President Muhammadu Buhari in his Independence broadcast on Thursday (today) assured Nigerians that his government was not persecuting anybody but said all must be ready to account for their deeds. Borrowing from his inaugural speech on May 29, Buhari said:
“I bear no ill will against anyone on past events. Nobody should fear anything from me. We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view, to join me in working for the nation.”
Nigeria today marks 55 years of independence, having secured its freedom from the British colonialists on October 1, 1960. The President said the citizens needed to celebrate notwithstanding the situation in the country, thou he regretted that we had not fully exploited unity of purpose as a nation blessed with vast human and natural resources. Buhari told Nigerians:
“We have all the attributes of a great nation. We are not there yet because the one commodity we have been unable to exploit to the fullest is unity of purpose. This would have enabled us to achieve not only more orderly political evolution and integration but also continuity and economic progress.
‘‘Countries far less endowed have made greater economic progress by greater coherence and unity of purpose. Nonetheless, that we have remained together is an achievement we should all appreciate and try to consolidate.”
He again paid tribute to former President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat in the March 28, 2015 election.
“We have witnessed this year a sea change in our democratic development. The fact that an opposition party replaced an entrenched government in a free and fair election is indicative of the deeper roots of our democratic system.
“Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians must thank former President (Goodluck) Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat and thereby saving the country untold consequences,” he said.
The President, in his review of his government’s five months in office, acknowledged Nigerians’ expectation for the government to hit the ground running and that he had taken some steps to meet such expectations. Buhari said:
“Every new government inherits problems. Ours was no different. But what Nigerians want are solutions, quick solutions not a recitation of problems inherited.
“Accordingly, after consultations with the Vice President, senior party leaders and other senior stakeholders, I quickly got down to work on the immediate, medium-term and long-term problems, which we must solve if we are to maintain the confidence which Nigerians so generously bestowed on us in the March elections and since then.
“As you know, I toured the neighbouring countries, marshal led a coalition of armed forces of the five nations to confront and defeat Boko Haram. I met also the G7 leaders and other friendly presidents in an effort to build an international coalition against Boko Haram.
“Our gallant armed forces under new leadership have taken the battle to the insurgents, and severely weakened their logistical and infrastructural capabilities. Boko Haram are being scattered and are on the run.
“That they are resorting to shameless attacks on soft targets such as Internally Displaced Persons’ camps is indicative of their cowardice and desperation. I have instructed security and local authorities to tighten vigilance in vulnerable places.”
The President said government officials had held a series of long sessions on the best way to improve the nation’s power supply “in the safest and most cost effective way” and that a moderate improvement in electricity supply had been achieved.
The President said improvement had also been noted in the supply of petrol and kerosene to the public and that early signs indicated that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for the better. Buhari also said preliminary steps had been taken to sanitise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to curb its inefficiency and corruption.
“Those of our refineries which can be serviced and brought back into partial production would be enabled to resume operations so that the whole sordid business of exporting crude and importing finished products in dubious transactions could be stopped,” he added.
The President said that he had also ordered the complete audit of government’s other revenue generating agencies, mainly the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Communications Commission to achieve better service delivery to the nation.
The President’s address further read:
“Prudent housekeeping is needed now more than ever in view of the sharp decline in world market oil prices. It is a challenge we have to face squarely. But what counts is not so much what accrues but how we manage our resources, that is important.
“We have seen in the last few years how huge resources were mismanaged, squandered and wasted. The new All Progressives Congress government is embarking on a cleanup, introducing prudence and probity in public financing.
“At an early stage, the Federal Government addressed the issue of salary arrears in many states, a situation capable of degenerating into social unrest. The APC government stepped in to provide short-term support to the owing states and enabled them to pay off the backlog and restore the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.”
The President also spoke about public anxiety concerning his delay in appointing ministers. He said his government had chosen not to rush forming a cabinet without a clearer picture of what was bequeathed to it by the past administration. He said:
“Our government set out to do things methodically and properly. We received the handover notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over. Consequently, the (Ahmed) Joda Transition Committee submitted its report on the reorganisation of Federal Government structure after studying the handover notes.
“It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalised the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance. Anyway, the wait is over. The first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to the Senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course.”
The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, announced on Wednesday that he had received the ministerial list from the President and that the Senate would commence deliberation on it on Tuesday.