Full Text Of President Buhari’s Speech At The 71st Session Of The UN General Assembly

The President of the General Assembly His Excellency Mr. Peter Thomson

The Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki-moon

Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

Mr. President,
1. Let me, on behalf of the Government and People of Nigeria, congratulate you on your well-deserved election as the President of the 71st General Assembly. I assure you of Nigeria’s support in steering the affairs of the General Assembly in the next one year. I take the opportunity to also express my appreciation to your predecessor Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, for the achievements recorded during his tenure.

Mr. President,
2. Last year, I presented my first address to the General Assembly after my assumption of office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Indeed, it was a remarkable year, which not only celebrated the gains of the Millennium Development Goals, but also witnessed the adoption of the 2030 agenda on Sustainable Development.

3. These landmark achievements by the global community, will no doubt build a more prosperous, all inclusive world. We must work together to liberate humanity from poverty, save our planet from the devastation of Climate Change and rid the world of terrorism for a more peaceful and prosperous future.

4. We must remain committed to taking bold steps to transform our world. The Sustainable Development Goals underscore the imperative for our collective will towards finding enduring and sustainable solutions to addressing global disparities. It is in the light of our appreciation of the enormity of the task before us, that I welcome the theme of this Assembly, ‘Sustainable Development Goals; a Universal Push to Transform the World.’

Mr. President,
5. Nigeria as a developing country has been adversely affected by the global economic downturn. We are, however, undeterred and have embarked on a wide range of reforms in our efforts to diversify our economy and shift emphasis to mining, agriculture, industrialization, infrastructure development and the creation of the enabling environment for Foreign Direct Investment.

6. Our strategic objective is to stimulate the economy, restore growth and accelerate recovery. In doing this, we are taking measures to reduce the cost of governance and increase expenditure on infrastructure and ensure environmental best practices.

Mr. President,
7. Fighting corruption remains a cardinal pillar of our administration. Corruption freezes development, thereby undermining the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. I am pleased that our efforts in fighting corruption are yielding positive results including significant stolen assets recoveries.

8. The recovered funds are being channelled towards the development of critical infrastructure and the implementation of social inclusion programmes for our people. We are also strengthening our capacity of government entities to institutionalize reforms to ensure transparency and good governance.

9. The Anti – Corruption Summit held in London in May this year served as further reassurance of the global community’s commitment to fight corruption through the proposed practical steps to address the challenges including actions to hold perpetrators to justice within the law. Nigeria supports the development of an international legal framework to enforce anti-corruption measures and strengthen existing international institutions to effectively deal with corrupt practices.

10. Nigeria calls on Member States that are yet to sign up to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to do so. Nigeria will continue to advocate for the facilitation of the recovery of illicit financial assets. Indeed, the speedy and unconditional return of stolen public assets should be the focus of the follow-up anti-corruption conference to be hosted by the US and UK in Washington next year.

11. Furthermore, Nigeria remains committed to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global coalition which promotes transparency and accountability in the management of revenues from the oil, gas and solid minerals sectors. We voluntarily signed up to EITI because we are convinced that transparent governance is an imperative for resource-rich developing countries like ours.

12. Through the work that our national chapter of EITI has done over the years, it is clear that our faith is not misplaced. The National EITI has been empowering citizens with critical information they can use to hold government and other players in the extractive industries to account, and make recommendations that drive reforms in these strategic sectors of our national life.

Mr. President,
13. The world took a giant step in Paris, towards addressing the challenges of Climate Change. Nigeria is proud to have been part of the process leading to the adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015 at the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

14. COP- 21 marked a watershed in the global community’s commitment to address climate change and we will continue in our determined efforts to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

15. At the centre of Nigeria’s climate action is our determination to implement the strategies in our Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which will foster low carbon economy and sustainable growth in building a climate resilient society. We are creating public awareness through the integrated involvement of the private sector and civil society, and strengthening national institutions and mechanisms.

16. The negative consequences of Climate Change have manifested in the drying up of our Lake Chad. The means of livelihood of an estimated 30 million inhabitants of the Lake Chad Basin, spread across Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, are being severely threatened. The cost of replenishing the lake has been put at 14 billion US Dollars under a five year plan which should be accorded global attention. Nigeria also supports the African Union initiative on the Great Green Wall to halt desertification.

17. In furtherance of our commitment to environmental sustainability, Nigeria has launched the cleanup of Ogoni land in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, based on the 2011 Environmental Assessment of the area by the United Nations Environment Programme. Multi-national oil companies operating in the area will be required to live up to their corporate social responsibilities and contribute to the cleaning-up of the environment degraded as a result of their activities and operations.
18. We call on development partners and multinationals to support our efforts, through the Ogoniland Restoration Fund.

Mr. President,
19. The 21st century has been marked by the rising insecurity unleashed by global terrorism and violent extremism. Indeed, which constitute a real threat to the international community. With the global increase in the spate of terrorist attacks, there is now, more than ever before, international consensus and greater willingness to collaborate in combating this threat.
20. Indeed, we are meeting at the time when our hosts, the American people have just marked the 15th Anniversary of the tragic and dastardly terrorist attacks on their soil. We in Nigeria, having been victims of terrorism of ourselves fully understand the impact of 9/11 on the American psyche and the families of the thousands of innocent victims whose lives were lost that day, I therefore, reiterate the Nigerian Government’s and people’s sympathies to the American people and prayers for the families of the victims that they may heal and find closure soon.

21. We hope that justice will be done to the families of victims of 9/11 as indeed to that victims of terror everywhere in conformity with the norms of international justice. As we seek justice for terror victims, the international community should avoid reacting in the heat of deep emotions of the moment by taking unilateral measures, legal or otherwise that will have a negative and disruptive impact on the international community’s collective efforts to fight terrorism.
22. We should not be distracted in our collective resolve to beat back terrorism in all its forms. As we confront terror we must also commit to stopping the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which nurture its spread. To this end, Nigeria urges member States that are yet to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to do so without further delay.

24. Nigeria has made remarkable progress in our resolve to defeat Boko Haram whose capacity to launch orchestrated attacks as a formed group has been severely degraded. In the last few months, their operations have been limited to sporadic use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) against soft targets.

25. Nigeria has continued to combat terrorism based on the established rules of engagement and in conformity with international best practices. I take this opportunity to reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to human rights norms and International Humanitarian Law in our efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism. I also wish to restate the assurance that the Federal Government of Nigeria is employing all our judicial tools to investigate and treat reported cases of human rights violations.

26. I commend the contribution of our neighbours – Benin Republic, Cameroun, Chad, and Niger whose combined efforts under the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) accomplished the present return of normalcy in areas hitherto occupied by Boko Haram.

27. May I also thank our international partners, including France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United Nations, ECOWAS the African Union and many other multilateral and bilateral partners for their invaluable support. Our experience today is evidence that with determined international collaboration, terrorism can be defeated.

Mr. President,
28. The flow of refugees and migrants world wide has attained alarming proportions. In this wise Nigeria supports the Ceasefire Agreement brokered by the United States and Russia to end the atrocious tragedy of the Syrian civil war. Of particular concern to us in Nigeria is the plight of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) arising from Boko Haram terrorism. We have taken concrete steps to address their humanitarian needs and to ensure that necessary conditions are established to enable the voluntary return of the displaced persons to their places of abode in safety and dignity.

Mr. President,
29. At the same time, the Palestinian issue, despite years and years of international efforts is no nearer to being resolved. Nigeria in company with member States of the African Union, firmly support the Two-State solution with Palestinian rights to statehood in conformity, with numerous Security Council Resolutions beginning with Resolution 242 of 1967.

30. Let me seize this opportunity to once again thank all UN and other aid agencies and development partners currently deployed in North East Nigeria. I reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to collective action towards an effective global response to address the root causes of refugee flows worldwide.

Mr. President,
31. We acknowledge the importance of youth in national development and remain committed to harnessing the potential of the increasing youth bulge. We must take advantage of the numbers and creative energy of young people who are in the majority in Nigeria and in most other member states. Therefore, at the international level, we call for the establishment of a specialized UN agency for youth development to achieve this strategic objective.

32. Nuclear security remains central to our quest for durable peace and security. This was why I participated in the 5th Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Barak Obama in Washington in March, 2016. Nigeria and the other peace-loving member States of the United Nations must continue to uphold the fundamental principles of nuclear disarmament non-proliferation and its peaceful uses.

Mr. President,
33. The United Nations should now redouble the long protected effort for its reform to enable it to effectively address the challenges of our times. Nigeria, therefore, reiterates its call for the reform of the United Nations Security Council, in particular to reflect equitable and fair representation and greater transparency, legitimacy and inclusiveness in its decision making.

34. Africa should be adequately represented on the United Nations Security Council in the permanent member category. In this regard, Nigeria stands ready to serve Africa and the world on a reformed security council to advance international peace and security.

Mr. President,
35. Let me conclude by reaffirming Nigeria’s abiding faith in the United Nations and in her capacity to support Member States to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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Civil Society Group Want President Buhari To Order The Immediate Release Of DSS Report On Magu

By Adenike Lucas

A civil society group have urged President Muhammadu Buhari, PMB to direct the Department of State Service, DSS to publish its report on the culpability of Mr Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, the acting chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Transparency for Social Justice and Equity, a non-governmental organisation that works to uphold the human right of Nigerians, expressed concerns about Mr Magu’s alleged connection to Air Commodore Umar Mohammed (Rtd) whom the DSS had arrested and recovered $1.5 million dollars, confidential document from the EFCC, Office of the President and Arms Deal Committee in his Maitama home.

In an article first published by This Day on the 10th of June, Mr Muhammed is accused of fronting for Mr Magu.

A source had previously revealed to this blog that the retired Air Force officer who remains in custody is alleged to have run a blackmailing and extortion cartel using the classified documents found in his home. Mr Muhammed is said to have implicated Mr Magu during questioning.

The Civil Society Organisation who made note of this allegation were worried that “Mr Magu was still allowed to be heading the anti-graft agency despite this alarming level of accusation.”

The group states that “we are worried that despite details provided by the arrested Air Commodore Umar Muhammad (Rtd) who is said to be fronting for a senior EFCC and Office of the National Security Adviser official, Mr Magu was still leading the agency.”

According to the Secretary of the group, Mr O. Williams, “President Buhari must look beyond what Mr Magu may be portraying himself to be, and take the bull by the horn, in order to have a total war against corruption.”

The coalition of Nigerian Youths for Change Initiative had also accused Mr Magu of awarding the sum of N43m to his crony and DSS suspect retired Air Pilot Muhammed, for the furnishing of a Maitama residence, which he recently moved into.

In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Mr Oladimeji Ayo, said at a time “the country is facing economic downtown, with most cabinet members of PMB unable to cater for their accommodation challenges,” the EFCC chair was not being prudent.

Mr Ayo who called for Mr Magu to be relieved of his job explained that Mr Magu “led EFCC is not different from his predecessor, Mr Ibrahim Larmorde whose tenure witnessed the outright stealing of N1trillion Naira of recovered funds by the commission- an allegation that made Mr Lamorde disappear from public scene instead of defending himself before the Nigerian Senate.”

Mr Williams agreeing with Mr Ayo said: “It is now clear that Mr Magu is not fighting corruption with sincerity as envisaged by PMB, but projecting his interest at the detriment of the country’s predicament.”

Meanwhile, the DSS which did not have the chance to SCREEN Mr Magu before his name was submitted to the Senate, is yet to publish the full report on the activities of Mr Magu. The group is now demanding that the President “orders” for them to do so.

Mr Magu is presently expecting to get confirmed by the NASS upon resumption today, Tuesday, 20th September 2016.

Well-meaning Nigerians have been calling on the government of President Buhari to avoid the future embarrassment which for sure Mr Magu is ready to make the regime face as a plan ‘B’ in the event he is not confirmed by the Senate.

Last month, regular staff at EFCC made a complaint of bullying against their boss but they said “Nigerians thought it was a joke.”

Now, they say “even the seconded Policemen at EFCC are now complaining bitterly to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris that Mr Magu was maltreating them.

They also accused him of “impunity and money laundering.”

One noted that the desperation of the troubled leader of the anti-graft agency is such that he was “blackmailing first class Emirs in the north”.

Insiders also say that Mr Magu launched a media war against those he believes might be working against his bid to be made the substantive chair of the EFCC.

Alhaji Aba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to the President; Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, the Attorney-General of Federation and Abulrahman Dambazau, the Minister of Interior; Mallam Mamman Daura et al are amongst those Mr Magu believes are working against him.

To get back at them, he has sponsored false article on the US based online website, Sahara Reporters about them.

In the latest onslaught of sponsored article via Sahara Reporters, Mallam Daura is accused of writing the “plagiarised Obama speech” read by President Buhari but government sources who corroborate Garba Shehu’s (SSA, Media & Publicity to the President) statement on the issue say that Sahara Reporters is “peddling lies.”

Yesterday, the pioneer chairman of the EFCC Mallam Nuhu Ribadu gave insiders willing to expose Mr Magu, a big boost when he has said that “whistleblowers must be encouraged and protected.”

EFCC staff say Mr Magu is not fit to lead the commission because of the challenges he has been presenting himself to the public.

Those present at a Lagos symposium where Mr Magu presented a written paper “This Is Our Chance” questioned the authenticity of his University Accountancy Degree.

One person said: “when you ask him, sometimes he’d say he went to Ahmadu Bello University, ABU Zaria another time, he says he graduated from University of Maiduguri.”

Another lambasted him for not being able to read a well written paper that was given to him days back. They say he has “become an embarrassment to himself and the government.”

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Mr. Vice President: On Restructuring we stand, By Obi Ebuka Onochie

On 24 May 1966, a foundation of what would become a major problem to today’s Nigeria was naively and innocently laid by Major General Thomas Johnson Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi through decree 34. Decree 34 was also known as unification decree by the Aguiyi Ironsi’s regime. According to the provisions of decree 34, “Nigeria shall on 24th May 1966 (in this decree referred to as ‘the appointed day’) cease to be a Federation and shall accordingly as from that day be a Republic, by the name of the Republic of Nigeria, consisting of the whole of the territory which immediately before that day was comprised in the Federation”. This decree made Nigeria a unitary state and removed its federal structures believing that would bring unity but uniformity is no guarantee for unity.

For the benefit of expanded understanding, a unitary system is one level centralized government without any semi-autonomous component units. This means that there is no state or regional government under unitary system. Any branch of government below the government at the center is an extension of government at the center without any form of freedom to act without central government approvals. This denotes that every aspect of government including political and fiscal structures of governance are under one centralized government. Some of the countries using this systems are but not limited to Ghana, United Kingdom, France, Japan, etc.

After Ironsi was removed and killed through highly bloody coup led by Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria was reversed to federal system only politically without its fiscal structures. Even the political stricture was a limited version of what it used to be. Prior to Ironsi’s regime, every region was run like a semi-autonomous component of a greater Nigeria. Regions controlled their resources and some percentage due to the government at the center was appropriately remitted. Development was faster because every region understood that their destiny lies within. We had the era Pyramid was built with groundnut, we were world largest exporter of cocoa and palm oil, coal was equally exported and so many other minerals. That was how Awolowo’s government could grant and sustain free education for western region but today even with our so called petro dollar, no state can grant and sustain free education. Governor Okorocha of Imo state tried it and failed woefully and Imo state is yet to recover from that venture.

Few weeks ago, our vice president prof. Yemi Osinbajo cannily and subtly withdrew his previous stance on Nigeria going back to true fiscal federation. He gave his reason to be that regionalism will promote ethnic bigotry and division. This action alone can be titled or captioned “the legendary ideology turn coat of the century”. The major discussion is not the type of federating structure or component units that will come with the restructuring but the fiscal ambiance of the federation which many call “resource control”. If Mr. Vice president is afraid of Lagos political gang losing control of Lagos state to greater western region, the states structures can remain but resource control must be reintroduced. Mr. Vice president favours the introduction of state police and my question is, if 29 states can’t pay current civil servants’ salaries with our present system, how can they accommodate policemen and women in their payroll?

Everybody knows Mr. Vice President’s standing today on restructuring (which could change tomorrow as it fluctuates) is more popular in the north than south. That he is a Vice president does not mean he must agree with Mr. President in all things. His resignation is not expected before his disagreement as we do not have Parliamentary system of government which demands that. He is also an elected political officer of the government and not appointed. He has a lot in his favour to speak his mind and stand by it. So why sudden change of coat? It will be very bad to start playing man Friday to President Buhari in a matter of repositioning Nigeria for greater success.

Gowon regime was responsible to reverting Nigeria back to federal system but kept Nigeria centralized fiscally. Anyways, Gowon has no power or authority to change many mistakes of his regime but he could lend his voice as influence for restructuring which he did recently. The six geopolitical zones we have can be activated and be called regions, states, parishes, cantons, districts or provinces whatever name we care but let the main content of restructuring reflect fiscally. The issue of concurrent list should be eliminated and a sharp demarcation of duties and powers between federal government and the component units be clearly spelt out. Monetary, defense, foreign policies should be kept exclusively for federal government. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration built and completed 50 Almajiri schools which falls under primary education and people are comfortable that federal government is involving itself in what states should handle.

Bosnia and Herzegovina are able to remain one country and develop according to their power because they are federating. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Russia, India, USA, to name just a few successful federal states. Nigeria is the only country practicing what I call “unitary federalism”. Lack of speedy development, high rate of nepotism, lack of creativity and over dependence on mono-product like Nigeria and petroleum are just the very few appalling features of “unitary federalism.”

Since Aguyi Ironsi’s mistake of unification decree and Gowon mistake of introducing unitary federation, Nigeria has never really progressed. Over concentration of governmental power and resources at the center is tearing Nigeria apart and taking its toll on this great nation potential.  This is why elections in Nigeria are too feverish because there is an untaught notion that whoever becomes the president controls everything and this belief has over time trickle down the lower levels of government. Restructuring will accommodate regional differences, speedy and capacity development, decentralization of federal powers, eliminate marginalization (whether real or spooky), healthy development contribution among federating units and so much more benefits. State of California in the USA was able to overtake France as the world’s 6th richest economy simply because of this – true federalism. They control their resources, make real planning and budgeting and actually move at the speed and pace their ability can carry them. This is just one out of 50 states that make up the United States of America. United States is where you never hear any state complain of being marginalized because it is not in the federal government power to do so.

Buhari’s APC led government can start by implementing national conference report or call for another one. Ya’Aduah’s administration brought amnesty as a temporary solution to one of Nigeria’s multitude of problems, Goodluck’s government sustained it but went ahead to initiate steps to more permanent solutions by convening national conference which APC government is playing politics with. The earlier those standing in opposition to restructuring realize that there is no going back on it, the better for Nigeria. Restructuring can actually save Nigeria from breaking into pieces and Nigeria’s break up is possible, do not say it is not.

 

Obi Ebuka Onochie can be reached via obiebuka360@gmail.com

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President Buhari And The Status Quo, By Moh’d Buhari Adamu (Ardo)

As you watch television today, read the newspapers, listen to radio, sit at “Mai shayi/Mai suya” joint, or pass by somewhere, you run into many issues regarding this president Buhari’s administration, most of which are negative comments you would rather not hear about. There is no doubt that everyone else would like to live in a society where people are committed to peace and security, where people hesitate to oppress or harm one another, where there is religion tolerance and respect for each other and honouring words from one another. Such an environment, ensuring a structure of relationships shaped by respect and love, is everyone’s dream.  But the case is different here in my dear country, Nigeria. Therefore, those who are sincerely willing to live in a society where peace, security and freedom prevail, should waste no time in taking action and be willing to make certain sacrifices no matter how little because looking at the rate at how things are going now, this government could lose points and confidence from its people.

Nigeria is a great nation endowed with talented people and resources but due to the lack of visionary leadership, we always find it difficult to thrive to the level of competitiveness. Many regimes had came and passed and each came with different economic agenda that was aimed at mobilizing human, material and natural resources of the nation to achieve a goals of national life. Sadly, after more than fifty years of reforms, Nigeria has painfully remained a public-sector led economy with a bloated government presence in every facet of national life, mono-economy with preponderant influence of one commodity in determining the nation’s revenue-expenditure profile and the balance of payment position, an extractive and primary economy that produced unrefined raw materials for export, either in the form of agricultural products or crude oil, and an economy with a weak and unsteady national currency that has been the whipping boy of the international financial community.

Before 2015 elections, Nigerians were hopeful that in the midst of all the challenges-insecurity, hunger, kidnappings, corruption and lack of confidence in government- facing the country, the incoming administration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari would reinstate the system because of his known quality in leadership, untainted personality which also aligned with the change mantra that people were yearning for. Despite the fact that there are many elements of the past administrations in the retinue of his change mantra, people were hopeful that ousting PDP was not only an option but a collective choice by the majority of the people. More often than not, people are most likely bend to what will happen rather than what had happened especially where there is more expectation from whom the due is given. Predictability makes it possible to anticipate what will happen if certain actions are undertaken. The dream was for a bold and audacious change that will fundamentally, structurally and massively change the attitudes of the Nigerians and transform the national economy, secure the polity, care for the underprivileged, and provide responsible and responsive leadership in Nigeria. This has been seen in Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign manifestos in full-throated clarity. Change is a gradual process and given the fact that Nigerians are not used to basics the Buhari’s administration is faced with critiques from different angles. Nigerians are used to having easy money, given that the previous administrations did not have financial prudence, there was too much money in the hands of individuals or some organizations that were meant for public services but turned out to be managed and spent at their disposal. Nigeria is endowed with both human and natural resources enormously but because corruption has been the order of the day, the resources become the loot for those who are privileged to have access to the coffers of government and manipulatively decide who gets what and how. Nigeria was described as a Gangster’s Paradise where you pay a bribe to see a key official in an establishment or even to acquire a signature. You pay a bribe to get a job. You pay a bribe to get the passport. You pay bribe to get contracts. You pay bribe to get your entitlements. Change was what Nigerians were yearning for.

But today this administration is one year and four months old but there is little change in the country contrary to what people were expecting. It is quite recommendable that the issue of insurgency has been degraded. The major challenges this administration is faced with now is socio-economic and maladministration from all the arms of government which has been the paramount problem of Nigeria. This administration needs to put some active machinery in place to tackle the sufferings people are going through. The president needs to build a strong team of people with insight and high degree of interdependence towards achieving the goal for which they hold themselves accountable. The central idea here is that this administration should focus on creating avenues and economic packages to enhance the welfare of its citizens rather than the blame game because we the optimists are also affected by it. We all know what corruption could do to a country and we know that it is obvious that president Buhari came in to rescue Nigeria, he may not have done much to save the situation but he means well for this country which is a known fact to even those who are born to wail. We shouldn’t be criticizing subjectively. Yes! We are going through hardships. But still to blame Buhari on almost every current hardship is either hatred or ignoramus. Because there are some people that no matter what they can criticize, they have the mindset that Nigeria can never be salvaged. Need I to remind you of the causes of our current problems? Just of recent administrations, Olusegun Obasanjo, within eight years, earned #17 trillion from crude oil sales. He left 45bn dollars in the external reserves. Despite the economic meltdown, Yaradu’a made it to be $64 dollars within just one year and left $47.7bn in external reserve. Jonathan administration witnessed an oil upswing when crude sold foe over 100 dollars per barrel, earning #51trn within five years. But the Jonathan’s administration squandered the oil revenues and depleted the reserves left by its predecessors. Buhari’s administration inherited just #32b and a huge external debt of 63bn dollars and the crude sales at 37 dollars per barrel which has been increased to about 48 dollars just recently. These are facts that can be verified. And looking at these facts and other circumstances one would know where our current hardships emanated from. Also our state governors also contribute to the current hardships. Every person is entitled to his opinion but there is an opinion that lacks substance. We have to do away with subjective criticisms and look closely to ourselves whether or not, in one way or the other, maybe we are contributing to our own problems by disregarding some of our fundamental religion teachings and ideologies. We must also learn to imbibe the culture of being productive. I believe that since many countries had gone through recession and came out stronger; Nigeria too will overcome the hurdles and come out stronger than ever before. Singapore metamorphosed from a third world country to an industrialized country. Malaysia, from a commodity exporting country became one of the biggest economies in Asia today. Both India and Brazil did it. If Japan, a country devastated by World War II and devoid of natural resources can become a leading industrialized nation, why not Nigeria that is rich in human and natural resources? It all happened to those countries because of quality in leadership. And in President Buhari, I see that leadership. What he needs now is our prayers, patient and perseverance. Because we all know there are some people in this administration who pretend to be part of the change while actually they are not. They are just a subterfuge, sabotaging the good will of this administration. And by God grace they can be exposed by anxiety or the zeal and strong determination of this administration toward fighting corruption and injustice.

May Allah continue to bless our dear Nigeria!

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Change Does Not Begin with an Empty Slogan, Mr. President By Gimba Kakanda

Last Thursday, the Federal Government, obviously terrified by the burden of expectations on it, launched what is without doubt an exercise in propaganda. It is a social orientation campaign named “Change Begins With Me”. Introducing the campaign, the President said, “Our citizens must realize that the change they want to see begins with them.” And then, “Before you ask ‘where is the change they promised us’, you must first ask how far have I changed my ways, (sic) ‘what have I done to be part of the change for the greater good of society’.”

This is an audacious attempt to alter the definition of “Change” the APC proposed when it approached us in selling its beautiful ideas for Nigeria. The governing party’s idea of change has been widely archived, and it’s just impossible to convince the people that the change they promised isn’t creating three million jobs yearly, providing free meals for public primary school public, offering N5,000 stipends to unemployed youths, adopting Social Welfare Programmes to cater for the poor, free maternal and children healthcare services, amongst similar visions as laudable as they were popular.

This is why the definition provided by the President is a contradiction of what the APC told us, that it would lead the way to our redemption. The Change promised Nigerians was framed as institutional and systemic, not this grand campaign for exceptional individualism. The problem, as I’ve repeatedly said, is not the person, not the Nigerian. It’s the institutions, stupid, to creatively quote an exceptional American who also came to power chanting Change. Institutions aren’t made by people, they are made by rules, fair rules impartially administered, hard to bend. That is the Change we were promised, it was the Change we expected and voted for, it is the Change that is demanded.

Have you ever paused to ponder why Nigerians beat traffic lights in Abuja but obey traffic rules in London? It’s because the UK institutions are strong. So, the change we anticipate must begin with institutions changing people. Telling some people that change begins with them is like telling a robber to stop stealing. No, you’ve to build a strong Police to change him, and strong social services so that petty theft for survival is diminished. Citizens are often only as good and as incorruptible as the country wants them to be, through its institutions.

An expatriate friend, an Australian, beats traffic lights in Abuja and he actually once described it as fun. He’ll never try it in his country. Why? It’s not patriotism. Words like “change begins with me” will never stop people from disobeying traffic rules. To achieve this, you need surveillance cameras and strong penalising institutions. Wait, why do you think Americans are afraid of evading tax? It’s the horror of having to deal with IRS. It’s not patriotism. Who’s afraid of FIRS? Definitely not the Nigerian big man who’s sure of his ability to make phone calls and get any case against him dropped! So, change should begin with the President addressing institutional lapses like those employment scams at CBN and FIRS, and apologising to the nation for condoning such nepotism.

Truth is, this “Change Begins With Me” campaign may only further give the President more excuses to skip electoral promises. He and his handlers will claim they failed to deliver as promised because the citizens didn’t change. Our President may go down in history as just another politician if he does not stick to the dream he promised which got him elected, with honest apologies or explanations where necessary. He’s to lead and inspire a generation by giving them a functional nation to strive to change their realities. Change begins with having stable power supply, equipped and upgraded hospitals, developed road infrastructure, rehabilitated schools, countered nepotism, defeated crony capitalism…

Yes, you don’t need a witchdoctor to understand that the change promised by the APC means overturning our social conditions. Our people are hungry, forex is unstable, businesses are collapsing, and instead of changing their conditions, the government is shamelessly telling them that change begins with them. What the hungry citizens need isn’t an empty slogan, what they need is a favourable socio-economy to stay alive and thrive in. To say #ChangeBeginsWithMe when inflation is on autopilot is an understating of the nation’s reality, it’s a state-authorised insult. To deploy a slogan as facile and silly as #ChangeBeginsWIthMe in 2016 is an insult to the intelligence of even the dullest of the Nigerian electorate. Change means an improvement in the quality and responsiveness of our institutions, and we will never let the President CHANGE the CHANGE!

If Nigerians had not changed, they wouldn’t have volunteered to campaign for Candidate Muhammadu Buhari who, addressing delegates at his party’s National Convention before the elections, said, “I can’t give you a pocketful of dollars or Naira to purchase your support.” What he offered in place of dollars was a beautiful dream. In that dream, the people saw a Nigeria where they don’t need a “connection” anymore to secure a job. But that has happened under his watch. This is why I suggested #ChangeAlongWithMe as a more sensible slogan elsewhere, because the President was elected to pave the way for the change by, for instance, installing functional streetlamps and establishing strong penalising institutions for citizens to obey traffic rules, and by stopping recruitment scams at our federal agencies for the citizens to get the sense and essence of a Nigeria without nepotism. Psychologists call these conditioning!

But the usual governmental praise-singers, in their serial bid to endorse the campaign, say its critics are ignorant, revealing their amusing misconception of Civics. Some have written that Nigerians have a sense of entitlement. They miss, of course, embarrassingly, that Nigerians are not requesting effective institutional change from the President. We are demanding it as he promised. It’s our right, paid for in blood and votes, it is not a privilege to which entitlement and too much of entitlement can be attached.

Nigerians are waiting for the President have them conditioned into what he wants them to be, possible only through his policies and actions. He has access to the public treasury and administrative machinery to shape the destiny of this nation. That the government is resorting to psychological propaganda to hoodwink Nigerians into embracing a contradiction of its promises and capabilities, is dispiriting. Change begins with action, and with the President not abdicating his responsibility to champion it. May God save us from us.

Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

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Reported Release Of Kabiru Sokoto: Hatred For President Buhari Taken Too Far, By Inibehe Effiong

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In Sallah Message, President Buhari Explains Cause Of Present Recession, Assures Of Removing The Hardship

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday explained the present recession In the country, blaming it on global economic downturn and the failure to save in the past.

In a Sallah message to Nigerians to mark Monday’s Eid-el-Kabir, Mr. Buhari reassured Nigerians that his administration was committed to removing “the hardships the country is going through.”

He said the recession “is as a result of cumulative effects of worldwide economic downturn and failure in the past to plan and save for difficult times.”

“It is impossible to separate the present from the past to appreciate the extent to which mistakes of the past are affecting everyday life today,” he said.

He highlighted various sectors his administration was working on to improve the life of Nigerians.

The president’s full statement reads:

Fellow Compatriots, as you celebrate the Eid-El-Kabir, I salute your steadfastness in spite of the difficult economic times the country is going through.

The lessons of the Eid are piety and sacrifice and, my dear brothers and sisters, you have exhibited these in equal measure.

The present recession is as a result of cumulative effects of worldwide economic downturn and failure in the past to plan and save for difficult times. It is impossible to separate the present from the past to appreciate the extent to which mistakes of the past are affecting everyday life today.

I assure you that this administration is working round the clock to remove the hardships the country is going through. Rail and road constructions, projects in the housing sector, support for farmers and for small and medium scale industries, youth and women’s empowerment programmes, support for revival of industries are all designed to reinvigorate the economy and enhance living standards of ordinary people.

We are getting security right. We are stopping corruption in its tracks and we will get the economy right by the Grace of God.

I enjoin Muslims to live by the dictates of Islam, to keep good relationships with their Christian brothers and sisters and as patriots to maintain the spirit of the Nigerian nation.

I wish everyone happy holidays.

Muhammadu Buhari

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Unveiling President Buhari’s Mindset By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, I doubt if there is anyone who does not see and feel President Muhammadu Buhari is a complex character. As a matter of fact, that is the veritable hallmark of his persona and super brand. Those of us that supported him voluntarily, and almost blindly, last year did so out of our acute frustration with Project Nigeria.

There were those who hated his guts but still went ahead to vote for him because they expected him to wave the fabled magic wand and bring sanity and succour to our insane clime. What no one bargained for was the repercussion, and reverberation, of such venture and adventure. As always, Nigerians felt their situation could never be worse under Buhari than that of the 16-year rule of profligacy of the PDP and the squander-manic regime of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The APC operatives ran a blistering campaign with active collaboration and connivance from some of us. On the matter of the continuation of the Jonathan Presidency, there was no negotiation. Even now as people pummel us over the seeming inertia or retrogression of the Buhari government, I still stand by my decision to support Major General Muhammadu Buhari, warts and all. Walahi, I would have loved any of the combinations of Donald Duke, Nasir El Rufai, Rotimi Amaechi, Aminu Tambuwal, Mobola Johnson, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Nuhu Ribadu, Oby Ezekwesili, Charles Soludo, Akinwunmi Adesina, Pat Utomi, Kayode Fayemi, and some of our other tested and brightest young stars.

They may have their personal foibles like all mortals do but I’m persuaded that Nigeria would have joined the comity of other nations parading some youthful cerebral leaders by now. But the ways of Nigerian politicians are not the ways of mere mortals. We have our unique and peculiar methods of doing things. Our incorrigibility is almost second to none. Everything about us is about self and self alone. Everyone’s permutation is about who is his friend, school mate, church member, Muslim brother, godfather or godson, village folk, and so on. It is not about what you know but more about who you know. Nepotism is the order of the day!

That is why the best of the myriad of Nigerian brains would never be able to win elections at certain levels because of our irredeemable obsession with primordial and parochial sentiments. The import of my preamble is that Buhari was a product of our maddening and inordinate search for a near saint amongst us and he perfectly fitted the bill. Buhari himself must have assumed that the votes given to him were signed off carte-blanche and in blind trust. I’m sure he never expected that the honeymoon would not be an endless romance.

But things and times have changed. It is now sour grapes time. Except for profiteers and/or pretenders who would not tell our President the gospel truth, things are falling apart. The reasons are not because of what Buhari and company are doing wrong but because of what they are not doing right which I hope to enumerate and dissect.

I had chosen to write on this topic before I received the message quoted below from a young, concerned Nigerian reflecting on the “new” rebranding that we have been subjected to. His views mirror the present mood of the nation and the restiveness of our people especially the young ones who fought gallantly for Change and PMB!

“President Buhari, with all due respect to your high office, you are losing me. What’s wrong? What’s wrong with your advisers? Who got you to sign up to the cliché called “Change Begins With Me” and to throw the weight of your office behind it? Did they put together a crack team of psychologists, communicators, sociologists, political scientists, etc? I refuse to believe that this programme, and especially the name, is the product of deep thinking and reflection.

First, the idea that “Change Begins With Me”, renders all our efforts to get you elected in 2015 worthless. Heck, why did we bother? If it’s going to start with us Lilliputs, we might as well have left Goodluck Jonathan in office and allow him and his band of hopeless cohorts to get on with the good job they were doing of raping Nigeria. Don’t you get it? Change began with you! We, the people, already implemented the biggest change possible with turning around this country by electing you on the mantra of change. So why are you now passing the buck? The buck is on your desk. Make the change happen and we will follow from there. It’s over a year and many, sadly, are already suffering buyer’s remorse. Arrest the trend!

Secondly, what change can any single individual put into action that will impact the culture and behaviour of 180m people in double quick time? We are in a hurry, Mr. President. So much has been lost. So to rely on Adeola, Abubakar or Opara to start the change and hope that we will be counting gains in months is delusional. You don’t have all the time. We do not have the time. Start the Change!” – Chris Adetayo
Let me reiterate that I have had the privilege of meeting and interacting with some members of the Buhari administration.

I can confirm that I have held discussions and communicated the feelings of both the rich and poor on the streets directly to them. However, I am not sure that they are in tune with the reality of things on this side of the divide. I believe I have sufficient knowledge of the political history of Nigeria. I’m afraid to say, I see the same symptoms of afflictions that ravaged previous governments and rendered them incapacitated. I’m saddened that no lessons seemed to have been learnt from our beleaguered past. Government appears to believe only in its own mind-set and every complaint or suggestion is summed up in some dangerous conclusions: the wailing wailers; corruption is fighting back; the suffering of Nigerians is exaggerated, etc.

Equally worrisome is the apparent paranoia that has crept into our senior government officials. Every commentator or demonstrator is perceived an enemy of government. I was surprised to read how my childhood friend and brother, Femi Adesina, singled me out in his article yesterday and accused me of insinuating that he was too comfortable in Aso Rock. There are so many occupants in Aso Rock and I know the limits of Femi’s influence on the men of power. I can never blame him for what I clearly know is beyond him. He faces the same dilemma of his predecessors who found themselves defending the indefensible in order to exhibit their hard work, competence and loyalty. It is a delicate and thankless job that leads oftentimes to Golgotha. I love Femi so much that I would rather offer him my sincere prayers instead of hanging him.

Let me go to the next case at hand. I could not believe the shabby treatment meted to Mrs Oby Ezekwesili and other members of the Bring Back Our Girls agitators. Their harmless and defenceless group is being harassed for merely exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights of expression, association and movement. They constitute no danger whatsoever to society. Even if President Buhari won’t receive or entertain them, a senior member of the Federal Government should have been assigned to meet, pacify and reassure them.

Something is terminally wrong with our crisis management capabilities. Our proclivity for mismanaging and escalating troubles is legendary. This particular case is as disgraceful as it is unnecessary. Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, these were the friends of Buhari. They had pinned their hope on the muscular and military abilities of our President to liberate the Chibok girls in a jiffy. If things were proving difficult as it seems, constant dialogue is the only way out of the debacle.

But the handlers of Buhari prefer to fuel the long held belief or myth that Buhari is a mean and ruthless man. This is not good. It also comes at the wrong time. This administration has been accused of several human rights abuses and, according to the Minster of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, the President is heading for the United Nations on Tuesday to make the case that his administration is not guilty of such allegations. Intolerance for the rights of expression, association and movement cannot be a good way of making out such a case.

Anyone who has met President Buhari would readily attest to his simplicity and humility. His witty jokes are remarkable and legendary, just like his hearty smiles and laughter are infectious. He certainly means well for Nigeria and wants to rid our nation of the debilitating cankerworm of corruption and indiscipline. Why, therefore, would anyone want to remind Nigerians that the Buhari in uniform is not different from Buhari, the born again democrat. Why are they compounding Buhari’s image of an irascible dictator? Buhari needs to make a conscious effort to tear the toga of vindictiveness and irritability that appears to surround him. The biggest image deficit he has today is due to the fact that his biggest pet project, the war against corruption, is believed to be largely uncoordinated and too staccato in outlook.

It is difficult to ignore the cries of so many Nigerians who feel let down by a government that promised so much change but seems to have short-changed the people who saw Buhari as a liberator. Even if some of the most vociferous complainants are being cheeky and outright mischievous, many are doing so out of genuine concern. They do not want Buhari to fail. It is someone who loves you unconditionally that can do this. They are worried that the President behaves like a man who feels he has all the time in the world when in reality he has none. Some believe that he started fading and failing when he took his time in selecting his ministers and advisers. The intractable squabbles in his Party has also contributed to the lacklustre nature of his government. APC does not look or act like a Party in power. There seems to be no serious input from the Party to the affairs of government and governance.

The government has been wobbling and fumbling by doing the same things PDP used to do that led to the disintegration of the biggest political party in Africa, according to their self-glorification. The war of attrition in PDP has been passed on to APC. A house divided against itself is inviting extermination. And whenever politicians fight dirty it affects governance adversely.

The economy is in shambles and the commonest justification is that Jonathan’s gang looted the treasury. All that is well and good. But Nigerians knew this and therefore voted for Change! We promised to make things much better. Fighting corruption alone would not save Nigeria. We must fight endemic poverty. If Alhaji Lai Muhammed likes, let him launch a million campaigns and waste more scarce resources on doing a rehash of what past governments did that led nowhere. The Yoruba have a way of describing this kind of unproductive sermonisation: “Eni ebi npa ko gbo iwaasu!” (A hungry man does not listen to sermons in the church).

What the people want to see are the following: a drastic reduction in the size and budget of our over-bloated governments; a sustained war against poverty; protection of lives and properties; creating a less rancorous atmosphere for businesses to thrive; special concessions and incentives to employers of labour; a stable currency; upgrading our educational system and making the schools’ curriculum more relevant to our communities and society in general; provision of social infrastructure, particularly power, good roads, hospitals and potable water; and so on.

The mind-set of gloating over the fall of some former members of the privileged class is counter-productive. We must be careful of the image portrayed to foreign investors. Let government concentrate urgently on alleviating the suffering of the people. It is obvious that government may never be able to collect enough money back from the brigands and looters to make appreciable impact on our national treasury. We should stop building our castle in the air and start thinking outside the box.

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President Buhari Approves Board For NPA, NIMASA

?His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the composition of the Governing Boards of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as follows:

A. NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY (NPA)

(i) Emmanuel Olajide Adesoye – Chairman

(ii) Supo Shasore -Member

(iii) Suleiman Ibrahim Halilu -Member

(iiii) Constance Harry Mashal -Member

(v) Umar Shu’aibu-Member

(vi) Charles Efe Emukowhate Sylvester -Member

(vii) Hadiza Bala Usman -Member

(viii) Mohammed Bello Koko -Member
(ix) Dr. Sekonte Davis -Member

(x) Professor Idris Abubakar -Member
(xi) Mrs. I. J. Uche-Okoro-Member

B. NIGERIAN MARITIME ADMINISTRATION AND SAFETY AGENCY
(NIMASA)

(i) Major General Jonathan India Garba -Chairman

(ii) Asekomhe Oaakhia Kenneth-Member

(iii) Mohammed Gidado Muazu -Member

(iiii) Hon. Barrister Ebele Obi -Member

(v) S. U. Galadanchi -Member

(vi) Ms Nene Betty Dike -Member

(vii) Dakuku Peterside-Member

(viii) Rear Admiral Adeniyi Osinowo -Member

(ix) Bashir Yusuf Jamoh -Member

(x) Joseph Oluwarotimi Fashakin -Member

(xi) Gambo Ahmed -Member

(Signed)

Bolaji Adebiyi,
Director (Press),
Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

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Why President Buhari Is Linked To Chinakwe’s Case: A Rejoinder To Garba Shehu, By Inibehe Effiong

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We’re Ready For Investments From All Quarters To Improve The Lives Of Our People- President Buhari

Nigeria as a country recognized her problems early enough, but remained potential for too long, and so did not achieve much results, President Muhammadu Buhari has declared.

The President spoke Tuesday at State House, Abuja, while receiving Executive Members of Association of Africa Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM), led by the chairman, Mr Jeff Nemeth.

President Buhari said that to reverse the trend, “We must avoid the mistakes made in the past by both government and manufacturers, and we are ready to get investment from all quarters, so that we can improve the lives of our people.”

The President lamented that Nigeria failed to develop on automobile initiatives started in Bauchi, Kaduna and Ibadan, and depended too much on oil as mainstay of her economy.

“We are making efforts to start our steel industry all over again. I see vast opportunities for both the country and those who invest here,” the President said.

Nemeth said the Association comprised potential investors who were ready to unlock investment potentials on the African continent.

“We are ready to offer strategic partnership with Nigeria. We want to promote investor-friendly regulatory frameworks and sustainable manufacturing.

“We will equally promote infrastructure development, job creation, and skills transfer,” he said.

The AAAM chairman sought the support of the Presidency in the realization of the vision and mission of the association.

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In Defense Of President Buhari: Is This The Change We Voted For? Yes, It Is! By @GarShehu

THE LAST COUPLE of weeks have witnessed the heaviest public criticism of the Muhammadu Buhari administration since he came to power after inflicting a heavy defeat on the Peoples Democratic Party and their candidate Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Much of it has been on account of the unresolved social and economic problems facing the country.

Unfair criticism of the Buhari administration especially on account of escalating prices of foodstuff and the liberalization of the currency exchange needs to be challenged before it overshadows the commendable job the President has done in fighting terrorism as part of overall effort to secure the country, reducing corruption and yes, arresting the economic slide before it sinks the the nation.

The Hausa have a saying: “Ba zomo na kashe ba, rataya a ka bani,” meaning literally “I killed no rabbit, I am helping to carry the prey.”

Wherever they go these days, in London, Dubai, Beijing, Washington, New York or Tokyo, Nigerians get the good feeling of being asked the question, how is  President Muhammadu Buhari?

It is a proud moment for many citizens that the country is being perceived differently now that it has a different kind of leader creating a positive buss abroad, the kind of sentiment that can lead to foreign investments when properly capitalized upon.

The lavish praise the President gets abroad and the wide public support he enjoys among the lower segment of the local population is, by contrast, given a short shrift in the local press, mainstream and online. At its lowest point, this unambiguous media rebuke has created a wave of sympathy for anyone with a view that runs counter to the President’s.

Boko Haram terrorist leader, Shekau  or the pipeline vandal from the Delta region is more likely to get newspaper front pages today than the Minister of Labour, Governor Emeka Ngige or the Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun talking about jobs creation in the economy.

I don’t say that media criticism is not reflective of the feeling of the citizens.

President Buhari has himself on numerous occasions admitted that the change mantra has brought with it pain and suffering which he likened to the pains of labor. It is a passing phase.

When they ask the question, is this the change we voted for, the critic forgets how far we have come from the scam-tainted years of the PDP rule.

How many people have given a thought to the possibility of Nigeria doing something that the combined strength of Europe and America have failed to do?

There are many today who take for granted the declared victory over the Boko Haram terrorists, forgetting the reign of the bomber who made it almost impossible for regular attendance in Churches and Mosques in many of our cities, including the Federal Capital City, Abuja.

Victory over Boko Haram has brought peace not only to Nigeria but to the countries in the Lake Chad region.

The world leaders are still at work trying to contain the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, ISIS, which threat sadly continues to become more potent.

Everyone living in Nigeria knows that there is a major movement against corruption as part of the ongoing change. This war has forced the return to the treasury of billions of Naira and millions of Dollars stolen by past officials.

On account of this war, government suspects that the biggest trigger of the opposition to the change agenda is the army of the corrupt. With the enormous resources at their disposal; money that is unearned, these forces are ready to throw in everything to gag the Buhari administration.

When he assumed office, President Buhari said he understood the outcry of Nigerians and was determined to right those wrongs. I will remind you of his inaugural speech where he said: “At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us.  We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.”(Emphasis added).

He has said times without number that his government is dedicated to the poor. As can be seen from the 2016 budget, this is a government that is determined to hugely empower the disadvantaged groups- the poor, the jobless, the widows and the orphaned children including those of the North-East.

As a listening government, the President was prepared to open the door to additional food imports but given the processes involved, the turn around in any such import of commodities would have taken a long time as to coincide with the harvest of home grown grains and cereals now in progress. The market would have been deluged and the local grower given the short end of the stick.

Calls on Hausa radio by a rabble-rousing section of the opposition for the “reopening of borders” to “allow food come in” are redundant and mischievous because all the county’s borders remain open till date.

Following the budget, the administration has begun rolling out several social welfare programs. The direct cash transfer to the poorest of the poor, the school feeding and the recruitment/skills training of about one million jobless citizens are such an example.

In addition to hard work, all leaders need luck on their side to create what is sometimes seen as economic miracles. As leader, President Buhari never had the luxury of high oil prices as did his predecessors in office.

When he first emerged as the military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari saw oil price, the mainstay of the nation’s economy sank to as low eight Dollars a barrel.

He rolled up his sleeves, worked on diversification strategy of the economy only to be eased out of power just as they began to take hold. Thereafter, his successors abandoned these efforts.

On his second coming, this time as a democratically elected leader, the collapse of oil prices has challenged President Buhari to quicken efforts towards the diversification of the economy with emphasis given to agriculture and solid minerals mining. Every  crisis, it is said, is an opportunity. Not so in Nigeria. This is a county that inherited massive technological inventions from Biafra, yet failed to take it forward. We must not lose this opportunity to diversify the economy and our foreign earnings presented by the present oil crisis.

As the country hopes for a bumper harvest this year, government is taking steps to ensure that no farmer will sell at a loss or fail to find markets for their harvests. Grain silos are being readied nationwide to receive excess produce for warehousing to ensure food security, avert market glut and price collapse. By this, government will ensure a minimum guaranteed price.

In dealing with challenges of the economy, the administration is devoting attention to ridding the country of its notoriety as a difficult place of doing business.

The government has been making quiet but significant progress in this area, thanks to the leadership given by the National Economic Council under the Vice President and the combined efforts of the Ministries of Trade and Investment, Finance, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Budget and Planning and the Customs under new leadership.

Everyone in this sector is doing everything in their power to boost up Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s infrastructure initiatives will see country making progress with intractable projects such as the Second Niger bridge, the East-West expressway, the green field Lagos-Abuja expressway and important national railway projects, Lagos-Calabar and Lagos-Kano which had been on the drawing boards for as long as anyone can remember.

These projects will be counted among the accomplishments of the administration alongside the 4,000 MW Mambila power plant which the President has declared a national priority. Government has also taken several bold steps to boost renewable energy. It has opened the door for a new conversation on the environment with decisive steps towards the clean-up the Ogoniland in the Niger Delta.

The currency liberalization and the deregulation of the petroleum products sale will make President Buhari one of the best presidents till date. The removal of subsidies on the petrol products has saved the government more than two trillion Naira annual expenditure in this respect.

President Buhari’s foreign trips have brought many things to the country. He has energized our foreign policy. Beyond the enormous goodwill reaped from “resetting” age-old but damaged relations with neighbors and distant partners and friends, the President has attracted foreign development assistance and direct investments (FDI). It is generally accepted that good foreign relations bring foreign direct investment. So much is currently being done one year into the administration. This is in spite of the world economy being sluggish and recession-stricken.

It bears repeating that President is a different kind of leader, who just happens to be a victim of the tyranny of high expectations. He has brought positive intention, commitment, honesty and personal integrity into governance. This is why the country’s poor hold him so dear; this is why the world is in love with him.

His knack for prudent spending and effective management of resources is in the belief that this country can only prosper when there is transparency, reduced corruption and a drastic cut in bureaucratic red tape.

His decision to have a small cabinet, reducing government ministries from 46 to 24 has the effect of relieving the treasury of the burden of salaries, allowances  and miscellaneous expenses now being counted in billions of Naira.

President Buhari should be credited for the the unblemished record of his ministers. This is a government that has stayed above scandal for a year.

If all of these are not desirable changes, to be appreciated and adored, it is hard to know or determine what some of our critics want.

These reforms certainly represent major milestones in change which have led to a decline of corruption at the top.

As to the question of these leading to a resurgent economy, it all means that in a democracy everything takes times. The President needs our support with understanding and patience. No matter how hasty a president wants to bring changes, there is no magic wand in that office to make everything change from bad to good or make all of us prosperous with a wave of the hand. This change is on course. It requires patience.

The change is working for the nation and sooner than later, the testimony shall be given.

Garba Shehu.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.

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