President Muhammadu Buhari pledged yesterday that the change sought by the majority of Nigerian voters, who backed him in the 2015 election, will manifest more and be sustained in different sectors in the new year.
He declared in his new year message that the current pains Nigerians are going through are temporary.
His words: “On our part, in the past 20 months since our inauguration on May 29, 2015, we have focused our energies to turn around the economy, create jobs, fight corruption, and transform agriculture to replace oil and gas as a major revenue earner for the nation. I am encouraged that we are getting things right.
“The agricultural revolution has begun. Farmers in different parts of the country are experiencing bumper harvests; states are getting into strategic partnership towards attaining self-sufficiency in rice, and the era of over-dependence on oil for foreign exchange revenues is gradually waning.
“I am optimistic that the CHANGE we all yearned for in voting this administration to power in 2015 will manifest more and be sustained in different sectors, particularly agriculture, in 2017.” He added
Noting that the administration’s economic recovery and growth plan in 2017 is anchored on optimizing the use of local content and empowering local businesses, he urged Nigerians to start patronizing “Made in Nigeria” goods.
He said: “Like I said during the 2017 Budget presentation to the National Assembly, farmers, small and medium-sized manufacturers, agro-allied businesses, dressmakers, entertainers and technology start-ups, will remain the true drivers of our economic future.
“They are the engine of our economic recovery and their needs underpin our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.”
On job creation, he said, that the administration will sustain existing programmes aimed at lifting great number of Nigerian youth out of poverty.
Government, he added, will also create more opportunities for people to fend for themselves.
The President insisted that the administration’s resolve to defeat corruption in the country remains unshaken.
He said: “This fight, which will be guided by respect for the rule of law and due process, will not spare anybody or organ of government. It is a collective undertaking and resolve that must be seen to its logical conclusion in spite of certain distractions.
“The fate of our country lies partly in the success of this campaign. It will be unthinkable on my part to allow the boat of this crucial campaign promise capsize mid-stream.” He said
Thanking Nigerians for their support to the administration’s efforts towards transforming Nigeria, he said: “I assure you again that the current pains are temporary and will ease when the economic seeds in gestation begin to bloom to fruition. I urge you to continue to support this administration in its effort to transform Nigeria for the good of all.”
The President again, congratulated the heroic and gallant efforts of Nigerian military and other security agencies on the successes recorded to rid the nation of terrorism.
He said: “Following the successful capture of Sambisa Forest, spearheaded by troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, we have entered a new phase in our battle against our common enemy, Boko Haram.
“When we see our beloved 21 Chibok girls reuniting with their families and community for Christmas, it gives us the hope that those who are still in captivity will one day return to the loving arms of family, friends and well-wishers.
Buhari appealed to Nigerians in their different communities to be on the look out for Boko Haram terrorists on the run from the Sambisa forest.
“I urge all Nigerians to be on the alert and watch out for strange figures settling in their communities, and report to the nearest security agencies, as our armed forces intensify the pursuit of fleeing terrorists from the captured Sambisa Forest.” He stated
He also warned that any misguided elements taking up arms against constituted authorities must be brought to face the full weight of the law.
The support of all Nigerians to security agencies, he said, is crucial for them to successfully execute their mandate and effectively secure the country.
He added: “In this New Year, I want to reassure all Nigerians that our defence and security forces are more than ever before ready to perform their constitutional role of protecting lives and property in the country; and we will surely overcome all other forms of security challenges.
“The lingering security issues in several states will be frontally addressed. These ugly crises cannot be allowed to fester as they strain the unifying bonds of brotherhood and neighbourliness. Some sections of the press and some politicians should avoid provocative and inflammatory statements, while the government is painstakingly trying to find solutions to our challenges.
“I want to remind you on the first day of this New Year of an African proverb that says “it is easy to break a broomstick but not a bunch”. Nigeria is a bunch and is more than equal to troublemakers.
“I have interacted with a broad spectrum of Nigerians, the old and the young, and they have told me unequivocally that they believe in the unity and stability of Nigeria.” He said
He was also optimistic that voluntary return of all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their communities is imminent following the joyful return of thousands of IDPs to Damasak town in Borno State and the reopening of Maiduguri/Gubio/Damasak road in Northern Borno on December 25, 2016.
The Federal Government, he said, will spare no effort in seeing to the resettlement and rehabilitation of all victims of terrorism and insurgency.
But the President urged state governments, privileged Nigerians, donor agencies and countries to redouble their contributions towards resettlement and rehabilitation of all victims.
Stressing that the government is not unaware of some mistakes and wrongdoings in handling the affairs of IDPs in the country, he said that measures are been taken to correct the mistakes and punish the culprits.
He said that the year 2017 provides an opportunity for Nigerians to build on those aspects of national life that unite the nation.
He added: “We are courageous, hardworking, hospitable, steadfast and resilient people, even in the face of difficulties.
“These are the attributes that define us and have for years confounded the pessimists who do not believe in our continued existence as a united and indivisible nation.
“We are a remarkable nation that has succeeded in harnessing our multiple diversities for national development. We must continue to support and tolerate one another and live together as one.”
Stressing that his administration will continue to pursue peace initiatives in the Niger Delta, he called on the people in the region, who have taken to violent disruptions of economic infrastructure, to come to the negotiating table.
He went on: “As for our brothers and sisters of the Shia Community, we urge them, too, to embrace peace. They must accept the laws of the country they live in. They cannot be islands by themselves.
“At the same time, the law enforcement agencies must treat them humanely and according to the rule of law.”