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FULL TEXT OF NATIONAL ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR, ON DEMOCRACY DAY, MAY 29, 2012

Fellow Nigerians,

1.
One year ago, I was privileged to stand before you, to take the oath of office
as President of our dear country, the third to serve you as President since the
return to democratic rule in 1999. Today, I remember that day and the processes
leading to it with profound gratitude to God Almighty and to all Nigerians who
have worked very hard to enrich our journey from military dictatorship to
inclusive democratic governance.
2.
For the past 13 years, we have remained a stable democracy. We have together
demonstrated that the government of the people is an ideal that the people of
Nigeria cherish. We have our differences as individuals and as politicians, but
we have shown great faith in democracy and its institutions. We have refused to
be limited by our differences. Despite reservations about some of our
institutions, we have refused to submit to despair. This achievement is a
testament to the courage and optimism of the Nigerian people.
3.
As we celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, I pay tribute to all the men and
women who have made our democratic experience meaningful: the ordinary people
who resisted military rule, and have remained resolute in their embrace of
democracy; the army of Nigerian voters who, at every election season, troop out
in large numbers to exercise their right of franchise; the change agents in
civil society who have remained ever watchful and vigilant.
4.
I pay special tribute also to all patriots who are the pillars of our collective
journey, most especially, our armed forces who have steadfastly subordinated
themselves to civil authority in the past 13 years. They have continued to
demonstrate a great sense of professionalism. They have discharged their duties
to the nation with honour and valour. In a sub-region that has witnessed
instances of political instability, authored by restless soldiers, the Nigerian
Armed Forces have remained professional in their support of democracy.
5.
When General Abdusalami Abubakar handed over the baton of authority to President
Olusegun Obasanjo, in 1999, it was a turning point for Nigeria. We did not
arrive at that turning point by accident. Many Nigerians laid down their lives
for the transition to democracy to occur. Some were jailed. Media houses were
attacked and shut down. But the people’s resolve was firm and unshakeable. This
is what we remember. This is what we celebrate. On this day, I recall especially
the martyrdom of Chief M. K. O. Abiola, whose presumed victory in the 1993
Presidential election, and death, while in custody, proved to be the catalyst
for the people’s pro-democracy uprising. The greatest tribute that we can pay to
him, and other departed heroes of Nigeria’s democracy, is to ensure that we
continue to sustain and consolidate our democratic institutions and processes,
and keep Hope alive.
6.
Let us individually and collectively, continue to keep the spirit of this day
alive. No task is more important. We must continue to do well as a people and as
a democracy. We must remember where we are coming from, so we can appreciate how
far we have travelled.
7.
When I assumed office as Acting President, in 2010, on account of the health
challenges suffered by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, there was so much
anxiety in the land. The tone of public debate was febrile. Some persons sought
to use the situation in the country to sow the seeds of discord. My primary task
at that time was to do all that was humanly possible to ensure stability within
the polity. With the support and commitment of patriotic Nigerians from all
walks of life, and the grace of the Almighty God, we were able to do so.
8.
On May 6, 2010, following President Yar’Adua’s death, I assumed office as
substantive President. I subsequently presented myself as a candidate for the
2011 Presidential elections, with a promise that under my watch, the elections
would be free, fair and credible. We kept faith with that promise. On May 29,
2011, I was sworn in as President, the fifth elected leader of Nigeria since
independence. The success of the 2011 elections and the international acclaim
that it generated was due to your patriotic zeal and commitment. I will like to
seize this opportunity to thank all patriotic Nigerians who stood by us, and
have remained unwavering in their support. These Nigerians understand one thing:
that we all have a duty to protect and promote our country, and that this
country belongs to all of us. Electoral contest is about values. We must not
lose sight of those values that strengthen us as a people. As long as I am
President, I will do my utmost to continue to work hard in pursuit of the common
good.
9.
There are challenges, yes, but we are working hard to address those challenges.
And, by God’s grace, we will succeed. My confidence is bolstered by the results
which we have achieved in different sectors within the last twelve months.
10.
Our democracy is stable. Its foundation is strong and firm. Its future is
bright. Last year, I had spoken about the policy of “one man one vote, one
woman, one vote, one youth, one vote”. I am glad to see that the Nigerian people
in all elections have continued to respect the principle of fair play. Since
this administration came into office, we have gone to great lengths to
strengthen our democratic institutions, particularly the Independent National
Electoral Commission. There are still persons who believe that elections should
be violent and unhealthy, but they are in the minority. They will not derail our
democracy because the majority of Nigerians will not allow them to do so.
11.
Following the spate of violence, in some parts of the country, after the 2011
elections, our administration set up a committee on post-election violence to
among other things, investigate the causes and nature of electoral violence and
make appropriate recommendations. We will be guided by the White Paper, on that
committee’s report, in dealing more firmly with electoral violence and fraud.
This will include the establishment of Electoral Offences Tribunals to deal
speedily with established cases of electoral violence. We cannot afford to treat
the success we have recorded with our democratic experience with levity.
Electoral reform is central to our administration’s transformation agenda. I
urge all political parties to embrace this reform.
12.
Our successful elections, last year, opened new vistas for Nigeria’s foreign
policy. More than ever before, Nigeria’s achievements have generated a lot of
international goodwill and recognition. We have continued to build on this by
further showing leadership in the sub-region and the African continent. Under my
watch as Chairman of the sub-regional body, ECOWAS, and subsequently, Nigeria
was in the forefront of the efforts to ensure democratic stability in Niger,
Mali, Guinea Bissau, and particularly at a critical moment in Cote d’Ivoire. Our
foreign policy process has proven to be dynamic and pro-active. Nigeria’s place
is secure among many friends in the comity of nations. We are building on that
friendship to open up opportunities for foreign investments in the Nigerian
economy and to provide necessary support for the vibrant community of Nigerians
in the Diaspora.
13.
We will continue to work hard, to turn domestic successes into a source of
motivation for greater achievements in the international arena. We are fully
aware that it is only when our people are happy and confident that they would be
in a good position to walk tall in relating with others.
14.
Today, I want to talk about what we are doing and what we have done. I want to
reassure you that we are making progress. But we can also do a lot more. We
must. And we will.
15.
Our economic outlook is positive. When I assumed office last year, there were
still fears about the impact of the global economic recession, and implications
for investments. Many Nigerians were worried about the growing rate of
unemployment. In order to set Nigeria on a sound and sustainable path toward
economic growth, this administration unveiled a set of priority policies,
programmes, and projects encapsulated in the Transformation Agenda. These
programmes and policies are aimed at consolidating our budget, fostering job
creation, engendering private sector-led inclusive growth, and creating an
enabling environment for businesses to thrive for the ultimate betterment of the
lives of Nigerians.
16.
Today, progress has been made. The country’s credit rating is positive, in
contrast with many nations being downgraded. In 2011, our economy grew by 7.45%.
As at mid-May 2012, our foreign exchange reserves had risen to $37.02 billion,
the highest level in 21 months. We have stabilized and improved our fiscal
regime. We brought the fiscal deficit down to 2. 85% of GDP from 2.9% in 2011.
We reduced recurrent expenditures from 74% to 71% and reduced domestic borrowing
from N852 billion in 2011 to N744 billion in 2012. We cut out over N100 billion
of non-essential expenditure and increased our internally generated revenue from
N200 billion to N467 billion.
17.
For the first time in over a decade, we now have a draft Trade Policy which
provides a multi-dimensional framework to boost our trade regime and facilitate
the inflow of investments. We have generated over N6. 6 trillion worth of
investment commitments. The total value of our trade is also much higher than
the value estimated the previous year due to deliberate government policies. To
facilitate the ease of doing business in Nigeria, we have a policy in place to
make visa procurement easier for foreign investors, with safeguards to prevent
abuse.
18.
The goal of our administration is to ensure that every Nigerian can find gainful
employment. Given my dissatisfaction with the prevailing unemployment situation
in the country, our administration has embarked on an ambitious strategy of
creating jobs and job-creators through the launch of several initiatives mainly
targeted at the youths and women.
19.
In October 2011, we launched the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria
Programme, designed to encourage entrepreneurship and provide grants for small
and medium scale enterprises. Over 1, 200 Nigerian youths have benefitted from
this initiative. We have also launched the Public Works Women and Youth
Empowerment Programme, which is designed to employ 370, 000 youths per annum,
with 30% of the jobs specially reserved for women. Let me make it clear here
that our YouWIN programme is designed to nurture and mentor young entrepreneurs
to become major players, employers and wealth creators in business.
20.
We are gradually reducing the footprints of government in business activities
through privatization, liberalization and deregulation based on our recognition
that the private sector should be the engine of growth in our economy. To ensure
that the private sector is well positioned for this task, our administration has
embarked on key structural reforms in the Power Sector and at the Ports.
21.
To improve reliable power supply, our administration is judiciously implementing
the Power Sector Roadmap, which is at an advanced stage, to fully privatize
power generation and distribution while reducing the cost of electricity to
rural households and the urban poor.
22.
The commitment of this Administration to the provision of regular and
uninterrupted power supply remains strong and unwavering. We all agree that
adequate and regular power supply will be the significant trigger to enhance
this nation’s productive capacity and accelerate growth. It is for this reason
that I remain optimistic that the reforms we have initiated, the decisions we
have taken so far and the plans we intend to faithfully prosecute will yield the
desired results.
23.
To underline this commitment, three weeks ago, I convened a special session on
Power and gave specific instructions on the fast tracking of gas production and
delivery to ensure improved availability of power. I also directed that the
power sector reforms must continue on schedule and that privatization of the
sector must be completed according to plan.
24.
Our approach is two-pronged: First, is the immediate repair of power plants, as
well as transmission and distribution infrastructure in the short term. The
second is the building of institutions and the provision of enablers to attract
investors. We have revived and are accelerating the completion of the National
Integrated Power Projects. We are also building about 4000km of transmission
lines and hundreds of substations. We have completed the design for the
construction of both Mambilla and Zungeru Hydro power plants which will add
about 3, 000 MW to the national grid.
25.
By mid 2010, the national power output was about 2, 800 MW. By the end of 2011,
we reached a peak of more than 4, 000 MW. A National Gas Emergency Plan has also
been launched to redress the problem of gas supply which arose essentially due
to poor planning.
26.
For long-term power availability, we have strengthened a number of key
institutions such as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Bulk
Trader, the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, and others. We are
also working with the World Bank to provide guarantees for gas and power
providers. The signing of MOUs with World Leaders in power equipment – General
Electric of USA and Siemens of Germany as well as US and China Exim Banks for
financial investment, is a clear indication of the level of confidence which the
world investment community has in our power sector road map.
27.
In addition, the privatisation programme has attracted expression of interest
from 131 companies across the globe. Our decision to bring in the private sector
is clearly intended to achieve our target of generating and distributing
sufficient and reliable power within the shortest time possible. With the
measures we have put in place, we will surely achieve success in transforming
the power sector.
28.
We have also focused our efforts on Ports and Customs reforms to ensure
efficiency in the handling of ports and port-related businesses. Our
administration has streamlined bureaucratic activities at the Ports by reducing
the number of agencies from 14 to 7. We have also reduced the time for the
clearance of goods from about a month, to seven days, with the long-term
objective of ensuring that cargoes are cleared within 48 hours in line with
international best practice. In the meantime, our ports, for the first time, now
open for business for 24 hours.
29.
In the Oil and Gas Sector, our Administration has charted a new course that will
ensure enduring transparency and accountability. We are re-drafting the
Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to ensure it meets the aspirations of all
Stakeholders given the current realities and future expectations in the global
energy landscape. Work on the PIB will be concluded in June 2012 and formally
submitted to the National Assembly. Additionally, Special Task Forces dealing
with Governance and Control, Petroleum Revenue and National refineries are
finalizing their work to ensure probity across the oil and gas sector, and
self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.
30.
In the Downstream Sector, the Nigerian Content Development Act, since inception
in 2010, has boosted the local production of line pipes, in-country fabrication
tonnage and engineering support services. As a result, retained in-country spend
has grown from approximately US $1bn to a current estimate of US$4bn, and over
US$3 billion Foreign Direct Investment has been brought in for upgrading and
building new yards, altogether generating over 120,000 direct and indirect
jobs.
31.
Capacity utilization of existing domestic refineries has greatly improved from
30 to 60 percent. We have commenced the phased plan to return the refineries to
90 percent capacity utilization with the expected completion of the
rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery by the end of 2012, to be followed by
Warri and Kaduna refineries in 2013.
32.
In the Upstream Sector, the April 2012 commissioning of the Usan Deep Offshore
Field has increased crude oil production capacity by 180 thousand barrels per
day. Also, Government continues to support the National Oil Company, NPDC, by
assigning 55% equity in 8 divested blocks which has resulted in increase in
reserves from 350 million barrels to 2.1 billion barrels and 160, 000 barrels of
production. We have also made significant progress in gas infrastructure
development, investing close to US$1bn for the construction of some 1000 km of
pipelines, gas supply growth and stimulation of gas industrialization. Between
now and the third quarter of 2013, Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) will be
made on gas-based industries, such as the petrochemicals and fertilizer plants
at Koko, the Central Processing Units (CPF) in Obiafu/Obrikom, and the gas
growth projects. Also, the sum of N11 billion is provided in the 2012 Budget for
Hydro-Carbon exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.
33.
The Gas Revolution initiative will fully support and sustain domestic power,
whilst creating Africa’s largest gas based industrial park, which on completion
will underpin the creation of over a million jobs and attract over US$16 billion
in Foreign Direct Investment. To protect the gains of these initiatives for all
Nigerians, we are aggressively addressing the increasing incidents of crude oil
theft and other criminal activities in the sector.
34.
As a deliberate move, our goal is to transform Nigeria from a mono-modal
economy, to a diversified one. The sector that we are focusing on to diversify
our economy – and one in which Nigeria has huge comparative advantage – is the
agriculture sector. Agriculture accounts for about 40% of our GDP and over 70%
of all employment. Increases in agricultural productivity will drive down rural
poverty and revive our rural economy.
35.
In this regard, we are aggressively pursuing an agricultural transformation
agenda. Agriculture is no longer a development programme. We are now treating
agriculture as a business, one that can generate wealth and create jobs for
millions of our youths.
36.
We have implemented major reforms in the sector, notably in the fertilizer
sub-sector. We have ended the practice of Federal Government procurement and
distribution of fertilizers. This we did because only 11% of farmers get the
fertilizers that are bought and distributed by government. The old system
encouraged rent seekers to collude and deprive farmers of access to fertilizers,
while some of the fertilizers ended up with political farmers and in
neighbouring countries.
37.
Now, the procurement and commercialization of fertilizers and seeds have been
fully deregulated to the private sector. We have ended the culture of corruption
in fertilizer procurement. We must also end the era of food imports. Nigeria
spends over 10 billion dollars every year importing wheat, rice, sugar and fish
alone. This is unacceptable.
38.
Our agricultural transformation agenda is directed at promoting local
production, substituting for imported foods, and adding value to our locally
produced crops. We are recording successes already. Government’s policy to
ensure rice self-sufficiency by 2015 is already paying off. New rice mills are
being established by the private sector to mill locally produced rice. Ebony
Agro Industries located in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State has rolled
out its high quality parboiled rice. In Kano, Umza rice mill has taken off and
can hardly meet demand, while in Benue State Ashi rice has hit the market.
Consumers are buying more of Abakaliki and Ofada rice too.
39.
To further accelerate the local production and milling of high quality rice,
government is facilitating the import and installation of 100 new large scale
integrated rice mills across the country. This will allow Nigeria, for the first
time in its history, to have the capacity to mill all of the rice that we
consume.
40.
Our cassava policy is working, as we accelerate the pace of utilization of
cassava to create markets for millions of our farmers. Our goal is a bold one:
we will make Nigeria, which is the largest producer of cassava in the world, to
also become the largest processor of high value cassava products in the
world.
41.
To further encourage cassava utilization and value-added products, government
will support corporate bakers and master bakers across the country to use high
quality cassava flour for baking. Last year I announced an increase in tariff
and levy on wheat. To encourage the cassava flour inclusion policy, I now direct
that part of the levy and tariff on wheat be set aside to support the promotion
of high quality cassava flour and composite cassava bread. This will include
support for needed enzymes, technical training and equipment for corporate
bakers and master bakers, as well as accelerated cassava production.
42.
We have also secured markets for cassava outside Nigeria, and for the first time
ever, Nigeria will export this year 1 million metric tons of dried cassava chips
to China. This will earn Nigeria 136 million US dollars in foreign exchange.
Last week we also successfully started the commercial use of feed grade cassava
grits, produced locally, for use in our poultry industry.
43.
We are reviving our lost glory in cocoa, with massive distribution of 3.6
million pods of high-yielding cocoa varieties for farmers all across the cocoa
growing states of the country. The pods will be provided free of charge. We are
reviving cotton production in the North, as well. I have directed that all seeds
for cotton should be provided, free of charge, to all cotton farmers.
44.
Let me reiterate my personal passion and commitment to driving the agricultural
transformation for Nigeria. The prosperity of Nigeria must start with improving
the living standards of our farmers, and revitalizing rural economies across the
nation. The newly inaugurated Agricultural Transformation Implementation
Council, which I personally Chair, will further drive our continued revolution
of the sector. Our goal is to add 20 million metric tons of food to our domestic
food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 million jobs. To achieve this, the
appropriate infrastructure to support all-year round farming through irrigation
is being rehabilitated and developed across the country.
45.
We must use our population to create markets for what we produce. We must grow
local, buy local and eat local. To promote this, I have directed that all
official functions of government serve local foods, especially our local rice
and cassava bread and other foods. In the State House, I am faithfully keeping
to my promise of eating cassava bread and local rice.
46.
Our administration is committed to the rapid and beneficial development of our
country’s Minerals and metals potential. In the last year, we recorded
remarkable achievements in Mines and Steel Development. We increased the number
of investors in the mining sector due to the transparent manner in which titles
are now issued on a “first come-first served and use it or lose it basis.” A
total of 2,476 active mineral titles were issued compared to 666 titles issued
out in the previous year, thereby reducing, significantly, illegal mining
activities. About 350, 000 additional jobs were created, arising from the
activities of newly registered operators. We have initiated a programme to
support private steel production outfits. This has resulted in an increase in
production figures for steel and other metals to over 1 million tonnes.
47.
It is our collective desire as Nigerians to improve the standard of education.
We are particularly aggressive in addressing this challenge. As a former school
teacher, I know that it is not enough to create jobs; we must develop human
capacity, and train a generation of Nigerian children with better competencies
and skills. This will grant them the edge that they require to compete in a
skills-driven global economy, and by extension, strengthen our national
competitiveness index.
48.
I want every Nigerian child to have an opportunity to receive quality education
and acquire useful skills. We are reforming the education sector from basic to
tertiary level. The Federal Government recently launched the Almajiri Education
Programme to reduce the number of out-of-school children which currently stands
at about 9 million. Similar programmes will soon be introduced in various parts
of the country. At the tertiary level, it is the policy of this administration
that every State will have a Federal University.
49.
To this end, we have established within the last year, nine (9) new Federal
Universities and licensed nine (9) new private universities, bringing the total
number of universities in the country to 124. Even with this, there is still the
challenge of getting adequate admission space for prospective undergraduates.
While we are addressing this, the Federal Government is also conscious of the
fact that our universities need to be better equipped, particularly with well
trained teachers. Government is, therefore, working on a programme to provide
scholarships for Nigerians who are interested in academics, to enable them
obtain their Doctorate degrees within and outside the country.
50.
In addition, the Federal Government has launched a Special Presidential
Scholarship Scheme for our best and brightest brains. We are selecting the best
out of our First Class graduates in various disciplines, especially engineering
and science. They will be sent for post-graduate studies in the best
universities in the world, with the expectation that this will lay the
foundation for a desirable scientific and technological revolution that will
take Nigeria into Space in the not too distant future.
51.
One of the first steps taken by this administration was the creation of a
Ministry of Communications Technology. Its mandate includes the design of
programmes and initiatives to deploy ICT as a driver of sustainable growth and
the training of skilled manpower. For our country to remain relevant, we need to
adequately educate our people, as it is through education that we can turn our
people into assets that can help Nigeria compete globally, and create jobs in
the new knowledge economy.
52.
By the same token, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is providing training
opportunities for the youths in the Niger Delta. In the past year, a total of
704 youths have been sent for training, abroad and locally, in various fields of
endeavour, including agriculture, petroleum engineering, commerce, tourism, and
maritime studies. Nine skills centres are being built, one in each of the nine
states of the Niger Delta; three of them will be completed this year.
53.
An efficient and affordable public transport system remains a priority of this
Administration. Our transformation agenda in the road sector which seeks to
deliver better and safer roads to Nigerians, as well as to link the six
geo-political zones in the country with dual carriageways, is very much on
course. There has been increased construction activities in the ongoing
dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road, Kano–Potiskum–Maiduguri Road; the
Benin–Ore–Shagamu Expressway; the Onitsha–Enugu Expressway; and the construction
of the Loko–Oweto bridge, across River Benue.
54.
Work has been slow on the East-West road due to budgetary constraints, but
government will discharge all liabilities to contractors before the end of June,
and funds for the remaining part of the year, will be provided to accelerate the
pace of work. In other parts of the country, about 21 other road projects are in
different stages of completion. These include the Yola–Numan road, Aba–Owerri
road, Owerri–Onitsha expressway, Oyo–Ogbomosho old road, and the Gombe-Potiskum
road. Many others are at different stages of completion.
55.
Government is also currently rehabilitating about 3,000 kms out of the 3,505 km
existing narrow gauge rail lines across the country. The Lagos-Kano corridor
will be completed this year, while the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri corridor, which
has equally commenced, will be completed by the end of 2013. We have also
commenced the construction of the Abuja–Kaduna segment of the Lagos–Kano
standard gauge rail lines, while the Lagos–Ibadan segment will be awarded this
year. The Itakpe–Ajaokuta–Warri standard gauge rail line is nearing completion
with the entire tracks completely laid.
56.
To enhance sustainability in the rail sector, this Administration has signed a
Memorandum of Understanding with General Electric (GE) to establish a locomotive
assembly plant in the country. Our goal is to make Nigeria a major hub in West
and Central Africa.
57.
Within the last 12 months, we completed the capital dredging of the Lower River
Niger from Warri (Delta State) to Baro (Niger State) to boost our inland water
transportation. This year, work will commence on the dredging of the River Benue
in addition to the construction of River Ports at Baro (Niger State), Oguta (Imo
State), and Jamata/Lokoja, (Kogi State). The Onitsha River Port in Anambra
State, equipped with modern cargo handling equipment, has been completed and I
shall be commissioning the project in the next few weeks.
58.
The Aviation sector remains pivotal to our economic growth. Within the last
year, we have developed a road map for the restoration of decaying facilities
and infrastructure, some of which had not been attended to since they were first
constructed over 30 years ago. Currently, we are renovating airports across the
country and have begun the development of four new international terminals at
Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja. We have also reviewed our Bilateral Air
Service Agreements to ensure improved service delivery, and more
customer-friendly processes. We are working to ensure that within the life of
this Administration, the aviation sector in Nigeria will be transformed into a
world class and self-sustaining provider of safe, secure and comfortable air
transportation.
59.
Globally, the role of women in governance has assumed great significance. In
Nigeria, it is also widely acknowledged that women who constitute about half of
the Nigerian population are great and invaluable assets, in both the public and
private spheres. On our part, we have demonstrated serious commitment in further
empowering women and projecting their role in public life. Out of the 42 members
of the Federal Executive Council, 13 are women, heading major Ministries of
Government.
60.
Last week, I appointed the first female Chairman of the Federal Civil Service
Commission. In the Armed Forces, female cadets have been admitted into the
prestigious Nigerian Defence Academy, an institution that was hitherto an
exclusive preserve of men. The first set will graduate in 2016. This year, we
reached a significant milestone as the Nigerian Air Force produced the first
Nigerian female combatant pilot. Our administration will continue to empower
women and the girl-child as a focal point of our Transformation Agenda.
61.
More than anything else, health matters. We are upgrading the country’s tertiary
health facilities to bring them up to international standards. We have increased
funding for health-related MDGs. We are also committed to reducing maternal and
infant mortality, and to eradicating polio completely by 2014.
62.
I want to reassure all Nigerians that this administration remains committed to
waging a sustained battle against the menace of corruption. In the last one
year, we have taken specific steps to reduce opportunities and avenues for
corruption, and to strengthen the capacity and integrity of our institutions.
For example, our ports reform programme has reduced the number of agencies at
the ports which hitherto frustrated the speedy clearance of goods at the ports.
We have also cleared the stretch of trailers and lorries blocking the Apapa
Expressway. We have put an end to the fertilizer and tractor scam that once
dominated the agricultural sector. Our review of the pension payment system has
also blown the whistle on corrupt practices which are now being addressed.
63.
Within the last one year, we set up a committee to identify leakages and waste
in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. I am confident that the
implementation of the recommendations of that committee will help to eliminate
corruption channels within the system, and improve the efficiency of the public
service. In January, we announced a policy of deregulation in the downstream
sector, but this was misunderstood by naysayers and reduced narrowly to a fuel
subsidy removal initiative, whereas the policy was designed to completely
eliminate the grand corruption in the downstream sector, and create the
necessary incentives for private sector investment.
64.
We have strengthened the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Both
agencies are being re-positioned for more effective service delivery. We will
continue to strengthen the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies for
optimal performance. We will also need the support of our courts. The courts
have to do more.
65.
Terrorism, a new menace, totally alien to our way of life and culture, has
reared its head and is posing a serious challenge. My thoughts and prayers go to
the victims of the terrorist attacks, and their families.
66.
As President, it is my solemn duty to defend the Constitution of this country.
That includes the obligation to protect life and property. We are doing
everything possible to check the menace of terrorism. In this regard, we are
determined to review some of the existing laws, to further strengthen the
national counter-terrorism strategy. Coordinated joint action among our security
agencies has now assumed greater importance. We have developed a new security
architecture to strengthen the security environment.
67.
I wish to reassure every Nigerian that we will confront this threat against our
collective peace and security, and bring the perpetrators to justice. We will
confront the few misguided persons who falsely believe, that through violence,
they can impose their agenda of hate and division on this nation of good people.
We must confront all those who think they can derail us by engaging in
indiscriminate violence and mass murder, perpetrated in places of worship, in
markets and public places, against the media, and security personnel. Nigeria is
a nation of resilient people. We will never yield to the forces of darkness.
Nigeria will never, ever, disintegrate.
68.
Let me end this address at the point where I began. What matters most to all of
us, is Nigeria. It is what binds us together. We have a duty to be loyal to our
country. If we believe this to be a sacred obligation, it will not matter
whether we are Christians or Muslims, or politicians, irrespective of political
parties or divide. It really will not matter whether we are civil society
agents, social activists or union leaders. What matters is Nigeria. This nation
exists because we are one. We must, therefore, remain as one family, and work
together to defend our country.
69.
Within two years, it would be exactly 100 years since the Northern and Southern
protectorates were amalgamated and Nigeria was born. We need a lot more
introspection, even as we look forward. We must take steps to heal the wounds of
the past and work together, as a people with a shared destiny under one flag. We
must strengthen our collective memory, draw strength from our history, and build
bridges of unity to take our country to greater heights.
70.
This is what we should do. And we must. As a starting point, we must draw
strength from our history and work to ensure that the labour of our heroes past
is not in vain. It is partly for this and other reasons, that I have directed,
as part of the activities marking today’s Democracy Day, that all due processes
should be initiated for the building of a Presidential Museum in Abuja, the
Federal Capital Territory. This Museum will document the lives and times of
Nigeria’s Presidents and Heads of Government since 1960, and remind us, by
extension, of the high points of our national history.
71.
It is also in this regard that the Federal Government has decided that late
Chief M.K.O. Abiola be honoured, for making the ultimate sacrifice in the
pursuit of justice and truth. Destiny and circumstances conspired to place upon
his shoulders a historic burden, and he rose to the occasion with character and
courage. He deserves recognition for his martyrdom, and public-spiritedness and
for being the man of history that he was. We need in our land, more men and
women who will stand up to defend their beliefs, and whose example will further
enrich our democracy. After very careful consideration, and in honour of Chief
M.K.O. Abiola’s accomplishments and heroism, on this Democracy Day, the
University of Lagos, is renamed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Moshood
Abiola University, Lagos. The Federal Government will also establish an
Institute of Democratic Studies and Governance in the University.
72.
Thank you.
73.
God bless you.
74.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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PHOTO Of The Day: Unilag Students Protesting Over The Change Of Name.

Happy Democracy Day Nigeria!!!