President Muhammadu buhari has addressed the nation on this fateful May 29 Democracy Day which marks 17 years of Nigeria’s return to civilian rule and he did his best in the speech, which started at the ‘usual’ 7am and lasted for almost thirty minutes, to explain to Nigerians what his administration has been able to do in the last one year.
While he did clear the air on certain issues concerning his government’s economic and political decisions within this period, he however left some critical issues unaddressed. Some of the critical points in his speech include:
State of the Nation
The president started his speech with the declaration that his administration met a nation in total collapse with decaying infrastructure, high corruption rate and falling oil prices while lack of savings for the future did not help matters. “In short, we inherited a state near collapse,” the president declared. He noted that what his government is doing is trying to revive the economy by ‘making the hard decisions’ like many other oil-producing states.
The president saluted the work of the military in bringing peace to the North East. He also disclosed that probably very soon, the military’s job in the fight against the Islamist Insurgents would be done since the army has regained the entire territories under the control of the terrorist group which had sought to create a caliphate in the region.
Now, he said the immediate focus of the government is “gradual and safe return of Internally Displaced Persons in safety and dignity and resumption of normalcy in the lives of people living in these areas.”
The government will react harshly to activities of troublemakers in the region because the government will not be cowered. The president also promised to ensure that the oil-producing region of the country gets the necessary intervention in line with the rulings of the United Nations directions.
“On the Niger Delta, we are committed to implementing the United Nations Environment Programme report and advancing cleanup operations. I believe the way forward is to take a sustainable approach to issues that affect the Niger Delta communities. Reengineer the Amnesty programme in a vehicle of growth. The recent spate of attacks disrupting oil and power installations in the region will not stop us from engaging with the leaders in the region about addressing Niger Delta problems. If the militants and vandals are testing our resolve, they are much mistaken. We shall apprehend the perpetrators and their sponsors and bring them to justice.”
He said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been doing a good job of bringing corrupt officials to book but hinted that the judiciary still has a lot more to do in ensuring that convictions were got against those found guilty.
“The EFCC was given the freedom to pursue corrupt officials and the judiciary was alerted on what Nigerians expect of them in the fight against corruption.”
The president admitted that things would probably get tougher because of measures that will be introduced in the days and months ahead.
President said the economic plan of his administration is to ensure that it keeps a tight hold on the reins of monetary and fiscal policies by saving foreign exchange through reducing oil and food imports and not devaluing the naira, no matter the situation.
“On economy, in particular on foreign exchange and fuel shortages, our plan is to save foreign exchange by fast tracking the repairs of the refineries and producing most of our fuel requirements at home. As we are growing more food in Nigeria, mainly rice, wheat and sugar, we will save billions of dollars in foreign exchange and drastically reduce our food import bill. We resolve to keep the naira steady as in the past devaluation has done dreadful harm to the Nigerian economy. Furthermore, I support the monitoring of foreign exchange decisions to ensure alignment with monetary policy and fiscal policy.
“We shall keep a close look at how the recent measures affect the naira and the economy. We cannot get away from the fact that a strong currency is predicated on a stronger economy and a strong economy presupposes a productive base and steady export market. The measures we may need to take may lead to hardship and the problems Nigerians have faced over the last year has been many and varied but the challenge of this government is reconstructing the Nigerian state.”
The president also said that there will be policies set up to reform the government. According to him, there will be reformation in the way the government is run. He noted that the government has already started strong and has been seeing the results particularly with the discovery of over 43,000 ghost workers in the civil service.
“Accordingly, we are working very hard to introduce some vital structural reforms in the way we conduct government business and lay a solid foundation on which we can build enduring change….We have reduced the extravagance of the past. We started boldly with the Treasury Single Account (TSA)….”
The president saluted the recovery of TWO Chibok girls, noting that he had not been happy with the girls’ continued stay in the hands of their abductors, the Boko Haram sect. He said the ‘rescue’ of the girls was a very big deal to him.
Summary and implications
In all of the president’s explanations, he revealed that the current economic situation will only get worse because his administration will introduce even tougher measures. Also, the government will keep a tight hold on the economy and control it rather than let it be determined largely by the forces of demand and supply as required in an open economy. This means that businesses will suffer more, especially those that require foreign currencies to stay alive.
The president also did not clearly state how long some of the very tough policies of his administration are expected to last for. This would have been a very crucial point for Nigerians who are already tiring under the heavy burden of the harsh economy when just about a year ago things looked so bright.
The president also explicitly blamed the last administration for his government’s slow progress, a move that is popular with this administration when challenged over its deliverables.
From his speech, the president has hinted that the military is already through with Boko Haram but can he accept this victory when just a year ago in his inauguration speech, he admitted that the war on the insurgents would not be completely won without the return of the missing Chibok girls? Only one of the girls (not two as he said) has been found out of 219, implying clearly that, based on his inauguration day submission a year ago, the war might still be far from being won.
Source: Nigeria Nation