Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has said he was prepared to lay down his life for the country since the day he joined the Nigerian Army.
President Buhari stated this on Saturday June 12 as Nigeria marks 2021 Democracy Day.
“The day I joined the Nigerian Army, I was prepared to lay down my life for Nigeria,” Buhari said.
In the nationwide broadcast on Saturday in Abuja to mark this year’s Democracy Day, the President said he remains committed to upholding and defending Nigeria’s corporate existence.
The president vowed to do all within his power to constitutionally ensure that the security and welfare of all citizens remain the primary purpose of government.
He expressed optimism that the nation would come out of its current challenges stronger.
“As a nation we have come very far from where we started and we are getting incrementally closer to where we ought to be.
“Overcoming the present challenges is but one of the necessary processes that we have to undergo as a nation so that we can come out stronger.
“The day I joined the Nigerian Army I was prepared to lay down my life for Nigeria. As your President I remain ever committed to upholding and defending Nigeria’s corporate existence.
“In adhering to the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, notably Section 14(2)(b), I shall do all within my power to ensure that the security and welfare of the people remain the primary purpose of government,” he said.
He disclosed that his administration had been providing the security agencies with all they needed in their ongoing efforts to tackle the nation’s security challenges.
The latest allocation of fund for the security agencies was made on June 9, when the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved N770.6 billion.
The amount was meant to further enhance the capacity of the defence and security agencies to address current and emerging security challenges in the country.
The president said: “I have, throughout my tenure, provided the security agencies with all they require relative to available resources and will be providing more as the dynamics unfold to put an end to our security problems.
“My strong belief in the Nigerian spirit gives me comfort that we are facing these challenges with renewed commitment to keep our country one.”
Buhari also reiterated that his administration is not against the ongoing agitations for constitutional reforms, but due process must be followed in achieving such goals.
According to him, the primary responsibility for constitutional amendments lies with the National Assembly (NASS).
He, however, expressed the readiness of his administration to play a critical role in the constitutional amendment process without usurping the powers of the NASS.
He said: “In responding to the challenges that this period imposes on us, Government also recognises the need to acknowledge notions of marginalisation and agitations for constitutional amendments among various segments of our population.
“While this government is not averse to constitutional reform as part of our nation building process, everyone must understand that the primary responsibility for constitutional amendments lies with the National Assembly.
“This body which, as I said, is the arm of government responsible for constitutional changes has concluded the preliminary stages of amending and improving our constitution in a way that the majority of Nigerians will be happy with.
“Government is, however, willing to play a critical role in the constitutional amendment process without usurping the powers of the National Assembly in this regard.”
On COVID-19 pandemic, the president noted that government’s response to the pandemic involved making hard choices in balancing livelihoods and public health concerns.
“In the last one year, Nigeria and the whole world faced COVID-19 for which no one was fully prepared,’’ he said.
He, however, stated that government was able to ensure that the various lockdown measures did not impact too negatively on the ability of ordinary Nigerians to continue sustaining their livelihoods.
The president disclosed that, during the pandemic, his administration disbursed N5,000 each to one million Nigerians using a Rapid Response Register.
He said the government also advanced N20,000 to 750,000 to beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Progamme and provided 1.37 million Nigerians with palliatives from CACOVID.
The president revealed that federal government released 109,000 metric tonnes of food reserve stocks and 70,000 metric tonnes of grains to the poor and vulnerable in all 36 states of the federation to cushion the negative impacts of the pandemic.
He stated that, in addition, government reduced interest rates from nine per cent to five per cent for struggling businesses and extended credit facilities to 548,345 beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, Buhari said he had approved the establishment of Infraco Plc, a world-class infrastructure development vehicle wholly focused on Nigeria with a capital structure of N15 trillion.
He expressed optimism that the company, when fully functional, would address the nation’s infrastructural deficits and subsequently transform the economy.
He also disclosed that his administration had succeeded in accelerating infrastructure development through sensible and transparent borrowing, improved capital inflow, improving and increasing revenue through capturing more tax bases and prudent management of investment proceeds in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
According to him, the rail system is not left out as the Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail was completed and commissioned 33 years after construction began.
He stated that the Lagos-Ibadan double track railway line, which he inaugurated on June 10, 2021, had commenced operations.
“We are focused on ensuring that our infrastructure drive is key to economic growth and one that can be felt by every Nigerian. Building critical infrastructure in our ports is also opening up opportunities for the Nigerian economy.
“My approval for four new seaports using a Public-Private-Partnership approach is hinged on growing the Nigerian economy.
“These four sea ports; Lekki Deep Sea Port, Bonny Deep Sea Port, Ibom Deep Sea Port and Warri Deep Sea port, will create massive job opportunities and foreign investment inflows.
“We have worked at deepening our Eastern ports leading to success like having three container ships berth at Calabar port, a first in 11 years.
“Similarly, on October 30, 2019, an LPG tanker operated by NLNG berthed in Port Harcourt, the first time an LPG ship is berthing at any of the Eastern Ports.
“As we invest in these new assets, we have also made strides in ensuring that they are secured and protected.
“In this regard, I am also pleased to note the launch of the NIMASA Deep Blue project – which is an Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure that I recently commissioned.
“This initiative is designed to add to the layer of security we have to safeguard our maritime sector,’’ he added.
The president also listed the achievements of his administration in the agricultural sector to include the Anchor Borrowers Programme which resulted in sharp decline in the nation’s major food import bill from 2.23 billion dollars in 2014 to 0.59 billion dollars by the end of 2018.
According to him, rice import bill alone also dropped from one billion dollars to 18.5 million dollars annually.
He observed that Anchor Borrowers initiative had supported local production of rice, maize, cotton and cassava.
He revealed that government financed 2.5 million small-holder farmers cultivating about 3.2 million hectares of farmland all over the country and created 10 million direct and indirect jobs.
“Several other initiatives, namely AgriBusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme, the Non-oil Export stimulation Facility, the Targeted Credit Facilities operated across the 774 Local Governments.
“In the manufacturing sector the CBN – BOI N200 billion facility financed the establishment and operations of 60 new industrial hubs across the country, creating an estimated 890,000 direct and indirect jobs,’’ he added.
The president noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s N50 billion Textile Sector intervention Facility increased capacity utilisation of ginneries from 30 per cent to nearly 90 per cent.
According to him, the Economic Sustainability Plan – the nation rebound plan for the COVID-19 pandemic developed in 2020, is currently being executed.
He said the plan was primarily focused on the non-oil sector, which had recorded phenomenal growth contributing over 90 per cent to the GDP growth in Q1 2021.
“Though marginal we have recorded GDP growth over two quarters; Q2 2020 and Q1 2021. This is evidence of a successful execution of the ESP by the Federal Government.”
Buhari stated that his administration’s vision of pulling 100 million poor Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years had been put into action and could be seen in the National Social Investment Programme; “a first in Africa and one of the largest in the world where over 32.6 million beneficiaries are taking part.
“We now have a National Social register of poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities in the 36 States and the FCT’’.
He further maintained that the administration’s conditional cash transfer programme had benefited over 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households comprising more than eight million individuals, saying “this provides a monthly stipend of N10,000 per household’’.
The president revealed that he recently approved the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Plan that augments existing plans to further reduce poverty in the country.
He said: “As at the end of 2020, the Development Bank of Nigeria had disbursed N324 billion in loans to more than 136,000 MSMEs, through 40 participating Financial Institutions.
“I am to note that 57 per cent of these beneficiaries are women while 27 per cent are the youth,’’ he said.
The president thanked all citizens for their patience and resolve to join hands in ”making Nigeria the country of our dream”.
He also wished Nigerians Happy Democracy Day!