President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday warned that his administration would not allow “mindless groups to hold the country to ransom.”
|President Muhammadu Buhari|
In a message to mark the country’s 56th independence anniversary, Buhari said: “What sense is there to damage a gas line as a result of which many towns in the country including their own towns or villages are put in darkness? What logic is there in blowing up an export pipeline, and as a result, income to your state and local governments, and consequently ability to provide services to your own people, is reduced?”
The President, however, said: “Our administration is fully sympathetic to the plight of the good people of Niger Delta and we are in touch with the state governments and leadership of the region. It is known that the clean-up of the Ogoniland has started. Infrastructural projects financed by the Federal Government and post amnesty programme financing will continue. We have continued to dialogue with all groups and leaders of thought in the region to bring lasting peace.”
Buhari told Nigerians: “I know that uppermost in your minds today is the economic crisis. I know how difficult things are, and how rough business is.” He, however, added that he believed the current economic recession would not last.
“Let me say to all Nigerians today, I ran for office four times to make the point that we can rule this nation with honesty and transparency, that we can stop the stealing of Nigeria’s resources, so that the resources could be used to provide jobs for our young people, security, infrastructure for commerce, education and healthcare. I ran for office because I know that good government is the only way to ensure prosperity and abundance for all. I remain resolutely committed to this objective,” said the President.
The anniversary was low-keyed, and was attended by prominent Nigerians including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar; former Vice Presidents Alex Ekwueme and Namadi Sambo; former Chiefs of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, General Oladipo Diya; and President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki.
Buhari inspected a quarter guard mounted by men of the Brigade of Guards before proceeding to the forecourt of the Presidential Villa for a salute and rendition of the national anthem.
Moments after the ceremony, he signed the anniversary register, released pigeons, and assisted by dignitaries, cut the anniversary cake.
On his anti-corruption campaign, Buhari said the menace “must be fought with all the weapons at our disposal.” He, however, noted that his administration would “adhere strictly to the rule of law,” even as he appealed to the judiciary to join the fray.
The President blamed the economic recession on critical shortage of foreign exchange and destruction of pipelines by “Niger Delta thugs”.
“Consequently, the naira is at its weakest, but the situation will stabilise. There are no easy solutions, but there are solutions nonetheless, and government is pursuing them in earnest,” he said.
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents, Osinbajo said: “I think it is a time for a lot of hope and expectation. I think that in the next few years, we will demonstrate the real capacity of our country everywhere. We will prevail.”
Saraki said: “We have been able to achieve a lot for the country. I am sure in present times, people will wonder what we are celebrating. As a country, we have stayed united. We have taken up a lot of challenges and we have come out better. I believe we have the capacity and the experience to do it this time around. People just have to believe in the country and we will get there.”
Saraki added: “Things are tough. And I have said many a time that we must face the reality. I don’t think it is insurmountable. I believe that we can do it. Like I said earlier, we have stayed united, we have stayed focused, determined and hardworking. It is not something that we cannot achieve. The potentials are there.”
According to Ukiwe, “There are many way of sharing or understanding what the future could be. If we follow the path of righteousness and correct all the nagging problems, the future will be rosy. But if we continue to allow the problems all over the place, disrupting the society with the worst of crimes and so on, the future will be bleak. But I choose to believe that we can make the future much better than what it is now.”