- …100m Nigerians can be lifted out of poverty in 10yrs
- …names Abuja National Stadium after MKO Abiola
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said he would assemble a strong team to implement the policies and programs of his administration.
The president, who was sworn in on May 29 for a second term, is yet to make any appointment. It took him six months to constitute the federal cabinet in his first tenure.
Speaking during the maiden Democracy Day celebration at the Eagle Square in Abuja yesterday, the president was silent on when he will constitute his next cabinet, even as a new National Assembly is now in place.
He however said, “Over the next four years, we are committed to assembling a strong team of Nigerians, and allies, to implement our transformative plans and proposals.
“We will see significant focus, resource and, where necessary, reform in tertiary and technical education to reposition Nigeria’s workforce for the modern technological age.
“Despite the challenges over the last four years, my optimism about Nigeria’s future is unshaken and Nigeria’s role in the world as an emerging economic force is without a doubt.”
Buhari said the principal thrust of his second term would be to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years, correct the lapses inevitable in all human endeavours and tackle the new challenges the country is faced with and chart a bold plan for transforming Nigeria.
He said they will accelerate investments in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare programs, interventions and infrastructure as well as in upgrading of the medical personnel to stem the flight of the country’s best trained people.
On food security, he said farmers have made great strides in local production of rice, maize, cassava, poultry, fertilizer, fisheries and sesame, and that they remain resolute in supporting private sector in emphasizing backward integration and export expansion plans.
“Felling of trees to provide energy for domestic use is taking its toll on our rain forests, our ecology and our climate. Accordingly, we are taking steps to harness cleaner and more sustainable sources of electricity,” he said.
He said dedicated agro-industrial processing zones will be developed on a PPP basis to increase farming yields, agricultural productivity and industrial output.
The president also disclosed that over 2,000 kilometers of ongoing federal road and bridge projects across the country will be completed to reduce journey times and the cost of doing business.
On power, he said they are at advanced stages of securing investments to modernize and expand the transmission and distribution infrastructure, to ensure that electricity is available and affordable for all Nigerians.
“Several rail, seaport and airport projects are at various stages of completion. We will open the arteries of transportation nationwide.
“It is a fact that Nigeria has more gas reserves than it has oil. Over the last four years, we have become a net exporter of urea, which is made from natural gas. We invite investors to develop more natural gas-based petrochemical projects,” he said.
Warning to those who incite innocent persons
Buhari said “Government will not tolerate actions by any individual or groups of individuals who seek to attack our way of life or those who seek to corruptly enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. We will crack down on those who incite ordinary innocent people to violence and unrest.
“We will ensure that such actions are met with the strong arm of the law.
“Nation building takes time. But we must take solace in the knowledge that this country, our country, has everything we require to make Nigeria prosper.”
The president while inviting the citizens to join him in the journey to rebuild the country, he said his focus will not be to help the privileged few but to ensure that Nigeria works for Nigerians of all persuasions.
Names Abuja National Stadium after MKO Abiola
President Buhari also named the Abuja National Stadium after the presumed winner of the June 12 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola.
“As part of the process of healing and reconciliation, I approved the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and invested the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Babagana Kingibe with National Honours, as I did with the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
“The purpose was to partially atone for the previous damage done in annulling the Presidential elections of that year. Today, I propose the re-naming of the Abuja National Stadium. Henceforth it will be called Moshood Abiola National Stadium.
“In my first term, we put Nigeria back on its feet. We are working again despite a difficult environment in oil on which we depend too much for our exports. We encountered huge resistance from vested interests who do not want change, hut change has come, we now must move to the next level.
“By the Grace of God, I intend to keep the oath I have made today and to serve as President for all Nigerians,” he said.
Buhari who recalled his educational military background, said he was involved at close quarters in the struggle to keep Nigeria one.
“I can therefore do no more than dedicate the rest of my life to work for the unity of Nigeria and upliftment of Nigerians.
“In 2002-2003 campaigns and elections, I travelled by road to 34 of the 36 states of the Federation. This year I travelled by air to all 36 states of the Federation,” he said
100m Nigerians to be lifted from poverty in 10yrs
Buhari said with good leadership 100m Nigerians could be lifted from poverty in 10 years.
“According to United Nations estimates, our population will rise to 411 million by 2050, making us the third most populous nation on earth behind only China and India.
“We possess all the ingredients of a major economic power on the world stage. What we require is the will to get our acts together. And our strength is in our people – our youth, our culture, our resilience, our ability to succeed despite the odds.
“This task is by no means unattainable. China has done it. India has done it. Indonesia has done it. Nigeria can do it. These are all countries characterized by huge burdens of population.
“China and Indonesia succeeded under authoritarian regimes. India succeeded in a democratic setting. We can do it.
“With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years,” he said.
He said the country has witnessed 8 quarters of positive growth in the economy and that the GDP is expected to grow by 2.7 percent this year.
“Furthermore, our external reserves have risen to $45 billion enough to finance over nine months of current import commitments,” he said.
He said his government will continue work to reduce social and economic inequality through targeted social investment programmes, education, technology and improved information.
He also said a database of poor and vulnerable households is being carefully built based on age, gender, disability, educational levels for proper planning in this Administration’s war against poverty.
“When economic inequality rises, insecurity rises. But when we actively reduce inequality through investments in social and hard infrastructure, insecurity reduces.
“The disturbing increase in rates of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities can be attributed to the decades of neglect and corruption in social investment, infrastructure development, education and healthcare,” he said.
Buhari said for Nigeria to progress, a collective resolution to address corruption and foster broad-based prosperity is required to create a country that is not only for a few privileged, but for all Nigerians.
“This charge is not only to Civil Servants, Ministers, Legislators and State Government functionaries, but also to corporate leaders.
“I therefore implore all State Governments, especially those with large rural economies, to aggressively solicit investments in your states. Invest in developing human capital, reducing bureaucracy and corruption, hosting and attending investment summits and improving the ease of doing business,” he said.
World leaders attend Democracy Day
World leaders who attended the Democracy Day included Presidents Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (Mauritania), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), George Weah (Liberia), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo) and Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana), Macky Sall (Senegal), Adama Barrow (Gambia), Patrice Talon (Benin), Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger), Idris Deby (Chad), José Mário Gómes Vaz (Guinea-Bissau), Prime Minister of Uganda, Ruhakana Rugunda, among others.
Also in attendance were the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari and Vice President’s wife, Dolapo Osinbajo attended the ceremony.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique and Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu were also in attendance.
Business moguls, Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Abdussamad Rabiu, Jim Ovia, leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole attended.
Other dignitaries including governors, traditional rulers, diplomats, politicians, graced the occasion.
Children of the late MKO Abiola, including Hafsat Abiola-Costello and Jamiu Abiola, were sighted at the venue.
Dignitaries were thrilled by a special parade by the members of the Armed Forces and performance by cultural troupe mobilized from across the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday assented to the Public Holiday Amendment bill declaring June 12 as a public holiday (Democracy Day).
Jonathan, Obasanjo, Gowon, others absent
Daily Trust reports that former Nigerian heads of state and presidents were absent at the event.
They include former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan; former heads of state Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar and former head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.