May 29, which is recognized in Nigeria as Democracy Day may have come and gone, with bitter-sweet experiences to chew on along with it.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his administration will cater for the needs of all regardless of ethnicity, religion, and educational background during his democracy speech at the Aso Villa in Abuja, on Sunday, his speech may have left out certain issues which should have been dealt with, to this end, Nigerianreporter.com carefully selected some of the key notes of President Buhari’s speech as he marked one year in political power.
1. From day one, we purposely set out to correct our condition, to change Nigeria. We reinforced and galvanized our armed forces with new leadership and resources. We marshaled our neighbors in a joint task force to tackle and defeat Boko Haram. By the end of December 2015, all but pockets and remnants had been routed by our gallant armed forces. Our immediate focus is for a gradual and safe return of internally displaced persons in safety and dignity and for the resumption of normalcy in the lives of people living in these areas.
2. We resolved to keep the naira steady, as in the past, devaluation had done dreadful harm to the Nigerian economy. Furthermore, i support the monetary authority’s decision to ensure alignment between monetary policy and fiscal policy. We shall keep a close look on how the recent measures affect the naira and the economy. But we cannot get away from the fact that a strong currency is predicated on a strong economy. And a strong economy pre-supposes an industrial productive base and a steady export market. The measures we must take, may lead to hardships. The problems Nigerians have faced over the last year have been many and varied. But the real challenge for this government has been reconstructing the spine of the Nigerian state. The last twelve months have been spent collaborating with all arms of government to revive our institutions so that they are more efficient and fit for purpose.
3. We have, therefore, delivered significant milestones on security, corruption and the economy. In respect of the economy, i would like to directly address you on the very painful but inevitable decisions we had to make in the last few weeks specifically on the pump price of fuel and the more flexible exchange rate policy announced by the central bank. It is even more painful for me that a major producer of crude oil with four refineries that once exported refined products today has to import all of its domestic needs. This is what corruption and mismanagement has done to us and that is why we must fight these ills.
4. The economic misfortune we are experiencing in the shape of very low oil prices has provided us with an opportunity to restructure our economy and diversify. We are in the process of promoting agriculture, livestock, exploiting our solid mineral resources and expanding our industrial and manufacturing base. That way, we will import less and make the social investments necessary to allow us to produce a large and skilled workforce.
5. Central bank of Nigeria will offer more fiscal incentives for business that prove capable of manufacturing products that are internationally competitive. We remain committed to reforming the regulatory framework, for investors by improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
6. For too long, ours has been a society that neglects the poor and victimizes the weak. A society that promotes profit and growth over development and freedom. A society that fails to recognize that, to quote the distinguished Economist Amartya Sen, “poverty is not just lack of money, it is not having the capability to realize one’s full potential as a human being.”
7. So, today, I am happy to formally launch, by far the most ambitious social protection program in our history. A program that both seeks to start the process of lifting many from poverty, while at the same time creating the opportunity for people to fend for themselves. In this regard, five hundred billion naira has been appropriated in the 2016 budget for social intervention programs in five key areas. We are committed to providing job creation opportunities for five hundred thousand teachers and one hundred thousand artisans across the nation. 5.5 million Children are to be provided with nutritious meals through our school feeding program to improve learning outcomes, as well as enrollment and completion rates.