Full Details Of Goodluck Address - Democracy day
Goodluck Jonathan's Address To Nigerians On Democracy Day
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, bu twe 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 militar yrule, 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 themselvesto 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 PresidentOlusegun 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 pa yto 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 ademocracy. 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 stered 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 withour 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 successfulelections, last year, opened new vistas for Nigeria’s foreign policy. More thanever before, Nigeria’s achievements have generated a lot of internationalgoodwill and recognition. We have continued to build on this by further showingleadership in the sub-region and the African continent. Under my watch asChairman of the sub-regional body, ECOWAS, and subsequently, Nigeria was in theforefront of the efforts to ensure democratic stability in Niger, Mali, GuineaBissau, and particularly at a critical moment in Cote d’Ivoire. Our foreignpolicy process has proven to be dynamic and pro-active. Nigeria’s place issecure among many friends in the comity of nations. We are building on thatfriendship to open up opportunities for foreign investments in the Nigerianeconomy and to provide necessary support for the vibrant community of Nigeriansin the Diaspora.
13. We willcontinue to work hard, to turn domestic successes into a source of motivationfor greater achievements in the international arena. We are fully aware that itis only when our people are happy and confident that they would be in a goodposition to walk tall in relating with others.
14. Today, Iwant to talk about what we are doing and what we have done. I want to reassureyou that we are making progress. But we can also do a lot more. We must. And wewill.
15. Oureconomic outlook is positive. When I assumed office last year, there were stillfears about the impact of the global economic recession, and implications forinvestments. Many Nigerians were worried about the growing rate ofunemployment. In order to set Nigeria ona sound and sustainable path toward economic growth, this administrationunveiled a set of priority policies, programmes, and projects encapsulated inthe Transformation Agenda. Theseprogrammes and policies are aimed at consolidating our budget, fostering jobcreation, engendering private sector-led inclusive growth, and creating anenabling environment for businesses to thrive for the ultimate betterment ofthe lives of Nigerians.
16. Today,progress has been made. The country’s credit rating is positive, in contrastwith many nations being downgraded. In2011, our economy grew by 7.45%. As at mid-May 2012, our foreign exchangereserves had risen to $37.02 billion, the highest level in 21 months. We havestabilized and improved our fiscal regime. We brought the fiscal deficit downto 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 billionin 2012. We cut out over N100 billion of non-essential expenditure andincreased our internally generated revenue from N200 billion to N467 billion.
17. For thefirst time in over a decade, we now have a draft Trade Policy which provides amulti-dimensional framework to boost our trade regime and facilitate the inflowof 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 theprevious year due to deliberate government policies. To facilitate the ease ofdoing business in Nigeria, we have a policy in place to make visa procurement easierfor foreign investors, with safeguards to prevent abuse.
18. The goal of our administration is to ensurethat every Nigerian can find gainful employment. Given my dissatisfaction withthe prevailing unemployment situation in the country, our administration hasembarked on an ambitious strategy of creating jobs and job-creators through thelaunch of several initiatives mainly targeted at the youths and women.
19. In October 2011, we launched the Youth Enterprisewith Innovation in Nigeria Programme, designed to encourage entrepreneurshipand provide grants for small and medium scale enterprises. Over 1, 200 Nigerianyouths have benefitted from this initiative. We have also launched the PublicWorks 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 memake it clear here that our YouWIN programme is designed to nurture and mentoryoung entrepreneurs to become major players, employers and wealth creators inbusiness.
20. We aregradually reducing the footprints of government in business activities throughprivatization, liberalization and deregulation based on our recognition thatthe private sector should be the engine of growth in our economy. To ensure thatthe private sector is well positioned for this task, our administration hasembarked on key structural reforms in the Power Sector and at the Ports.
21. To improvereliable power supply, our administration is judiciously implementing the PowerSector Roadmap, which is at an advanced stage, to fully privatize powergeneration and distribution while reducing the cost of electricity to ruralhouseholds and the urban poor.
22. The commitment of this Administration to the provision of regular anduninterrupted power supply remains strong and unwavering. We all agreethat adequate and regular power supply will be the significant trigger toenhance this nation’s productive capacity and accelerate growth. It isfor 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 faithfullyprosecute will yield the desired results.
23. To underline this commitment, three weeks ago, I convened a specialsession on Power and gave specific instructions on the fast tracking of gas productionand delivery to ensure improved availability of power. I alsodirected that the power sector reforms must continue on schedule and thatprivatization of the sector must be completed according to plan.
24. Our approach is two-pronged: First, is the immediate repair ofpower plants, as well as transmission and distribution infrastructure in theshort term. The second is the building of institutions and the provisionof enablers to attract investors. We have revived and are accelerating the completionof the National Integrated Power Projects. We are also building about 4000km oftransmission lines and hundreds of substations. We have completed the designfor the construction of both Mambilla and Zungeru Hydro power plants which willadd about 3, 000 MW to the national grid.
25. By mid 2010, the national power output was about 2, 800 MW. By the endof 2011, we reached a peak of more than 4, 000 MW. A National Gas EmergencyPlan has also been launched to redress the problem of gas supply which aroseessentially due to poor planning.
26. For long-term power availability, we have strengthened a numberof key institutions such as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, theBulk Trader, the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, andothers. We are also working with the World Bank to provide guarantees forgas and power providers. The signing of MOUs with World Leaders in powerequipment – 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 investmentcommunity has in our power sector road map.
27. In addition, the privatisation programme has attracted expression ofinterest from 131 companies across the globe. Our decision to bring inthe private sector is clearly intended to achieve our target of generating anddistributing sufficient and reliable power within the shortest timepossible. With the measures we have put in place, we will surely achievesuccess in transforming the power sector.
28. We have alsofocused our efforts on Ports and Customs reforms to ensure efficiency in thehandling of ports and port-related businesses. Our administration has streamlinedbureaucratic activities at the Ports by reducing the number of agencies from 14to 7. We have also reduced the time for the clearance of goods from about amonth, to seven days, with the long-term objective of ensuring that cargoes arecleared within 48 hours in line with international best practice. In themeantime, our ports, for the first time, now open for business for 24 hours.
29. In the Oil and GasSector, our Administration has charted a new course that will ensure enduringtransparency and accountability. We are re-drafting the Petroleum Industry Bill(PIB) to ensure it meets the aspirations of all Stakeholders given the currentrealities and future expectations in the global energy landscape. Work on thePIB will be concluded in June 2012 and formally submitted to the NationalAssembly. Additionally, Special Task Forces dealing with Governance and Control,Petroleum Revenue and National refineries are finalizing their work to ensureprobity across the oil and gas sector, and self-sufficiency in refinedpetroleum products.
30. In the DownstreamSector, the Nigerian Content Development Act, since inception in 2010, hasboosted the local production of line pipes, in-country fabrication tonnage andengineering support services. As a result, retained in-country spend has grownfrom approximately US $1bn to a current estimate of US$4bn, and over US$3 billionForeign Direct Investment has been brought in for upgrading and building newyards, altogether generating over 120,000 direct and indirect jobs.
31. Capacityutilization of existing domestic refineries has greatly improved from 30 to 60percent. We have commenced the phased plan to return the refineries to 90percent capacity utilization with the expected completion of the rehabilitationof Port Harcourt refinery by the end of 2012, to be followed by Warri andKaduna refineries in 2013.
32. In the UpstreamSector, the April 2012 commissioning of the Usan Deep Offshore Field hasincreased crude oil production capacity by 180 thousand barrels per day. Also,Government continues to support the National Oil Company, NPDC, by assigning55% equity in 8 divested blocks which has resulted in increase in reserves from350 million barrels to 2.1 billion barrels and 160, 000 barrels of production. Wehave also made significant progress in gas infrastructure development, investing close toUS$1bn for the construction of some 1000 km of pipelines, gas supply growth and stimulation of gasindustrialization. Between nowand the third quarter of 2013, Final Investment Decisions (FIDs) will be made on gas-based industries, such as thepetrochemicals 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-Carbonexploration in the Lake Chad Basin.
33. The Gas Revolutioninitiative will fully support and sustain domestic power, whilst creatingAfrica’s largest gas based industrial park, which on completion will underpinthe creation of over a million jobs and attract over US$16 billion in ForeignDirect Investment. To protect the gainsof these initiatives for all Nigerians, we are aggressively addressing theincreasing incidents of crude oil theft and other criminal activities in thesector.
34. As a deliberate move, our goal is to transform Nigeria froma mono-modal economy, to a diversified one. The sector that we are focusing onto diversify our economy – and one in which Nigeria has huge comparativeadvantage – is the agriculture sector. Agriculture accounts for about 40% ofour GDP and over 70% of all employment. Increases in agricultural productivitywill drive down rural poverty and revive our rural economy.
35. In this regard, we are aggressively pursuing an agriculturaltransformation agenda. Agriculture is no longer a development programme. We arenow treating agriculture as a business, one that can generate wealth and createjobs for millions of our youths.
36. We have implemented major reforms in the sector, notably inthe fertilizer sub-sector. We have ended the practice of Federal Governmentprocurement and distribution of fertilizers. This we did because only 11% offarmers get the fertilizers that are bought and distributed by government. Theold system encouraged rent seekers to collude and deprive farmers of access tofertilizers, while some of the fertilizers ended up with political farmers andin neighbouring countries.
37. Now, the procurement and commercialization of fertilizersand seeds have been fully deregulated to the private sector. We have ended the culture of corruption infertilizer procurement. We must also endthe era of food imports. Nigeria spends over 10 billion dollars every yearimporting wheat, rice, sugar and fish alone. This is unacceptable.
38. Our agricultural transformation agenda is directed atpromoting local production, substituting for imported foods, and adding valueto our locally produced crops. We are recording successes already. Government’spolicy to ensure rice self-sufficiency by 2015 is already paying off. New ricemills are being established by the private sector to mill locally producedrice. Ebony Agro Industries located in Ikwo Local Government Area of EbonyiState has rolled out its high quality parboiled rice. In Kano, Umza rice millhas taken off and can hardly meet demand, while in Benue State Ashi rice hashit the market. Consumers are buying more of Abakaliki and Ofada rice too.
39. To further accelerate the local production and milling ofhigh quality rice, government is facilitating the import and installation of100 new large scale integrated rice mills across the country. This will allowNigeria, for the first time in its history, to have the capacity to mill all ofthe rice that we consume.
40. Our cassava policy is working, as we accelerate the pace ofutilization of cassava to create markets for millions of our farmers. Our goalis a d one: we will make Nigeria, which is the largest producer of cassavain the world, to also become the largest processor of high value cassavaproducts in the world.
41. To further encourage cassava utilization and value-addedproducts, government will support corporate bakers and master bakers across thecountry to use high quality cassava flour for baking. Last year I announced anincrease in tariff and levy on wheat. To encourage the cassava flour inclusionpolicy, I now direct that part of the levy and tariff on wheat be set aside tosupport the promotion of high quality cassava flour and composite cassavabread. This will include support for needed enzymes, technical training andequipment for corporate bakers and master bakers, as well as acceleratedcassava production.
42. We have also secured markets for cassava outside Nigeria,and for the first time ever, Nigeria will export this year 1 million metrictons of dried cassava chips to China. This will earn Nigeria 136 million USdollars in foreign exchange. Last week we also successfully started thecommercial use of feed grade cassava grits, produced locally, for use in ourpoultry industry.
43. We are reviving our lost glory in cocoa, with massivedistribution of 3.6 million pods of high-yielding cocoa varieties for farmersall across the cocoa growing states of the country. The pods will be providedfree of charge. We are reviving cotton production in the North, as well. I havedirected that all seeds for cotton should be provided, free of charge, to allcotton farmers.
44. Let me reiterate my personal passion and commitment todriving the agricultural transformation for Nigeria. The prosperity of Nigeriamust start with improving the living standards of our farmers, and revitalizingrural economies across the nation. The newly inaugurated AgriculturalTransformation Implementation Council, which I personally Chair, will furtherdrive our continued revolution of the sector. Our goal is to add 20 millionmetric tons of food to our domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 millionjobs. To achieve this, the appropriate infrastructure to support all-year roundfarming through irrigation is being rehabilitated and developed across thecountry.
45. We must use our population to create markets for what weproduce. We must grow local, buy local and eat local. To promote this, I have directedthat all official functions of government serve local foods, especially ourlocal rice and cassava bread and other foods. In the State House, I amfaithfully keeping to my promise of eating cassava bread and local rice.
46. Our administration is committed to the rapid and beneficialdevelopment of our country’s Minerals and metals potential. In the last year, we recorded remarkableachievements in Mines and Steel Development. We increased the number ofinvestors in the mining sector due to the transparent manner in which titlesare now issued on a “first come-first served and use it or lose it basis.” Atotal of 2,476 active mineral titles were issued compared to 666 titles issuedout in the previous year, thereby reducing, significantly, illegal miningactivities. About 350, 000 additional jobs were created, arising from theactivities of newly registered operators. We have initiated a programme tosupport private steel production outfits. This has resulted in an increase inproduction figures for steel and other metals to over 1 million tonnes.
47. It is ourcollective desire as Nigerians to improve the standard of education. We are particularlyaggressive in addressing this challenge. As a former school teacher, I knowthat it is not enough to create jobs; we must develop human capacity, and traina generation of Nigerian children with better competencies and skills. Thiswill grant them the edge that they require to compete in a skills-driven globaleconomy, and by extension, strengthen our national competitiveness index.
48. I wantevery Nigerian child to have an opportunity to receive quality education andacquire useful skills. We are reforming the education sector from basic totertiary level. The Federal Government recently launched the Almajiri EducationProgramme to reduce the number of out-of-school children which currently standsat about 9 million. Similar programmes will soon be introduced in various partsof the country. At the tertiary level, it is the policy of this administrationthat every State will have a Federal University.
49. To thisend, we have established within the last year, nine (9) new FederalUniversities and licensed nine (9) new private universities, bringing the totalnumber of universities in the country to 124. Even with this, there is stillthe challenge of getting adequate admission space for prospectiveundergraduates. While we are addressing this, the Federal Government is alsoconscious of the fact that our universities need to be better equipped,particularly with well trained teachers. Government is, therefore, working on aprogramme 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 haslaunched a Special Presidential Scholarship Scheme for our best and brightestbrains. We are selecting the best out of our First Class graduates in variousdisciplines, especially engineering and science. They will be sent forpost-graduate studies in the best universities in the world, with theexpectation that this will lay the foundation for a desirable scientific andtechnological revolution that will take Nigeria into Space in the not too distant future.
51. One of thefirst steps taken by this administration was the creation of a Ministry ofCommunications Technology. Its mandate includes the design of programmes andinitiatives to deploy ICT as a driver of sustainable growth and the training ofskilled manpower. For our country to remain relevant, we need to adequatelyeducate our people, as it is through education that we can turn our people intoassets that can help Nigeria compete globally, and create jobs in the newknowledge economy.
52. By the sametoken, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is providing training opportunitiesfor the youths in the Niger Delta. In the past year, a total of 704 youths havebeen sent for training, abroad and locally, in various fields of endeavour,including agriculture, petroleum engineering, commerce, tourism, and maritimestudies. Nine skills centres are beingbuilt, one in each of the nine states of the Niger Delta; three of them will becompleted this year.
53. An efficient and affordable public transport system remains a priorityof this Administration. Our transformation agenda in the road sector whichseeks to deliver better and safer roads to Nigerians, as well as to link thesix geo-political zones in the country with dual carriageways, is very much oncourse. There has been increased construction activities in the ongoingdualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road, Kano–Potiskum–Maiduguri Road; theBenin–Ore–Shagamu Expressway; the Onitsha–Enugu Expressway; and the constructionof 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 ofJune, and funds for the remaining part of the year, will be provided to acceleratethe pace of work. In other parts of the country, about 21 other road projects arein different stages of completion. These include the Yola–Numan road,Aba–Owerri road, Owerri–Onitsha expressway, Oyo–Ogbomosho old road, and theGombe-Potiskum road. Many others are at different stages of completion.
55. Government is also currently rehabilitating about 3,000 kms out of the3,505 km existing narrow gauge rail lines across the country. The Lagos-Kanocorridor will be completed this year, while the Port Harcourt-Maiduguricorridor, which has equally commenced, will be completed by the end of2013. We have also commenced theconstruction of the Abuja–Kaduna segment of the Lagos–Kano standard gauge raillines, while the Lagos–Ibadan segment will be awarded this year. The Itakpe–Ajaokuta–Warristandard gauge rail line is nearing completion with the entire trackscompletely laid.
56. To enhance sustainability in the rail sector, this Administration hassigned a Memorandum of Understanding with General Electric (GE) to establish alocomotive 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 theLower River Niger from Warri (Delta State) to Baro (Niger State) to boost ourinland water transportation. This year, work will commence on the dredging ofthe River Benue in addition to the construction of River Ports at Baro (NigerState), Oguta (Imo State), and Jamata/Lokoja, (Kogi State). The Onitsha River Portin Anambra State, equipped with modern cargo handling equipment, has beencompleted and I shall be commissioning the project in the next few weeks.
58. The Aviation sector remains pivotal to our economic growth. Within thelast year, we have developed a road map for the restoration of decayingfacilities and infrastructure, some of which had not been attended to since theywere first constructed over 30 years ago. Currently, we are renovating airportsacross the country and have begun the development of four new internationalterminals at Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja. We have also reviewed our Bilateral AirService Agreements to ensure improved service delivery, and morecustomer-friendly processes. We are working to ensure that within the life ofthis Administration, the aviation sector in Nigeria will be transformed into aworld class and self-sustaining provider of safe, secure and comfortable airtransportation.
59. Globally, the role of women in governance has assumed greatsignificance. In Nigeria, it is also widely acknowledged that women whoconstitute about half of the Nigerian population are great and invaluable assets,in both the public and private spheres. Onour part, we have demonstrated serious commitment in further empowering womenand projecting their role in public life. Out of the 42 members of the Federal ExecutiveCouncil, 13 are women, heading major Ministries of Government.
60. Last week, I appointed the first female Chairman of the Federal Civil ServiceCommission. In the Armed Forces, female cadets have been admitted into the prestigiousNigerian Defence Academy, an institution that was hitherto an exclusivepreserve of men. The first set will graduate in 2016. This year, we reached a significant milestoneas the Nigerian Air Force produced the first Nigerian female combatant pilot.Our administration will continue to empower women and the girl-child as a focalpoint of our Transformation Agenda.
61. More than anything else, health matters. We are upgrading the country’s tertiaryhealth facilities to bring them up to international standards. We have increasedfunding for health-related MDGs. We are also committed to reducing maternal andinfant mortality, and to eradicating polio completely by 2014.
62. I want to reassure all Nigerians that this administration remainscommitted to waging a sustained battle against the menace of corruption. In thelast one year, we have taken specific steps to reduce opportunities and avenuesfor corruption, and to strengthen the capacity and integrity of our institutions. For example, our ports reform programme hasreduced the number of agencies at the ports which hitherto frustrated thespeedy clearance of goods at the ports. We have also cleared the stretch oftrailers and lorries blocking the Apapa Expressway. We have put an end to thefertilizer and tractor scam that once dominated the agricultural sector. Ourreview of the pension payment system has also blown the whistle on corruptpractices which are now being addressed.
63. Within the last one year, we set up a committee to identify leakagesand waste in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. I am confident that theimplementation of the recommendations of that committee will help to eliminatecorruption channels within the system, and improve the efficiency of the publicservice. In January, we announced a policy of deregulation in the downstreamsector, but this was misunderstood by naysayers and reduced narrowly to a fuelsubsidy removal initiative, whereas the policy was designed to completelyeliminate the grand corruption in the downstream sector, and create thenecessary incentives for private sector investment.
64. We have strengthened theleadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and theIndependent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Both agencies are beingre-positioned for more effective service delivery. We will continue tostrengthen the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies for optimal performance. We will also need the support of ourcourts. 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, andtheir families.
66. As President, it is my solemn duty to defend the Constitution of thiscountry. That includes the obligation toprotect life and property. We are doing everything possible to check the menaceof terrorism. In this regard, we aredetermined to review some of the existing laws, to further strengthen thenational counter-terrorism strategy. Coordinated joint action among oursecurity agencies has now assumed greater importance. We have developed a new security architectureto strengthen the security environment.
67. I wish to reassure every Nigerian that we will confront this threatagainst our collective peace and security, and bring the perpetrators tojustice. We will confront the few misguided persons who falsely believe, thatthrough violence, they can impose their agenda of hate and division on thisnation of good people. We must confront all those who think they can derail usby engaging in indiscriminate violence and mass murder, perpetrated in placesof worship, in markets and public places, against the media, and securitypersonnel. Nigeria is a nation of resilient people. We will never yield to theforces of darkness. Nigeria will never, ever, disintegrate.
68. Let me end this Address at the point where I began. What matters mostto all of us, is Nigeria. It is what binds us together. We have a duty to beloyal to our country. If we believe this to be a sacred obligation, it will notmatter whether we are Christians or Muslims, or politicians, irrespective ofpolitical parties or divide. It really will not matter whether we are civilsociety agents, social activists or union leaders. What matters is Nigeria. This nation existsbecause we are one. We must, therefore, remain as one family, and work togetherto defend our country.
69. Within two years, it would be exactly 100 years since the Northern andSouthern protectorates were amalgamated and Nigeria was born. We need a lotmore introspection, even as we look forward. We must take steps to heal thewounds of the past and work together, as a people with a shared destiny underone flag. We must strengthen our collective memory, draw strength from ourhistory, and build bridges of unity to take our country to greater heights.
70. This is what we should do. Andwe must. As a starting point, we must draw strength from our history and workto ensure that the labour of our heroes past is not in vain. It is partly forthis and other reasons, that I have directed, as part of the activities markingtoday’s Democracy Day, that all due processes should be initiated for thebuilding of a Presidential Museum in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. ThisMuseum will document the lives and times of Nigeria’s Presidents and Heads ofGovernment since 1960, and remind us, by extension, of the high points of ournational history.
71. It is also in this regard that the Federal Government has decided thatlate Chief M.K.O. Abiola be honoured,for making the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of justice and truth. Destinyand circumstances conspired to place upon his shoulders a historic burden, andhe rose to the occasion with character and courage. He deserves recognition forhis martyrdom, and public-spiritedness and for being the man of history that hewas. We need in our land, more men andwomen who will stand up to defend their beliefs, and whose example will furtherenrich our democracy. After very careful consideration, and in honour of ChiefM.K.O. Abiola’s accomplishments and heroism, on this Democracy Day, theUniversity of Lagos, is renamed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, MoshoodAbiola University, Lagos. The Federal Government will also establish anInstitute of Democratic Studies and Governance in the University.
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