’s growth trajectory was anchored on policies and programmes that positively impacted on all sectors of the economy. However, this journey was cut short by the 30-months of civil war.

11. We came out of the civil war with a focus on reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation that enabled the country to put in place world-class development structures and a strengthened public service that well served the government. This positive trajectory continued with a return to democratic government which was truncated by another round of military rule.

12. For a cumulative 29 of our 60 years existence as a nation, we have been under military rule.

13. My summary of our journey so far as a nation is necessary to appropriately chart where we need to go and how to get there TOGETHER.

14. Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control.

15. An underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault-lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.

16. In addition, institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline.

17. We need to begin a sincere process of national healing and this anniversary presents a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are.

18. The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration.

19. To start this healing process, we are already blessed with the most important asset any nation requires for such – OUR PEOPLE – and this has manifested globally in the exploits of Nigerians in many fields.

20. It has been demonstrated time and time again that Nigerians in the diaspora frequently excel in science, technology, medicine, sports, arts and many other fields.

21. Similarly, the creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Nigerian at home have resulted in globally recognized endeavours.

22. I am convinced that if we pursue our aspirations TOGETHER we would be able to achieve whatever we desire. That informed our adopting the theme TOGETHER to mark this epochal event.

23. Together we can change our condition for the better and more importantly, together we can do much more for ourselves and for our country.

24. I chose the path of self-reflection because this is what I do on a daily basis and I must confess that at most times, I always felt the need for a collective reflection as I know that the foundation for a solid future which this administration is laying can only be sustainable if there is a collective commitment by Nigerians.

25. Nigeria is not a country for Mr. President, any ruling or opposition party but a country for all of us and we must play our part, irrespective of challenges we face, to make this country what we desire.

26. To achieve this, we must focus our minds, TOGETHER as a people, on ways of resolving the identified critical challenges that underlie our present state. These include:

a. Evolving and sustaining a democratic culture that leaves power in the hands of the people;

b. Supporting the enthronement of the rule of law, demanding accountability of elected representatives and contributing to good governance;

c. Increasing our commitment to peaceful co-existence in a peaceful, secure and united Nigeria;

d. Harnessing and Optimizing our tremendous human and natural resources to attain our goal of being in the top twenty economies of the world and in the process;

e. Lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years;

f. Strengthening institutions to make them stronger in protecting National Interests; and

g. Imbibing tolerance in diversity.

27. I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President.

28. The recent build-up and eventual outcome of the Edo State elections should encourage Nigerians that it is my commitment to bequeath to this country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count.

29. The problems with our electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office.

30. Democracy, the world over and as I am pursuing in Nigeria, recognizes the power of the people. However, if some constituencies choose to bargain off their power, they should be prepared for denial of their rights.

31. This call is made more urgent if we realise that even after a transparent, free, fair and credible election, desperation leads to compromising the judiciary to upturn legitimate decisions of the people.

32. It is necessary to, therefore support the enthronement of the rule of law by avoiding actions which compromise the judiciary.

33. Fellow Nigerians, our history has shown that we are a people that have the capacity to live peacefully with one another.

34. As a government, we remain committed to our constitutional oath of securing the lives and properties of the citizenry. I, however, call on the citizenry to also support government by providing the necessary community level intelligence in addressing these challenges.

35. In moving forward together, it is important to strengthen our economy to provide sustainable means of livelihood for as many Nigerians as possible so as to eradicate absolute poverty from our midst.

36. I want to re-emphasize my dedication and commitment, a dedication and commitment that propelled my public service career and informed my quest to continually seek for an opportunity to improve the lives of Nigerians, set the country on the path of prosperity and lead the country to a better future.

37. This administration has been focused on rebuilding and laying the foundations for a sustainable Nigeria. Of course, we have met and are still meeting the challenges inherent in any rebuilding initiative – more so that of a nation like Nigeria that has undergone avoidable levels of deprivation – but can be surmounted if we all work together.

38. I wish to re-iterate that our people and our spirit of excellence remains our most important asset.

39. In this wise, the need to return to our age-old ethical and high moral values would be necessary and this informed my launching of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy on Monday 28th September, 2020.

40. The policy would not implement itself and the first contact of the visibility of its implementation is the Public Service whose on-going reforms would be expected to be sustainable and give a radical re-direction in providing services to all Nigerians.

41. Fellow Nigerians, in addition to public health challenges of working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, we have suffered a significant drop in our foreign exchange earnings and internal revenues due to 40 per cent drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities, leading to a 60 per cent drop in government revenue.

42. Our government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources.

43. In this regard, sustaining the level of petroleum prices is no longer possible. The government, since coming into office has recognized the economic argument for adjusting the price of petroleum. But the social argument about the knock-on effect of any adjustment weighed heavily with the government.

44. Accordingly, in the last three years, we have introduced unprecedented measures in support of the economy and to the weakest members of our society in the shape of:

a. Tradermoni

b. Farmermoni

c. School Feeding Programme

d. Job creation efforts

e. Agricultural intervention programmes

45. No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security. Those in the previous Governments from 1999 – 2015 who presided over the near destruction of the country have now the impudence to attempt to criticize our efforts.

46. In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.

47. Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point;

a. Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre

b. Niger, also an oil producing country sells 1 litre at N346.

c. In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre.

48. Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.

49. Fellow Nigerians, to achieve the great country we desire, we need to solidify our strength, increase our commitment and encourage ourselves to do that which is right and proper even when no one is watching.

50. Fellow Nigerians, let us collectively resolve to continue our journey beyond the sixty years on the clear understanding that as a nation we are greater together than being smaller units of nationalities. By the special grace of God we shall come through any transient challenges.

51. It is my sincere hope that by the end of this anniversary on September 30th 2021, we will all be proud of taking this individual and collective self-assessment for the progress of our great Nation.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

God Bless us all. Thank you.

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ECONOMY & POLITICS

Reps say implementation of capital projects must be result-oriented

The House of Reps has called on the FG to ensure the implementation of capital projects contained in the 2020 budget.

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The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to ensure that the extension for implementation of capital projects in the 2020 budget is matched by visible and identifiable results.

This was disclosed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, during the visit of the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, to the National Assembly on Monday.

The Speaker described the level of implementation of the 2020 budget as the highest recorded since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.

He said, “The extension for implemntation of capital projects in the 2020 budget must be matched by visible and identifiable results needed to achieve quantifiable development and growth.

“Let me commend the minister and her team for the level of implementation throughout last year. It was really high, probably the highest we have seen in a long time; if not in history, in recent times, but we wanted to achieve a hundred per cent and we are on the same page.”

According to him, “We are basically trying to make sure social development and growth for the country are achieved optimally.

“It’s not a usual thing to extend the life of your budget – a budget is supposed to be for a year. So, if we do that which is not the norm, we expect there’ll be a result, and it will not just be an extension for the sake of it. There’ll be visible, identifiable results,” the Speaker added.

Briefing the lawmakers on the performance of the 2020 budget, the Finance Minister said that the Federal Government retained revenue was N3.94 trillion which represents 73% of the target for the year.

What you should know

  • The Federal Government’s share of the oil revenue was N1.5 trillion which represents 157% performance over and above the prorated target for 2020.
  • This is because the crude oil price performed better than the 28 dollars per barrel that it had projected.
  • The collection was 1.28million barrels per day representing 79 per cent performance of the revised target.
  • Company income tax performed at 82 per cent and 68 per cent respectively of the target for the year.

Customs revenue performance was 79 per cent. Other revenue, which includes Independent Revenue, was budgeted at N993.73 billion. The performance was N519.36 billion.

“Considering the challenges of the year, this is a reasonably good performance, in fact, this performance is higher than several previous years backwards.

“At the close of the year, we had released 89 per cent of the capital budget, and what we rolled over was only the un-utilized portion of the budget and it is that un-utilized portion that we are now tracking the performance and that by the end of January, performance of in-utilized portion is about 30%,” Ahmed stated.

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ECONOMY & POLITICS

2020 budget performance: FG achieves 89% capital release in December 2020

The Minister of Finance has revealed that the FG achieved 89% release of the capital component of the 2020 budget to MDAs as of December 2020.

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has revealed that the Federal Government achieved 89% release of the capital component of the 2020 budget to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as of December 2020.

She said that the 89% capital funding for MDAs was achieved with the release of N1.74 trillion.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), this disclosure was made by Ahmed at an interactive session with the leadership of the National Assembly on Monday, February 22, 2021.

She also revealed that the government had disbursed N118.37 billion for Covid-19 capital expenditure from the fund.

What the Minister for Finance is saying

Ahmed said the Nigerian economy faced serious challenges in 2020, with the macroeconomic environment significantly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said this led to a 65% drop in projected net 2020 government revenues from the oil and gas sector, which adversely affected foreign exchange inflows into the economy.

On the delayed release of funds to implement the 2020 capital budget until March 31, the Minister said the complaint had decreased.

She said, “I think the complaint was earlier in the year when we were trying to transfer the balances. As far as I know, in the past three weeks, I haven’t heard any such complaints and we have been able to address them.

“But when we started the transfers, we couldn’t transfer to some agencies because of some limitations in the system, but we have since been able to transfer the capital component that is being utilised by the agencies budget to the system.

While pointing out that the implementation of the MDAs projects was tied to procurement processes and capacity of the MDA, Ahmed also said the extension of the 2020 capital budget implementation to March 31 had recorded 30% performance as at January.

However, Ahmed said that she expected that the extension would record 100% performance in March.

Speaking during the interaction, the Senate’s Chief Whip, Senator Orji-Uzor Kalu, commended the Minister on the capital performance of the 2020 budget.

He said, “I want to commend the minister and her team because this is the first time in the history of Nigeria that by December 31, we are having 89% performance expenditure of the budget. It has never happened before; Last year was the very first.

“The budget had been going 49%, 27%; this means from what the Senate President was asking, it means by March, we should be looking at implementing the budget 100%.’

Earlier, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said the meeting was to get an update on the capital implementation of the 2020 budget given its extension for implementation by the national assembly to March 31.

What this means

  • The 89% capital release for the 2020 budget as of December 2020 is quite encouraging as it occurred despite the economic challenges and disruption caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • There seems to be an improved effort by the Federal Government at the budgeting process with the early passage of the 2021 budget and the implementation of the capital component of the 2020 budget.
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ECONOMY & POLITICS

Nigeria’s economy to grow by 1.1% in 2021 – World Bank

The World Bank expects growth in Nigeria to resume at 1.1% in 2021 but fears the rebound could be affected by lower oil production due to quotas.

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The World Bank has forecasted that the global economy is set to rebound by 4% in 2021, while Nigeria’s economy is expected to resume at 1.1%.

The World Bank released this on Monday in its January 2021 Global Economic Prospects. The World Bank said:

  • “The global economy is expected to expand 4% in 2021, assuming an initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout becomes widespread throughout the year. A recovery, however, will likely be subdued, unless policy makers move decisively to tame the pandemic and implement investment-enhancing reforms.”

The World Bank urged that administrators needed to focus on improving business environments, and increase labour and product market as the pandemic had severely affected the global economy.

World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said:

  • “While the global economy appears to have entered a subdued recovery, policymakers face formidable challenges — in public health, debt management, budget policies, central banking and structural reforms — as they try to ensure that this still fragile global recovery gains traction and sets a foundation for robust growth.
  • “To overcome the impacts of the pandemic and counter the investment headwind, there needs to be a major push to improve business environments, increase labour and product market flexibility, and strengthen transparency and governance.”

The World Bank added that the 2020 economic fallout was slightly less severe than previously projected, citing shallower contractions in advanced economies and a more robust recovery in China. However, disruptions to activity in emerging economies were “more acute than expected.”

Sub-Saharan Africa 

The World Bank added that Nigeria’s economy was estimated to have contracted 4.1% in 2020, as the effects of the pandemic impacted economic activities in all sectors, even across the region.

  • “In South Africa, where economic activity was on weak footing before COVID-19, output is estimated to have fallen 7.8% last year. The country suffered the most severe outbreak of the pandemic in the region and underwent strict lockdowns that brought the economy to a standstill.”

The World Bank said oil exporters in the region grappled with sharply lower prices, however, contractions in agricultural commodity exporters were less steep.

  • “Growth in the region is forecast to rebound moderately to 2.7% in 2021.”

The World Bank said it expected growth in Nigeria to resume at 1.1% in 2021, citing that Nigeria’s economic rebound would be affected by lower oil production due to quotas.

  • “Growth in Nigeria is expected to resume at 1.1% in 2021. Activity is nevertheless anticipated to be dampened by low oil prices, OPEC quotas, falling public investment due to weak government revenues, constrained private investment due to firm failures, and subdued foreign investor confidence.
  • “In South Africa, growth is expected to rebound to 3.3% in 2021. An expectation of weak growth momentum reflects the lingering effects of the pandemic and the likelihood that some mitigation measures will need to remain in place.”

What you should know 

  • Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in real terms declined by -3.62% (year-on-year) in Q3 2020, thereby marking a full-blown recession and second consecutive contraction from -6.10% recorded in the previous quarter, Q2 2020.
  • The Federal Government of Nigeria stated that the latest recession in the country would be short-lived, as it expected Nigeria to return to positive growth soon unlike during the 2016 recession.
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