Nigerians, I bring you good wishes from President Muhammadu Buhari,
GCFR, who as we all know is away from the country on medical vacation.
Nigerians, I bring you good wishes from President Muhammadu Buhari,
GCFR, who as we all know is away from the country on medical vacation.
marks the second anniversary of our assumption of office. We must thank
the Almighty God not only for preserving our lives to celebrate this
second anniversary, but for giving us hope, strength and confidence as
we faced the challenges of the past two years.
administration outlined three specific areas for our immediate
intervention on assumption of office: these were Security, Corruption
and the Economy.
the Northeast of our country, the terrorist group Boko Haram openly
challenged the sovereignty and continued existence of the state,
killing, maiming,and abducting, causing the displacement of the largest
number of our citizens in recent history. Beyond the North East they
extended their mindless killings, as far away as Abuja, Kano And Kaduna.
with new leadership and renewed confidence our gallant military
immediately began to put Boko Haram on the back foot. We have restored
broken-down relations with our neighbours, Chad, Cameroon and
Niger — allies without whom the war against terror would have been
extremely difficult to win. We have re-organized and equipped our Armed
Forces, and inspired them to heroic feats; we have also revitalized the
regional Multinational Joint Task Force, by providing the required
funding and leadership.
positive results are clear for all to see. In the last two years close
to one million displaced persons have returned home. 106 of our
daughters from Chibok have regained their freedom, after more than two
years in captivity, in addition to the thousands of other captives who
have since tasted freedom.
hospitals and businesses are springing back to life across the
Northeast, especially in Borno State, the epicentre of the crisis.
Farmers are returning to the farms from which they fled in the wake of
Boko Haram. Finally, our people are getting a chance to begin the urgent
task of rebuilding their lives.
the country, in the Niger Delta, and in parts of the North Central
region, we are engaging with local communities, to understand their
grievances, and to create solutions that respond to these grievances
adequately and enduringly.
Buhari’s New Vision for the Niger Delta is a comprehensive peace,
security and development plan that will ensure that the people benefit
fully from the wealth of the region, and we have seen to it that it is
the product of deep and extensive consultations, and that it has now
moved from idea to execution. Included in that New Vision is the
long-overdue environmental clean-up of the Niger Delta beginning with
Ogoni-land, which we launched last year.
recent threats to security such as the herdsmen clashes with farmers in
many parts of the country sometimes leading to fatalities and loss of
livelihoods and property have also preoccupied our security structures.
We are working with State governments, and tasking our security agencies
with designing effective strategies and interventions that will bring
this menace to an end. We are determined to ensure that anyone who uses
violence, or carries arms without legal authority is apprehended and
the fight against corruption, we have focused on bringing persons
accused of corruption to justice. We believe that the looting of public
resources that took place in the past few years has to be accounted for.
Funds appropriated to build roads, railway lines, and power plants, and
to equip the military, that had been stolen or diverted into private
pockets, must be retrieved and the culprits brought to justice. Many
have said that the process is slow, and that is true, corruption has
fought back with tremendous resources and our system of administration
of justice has been quite slow. But the good news for justice is that
our law does not recognize a time bar for the prosecution of corruption
and other crimes, and we will not relent in our efforts to apprehend and
bring corruption suspects to justice. We are also re-equipping our
prosecution teams, and part of the expected judicial reforms is to
dedicate some specific courts to the trial of corruption cases.
are also institutionalizing safeguards and deterrents. We have expanded
the coverage of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). We have introduced
more efficient accounting and budgeting systems across the Federal
Government. We have also launched an extremely successful Whistleblower
Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance has succeeded in
plugging leakages amounting to billions of naira, over the last two
years. We have ended expensive and much-abused fertilizer and petrol
have taken very seriously our promise to save and invest for the
future, even against the backdrop of our revenue challenges, and we have
in the last two years added US$500m to our Sovereign Wealth Fund and
US$87m to the Excess Crude Account. This is the very opposite of the
situation before now, when rising oil prices failed to translate to
rising levels of savings and investment.
the economy has proven to be the biggest challenge of all. Let me first
express just how concerned we have been, since this administration took
office, about the impact of the economic difficulties on our citizens.
no fault of theirs, some companies shut down their operations, others
downsized; people lost jobs, had to endure rising food prices. In some
States civil servants worked months on end without the guarantee of a
salary, even as rents and school fees and other expenses continued to
show up like clockwork.
have been extremely mindful of the many sacrifices that you have had to
make over the last few years. And for this reason this administration’s
work on the economic front has been targeted at a combination of
short-term interventions to cushion the pain, as well as medium to long
term efforts aimed at rebuilding an economy that is no longer helplessly
dependent on the price of crude oil.
short-term interventions include putting together a series of bailout
packages for our State Governments, to enable them bridge their salary
shortfalls — an issue the President has consistently expressed his
concerns about. We also began the hard work of laying out a framework
for our Social Intervention Programme, the most ambitious in the history
of the country.
of the first tasks of the Cabinet and the Economic Management Team was
to put together a Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget,
targeting initiatives that would create speedy yet lasting impact on the
lives of Nigerians.
much of 2016 was spent clearing the mess we inherited and putting the
building blocks together for the future of our dreams; laying a solid
foundation for the kind of future that you deserve as citizens of
his Budget Presentation Speech to the National Assembly last December,
President Buhari outlined our Economic Agenda in detail, and assured
that 2017 -would be the year in which you would begin to see tangible
benefits of all the planning and preparation work. It is my pleasure to
note that in the five months since he delivered that speech, we have
seen tremendous progress, as promised.
the example of our Social Investment Programme, which kicked off at the
end of 2016. Its Home Grown School Feeding component is now feeding
more than 1 million primary school children across seven states and
would be feeding three million by the end of the year. N-Power, another
component has engaged 200,000 unemployed graduates — none of whom needed
any ‘connections’ to be selected. Beneficiaries are already telling the
stories of how these initiatives have given them a fresh start in their
credit to a million artisans, traders and market men and women has
begun. While conditional cash transfers to eventually reach a million of
the poorest and most vulnerable households has also begun.
and power projects are ongoing in every part of the country. In rail,
we are making progress with our plans to attract hundreds of millions of
dollars in investment to upgrade the existing 3,500km narrow-gauge
network. We have also in 2017 flagged-off construction work on the
Lagos-Ibadan leg of our standard-gauge network, and are close to
completing the first phase of Abuja’s Mass Transit Rail System.
that Budget speech in December, the President announced the take-off of
the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative. Today, five months on, that
Initiative — the product of an unprecedented bilateral cooperation with
the Government of Morocco — has resulted in the revitalisation of 11
blending plants across the country, the creation of 50,000 direct and
indirect jobs so far, and in the production of 300,000 metric tonnes of
NPK fertilizer, which is being sold to farmers at prices significantly
lower than what they paid last year. By the end of 2017, that Fertilizer
Initiative would have led to foreign exchange savings of US$200
million; and subsidy savings of 60 billion naira.
Initiative is building on the solid gains of the Anchor Borrowers
Programme, launched in 2015 to support our rice and wheat farmers, as
part of our move towards guaranteeing food security for Nigeria.
of this is evidence that we are taking very seriously our ambition of
agricultural self-sufficiency. I am delighted to note that since 2015
our imports of rice have dropped by 90 percent, while domestic
production has almost tripled. Our goal is to produce enough rice to
meet local demand by 2019. In April, the President launched our Economic
Recovery and Growth Plan which built on the foundations laid by the
Strategic implementation Plan of 2016. The plan has set forth a clear
vision for the economic development of Nigeria. I will come back to this
highlight of the President’s Budget Speech was our work around the Ease
of Doing Business reforms. As promised we have since followed up with
implementation and execution. I am pleased to note that we are now
seeing verifiable progress across several areas, ranging from new Visa
on Arrival scheme, to reforms at our ports and regulatory agencies.
President also promised that 2017 would see the rollout of Executive
Orders to facilitate government approvals, support procurement of
locally made goods, and improve fiscal responsibility. We have kept that
promise. This month we issued three Executive Orders to make it easier
for citizens to get the permits and licenses they require for their
businesses, to mandate Government agencies to spend more of their
budgets on locally produced goods, and to promote budget transparency
and efficiency. The overarching idea is to make Government Agencies and
Government budgets work more efficiently for the people.
impact of our Ease of Doing Business work is gradually being felt by
businesses small and large; its successful take-off has allowed us to
follow up with the MSME Clinics -our Small Business support programme,
which has taken us so far to Aba, Sokoto, Jos, Katsina, and we expect to
be in all other states in due course.
me note, at this point, that several of our Initiatives are targeted at
our young people, who make up most of our population. From N-Power, to
the Technology Hubs being developed nationwide, to innovation
competitions such as the Aso Villa Demo Day, and our various MSME
support schemes, we will do everything to nurture the immense innovative
and entrepreneurial potential of our young people. We are a nation of
young people, and we will ensure that our policies and programmes
of the highlights of our Power Sector Recovery Programme, which we
launched in March, is a N701 billion Naira Payment Assurance Scheme that
will resolve the financing bottlenecks that have until now constrained
the operations of our gas suppliers and generation companies. Let me
assure that you will soon begin to see the positive impact of these
Solid Minerals Development Fund has also now taken off, in line with
our commitment to developing the sector. Because of our unerring focus
on Solid Minerals development over the last two years, the sector has,
alongside Agriculture, seen impressive levels of growth — in spite of
the whole, just as the President promised in the Budget Speech, these
early months of 2017 have seen the flowering of the early fruit of all
the hard work of our first eighteen months.
opened the year with an overwhelmingly successful Eurobond
Offer — evidence of continuing investor interest in Nigeria. We have
also launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017–2020, to
build on the gains of last year’s Strategic Implementation Plan. And
the implementation of our 2017 Budget, which will soon be signed into
law, will bring added impetus to our ongoing economic recovery. In the
2016 Budget we spent 1.2 Trillion Naira on infrastructure projects,
another milestone in the history of this country. Our 2017 Budget will
double that investment.
budget also provides for substantial investment to implement the
rollout of Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs), as well
as our Social Housing Programme. The Industrial Parks and Economic Zones
will fulfill our ambition of making Nigeria a manufacturing hub, while
the Family Home Fund of our Social Housing Programme will provide
inexpensive mortgages for low-income individuals and families across the
plans offer yet more evidence that we are ramping up the pace of work;
the work of fulfilling all that we promised. In the next two years we
will build on the successes of the last two. We have demonstrated a
willingness to learn from our mistakes and to improve on our successes.
The critical points that we must address fully in the next two years
are : Agriculture and food security, Energy, (power and Petroleum,)
Industrialization and Transport infrastructure. Every step of the way we
will be working with the private sector, giving them the necessary
incentives and creating an environment to invest and do business.
vision is for a country that grows what it eats and produces what it
consumes. It is for a country that no longer has to import petroleum
products, and develops a lucrative petrochemical industry. Very
importantly it is for a country whose fortunes are no longer tied to the
price of a barrel of crude, but instead to the boundless talent and
energy of its people, young and old, male and female as they invest in
diverse areas of the economy.
that vision is also for a country where the wealth of the many will no
longer be stolen by or reserved for a few; and where the impunity of
corruption — whether in the public or private sectors — will no longer
be standard operating practice; a land rid of bandits and terrorists.
citizens you all deserve a country that works, not merely for the rich
or connected, but for everyone. And our promise to you is that we will,
with your support and cooperation, take every step needed to create that
country of our dreams.
also know that this journey will of necessity take time. But we will
not succumb to the temptation to take short-cuts that ultimately
complicate the journey. We did not find ourselves in crises overnight,
and we simply do not expect overnight solutions to our challenges.
most important thing is that we are on the right path, and we will not
deviate from it, even in the face of strong temptation to choose
temporary gain over long-term benefit. As the President has summed it
up: “The old Nigeria is slowly but surely disappearing, and a new era is
so we commemorate this second anniversary of our administration with
confidence and optimism. I firmly believe that we have put the most
difficult phase behind us; and we are witnesses to the ever-increasing
intensity of the light at the end of the tunnel. We ask for your
continued cooperation and support, to enable us realise all our best
intentions and ambitions for Nigeria. On our part We will continue to
carry you along on this journey, speak to you, explain the challenges,
and share our Vision.
while we all daily pre-occupy ourselves with pursuing the Nigerian
Dream — which is the desire to better our lives and circumstances
vigorously and honestly — it is inevitable that grievances and
frustrations will arise from time to time.
is normal. What is not normal, or acceptable, is employing these
frustrations as justification for indulging in discrimination or hate
speech or hateful conduct of any kind, or for seeking to undermine by
violent or other illegal means the very existence of the sovereign
entity that has brought us all together as brothers and sisters and
belongs to all of us. No one person or group of persons is more
important or more entitled than the other in this space that we all call
home. And we have a responsibility to live in peace and harmony with
one another, to seek peaceful and constitutional means of expressing our
wishes and desires, and to resist all who might seek to sow confusion
and hatred for their own selfish interests.
I end this speech, let me ask for your continued prayers for the
restoration to full health and strength and the safe return of our
congratulate all of you on today’s commemoration of this important day
in the democratic calendar our country. Nigeria is on a journey of
greatness, and together we shall arrive at the destination of our
- May God bless you all, and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.