Nigeria @ 60: Buhari preaches togetherness

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..says his government is laying solid foundation for sustainable Nigeria

.. insists no going back on subsidy removal

.. reiterates commitment to free, fair credible polls

Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta.

President Muammadu Buhari on Thursday, during his address to the nation on the occasion of the 60th Independence anniversary has said that rather than disintegrating, Nigeria’s capacity to achieve all its heart desires lies in its togetherness.

President Buhari said that Nigeria is not his personal property neither that of anyone or any political party but an entity owned by all Nigerians saying that it is therefore the collective responsibility of all to play their role to have a country that we all desire.

The President said the country is although having its fair share of challenges such as insecurity in some parts of the country, poor economy, a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control among others, the resolve of the nation to work together would break the back of all these challenges.

Buhari said the 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 in addition to the general decline in the civil service, police, the judiciary, the military

The President said the diamond Independence anniversary of the country is a good occasion to begin a sincere process of national healing and eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are.

The nation’s helmsman said fortunately, the country is blessed with abundant human resources doing proudly well globally in Science, technology, medicine, sports among others saying that “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”.

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

Buhari said to however achieve a country that we all desire, Nigerians in togetherness must address the critical challenges of evolving and sustaining a democratic culture that leaves power in the hands of the people; supporting enthronement of the rule of law, demanding accountability of elected representatives and contributing to good governance.

Others are increasing commitment to peaceful co-existence in a peaceful, secure and united Nigeria; harnessing and optimizing the country’s tremendous human and natural resources to attain the goal of being in the top twenty economies of the world and in the process lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years among others.

Reiterating his commitment to credible polls, President Buhari said “I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as it has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President.

“The 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”.

He said “the problems with electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office.

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.

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.

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

Buhari said his government remain dedicated to working out a more prosperous Nigeria where people are gainfully employed and contributing to the greatness of the country saying that his administration has never wavered in building a solid foundation for a sustainable Nigeria that we could all be proud of.

He said “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.

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

The President advocated for the need to return to the age-old ethical and high moral values saying that this informed his launching of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy on Monday 28th September, 2020.

Buhari said this policy would however 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.

The President stated further that in addition to public health challenges of working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, the country has equally suffered a significant drop in 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.

He said the government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources saying that it was against this backdrop that sustaining the level of petroleum prices is no longer possible.

Buhari said his 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.

He said in the last 3 years, his administration had introduced unprecedented measures in support of the economy and to the weakest members of the society in the shape of Tradermoni, Farmermoni, School Feeding Programme, job creation efforts and several agricultural intervention programmes

Buhari said, a responsible government is however bound to take some decisions even if considered to be tough saying that in the face of the economic reality in the country, prices of Petroleum are to be adjusted reason why it is now sold for N161 per litre.

Justifying further the need to adjust the prices of Petroleum in the country, President Buhari while comparing Nigeria with other countries of the world said Chad, an oil producing country charges N362 per litre, Niger, also an oil producing country sells a litre at N346, Ghana, another oil producing country sells for N326 per litre while Egypt charges N211 per litre and Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre adding that it definitely makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.

The President said Nigeria could achieve greatness or become what we all desire but “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. 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”.