Taking note of the hard times in the land, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, said becoming president had not removed him from the pains of the people, promising that 2016 would be the beginning of the change in the country.
While noting what he claimed as unforeseen circumstances and distractions since his inauguration, President Buhari reassured Nigerians that the difficulties were temporary, saying he was determined to fulfil the promises he made prior to the election.
In his 500-word New Year message, the president said he remained committed to his promises, saying he has in the last seven months laid the foundations for the change as promised.
He said: “Welcome to the beginning of a New Year of the continuation of change in our beloved nation. I am aware that Nigerians have experienced a number of significant hardships over the past months. Living in the State House has not alienated me from your daily sufferings. I am aware of the lengthy queues at fuel stations and of the difficulties businesses have faced in acquiring foreign exchange. These challenges are only temporary; we are working to make things better.
“When I presented myself to you as a presidential candidate and asked you to vote for me, I wanted to be a leader who keeps his promises. I wanted to be a leader who restores the people’s hope in those elected to serve them. I wanted to be a leader who initiates positive and enduring change.
“I am still totally committed to being that kind of leader. Unforeseen circumstances and other distractions notwithstanding, I shall still do my utmost best to keep every promise I made to Nigerians during my election campaign.
“In the past seven months since our inauguration on May 29, 2015, my administration has focused on laying the right foundation for the change you voted for during our historic presidential election.
“Nigerians will in due course begin to enjoy the fruits of all our ongoing work. The effective and efficient implementation of our 2016 budget proposals will address many of the socio-economic issues that are of current concern to our people.
War on terror
“One area in which Nigerians, especially those in the northeast, have already begun to experience major change is in the war on terror.
“I commend our Armed Forces for significantly curtailing the insurgency which has ravaged the northeast of Nigeria over the past few years.
“However, there is still a lot of work to be done in the area of security. Our Armed Forces will maintain, consolidate and build on their successes in the war against Boko Haram and violent extremism.
“This government will not consider the matter concluded until the terrorists have been completely routed and normalcy restored to all parts of the country that have been adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Our crackdown on corruption will continue to be vigorously undertaken. I urge the courts to support our efforts and help in the recovery of stolen funds by speedily concluding trials and showing that impunity no longer has a place in our country.
“There is much work to do in other areas as well and I have charged all my ministers and other appointees to ensure that Nigerians experience positive changes in their lives in 2016.
“We must reduce our country’s reliance on oil. We must diversify our economy. And we must do all we can to promote job creation.
“Our challenges are many but our determination to succeed is strong and unshaken.
“So too is our confidence in God.”