President Muhammadu Buhari has said that while the nation’s 57th independence anniversary is a day for thanksgiving, reflection and re-dedication, his government will not and cannot accede to what he referred to as calls for dismemberment of the country by “highly irresponsible groups”.
Speaking in a nationwide broadcast this morning, President Buhari said that as a young Army Officer, he took part, from the beginning to the end, in the tragic civil war which cost about two million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering to keep the nation as one.
“Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through. I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths about what the country went through. Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly,” he said.
Acknowledging that recent calls on re-structuring, “quite proper in a legitimate debate, “ have been going on, the President said “proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner at the national and state assemblies,” because “these are the proper and legal fora for national debate, not some lop-sided, un-democratic body with pre-determined set of objectives.”
On security, President Buhari said over the years the country has gone through trials and tribulations, but October 1 is always a day for celebrations. “Nigerians must be grateful to our gallant Armed Forces for rolling back the frontiers of Boko Haram’s terrorism, defeating them and reducing them to cowardly attacks on soft and vulnerable targets.”
He also expressed gratitude to the nation’s neighbours and the international community for the collective efforts to defeat this world-wide menace of terrorism, even as he commended the Armed Forces and the operational capability of troops in the North-East as they ensure the final push to wipe out the remnants of Boko Haram.
With regard to the economy, he said government has remained pro-active in its diversification policy with its agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme, which has witnessed the release of N43.92 billion released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions, 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation benefitting, and 233,000 hectares of farmland cultivating eight commodities, namely rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soya-beans, poultry, cassava and groundnuts, in addition to fish farming.
He commended the efforts of the governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi and Jigawa states for their support to the rice and fertilizer revolutions, just as he lauded contributions of their counterparts in Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Cross River, Benue, Ogun, Kaduna and Plateau states for their support for the presidential initiative for palm oil, rubber, cashew, cassava, potatoes and others crops.
He said the new presidential initiative has generated over 360,000 jobs even as power production reaches a new high of 7,001MW
President Buhari said that a new presidential initiative is starting with each state of the federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, adding that the government’s N500 billion Special Intervention Programme is also boosting job creation and feeding for school children.
He disclosed that ‘broad based economic growth is leading the economy out of recession, even as investor’s and manufactures’’ confidence is being restored. “The country has recorded seven consecutive months of lower inflation, Naira rate is beginning to stabilise, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today.”
He said that to further stabilize the polity, the Federal Government gave additional support to states and local government totaling N1.642 trillion.