INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH
HIS EXCELLENCY MUHAMMADU BUHARI
PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
OCCASION OF THE 59TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY
1st OCTOBER, 2019
1st October each year is an opportunity for us to reflect and thank God for his endless blessings on our country.
- It is also a time for us, collectively, to:
- Remember the sacrifices made by our Founders and great leaders past; by soldiers, by distinguished public servants; by traditional leaders, by our workers —- sacrifices on which Nigeria has been built over the 59 years since Independence in 1960; and
- Rededicate ourselves to attaining the goals which we have set for ourselves: a united, prosperous and purposeful nation in the face of 21st century opportunities and challenges.
- In the past four years, the majority of Nigerians have committed to Change for the Better. Indeed, this Administration was re-elected by Nigerians on a mandate to deliver positive and enduring Change – through maintaining our National Security; restoring sustainable and inclusive Economic Growth and Development; and fighting Corruption against all internal and external threats.
- This Change can only be delivered if we are united in purpose, as individuals and as a nation. We must all remain committed to achieving this positive and enduring Change. As I stated four years ago, “Change does not just happen… We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust… simply put, to bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.”
- Good Governance and Economic Development cannot be sustained without an enabling environment of peace and security. In the last four years, we have combatted the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram. We owe a debt of gratitude to our gallant men and women in arms, through whose efforts we have been able to achieve the present results. We are also grateful to our neighbours and allies – within the region and across the world – who have supported us on this front.
- The capacity of our armed forces to defend our territorial integrity continues to be enhanced by the acquisition of military hardware as well as continued improvements in the working conditions of our service men and women.
- The Ministry of Police Affairs has been resuscitated to oversee the development and implementation of strategies to enhance internal security. My recent assent to the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act has created a legal framework to support our Police with increased fiscal resources to enhance their law enforcement capabilities.
- These initiatives are being complemented by the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 constables into the Nigeria Police Force. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to arrest the incidence of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes across our nation.
- We remain equally resolute in our efforts to combat militant attacks on our oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta and accelerate the Ogoni Clean-up to address long-standing environmental challenges in that region.
- The recent redeployment of the Niger Delta Development Commission from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs underscores our commitment to enhance the living standards of our communities in the Niger Delta, through coordinated and appropriate programmes.
- Our attention is increasingly being focused on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material being propagated on social media. Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.
- In this regard, I reiterate my call for all to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing their grievances and frustrations. Whilst the ongoing national discourse on various political and religious issues is healthy and welcome, we must not forget the lessons of our past – lessons that are most relevant on a day such as this.
- The path of hatred and distrust only leads to hostility and destruction. I believe that the vast majority of Nigerians would rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our unity.
ACCELERATING SUSTAINABLE AND INCLUSIVE ECONOMY GROWTH
- This Administration inherited a skewed economy, where the Oil Sector comprised only 8% of Gross Domestic Product but contributed 70% of government revenue and 90% foreign exchange earnings over the years. Past periods of relatively high economic growth were driven by our reliance on Oil Sector revenues to finance our demand for imported goods and services. Regrettably, previous governments abandoned the residual Investment-driven Non-Oil Sector, which constituted 40% of Gross Domestic Product and comprised agriculture, livestock, agro-processing, arts, entertainment, mining and manufacturing activities that provide millions of jobs for able-bodied Nigerians and utilize locally available raw materials and labour for production.
- To address this imbalance, our commitment to achieving economic diversification has been at the heart of our economic strategies under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which I launched on the 5th of April, 2017.
- This medium-term development plan charted the trajectory for our economy to exit from recession and return to the path of sustainable, diversified and inclusive growth for Nigerians. Pursuant to these reforms, the economy has recovered and we have had 9 successive quarters of growth since our exit from recession. The exchange rate in the last 3 years has remained stable, with robust reserves of US$42.5 billion, up from US$23 billion in October 2016.
- Learning from the mistakes of the past, this Administration is committed to responsibly managing our oil wealth endowments. We will continue to prudently save our oil income and invest more in the non-oil job-creating sectors.
- In this regard, we are significantly increasing investments in critical infrastructure. Last year, capital releases only commenced with the approval of the Budget in June 2018. However, as at 20th June this year, up to N1.74 trillion had been released for capital projects in the 2018 fiscal year.
- Implementation of the 2019 Capital Budget, which was only approved in June 2019, will be accelerated to ensure that critical priority projects are completed or substantially addressed. The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been directed to release N600 billion for Capital Expenditure in the next 3 months.
- To maximise impact, we shall continue to increasingly welcome and encourage private capital for infrastructural development through Public Private Partnerships. Through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, which I initiated in January this year, we are giving incentives to private sector inflow of over N205 billion in 19 Nigerian roads and bridges of 794.4km across in 11 States of the Federation.
- As we push to diversify the economy, we still remain focused on optimizing the revenues generated from the oil and gas sector. We will, working with the Legislature, soon pass the Petroleum Industry Bill and amendments to the Deep Offshore Act and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act into law, to ensure Government obtains a fair share of oil revenues, whilst encouraging private sector investment.
- We will also continue our fight against illegal bunkering of crude oil and the smuggling of refined petroleum products across our borders, including the diligent prosecution and conviction of offenders found guilty of these acts. Whilst Nigeria remains committed to free and fair continental and international trade, we will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to tackle illegal smuggling, transshipment and other predatory trade practices that destroy jobs in our country.
- We are resolute in reforming the power sector. In August this year, we launched the Presidential Power Initiative to modernize the National Grid in 3 phases: starting from 5 Gigawatts to 7 Gigawatts, then to 11 Gigawatts by 2023, and finally 25 Gigawatts afterwards. This programme, in partnership with the German Government and Siemens, will provide end-to-end electrification solutions that will resolve our transmission and distribution challenges.
- The programme will also look to localize the development and assembly of smart meters as well as the operations and maintenance capabilities of transmission and distribution infrastructure.
- I am pleased with the improved inter-agency collaboration between the Ministry of Power and the regulators in the banking and power sectors to ensure that electricity sales, billings and collections are automated and become cashless.
- These initiatives are important to ensure that the technical and collection losses in the sector are substantially reduced. I remain confident that Nigerians will have affordable and uninterrupted electricity supply in the not too distant future.
- Our efforts to improve the power sector will complement other infrastructure investments projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, which is investing in the Mambilla Power Plant project, as well as key economic road infrastructure such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and Abuja-Kano Expressway. The first set of these projects remain on track to be completed by 2022.
- Our journey to food security and self-sufficiency is well underway. We have made remarkable progress in almost all segments of the agriculture value chain, from fertilizers to rice, to animal feed production. We shall sustain these policies to ensure additional investments are channeled, thereby creating more jobs in the sector. We must not go back to the days of importing food and thereby exporting jobs.
- Our commitment to achieving macroeconomic stability and economic diversification, has been underscored by the merger of the Ministry of Finance with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
- This combined Ministry has the important mandate to enhance the management of domestic and global fiscal risks; coordinate policies with the trade and monetary authorities; raise and deploy revenues to fund budgeted expenditure; and integrate annual budgets and medium-term fiscal strategies.
- With this, our revenue-generating and reporting agencies will come under much greater scrutiny, going forward, as the new performance management framework will reward exceptional revenue performance, while severe consequences will attend failures to achieve agreed revenue targets.
- I recently constituted an Economic Advisory Council to advise me on inclusive and sustainable macroeconomic, fiscal and monetary policies. This independent body will work with relevant Cabinet members and the heads of key monetary, fiscal and trade agencies to ensure we remain on track as we strive for collective prosperity. However, we are also committed to ensure that the inconvenience associated with any painful policy adjustments, is moderated, such that the poor and the vulnerable, who are most at risk, do not bear the brunt.
- Our ongoing N500 billion Special Intervention Programme continues to target these vulnerable groups, through the Home-grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, loans for traders and artisans, Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest families and social housing scheme.
- To institutionalize these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date. To the beneficiaries of these programmes, I want to reassure you that our commitment to social inclusion will only increase.
- Our population growth rate remains amongst the highest in the world, presenting both challenges as well as opportunities. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we provide adequate resources to meet the basic needs of our teeming youth.
- Accordingly, we shall continue to invest in education, health, water and sanitation, as well as food security, to ensure that their basic needs are met, while providing them with every opportunity to live peaceful, prosperous and productive lives.
FIGHTING CORRUPTION AND RESTORING GOOD GOVERNANCE:
- On fighting corruption, our institutional reforms to enforce the Treasury Single Account policy, introduce the Whistle-blowers’ Initiative, expand the coverage of the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System as well as the Government Integrated Management Information System have saved billions of Naira over the last four years, and deterred the rampant theft and mismanagement of public funds that have plagued our public service.
- The Ministry of Justice, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will continue to address this menace. We are determined to ensure that transparency and good governance are institutionalized in public service.
- We must commit to installing a culture of Good Governance in all we do. This Administration has fought against corruption, by investigating and prosecuting those accused of embezzlement and the misuse of public resources. We have empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases of evidence, traced the proceeds of crimes and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds.
- Furthermore, we partnered with our friends abroad to combat tax evasion, smuggling, terrorism and illicit financial flows. In June 2018, I assented to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, to provide a domestic legal framework for obtaining international assistance in criminal matters.
- This measure has already strengthened our law enforcement agencies in obtaining evidence, investigating suspects and facilitating the recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of property implicated as proceeds of crime.
- An example is the US$300 million recently identified as part of the Abacha money-laundering case, working closely with the Government of the United States of America. The Federal Ministry of Justice is working with the US Department of Justice to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding to expedite the repatriation of these funds.
- The P & ID Arbitral Award has underscored the manner in which significant economic damage has been caused by the past activities of a few corrupt and unpatriotic Nigerians.
- The policies that we are putting in place today are to ensure such criminal and unpatriotic acts do not go without consequences. Our renewed partnership with the 9th National Assembly will facilitate the swift passage of enabling laws that will institutionalize these anti-corruption efforts in our criminal justice system.
- In this connection, I call upon our States to intensify their own efforts to instill greater fiscal transparency and accountability. And to ensure greater fiscal efficiency and optimum use of our very scarce resources.
- The blight of Corruption is fighting back. Nevertheless, this is a battle that we shall see through and this is a war, which we shall win by the Grace of God.
- I will also call upon all Nigerians, from every walk of life, to combat Corruption at every turn. By choosing to question and confront corrupt practices, by reporting unethical practices or through whistleblowing. Together, we can overcome corruption and will no longer be a country defined by corruption.
- Fellow Nigerians, let me reiterate my call for unity across our dear nation.
- Nigeria will emerge from our present challenges stronger and more resilient than ever – but only if all of us join hands to entrench Good Governance, foster Inclusive Economic Development, and defend and protect our Nation from all those who would wish us ill.
- I thank you most sincerely and wish you a Happy Independence Anniversary.
- May God bless you all, and may He continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I Wont Reverse Minimum Wage Payment, But Heads Will Roll – El-Rufai
The Governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai has disclosed that his government has no intention to reverse the recommend minimum wage being paid civil servants in the state, he mentioned however, that workers would be sacked in view of the limited recourses available to the state.
The Governor made disclosure while informing newsmen in Kaduna, of the sack of 99 political appointees in his government.
He said the disengaged appointees constitute 30 percent of political office holders.
He said the state has started implementing its rightsizing policy but is yet to disengage any state civil servant.
The governor disclosed that only agencies connected to the local government system have disengaged staff and these include the 23 local government councils, SUBEB and the Primary Health Care Board.
“So far, 99 political appointees have lost their jobs but we have not commenced rightsizing civil servants. We want to be fair with regards to civil servants. We had earlier promised that before we reduce the size of the civil service, we will start with political appointees and we have done that,’’ he said.
The governor, who spoke in Hausa, said the rightsizing of civil servants will still go on as planned because of dwindling revenues that is accruing to the state government from the federation account.
‘’However, civil servants with question marks on the veracity of their data have to be given a chance to clear the doubts before any action is taken on them,’’ he clarified.
The governor said his government has employed 11,000 more workers in the health sector, Kaduna State University as well as primary and secondary schools across the state.
The governor disclosed that it is a fallacy to allege that the salaries of political appointees account for the bloated personnel cost of the State Government.
‘’In March 2021, the salaries of these political appointees amounted to N259 million , while civil servants were paid N3.13 billion, aside from costs related to state contributions to pension, accrued rights and other personnel costs. So, it is false to insinuate that political appointees are the ones that guzzle most of the state’s resources,’’ he said.
Justifying the rightsizing of the public service, he said that all states and the federal government are affected by the shortfall of revenue and some states have even reverted to paying the old monthly minimum wage of N18,000.
The governor, however, promised that Kaduna state will not reverse the N30,000 minimum wage that it has started paying.
“We are the first government, federal or state, to pay the minimum wage. We will retain the minimum wage of N30,000 and the consequential adjustments that gave most of our civil servants a 66% salary increase. We will also retain the minimum pension of N30,000 monthly.
“The unified Local Government Service continues to pay the minimum wage, even though they varied the consequential adjustments for their workers below the level for state civil servants,’’ he added.
Ohanaeze, IPOB Rubbish Northern Group Over N100m Bounty On Nnamdi Kanu
The Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on Friday hit back at the Northern Consensus Movement (NCM) which, on Thursday, declared IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, wanted and offered a reward of N100m to anyone who can bring him to Nigeria.
Kanu had taken up residence in the United Kingdom after jumping bail in respect of treason charges filed against him in October 2015 by the federal government.
The NCM at a press conference in Abuja late Thursday blamed Kanu and the Eastern Security Network, which is suspected to be the militant arm of IPOB, for the recent attacks on Northerners in the Southeast.
Responding to the NCM’s statement, the Secretary-General of a faction of Ohanaeze, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, asked the northern groups to direct their efforts elsewhere.
He said their N100 million bounties should be placed on the successor of the slain Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.
He said: “We want to tell the groups being sponsored by some northern presidential aspirants to place the bounty on the new leader of Boko Haram terrorist group that has just emerged after the death of Shekau.
“Nnamdi Kanu has an address in London or in Germany where his headquarters of IPOB is. There is no need of searching for Kanu. He is not in Nigeria; he has an address in London as a British citizen.
“They should just use the N100 million bounties given to them by northern politicians, who are trying to destabilise the Southeast, to have easy root for the 2023 presidential ticket of major political parties in Nigeria, especially of the PDP.
“They should place the bounty on Shekau’s successor, who has no address, who is living in the forest, the terrorist group that took arms against the government for the last six years.
“They should not cry more than the bereaved; we will take care of the Southeast and ensure normalcy returns. As far as we are concerned, that bounty is inconsequential and political. It is not necessary, only a means to continue to heat up tension in the polity.”
Isiguzoro dismissed the NCM allegations of killing of Northerners in the Southeast, saying: “for the purpose of record and from the last time, there has not been any killing, except the accidental killing of Ahmed Gulak in Owerri.
“There has not been killing recorded anywhere in the Southeast about Northern people except some nefarious activities of unknown gunmen and killer Fulani herdsmen who have been attacking police stations and government facilities and killing both Igbo and indigenes from other parts of the country.”
Responding for IPOB, its spokesman, Emma Powerful, said the group would not dignify the northern groups with response because “they are inconsequential groups and they don’t know what we’re doing.”
He added: “claiming that they’re representing Arewa means they represent nobody.
“We pity them for challenging Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB because they don’t know what we are made of; they can rant from here to Arewa; we don’t know such groups before.
“They want people to hear their ranting so that people will know that they exist because people don’t know them.
“People that matter in the world are talking about Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and Biafra. We are ahead of them all.”
During its Thursday press conference, NCM said it was declaring Nnamdi Kanu wanted for the continuation of criminal charges against him.
It is offering a reward of N100 million to anyone who can produce him in Nigeria for that purpose.
Kanu had taken up residence in the United Kingdom after jumping bail in respect of treason charges filed against him in October 2015 by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The NCM blamed Kanu and the Eastern Security Network, which is suspected to be the militant arm of IPOB, for the recent attacks on Northerners in the Southeast.
It asked the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the European Union to ensure Kanu’s repatriation to Nigeria.
Dr. Awwal Aliyu, NCM spokesman, said members of the group took it upon themselves as active citizens of Nigeria to declare Nnamdi Kanu wanted for “crimes against humanity and for instigating the killing of innocent Northerners in the Southeast via his hate speech.”
Kanu, according to Aliyu, must answer for “the killing and destruction of Northerners residing and undertaking lawful businesses in the southeastern part of Nigeria.
He added: “So, we are placing a bounty of N100m as an offer to anyone who can produce him alive, hale, hearty, and uninjured to us for onward delivery to the security agencies for the continuation of his prosecution.”
He asked the US, the UK, and the EU, as champions of democracy, rule of law, and freedoms of speech and expression, to “kindly and humbly respect Nigeria’s sovereignty and facilitate the repatriation of Nnamdi Kanu to Nigeria so that he can face his treason, and possibly a fresh terrorism and genocide charges against innocent citizens of Nigeria.”
Obasanjo Contributed To Nigeria’s Crisis, He Should Mind His Utterances –Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says former President Olusegun Obasanjo contributed to the current chaos in the country, adding that the ex-military general should mind his utterances.
He stated this on Friday in a piece titled, ‘Nigeria’s Unity And All The Iberiberism’.
Adesina wrote, “The sabre-rattling about Nigeria’s unity and the possibility of disintegration has got to the point of Iberiberism (a bastardised Igbo word which could mean stupidity). Some people have no other business than doomsday predictions of a crumbled, collapsed Nigeria, as if they actually fast and pray for that eventuality.
“When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was President between 1999 and 2007, they predicted that he was going to be the last President of a united Nigeria. It didn’t happen. When Umaru Yar’Adua came, they said he was too sick to hold Nigeria together. The country stood.
“Under Goodluck Jonathan, they said the man was too weak, and different components of the country would soon say, ‘to your tents oh Israel.’ Nigeria survived. And for six years under Muhammadu Buhari, they have not changed their songs. The Somaliasation of Nigeria was on the way.
The Fulanisation of the country would be the final death knell. But Nigeria lives. It trudges on from day to day, month to month, and will surely survive.”
Adesina said though some people dwell on negativity, “some fathers of the land will not fold their hands and see Nigeria go down”.
“Fortunately, we have one of them as President now. The young Muhammadu Buhari spent 30 months in the frontlines as a young army officer, fighting the war of unity. And he has said it: we will not be around and watch Nigeria go down. Never. We will rather speak to insurrectionists in the language they understand.
“And what of Olusegun Obasanjo, a civil war hero. Despite all that he has contributed to the current upheavals by his actions and inactions, words and bile, he says it is idiotic to wish Nigeria disintegration now. Good. But let us put our money where our mouth is. Let Baba mind his thoughts, and his language,” the presidential spokesman added.
“Nigeria will survive. The polity will endure. And the component parts will live together in amity and brotherhood. Any other option is Iberiberism,” he concluded.
Obasanjo, a military head of state from February 1976 to September 1979, was Nigeria’s democratically elected president between May 1999 and May 2007.
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