Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, says the last two years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been the most productive.
Mr Mustapha disclosed this on Monday during the opening ceremony of the Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat in Abuja.
“In terms of the performance of the Federal Executive Council, let me acknowledge that the last two years have been most productive,” the SGF stated.
He further noted that over the past twenty-five months, ministers have continued to implement the deliverables assigned to them in line with their mandates jointly signed with the permanent secretaries which serve as a performance bond with President Buhari.
Speaking further about the milestones achieved, the Secretary General explained that “during this 2nd Term of Mr. President from May 29, 2019 to August 31, 2021, the Federal Executive Council held 52 meetings and granted 579 approvals comprising of 381 contracts, 110 policies and 88 briefs/notes.”
He added that “overall, the total number of Contracts, Policies and Briefs/Notes approved by the Federal Executive Council between November 2015 and August 2021 stand at 1,403 comprising 878 contracts, 319 policies and 206 briefs/notes.”
From the above, Mr Mustapha said the 878 contracts approved by FEC have mostly targeted the provision of infrastructure, geared towards enabling faster economic growth and development.
The SGF maintained that the analysis also shows that the government remained focused on its cardinal responsibility of responsively addressing the myriads of needs and challenges of its citizens through the 319 approved policies initiated during the period.
The details of this data, he said, are contained in the newly developed Compendium of FEC Approvals from November 2015 – August 2021, which is part of the retreat documents circulated to participants.
Mustapha’s comments are in tandem with those of President Buhari who at the Midterm Ministerial Retreat unveiled a digital Performance Management System (PMS) that would help track government projects across the country in real-time
The president revealed that the dashboard will keep an eye on projects using live data, adding that the PMS has been in effect since January 2021 and has helped him to monitor the performance of ministries and by extension, monitor the progress of his administration.
According to President Buhari, it was in the continued drive to ensure accountability that his government “incorporated performance management framework into the functions of the Central Delivery Coordination Unit”.
He explained that the Midterm Ministerial review is aimed at reviewing each minister’s program, identifying key impediments to implementation and re-strategizing on how to accelerate delivery of results given the country’s economic situation.
Furthermore, President Buhari said that the retreat will effectively evaluate the activities of the ministries over the last two years to ascertain how well they have helped deliver on the promise made to Nigerians.
The president urged ministers to work closely with permanent secretaries to ensure accelerated and effective delivery of the programs and projects in their respective primary areas of focus.
2. “They are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”
Chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen speaks about the works of journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia who won the Nobel Peace Prize.
3. “Good relations with Afghanistan are good for everyone. Nothing should be done to weaken the existing government in Afghanistan which can lead to problems for the people.”
Taliban warns the United States not to “destabilise” the regime during their first face-to-face talks since the US withdrawal as a deadly sectarian bombing raised further questions about their grip on power.
4. “Though he attempted putting up some resistance when troops made efforts to take him into custody, he was not assaulted or subjected to brutalization.”
5. “Where the president comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria, and I can cite examples; neither will it be the solution. There is no such thing as a president from Southern Nigeria or a president from Northern Nigeria.”
6. “It is unlikely that our recovery from these recessions would have been as fast without the sustained government expenditure funded partly by debt.”
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, again defends recent borrowings by the Federal Government, insisting they were instrumental to the country’s exit from recessions.
7. “Why you are having separatist agitations everywhere today in the West, in the South, in the South-South, is that some people are unable to manage our diversity, that is just the fact.”
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, says there are dozens of separatist groups in the south-east region of the country because the ethnic divide has not been properly managed.
8. “We find the renewed desperation by the south to threaten [the] northern people’s right to franchise a deliberate attempt to bastardise democracy, cause greater instability in the guise of contentious undemocratic power shift arrangement and therefore unacceptable.”
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) oppose the zoning arrangement by political parties, describing it as unconstitutional and a plot to intimidate the north from contesting for the presidency in 2023.
9. “We gave them the name bandit probably to just soft pedal because terrorism in the international arena is regarded as the most heinous crime that any group of people can engage in.”
10. “The conditions make a mockery of the case pending before the ECOWAS court, and create a risk that the course of justice will be seriously impeded or prejudiced in this case.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), urges President Muhammadu Buhari to “urgently withdraw the impermissible conditions imposed on Twitter pending the final determination of the suit at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja.”
11. “We face a global recovery that remains ‘hobbled’ by the pandemic and its impact. We are unable to walk forward properly.”
The IMF predicts that global economic bounce back from the Covid-19 crisis will downshift this year as countries struggle with rising prices, high debt loads and divergent recoveries in which poor nations are slipping behind wealthier ones.
12. “In developing or Third World countries, it is the escalator of strife, pogroms and civil war, and has played a big role in countries torn to pieces by tribal war, such as it is playing out in Syria, which has become the hotbed of Captagon, and Afghanistan, which controls the opium trade.”
Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Retd) says cannabis cannot be legalised in the country considering the current security challenges.
13. “Nigeria must go beyond a never-ending potential for becoming a great nation to an actually great one. Many presidents have said it. Shehu Shagari. Olusegun Obasanjo. Umaru Yar’Adua. Goodluck Jonathan. But here we are today, still just a country with potentials.”
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says the inherent potentials, which in the past have remained dormant in Nigeria, have started to be utilised.
14. “Some have expressed concern over our resort to borrowing to finance our fiscal gaps; they are right to be concerned.”
President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigerians have a right to be concerned about recent borrowings by the Federal Government.
15. “We believe that the debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits”.
16. “If you are going to get in, in the Nigerian system, in this system of ours, to walk through all that is required, I think you need some experience; a bit of it, you don’t have to be very old.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says age should never be a barrier for young Nigerians to get involved in holding strategic positions, especially political offices.
17. “For the majority of our people, 1960 provided an opportunity to start all over again but, unfortunately, the nationalist politicians who took over the reins of power from the British colonial regime did not decolonise the country and the psyche of our people.”
Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, insists that if Nigeria is to forge ahead in the right direction, then the citizens must be mobilised to take charge of their political destiny.
18. “I want to tell you that Mr President has the magic wand. His attitude, [and] language to the South-East; he has to change it.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari “to cut the N26 billion presidency budget for the construction of the presidential wing at the State House Medical Centre, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, ‘sitting allowance’, and ‘welfare package’, and to use some of the savings to address the growing level of deficit, as well as improve public healthcare facilities across the country.”
SERAP also urged him “to send to the National Assembly a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the reduced proposed spending on the construction of the State House Medical Centre, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, and ‘welfare package’, for its approval.”
In the letter dated 9 October 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Many Nigerians will find it quite odd, unfair and unjust that the government is spending so much money on many of these items in the middle of a public borrowing crisis. The proposed spending could be better allocated to improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.”
SERAP said: “The government would continue to borrow to fund the country’s budget until there is a substantial cut to the cost of governance. The government should stop spending so much money on these items. Persistent borrowing is neither sustainable nor fair to the Nigerian people.”
It added:“Your government has a responsibility to ensure the interest of the well-being and prosperity of Nigeria and its citizens. The growing budget deficit and debt problems threaten Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services, and will hurt future generations if not urgently addressed.”
The letter, read in part: “SERAP also urges you to publish details of spending on construction and repairs of the presidential wing at the medical center and office furniture and fittings since May 29, 2015.
“The proposed spending figures highlight the lack of political will to cut the cost of governance, starting from the presidency. This spending is unsustainable, and would take away critical funding to provide access to quality healthcare and education.
“This would leave the poorest and most vulnerable people without access to these essential public goods and services, and burden the next generation.
“According to our information, for the Office of the President, you recently proposed in the 2022 appropriation bill to spend N24,835,805,231 for the construction of the presidential wing at the state house medical center, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments.”
The agency noted that “The construction of the presidential wing will cost N21,974,763,310. N2,309,066,788 is proposed to be spent on general travel and transport while N301,138,860 will be spent on foodstuff and catering materials supplies. N250,836,273 is proposed to be spent on refreshments, meals, honorarium, sitting allowance, publicity and advertisements.
“For the Office of the Vice-President, N1,136,717,757 is proposed for local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, purchase of office furniture and fittings, and other expenses. The details are: N778,261,411 is proposed to be spent on general travel and transport.
“N168,210,826 is proposed for office stationeries/computer, consumables, printing of documents, uniforms and other clothing, food stuff and catering materials supplies. N2,350,626 is proposed for cooking gas and fuel costs.
“N99,795,229 is proposed to be spent on refreshments, meals, honorarium, sitting allowance, publicity and advertisements. N31,909,380 is proposed for computer software acquisition while N30,817,085 is proposed for the purchase of motor vehicles. N25,373,200 is proposed for the purchase of office furniture and fittings.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our requests.”
The organisation said it “is concerned that the huge spending is neither necessary nor in the public interest, especially in the face of the country’s dire economic position, the scant allocations to education and health, and the growing level of borrowing by your government to fund the 2022 budget.
“Spending limited public funds on the construction of the presidential wing at the State House Medical Centre, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, honorarium and sitting allowance, and welfare packages at a time the government is borrowing to fund the budget would undermine your government’s constitutional and fiduciary duties to ensure a responsible budget spending.
“The country’s fiscal situation must be changed – and changed quickly – through some combination of cuts in the areas highlighted above. Cutting waste and apparently unnecessary spending would go a long way in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems.
“The recommended measures would also ensure that your government is spending the country’s maximum available resources to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights to basic needs of the poor and marginalized groups.”
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has again defended recent borrowings by the Federal Government, insisting they were instrumental to the country’s exit from recessions.
She said this on Friday during the Public Presentation and Breakdown of the 2022 Appropriation Bill.
“Having witnessed two consecutive recessions, we have had to spend our way out of the recession which contributed significantly to the growth of our public debts,” the minister stated in Abuja, one day after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
“It is unlikely that our recovery from these recessions would have been as fast without the sustained government expenditure funded partly by debt.”
Before now, the minister had said Nigeria will fund its 2022 budget deficit, pegged at N6.258 trillion, through fresh borrowings.
The move was greeted with controversy across the country. Critics and members of the opposition said the development, as well as other borrowings by the Federal Government, call for concern.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation,” the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said following Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday submitted the 2022 Appropriation Bill before the Joint Session of the National Assembly in Abuja.
According to the President, the “Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability” would have its deficit mainly funded by new borrowings totalling N5.01 trillion, N90.73 billion from Privatization Proceeds and 1.16 trillion Naira drawdowns on loans secured for specific development projects.
While arguing that the nation does not have a debt sustainability problem, but a revenue challenge; President Buhari assured the lawmakers and Nigerians that his administration is determined to tackle the revenue problems and ensure that debts remain sustainable.
He further explained that his government has endeavoured to use the loans to finance critical development projects and programmes aimed at improving Nigeria’s economic environment and ensuring effective delivery of public services to our people.
For President Buhari, the loans acquired have been and will continue to be focused on:
1. The completion of major road and rail projects;
2. The effective implementation of power sector projects;
3. The provision of potable water;
4. The construction of irrigation infrastructure and dams across the country; and
5. The critical health projects such as the strengthening of national emergency medical services and ambulance system, procurement of vaccines, polio eradication and upgrading Primary Health Care Centres across the six geopolitical zones.
Speaking further about infrastructure financing, President Buhari disclosed that there will be some innovations.
According to him, in 2022, the government will further strengthen the frameworks for concessions and public-private partnerships (PPPs).
“Capital projects that are good candidates for PPP by their nature will be developed for private sector participation,” the President asserted.
He also disclosed that the present administration will also explore available opportunities in the existing ecosystem of green finance including the implementation of the nation’s Sovereign Green Bond Programme and leveraging debt-for-climate swap mechanisms.
The president enunciated that the strategies to improve revenue mobilisation will be sustained in 2022 with the goal of achieving four key objectives and they include:
Enhancement of tax and excise revenues through policy reforms and tax administration measures; review the policy effectiveness of tax waivers and concessions; boost customs revenue through the e-Customs and Single Window initiatives; and safeguard revenues from the oil and gas sector.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that though Nigerians have the right to be concerned about the nation’s additional loans, still, the country’s debts remain at a sustainable level.
The President stated this while presenting the 2022 budget estimates to the joint session of the National Assembly.
According to him, “Despite our revenue challenges, we have consistently met our debt service commitments”.
He adds that “Some have expressed concerns over our resort to borrowing to finance our fiscal gaps. They are right to be concerned.
However, we believe that the debt level of the Federal Government is still within sustainable limits”.
President Buhari further noted that the additional loans were meant to complete ongoing critical infrastructure projects across the country.
The President explained that the nation has witnessed two economic recessions within the period of his administration.
Buhari asserted that in both cases, the government spent its way out of recession, which necessitated a resort to growing the public debt.
He, however, stressed that it is unlikely that “our recovery from each of the two recessions would have grown as fast without the sustained government expenditure funded by debt”.
Speaking further about the debts, the President said the administration’s target over the medium term is to grow the country’s Revenue-to-GDP ratio from about 8 percent currently to 15 percent by 2025.
“At that level of revenues, the Debt-Service-to-Revenue ratio will cease to be worrying. Put simply, we do not have a debt sustainability problem, but a revenue challenge which we are determined to tackle to ensure our debts remain sustainable,” the President assured.
He emphasized that the borrowings are to finance critical development projects and programmes aimed at improving Nigeria’s economic environment and ensuring effective delivery of public services to “our people”.
The Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano on Thursday visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Briefing journalists after the meeting with the President, Obiano said that he (President Buhari) is not in support of the proposed state of emergency in the state.
According to the governor, President Buhari does not want any form of intimidation ahead of the polls.
Governor Obiano who further stated that he has reported the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to Buhari, described as “unfortunate” the comments suggesting that the State of Emergency could be imposed on Anambra to engender security of lives.
A member of the House of Representatives, Ben Igbakpa, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to name the lawmaker whom he alleged is responsible for sponsoring separatists in the country.
The lawmaker was reacting to the President’s Independence Day speech where he said that a member of the National Assembly is among the high-profile individuals sponsoring the leaders of secessionist groups in the country.
The President, however, did not reveal the identity of the lawmaker, neither did he say if the individual is a member of the House of Representatives or Senate.
“The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals.
“We are vigorously pursuing these financiers, including one identified as a serving member of the National Assembly”, the President said in his broadcast to the nation to commemorate Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary.
In reaction, Hon Igbakpa expressed concern that his privilege as a lawmaker has been breached by the President’s statement and he is now being regarded as a suspect wherever he goes.
He said, “As reported by media houses across the world, President Buhari in his Independence Day speech, told the world that one of us is sponsoring terrorism.
“IPOB by what it’s to the face of the law today is a terrorist organization even when we have our reservations because the laws of the land and courts have spoken. Mr. Speaker that means that 469 members of this National Assembly are crime suspects”.
He further stated that he was detained on charges of suspicion when he attended a wedding in Ghana over the weekend.
“On that fateful day, I went to Akure, to be part of the burial ceremony of our fellow colleague, Hon. Expensive. On Saturday I had to honor an invitation to Ghana for a wedding, Mr. Speaker it will amaze you what I faced at the hands of Ghanaian officials.
“They detained me for about four hours, that they are trying to confirm something, I stayed at the airport for four hours, missed the wedding I went for and at the end of the day one of them walked up to me saying sorry sir there’s an announcement in Nigeria that a member of parliament is sponsoring terrorism and we are put on red alert to ensure that no member of parliament comes here to hide or cause trouble.
“I had to come back home dejected. They have been calling me all over the world, my friends have been telling me, who among you is that person is sponsoring terrorism”.
The rep member emphasised the need for the President to name the lawmaker and appealed to invoke section 28 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The right thing for a father to do is to name and shame any child that’s bringing about division. But Mr. President didn’t shame that person or name them instead he named 469 members.
“We have always cooperated and Nigeria has a lot to deal with, so I’m appealing, if not the right thing to do is to invoke section 28 of the constitution they can tell us who among us is sponsoring terrorism.
“All of us here are prime suspects. I appeal that the leadership of the House should liaise with their counterparts in the Senate to try and see the President so that he can us who’s sponsoring terrorism amongst us.
He called on the President to go ahead and prosecute, convict the suspect.
The Speaker of the House, Gbajabiamila responding to Hon. Ben said, “your privilege is noted and we will get back to you on that”.
Nigeria’s 61st Independence celebration was a major focus in the passing week.
The events highlighted the journey so far, questioning what has been achieved and what needs to give way for the attainment of the nation’s desired goal.
Here are quotes made by politicians, leaders of thought and experts in various fields, within the passing week; through their words, we feel the world’s pulse as the globe’s heart beats in diverse yet similar rhythms, from one little corner to the next.
1. “I am here to tell you that just as I am certain that the United States will emerge from the struggle with our democracy, I am equally certain that Nigeria will emerge, in this century, as a model democratic country not just for Africa but for the entire world.”
2. “As far as I am concerned, there is no country on earth like Nigeria, and I know every patriotic Nigerian holds this view.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, calls on Nigerians to be more united for the common purpose of building a country that meets the best expectations of all Nigerians.
3. “Declaration of all bandits as terrorists may also encourage other countries to do same and help create a global consensus around dealing with transnational factors that feed the domestic activities of such proscribed organizations and individuals.”
Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, raises a motion on the floor, seeking to have President Buhari declare all bandits as terrorists.
4. “If the husband and wife have just adopted a baby of less than four months, then the man is entitled to paternity leave of about 14 days.”
Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Folasade Yemi-Esan, announces the Federal Government’s approval of a 14-day paternity leave for fathers with newborn babies in the country.
5. “We urge the president and commander-in-chief to declare the bandits as terrorists and urge total war against them.”
8. “Fellow Nigerians, the past eighteen months have been some of the most difficult periods in the history of Nigeria. Since the civil war, I doubt whether we have seen a period of more heightened challenges than what we have witnessed in this period”.
12. “I am saddened when I see people not protecting themselves against COVID-19. We are not making vaccination compulsory, but for now, it is the best way to protect yourselves and protect the people around you. It is so sad to see people making it a political issue.”
13. “Even in the face of the many challenges confronting us as a people and as a nation, my message to every Nigerian at this time is that we have no reason to lose hope. There is enough evidence around us of the fact that while we are not yet where we would like to be as a country and as a people, we are also no longer where we used to be.”
14. “NADECO implores the United Nations, its Security Council and other global bodies concerned with peaceful co-existence of the world to urgently fast-track their preparations to conduct variously demanded referendum to ascertain the wishes and aspirations for self-determination of the entrapped indigenous ethnic nationalities of Nigeria.”
The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) condemns the Nigerian Constitution and ask the United Nations and other international bodies to conduct a referendum in the country.
15. “Following the extensive engagements, the issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday says he had given his approval for the suspension of microblogging site Twitter to be lifted once the conditions set by the Federal Government are met.
16. “The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals. We are vigorously pursuing these financiers, including one identified as a serving member of the National Assembly.”
Buhari reveals that a member of the National Assembly is among the high-profile individuals sponsoring the leaders of secessionist groups in the country.
17. “Where there is no confidence in the electoral management body (in our case – INEC), people will reject the results even before they are announced.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan says the reason politicians run to the courts after elections is because they have no confidence in the electoral management body.
18. “Transmission of election results has been one of the key areas in which reckless, unpatriotic, and self-serving politicians have undermined the integrity of the Nigerian electoral process.”
22. “There is no excuse that 61 years after independence, extreme poverty is still staring the ordinary citizen in the face.”
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar says there is no reason the masses in Nigeria are battling extreme poverty when the country is blessed with an abundance of resources.
23. “Our current trials cannot draw the curtains on our story, because the vision is for an appointed time and because this country is greater than the sum of its parts and the sum of its mistakes; and because the God we serve is greater than the sum of our collective hopes and imagination, our nation will surmount our current travails and emerge in victory.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) states that even though there are security, economic, religious, and ethnic challenges, the collective vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria, where righteousness abounds, still abides.
INDEPENDENCE DAY ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE OCCASION OF NIGERIA’S SIXTY-FIRST INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY, FRIDAY 1ST OCTOBER, 2021.
Citizens of Nigeria.
It is with full gratitude to God that today, we celebrate Nigeria’s sixty-first Independence Anniversary.
2. For 1st of October 1960 to happen, all hands were on deck. East, West, North all came together to celebrate freedom. Today should not only serve as a reminder of the day the British handed over the reins of power to Nigerians, but also unified Nigerians from all ethnic groups, religions, and regions.
3. Today, despite the challenges we face, most Nigerians still maintain the spirit of 1st October. That positive outlook and determination to make Nigeria a peaceful and prosperous nation. It is due to this collective attitude that Nigeria doggedly continues to remain a united and indivisible nation.
4. Fellow Nigerians, the past eighteen months have been some of the most difficult periods in the history of Nigeria. Since the civil war, I doubt whether we have seen a period of more heightened challenges than what we have witnessed in this period.
5. Our original priorities for 2020 were to continue stabilising our economy following the deep recession while restoring peace in areas confronted with security challenges. But the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on all nations meant we needed to shift gears and re-strategise.
6. Nigerians came together as one to fight against COVID-19. It is this attitude and by the special grace of God, we continue to survive the pandemic as a nation and indeed, provide leadership and example at regional and international levels.
7. The doomsday scenario predicted for our country never came. Even as the Delta variant continues to spread, we have built the capacity we need to respond now and into the future.
8. I will therefore appeal to Nigerians not to take COVID lightly, adhere to public health and social measures, put your mask on and get vaccinated. We can control this pandemic, but it requires effort on everybody’s part. The investments we made in response to COVID-19 will also serve our country to tackle any future disease outbreaks or pandemics.
9. Despite the global inequity in access to vaccines, the Government of Nigeria has continued to explore all available options to ensure Nigerians have free access to safe and effective vaccines.
10. Some five million vaccine doses have been administered to Nigerians through efforts led by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and we will continue to explore options for purchase or acquisition of vaccines such as through COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust.
11. I will take this opportunity to remind the global community that the current state of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable. We cannot afford a situation where a handful of countries keep the global vaccine supply to themselves at the expense of other nations.
12. We must act now to accelerate equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the message I conveyed to the international community in New York last week.
13. As we push to source vaccines for our immediate needs, we shall invest more to support our pharmaceutical and research agencies to come up with ideas for locally developed vaccines. Should another pandemic arise in the future, Our question is simple; will Nigeria be ready?
14. Accordingly, I have directed the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Health, Education, and Science and Technology to work with Nigerian and International pharmaceutical companies and research organisations to enhance Nigeria’s domestic pharmaceutical capacity.
15. Already, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is raising a $200 million fund for this initiative that will complement the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ongoing N85 billion Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to support local researchers in the development of vaccines and drugs to combat communicable and non-communicable diseases, including COVID-19.
Fellow Nigerians, this is just the beginning.
16. Similarly, on our approach to food security, I am proud to announce Nigeria has commenced its journey to pharmaceutical independence.
17. This journey, which will take years to achieve but will ultimately result in Nigerian based companies developing the Active Pharmaceutical substances and competence needed for us to make our own drugs and vaccines.
18. As our economy continues to open after the COVID-19 related lockdowns, we have also seen the resurgence of insecurity in certain parts of the country.
19. In the last four months, the gallant men and women of the Military and Security Agencies have made tremendous progress in addressing these new security challenges. We are taking the fight to our enemies from all angles and we are winning.
20. Earlier this year, I launched the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, the Deep Blue Project, which is designed to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea. I am happy to inform Nigerians that we have taken delivery of key assets for this project and very soon, its impact will be felt.
21. In the North East region alone, over eight thousand Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered.
22. To support our surge approach to fighting banditry, the Nigerian Armed Forces have recruited over 17,000 personnel across all ranks. Furthermore, I have also approved for the Nigerian Police Force to recruit 10,000 police officers annually over the next six years.
23. I am also pleased to note that most of the Air Force platforms we acquired over the past three years have started to arrive in Nigeria. These will positively impact our security operations in all parts of the country.
24. In line with section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the security and welfare of Nigerians continue to be the prime focus on which programmes and projects of our government revolves.
25. Therefore, as a Government, we are ready to arrest and prosecute all persons inciting violence through words or action. Our resolve for a peaceful, united and one Nigeria remains resolute and unwavering.
26. That said, our hope is not to fight for peace. We can always settle our grievances peacefully without spilling any blood.
27. I will therefore take this opportunity, on this special day that symbolises the unity and oneness of our great nation, to ask all Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue, whatever your grievances.
28. The seeds of violence are planted in people’s heads through words. Reckless utterances of a few have led to losses of many innocent lives and destruction of properties.
29. Such unfiltered and unsubstantiated lies and hate speeches by a few evil persons must be stopped. Our media houses and commentators must move away from just reporting irresponsible remarks to investigating the truth behind all statements and presenting the facts to readers.
30. We must all come out and speak against the lies being peddled. At this point, I would want to sincerely appreciate the large number of our Traditional, Religious and Community leaders as well as other well-meaning Nigerians who, in their various fora are openly spreading the message of peaceful co-existence and conflict settlement through dialogue in their respective communities.
31. Nigeria is for all of us. Its unity is not negotiable. And its ultimate success can only be achieved if we all come together with a common goal of having peace and prosperity for our nation.
32. We shall continue to work on dialogue based solutions to address legitimate grievances. But we remain ready to take decisive actions against secessionist agitators and their sponsors who threaten our national security.
33. The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals. We are vigorously pursuing these financiers including one identified as a serving member of the national assembly.
34. This is a clear example of how people abandon their national leadership positions for their selfish gains. Instead of preaching unity, they are funding and misleading our youth to conduct criminal acts that sometimes lead to unfortunate and unnecessary loss of lives and property.
35. As the so-called leaders run abroad to hide, our innocent youths are misled and left in the streets to fight for their senseless and destructive causes.
36. Government will continue, with greater level of peoples’ participation and in collaboration with our international partners, to improve the security architecture, reduce enabling environment for criminality to thrive and eliminate opportunities for terrorism financing.
37. Fellow Nigerians, our unrelenting effort at resolving an almost two-decade stalling on the management of our Petroleum resources and ensuring equitable consideration to our host communities has resulted in the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021.
38. This Act not only overhauls the Institutional, regulatory and fiscal framework of the Petroleum Industry but also reduces the previous opacity associated with this sector.
39. This is the first step to the reforms as the process is a continuous one. Already, to further improve the governance framework, I have sought for an amendment of sections 11(2)(b) and 34(2)(b). We will also continue to review and amend as appropriate.
40. At this juncture, it is very appropriate that I salute the leadership and members of the Ninth Assembly for their patriotism, dedication to duty, candour and most importantly the dispatch with which they have enacted legacy legislations for this nation. I do not take such level of cooperation for granted and hope it continues for the overall efficiency of the Federal machinery.
41. Nigeria’s Roadmap on Local Refining is on track with the Commissioning of a Modular refinery in Imo State.
42. A second is scheduled for commissioning by the end of this year in Edo State and the third one in Bayelsa State by 2022.
43. In addition to the modular projects, we also have the two mega refinery projects coming up in Lagos and Akwa Ibom States.
44. As these refineries are commissioned, more employment opportunities are created and there would be increased petroleum products available for local consumption which will significantly reduce our reliance on importation.
45. In further demonstrating our plan to reduce our dependence on oil and tapping from our enormous gas resources, this administration remains committed to the “Decade of Gas” Initiative, which is aimed at bringing to focus the utilization of our huge gas resources.
46. Already, we are supporting and promoting various gas-based projects including NLNG Train 7 and the mega urea and ammonia projects in the South-South region.
47. As we continue to optimise and enhance our oil and gas sector, I am also proud and delighted to state that our economic diversification strategy remains on course with the persistent increase in Non-Oil Sector contribution to GDP.
48. We recovered from economic recession in quarter four of 2020 with a GDP growth rate of 0.11%, and grew by 0.51% and 5.01% in real terms in the first and second quarters of 2021.
49. The Agricultural sector remains key to our economic diversification efforts as the sector has been a consistent driver of the non-oil sector contributing 22.35% and 23.78% to the overall GDP in the first and second quarter of 2021.
50. We have seen significant private sector investments in almost all areas of the agricultural value chain. And these have continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
51. Unfortunately, as our food production capacity has increased, food prices have been going up due to artificial shortages created by middlemen who have been buying and hoarding these essential commodities for profiteering.
52. To address this, I am hereby directing the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to rehabilitate the National Food Reserve Agency and also work with security agencies, the Nigerian Commodity Exchange, and the National Assembly to find a lasting solution to these disruptive and unpatriotic hoarding activities.
53. To further enhance food production, we have completed several new dams and are in the process of rehabilitating several River Basin Development Authorities to enhance groundwater supply for rainfed agriculture as well as surface water for irrigation agriculture.
54. The water projects we completed between 2015 to 2020 have improved Nigerian’s access to potable water to 71% between 2015 and 2020. This means 12.5 million additional Nigerians now have direct access to potable water.
55. This Government remains concerned by the significant transportation infrastructure deficit we have. Addressing the challenges our commuters and lorry drivers face on the motorways is still a high priority to us.
56. To complement our budgetary allocations, the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund and the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, we recently established a N15trillion Infrastructural Corporation of Nigeria Limited (INFRACO), which is expected to begin operation by the fourth quarter of this year.
57. INFRACO will also focus on leveraging resources on a public-private sector basis for infrastructural development in Nigeria.
58. We hope through these innovative programs, the additional cost burden on individuals and businesses because of inefficient logistics operations will be reduced and ultimately, eliminated.
59. We currently have over 13,000 kilometres of roads and bridges under construction all over the country of which a fair percentage have been completed.
60. As we fix our roads, we also continue to extend and upgrade Nigeria’s railway network with the notable opening of the Warri- Itakpe standard gauge rail line.
61. To increase capacity, we have introduced more locomotives, coaches and wagons including the establishment of a Wagon Assembly in Kajola, Ogun State.
62. The sea ports however still remain problematic. The effect of our various interventions to reduce the gridlocks and inefficiencies have been slower than expected.
63. However, the implementation of the Electronic Call-Up System as well as the conversion of the Lillypond Container Terminal to a Vehicle Transit Area will further enhance the ease of cargo evacuation.
64. Our prioritisation of developing Nigeria’s Digital Economy has positively impacted the contribution of the ICT sector to our GDP.
65. We hope our present efforts to ensure all Nigerians use a National Identification Number as well as our planned roll-out of the fifth generation (5G) network technology will ensure we stay in line with the global innovation curve as a Nation.
66. As we embrace the digital economy in Nigeria, we are fully aware of the prospects and the perils. Our policies have been developed to enable Nigerians to take advantage of the prospects and avoid the perils of digital technologies.
67. Social media is a very useful platform that has enabled millions of Nigerians to connect with loved ones, promote their businesses, socialise, and access news and other information.
68. However, recent events have shown that the platform is not just an innocuous platform for information dissemination.
69. Rather some users have misused the platform to organise, coordinate, and execute criminal activities, propagate fake news, and promote ethnic and religious sentiments.
70. To address these negative trends, the Federal Government of Nigeria suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria on June 5, 2021 to allow the Government put measures in place to address these challenges.
71. Following the suspension of Twitter operations, Twitter Inc. reached out to the Federal Government of Nigeria to resolve the impasse. Subsequently, I constituted a Presidential Committee to engage Twitter to explore the possibility of resolving the issue.
72. The Committee, along with its Technical Team, has engaged with Twitter and have addressed a number of key issues. These are:
a. National Security and Cohesion;
b. Registration, Physical presence and Representation;
c. Fair Taxation;
d. Dispute Resolution; and
e. Local Content.
73. Following the extensive engagements, the issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements.
74. As a country, we are committed to ensuring that digital companies use their platform to enhance the lives of our citizens, respect Nigeria’s sovereignty, cultural values and promote online safety.
75. Nigeria’s progressive diplomacy continues to manifest through growing numbers of highly placed Nigerians in positions of regional and global influences. Very recently, Nigeria won election for the position of Commissioner for the expanded Political, Peace and Security Affairs of the African Union.
76. Our persistent calls for a reorganized and reformed ECOWAS, to make the organization citizens-sensitive, paid off with the acceptance by the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS to commence the agreed reforms in the organization ahead of the next elections of the organization’s principal officers in December this year.
77. At the African Development Bank, World Trade Organization and indeed, the United Nations, footprints of Nigeria’s Diplomacy are clearly evident.
78. We remain confident that our goal of lifting 100million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years is achievable.
79. Considering the positive impact of our Social Investment Programs, I recently approved an increase in the number of N-Power program beneficiaries from 500,000 to 1,000,000.
80. Out of this, 510,000 have started the programme while the competitive selection process for onboarding the outstanding 490,000 beneficiaries is in progress.
81. The National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is currently being implemented in 35 States of the Federation and the FCT. Over 103,000 women have been engaged and empowered as cooks under the programme, while about 10 million pupils are being fed across public primary schools in the country.
82. To grant increased access to credit to the most poor and vulnerable, I have directed an increase in the disbursement of Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme loans to an additional one million beneficiaries laying more emphasis on the smallholding farmers through the farmers Moni program.
83. For far too long we have neglected the centrality of the civil service as the engine of governance and this has manifested in ineffective service delivery.
84. There is widespread discontent and disillusion about the efficiency and probity of our civil service.
85. It is for this reason that we are refocusing the Nigerian Civil Service to provide World class service to run our country.
86. The youths of this great country remain propellants for our today and provide guarantees that we would have a secure tomorrow.
87. It is for this reason that I remain focused on expanding opportunities for their participation in politics and governance.
88. Recent appointments of young people into positions of authority and their track record so far, gives me confidence that we need to bring more of them into governance and this I promise to do.
89. More specifically, to encourage Girl-Child Education, female scholarship schemes, life skills and digital literacy skills to boost girl’s enrolment, retention and completion of schooling, are all initiatives put in place to ensure gender balance in appropriately positioning our youths for positions of leadership.
90. The commitment of this Administration to the well-being of people living with disabilities remains unwavering.
91. Government recognises their contributions to development and I have, in this regard, directed that all relevant Government Agencies pay special attention to the peculiarities of different abilities in the implementation of policies and programmes.
92. Rape and Gender Based Violence remains a sore point in our Nation as in many countries worldwide and this was worsened during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
93. We are currently engaging Heads of Courts to establish Specialised Courts for the speedy and seamless trial of Rape/Gender-Based offences especially to ensure that justice is done for child victims of sexual violence.
94. On the other hand, work has advanced in the reformation, reintegration and reunification of minors involved in one crime or the other.
95. The reformation in our Correctional Services has manifested in an increase in modernised custodial centres and a transformation from strictly punitive to attitudinal changes so that criminals do not relapse into their previous lifestyle.
96. As we begin to celebrate our sixty-one years as a Nation, we need to be conscious that Nigeria does not start and end with the Federal Government. This country is a great collective where Government at all arms and levels as well as the private sector, and more importantly individuals, have a role to play.
97. In particular, security is a bottom-to-top undertaking. Joining hands and hearts together would enable us to secure ourselves and our country.
98. I fully understand the anxiety of many Nigerians on the inability of this country to go beyond a never-ending potential for becoming a great nation to an actually great one.
99. A lot has been achieved in the last six years on many fronts: in infrastructure, social care, governance, Nigeria’s image and influence in Africa and the international community.
100. But critics misdiagnose incremental progress as stagnation. Since coming to power, this Administration has tackled our problems head-on in spite of the meagre resources. No government since 1999 has done what we have done in six years to put Nigeria back on track.
101. We shall continue to serve the country: listen to all and protect our democracy and country.
Thank you all and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said he had given his approval for the suspension of microblogging site Twitter to be lifted once the conditions set by the Federal Government are met.
The President spoke about the suspension of Twitter during his Independence Day anniversary broadcast to the nation.
“Following the extensive engagements, the issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements,” he said.
Nigeria took action against Twitter in June on the grounds that it was being used for activities capable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria, a move that sparked outrage and controversy. Many attributed the action to the decision of Twitter to delete a tweet by the President, but the Federal Government insisted that the move had nothing to do with that and was in the interest of the nation.
In the President’s Independence anniversary speech, he explained the decision, insisting that although social media had many benefits, there were dangers that the government had to address.
“Social media is a very useful platform that has enabled millions of Nigerians to connect with loved ones, promote their businesses, socialise, and access news and other information,” he said.
“However, recent events have shown that the platform is not just an innocuous platform for information dissemination.
“Rather some users have misused the platform to organise, coordinate, and execute criminal activities, propagate fake news, and promote ethnic and religious sentiments.
“To address these negative trends, the Federal Government of Nigeria suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria on June 5, 2021, to allow the Government put measures in place to address these challenges.”
After the suspension, a Technical Team set up by the Nigerian government commenced talks with Twitter and, in August, the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said that progress had been made in the talks and the suspension will soon be lifted, but that has yet to happen.
President Buhari explained on Friday that the engagement between Nigeria and Twitter was to address “key issues” related to national security and cohesion, registration, physical presence and representation (of Twitter in the country), fair taxation, dispute resolution, and local content.
“As a country, we are committed to ensuring that digital companies use their platform to enhance the lives of our citizens, respect Nigeria’s sovereignty, cultural values and promote online safety,” he said of his directive that the suspension should be lifted but only if conditions are met.