ON the occasion of the 56th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that his administration was aware of the hardship in the country and was working hard to change the situation.
He however, warned that there are no easy ways out of the nation’s economic problems although solutions could be found.
In a radio and television broadcast to mark the occasion on Saturday morning, he said:
“There are no easy solutions, but there are solutions nonetheless and government is pursuing them in earnest.”
President Buhari noted that the day was “a day of celebration for us Nigerians as it was the day 56 years ago that our people achieved the most important of all human desires – freedom and independence. We should all therefore give thanks and pray for our founding fathers without whose efforts and toil we would not reap the bounties of today.”
He assured that he knew that what was uppermost in the minds of the people was the economic crisis, noting that: “The recession for many individuals and families is real. For some it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it’s not being able to afford the high cost of food (rice and millet) or the high cost of local or international travel, and for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic.
“I know how difficult things are, and how rough business is. All my adult life, I have always earned a salary and I know what it is like when your salary simply is not enough. In every part of our nation, people are making incredible sacrifices.”
The president noted that on security, Boko Haram has been defeated but only now carrying out “cowardly attacks on soft targets, killing innocent men, women and children.”
While noting that situation has improved on the Boko Haram front, Buhari regretted that: “A new insurgency has reared up its head in the shape of blowing up gas and oil pipelines by groups of Niger Delta militants, adding that “this administration will not allow these mindless groups to hold the country to ransom.
He observed that it was cancer which must be fought with all the weapons at the nation’s disposal.
He added that: “It corrodes the very fabric of government and destroys society. Fighting corruption is key, not only to restoring the moral health of the nation, but also to freeing our enormous resources for urgent socio-economic development.”
Also speaking about the economy, President Buhari stressed that his administration’s change agenda was to restructure the economy.
According to him” Economies’ behaviour is cyclical. All countries face ups and downs. Our own recession has been brought about by a critical shortage of foreign exchange. Oil price dropped from an average $100 per barrel over the last decade to an average of forty USD $40 per barrel this year and last.”
He said government would repair the nation’s four refineries so that Nigeria can produce most of its petrol requirements locally pending the coming on stream of new refineries.
“At the same time, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank have been mobilised to encourage local production of rice, maize, sorghum, millet and soya beans. Our target is to achieve domestic self-sufficiency in these staples by 2018,” he said.
Listing some of the capital projects his administration was currently executing, Buhari remarked that government’s objective was to complete all abandoned projects across the country.
“Notwithstanding the budgetary constraints, the current budget allocated two N240 billion for highway projects against N12 billion billion in 2015. Many contractors who have not been paid for three years have now remobilised to sites. N720.5 billion has so far been released this budget year to capital projects. The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has received N197.5 billion.”
He was confident that the programmes he had outlined will revive the economy, restore the value of the naira and drive hunger from the country.