In commemoration of Democracy Day, President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians on what his administration has been doing to better their lives.
Buhari had in 2018 declared June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, in place of May 29, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Fourth Republic, which since 2000 had been marked as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
In his broadcast, the president outlined several key areas his government has scored a high point, according to him, despite the various challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tribunepoint WEEKLY presents below the major points in the June 12 national broadcast of the president:
The president said as part of the strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on the youths, he directed the employment of 774,000 Nigerians.
“These youths will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn.
“Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots. I am pleased to report that this programme has commenced,” he added.
The president said since exiting recession, the economy has witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth with the GDP growing from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019.
He, however, noted that the GDP has declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every single economy in the world has suffered a decline. “Ours has been relatively moderate,” he said.
He said the external reserves grew from $33.42 billion on April 29th 2020 to about $36.00 billion in May, 2020 “which is enough to finance seven months of import commitments.”
COVID-19 and Democracy
The president said “our aspirations, humanity and indeed democracy is under the threat of COVID-19.”
He, however, added that “Nigeria has survived many crises before and came out stronger. “I am confident that by God’s grace we shall overcome this one and emerge stronger and more purposeful.”
Agriculture, to the president, remains the key to his administration’s economic diversification strategy. “The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme continues to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizers to our farmers.
“This initiative has also revived 31 blending plants and created a significant number of direct and indirect jobs across the value chain,” he said.
He said the government is also “revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.”
For food security, “we are promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”, the president said, adding that the “government will continue to support the Agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and similar schemes.”
“To protect our farming investments, we have deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military agencies.
“Our efforts on growing non-oil exports have started to yield some results.
“For instance, in the past year, our revenue from Cocoa and Sesame Seed increased by $79.4 million and $153 million,” he said.
Ease of doing business
The president noted that Nigeria has risen by 25 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 146th to 131st and is now rated as one of the top ten reforming countries.
He also said the development is due to the Visa on Arrival policy of his administration, as well as “consistent promotion of initiatives that expand facilities available to Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, robust electronic registration and payment system, seamless processing of business registration and reduction of cost of registering business by 50%.”
“The Power Sector remains very critical to meeting our industrial development aspirations and we are tackling the challenges that still exist in the delivery of power through different strategies,” the president noted.
He outlined some of the projects the administration is executing in this regard to include
- Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano;
- 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba;
- Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project;
- Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme;
- and Northern Corridor Transmission Project.
He added that the agreement with Siemens will also transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023.
On transportation, President Buhari noted that through the SUKUK-Funded Road Projects, a total of 412km of the targeted 643km road projects have been completed, representing 64%.
“On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed
and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved.
“We have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.
He also revealed that the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has completed routine maintenance on over 4,000km of federal roads out of the 5,000km targeted.
On railway networks, the president said more locomotives, coaches and wagons are being introduced for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line.
“The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.
“The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.
“The Kano – Maradi Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea Port are all ready for concessioning,” he added.
He said his administration is pursuing the the enforcement of free and compulsory basic education for the first 9 years of schooling. “In pursuit of this, we have launched the Better Education Service Delivery for All in 17 states, established additional 6 Federal Science and Technical Colleges and currently executing a pro-active Teacher Training Plan with all states of the Federation,” he said.
President Buhari said digital economy continues to play an important role in our development agenda as we move into the age of Artificial Intelligence. “Since the creation of the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy has been launched.
“Steps have been taken to achieve a reduction of connectivity cluster gaps from 207 to 114 as well as increase the level of 4G coverage by 30%,” he said.
He said 1,200 housing units have been delivered for the low and middle-income earners, as well as the provision of 520 service plots with infrastructure through a Public Private Sector partnership and the issuance of 868 mortgages totaling N7.7 Billion. “Similarly, Home Renovation Loans totaling N16.2 Billion have been granted to 19,210 people,” he added.
Insurgency, banditry and insecurity
With the heightening insecurity situation in the country, the president said he “regret recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions.” “Security Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice,” he added.
President Buhari also said “all the Local Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.
“The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities.” “As part of the strengthening of our internal security architecture, the Ministry of Police Affairs was created,” he added.
Rule of law, anti-corruption campaign and assets recovery
With his administration’s constant badgering for having little or no regard for the rule of law, President Buhari said his “administration is focused on ensuring that Nigeria would always be governed by the Rule of Law”, adding that he would do his “utmost to uphold the constitution and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.”
On anti-corruption and assets recovery, anti-Corruption agencies have secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in excess of N800 billion. “These monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects,” he said.
Youths, women and persons with disabilities
He acknowledged that the youth population of the country “remains a source of strength in achieving development objectives”. “In this regard, we would continue to concentrate in developing their skills, providing them with opportunities to express their entrepreneurial, research and industrial capacities as well as ample opportunity to take leadership positions in the service of the nation.
He said he has directed “all relevant Government agencies pay special attention to the peculiarities of persons with disabilities in the formulation and implementation of their policies and programmes, and where suitable their employment.”
“Nigerian women remain a particular treasure to this nation and for this reason this Administration has continued to give them a place of pride in the affairs of our country,” he added.