DEMOCRACY DAY SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI
OSINBAJO, SAN, THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL
REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, COMMEMORATING THE SECOND
ANNIVERSARY OF THE BUHARI ADMINISTRATION, MAY 29,
2017
Dear Nigerians, I bring you good wishes from President
Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who as we all know is away
from the country on medical vacation.
1. Today marks the second anniversary of our assumption
of office. We must thank the Almighty God not only for
preserving our lives to celebrate this second anniversary,
but for giving us hope, strength and confidence as we
faced the challenges of the past two years.
2. Our administration outlined three specific areas for our
immediate intervention on assumption of office: these
were Security, Corruption and the Economy.
3. In the Northeast of our country, the terrorist group
Boko Haram openly challenged the sovereignty and
continued existence of the state, killing, maiming,and
abducting, causing the displacement of the largest number
of our citizens in recent history. Beyond the North East
they extended their mindless killings, as far away as Abuja,
Kano And Kaduna.
4. But with new leadership and renewed confidence our
gallant military immediately began to put Boko Haram on
the back foot. We have restored broken-down relations
with our neighbours, Chad, Cameroon and Niger – allies
without whom the war against terror would have been
extremely difficult to win. We have re-organized and
equipped our Armed Forces, and inspired them to heroic
feats; we have also revitalized the regional Multinational
Joint Task Force, by providing the required funding and
leadership.
5. The positive results are clear for all to see. In the last
two years close to one million displaced persons have
returned home. 106 of our daughters from Chibok have
regained their freedom, after more than two years in
captivity, in addition to the thousands of other captives
who have since tasted freedom.
6. Schools, hospitals and businesses are springing back to
life across the Northeast, especially in Borno State, the
epicentre of the crisis. Farmers are returning to the farms
from which they fled in the wake of Boko Haram. Finally,
our people are getting a chance to begin the urgent task
of rebuilding their lives.
7. Across the country, in the Niger Delta, and in parts of
the North Central region, we are engaging with local
communities, to understand their grievances, and to create
solutions that respond to these grievances adequately and
enduringly.
8. President Buhari’s New Vision for the Niger Delta is a
comprehensive peace, security and development plan that
will ensure that the people benefit fully from the wealth
of the region, and we have seen to it that it is the product
of deep and extensive consultations, and that it has now
moved from idea to execution. Included in that New
Vision is the long-overdue environmental clean-up of the
Niger Delta beginning with Ogoni-land, which we launched
last year.
9. More recent threats to security such as the herdsmen
clashes with farmers in many parts of the country
sometimes leading to fatalities and loss of livelihoods and
property have also preoccupied our security structures.
We are working with State governments, and tasking our
security agencies with designing effective strategies and
interventions that will bring this menace to an end. We are
determined to ensure that anyone who uses violence, or
carries arms without legal authority is apprehended and
sanctioned.
10. In the fight against corruption, we have focused on
bringing persons accused of corruption to justice. We
believe that the looting of public resources that took place
in the past few years has to be accounted for. Funds
appropriated to build roads, railway lines, and power plants,
and to equip the military, that had been stolen or diverted
into private pockets, must be retrieved and the culprits
brought to justice. Many have said that the process is
slow, and that is true, corruption has fought back with
tremendous resources and our system of administration of
justice has been quite slow. But the good news for justice
is that our law does not recognize a time bar for the
prosecution of corruption and other crimes, and we will
not relent in our efforts to apprehend and bring corruption
suspects to justice. We are also re-equipping our
prosecution teams, and part of the expected judicial
reforms is to dedicate some specific courts to the trial of
corruption cases.
11. We are also institutionalizing safeguards and deterrents.
We have expanded the coverage of the Treasury Single
Account (TSA). We have introduced more efficient
accounting and budgeting systems across the Federal
Government. We have also launched an extremely
successful Whistleblower Policy.
12. The Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance
has succeeded in plugging leakages amounting to billions
of naira, over the last two years. We have ended
expensive and much-abused fertilizer and petrol subsidy
regimes.
13. We have taken very seriously our promise to save and
invest for the future, even against the backdrop of our
revenue challenges, and we have in the last two years
added US$500m to our Sovereign Wealth Fund and US
$87m to the Excess Crude Account. This is the very
opposite of the situation before now, when rising oil prices
failed to translate to rising levels of savings and
investment.14. Admittedly, the economy has proven to be the biggest
challenge of all. Let me first express just how concerned
we have been, since this administration took office, about
the impact of the economic difficulties on our citizens.
15. Through no fault of theirs, some companies shut down
their operations, others downsized; people lost jobs, had to
endure rising food prices. In some States civil servants
worked months on end without the guarantee of a salary,
even as rents and school fees and other expenses
continued to show up like clockwork.
16. We have been extremely mindful of the many
sacrifices that you have had to make over the last few
years. And for this reason this administration’s work on the
economic front has been targeted at a combination of
short-term interventions to cushion the pain, as well as
medium to long term efforts aimed at rebuilding an
economy that is no longer helplessly dependent on the
price of crude oil.
17. Those short-term interventions include putting together
a series of bailout packages for our State Governments, to
enable them bridge their salary shortfalls – an issue the
President has consistently expressed his concerns about.
We also began the hard work of laying out a framework
for our Social Intervention Programme, the most ambitious
in the history of the country.
1. One of the first tasks of the Cabinet and the Economic
Management Team was to put together a Strategic
Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget, targeting
initiatives that would create speedy yet lasting impact on
the lives of Nigerians.
1. Indeed, much of 2016 was spent clearing the mess we
inherited and putting the building blocks together for the
future of our dreams; laying a solid foundation for the kind
of future that you deserve as citizens of Nigeria.
1. In his Budget Presentation Speech to the National
Assembly last December, President Buhari outlined our
Economic Agenda in detail, and assured that 2017 -would
be the year in which you would begin to see tangible
benefits of all the planning and preparation work. It is my
pleasure to note that in the five months since he delivered
that speech, we have seen tremendous progress, as
promised.
1. Take the example of our Social Investment
Programme, which kicked off at the end of 2016. Its Home
Grown School Feeding component is now feeding more
than 1 million primary school children across seven states
and would be feeding three million by the end of the year.
N-Power, another component has engaged 200,000
unemployed graduates – none of whom needed any
‘connections’ to be selected. Beneficiaries are already
telling the stories of how these initiatives have given them
a fresh start in their lives.
2. Micro credit to a million artisans, traders and market
men and women has begun. While conditional cash
transfers to eventually reach a million of the poorest and
most vulnerable households has also begun.
3. Road and power projects are ongoing in every part of
the country. In rail, we are making progress with our
plans to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in
investment to upgrade the existing 3,500km narrow-gauge
network. We have also in 2017 flagged-off construction
work on the Lagos-Ibadan leg of our standard-gauge
network, and are close to completing the first phase of
Abuja’s Mass Transit Rail System.
4. In that Budget speech in December, the President
announced the take-off of the Presidential Fertilizer
Initiative. Today, five months on, that Initiative – the
product of an unprecedented bilateral cooperation with the
Government of Morocco – has resulted in the revitalisation
of 11 blending plants across the country, the creation of
50,000 direct and indirect jobs so far, and in the production
of 300,000 metric tonnes of NPK fertilizer, which is being
sold to farmers at prices significantly lower than what they
paid last year. By the end of 2017, that Fertilizer Initiative
would have led to foreign exchange savings of US$200
million; and subsidy savings of 60 billion naira.
5. The Initiative is building on the solid gains of the Anchor
Borrowers Programme, launched in 2015 to support our
rice and wheat farmers, as part of our move towards
guaranteeing food security for Nigeria.
6. All of this is evidence that we are taking very seriously
our ambition of agricultural self-sufficiency. I am delighted
to note that since 2015 our imports of rice have dropped
by 90 percent, while domestic production has almost
tripled. Our goal is to produce enough rice to meet local
demand by 2019. In April, the President launched our
Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which built on the
foundations laid by the Strategic implementation Plan of
2016. The plan has set forth a clear vision for the
economic development of Nigeria. I will come back to this
point presently.
7. Another highlight of the President’s Budget Speech was
our work around the Ease of Doing Business reforms. As
promised we have since followed up with implementation
and execution. I am pleased to note that we are now
seeing verifiable progress across several areas, ranging
from new Visa on Arrival scheme, to reforms at our ports
and regulatory agencies.
8. The President also promised that 2017 would see the
rollout of Executive Orders to facilitate government
approvals, support procurement of locally made goods, and
improve fiscal responsibility. We have kept that promise.
This month we issued three Executive Orders to make it
easier for citizens to get the permits and licenses they
require for their businesses, to mandate Government
agencies to spend more of their budgets on locally
produced goods, and to promote budget transparency and
efficiency. The overarching idea is to make Government
Agencies and Government budgets work more efficiently
for the people.
9. The impact of our Ease of Doing Business work is
gradually being felt by businesses small and large; its
successful take-off has allowed us to follow up with the
MSME Clinics -our Small Business support programme,
which has taken us so far to Aba, Sokoto, Jos, Katsina, and
we expect to be in all other states in due course.
10. Let me note, at this point, that several of our
Initiatives are targeted at our young people, who make up
most of our population. From N-Power, to the Technology
Hubs being developed nationwide, to innovation
competitions such as the Aso Villa Demo Day, and our
various MSME support schemes, we will do everything to
nurture the immense innovative and entrepreneurial
potential of our young people. We are a nation of young
people, and we will ensure that our policies and
programmes reflect this.
11. One of the highlights of our Power Sector Recovery
Programme, which we launched in March, is a N701 billion
Naira Payment Assurance Scheme that will resolve the
financing bottlenecks that have until now constrained the
operations of our gas suppliers and generation companies.
Let me assure that you will soon begin to see the positive
impact of these steps.
12. Our Solid Minerals Development Fund has also now
taken off, in line with our commitment to developing the
sector. Because of our unerring focus on Solid Minerals
development over the last two years, the sector has,
alongside Agriculture, seen impressive levels of growth –
in spite of the recession.
13. On the whole, just as the President promised in the
Budget Speech, these early months of 2017 have seen the
flowering of the early fruit of all the hard work of our first
eighteen months.
14. We opened the year with an overwhelmingly
successful Eurobond Offer – evidence of continuing
investor interest in Nigeria. We have also launched the
Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, to
build on the gains of last year’s Strategic Implementation
Plan. And the implementation of our 2017 Budget, which
will soon be signed into law, will bring added impetus to
our ongoing economic recovery. In the 2016 Budget we
spent 1.2 Trillion Naira on infrastructure projects, another
milestone in the history of this country. Our 2017 Budget
will double that investment.
15. That budget also provides for substantial investment to
implement the rollout of Industrial Parks and Special
Economic Zones (SEZs), as well as our Social Housing
Programme. The Industrial Parks and Economic Zones will
fulfill our ambition of making Nigeria a manufacturing hub,
while the Family Home Fund of our Social Housing
Programme will provide inexpensive mortgages for low-
income individuals and families across the country.
16. These plans offer yet more evidence that we are
ramping up the pace of work; the work of fulfilling all that
we promised. In the next two years we will build on the
successes of the last two. We have demonstrated a
willingness to learn from our mistakes and to improve on
our successes. The critical points that we must address
fully in the next two years are : Agriculture and food
security, Energy, (power and Petroleum,) Industrialization
and Transport infrastructure. Every step of the way we
will be working with the private sector, giving them the
necessary incentives and creating an environment to invest
and do business.
17. Our vision is for a country that grows what it eats and
produces what it consumes. It is for a country that no
longer has to import petroleum products, and develops a
lucrative petrochemical industry. Very importantly it is for
a country whose fortunes are no longer tied to the price
of a barrel of crude, but instead to the boundless talent
and energy of its people, young and old, male and female
as they invest in diverse areas of the economy.
18. And that vision is also for a country where the wealth
of the many will no longer be stolen by or reserved for a
few; and where the impunity of corruption – whether in
the public or private sectors – will no longer be standard
operating practice; a land rid of bandits and terrorists.
19. As citizens you all deserve a country that works, not
merely for the rich or connected, but for everyone. And
our promise to you is that we will, with your support and
cooperation, take every step needed to create that
country of our dreams.
20. We also know that this journey will of necessity take
time. But we will not succumb to the temptation to take
short-cuts that ultimately complicate the journey. We did
not find ourselves in crises overnight, and we simply do
not expect overnight solutions to our challenges.
21. The most important thing is that we are on the right
path, and we will not deviate from it, even in the face of
strong temptation to choose temporary gain over long-
term benefit. As the President has summed it up: “The old
Nigeria is slowly but surely disappearing, and a new era is
rising.”
22. And so we commemorate this second anniversary of
our administration with confidence and optimism. I firmly
believe that we have put the most difficult phase behind
us; and we are witnesses to the ever-increasing intensity
of the light at the end of the tunnel. We ask for your
continued cooperation and support, to enable us realise all
our best intentions and ambitions for Nigeria. On our part
We will continue to carry you along on this journey,
speak to you, explain the challenges, and share our Vision.
23. And while we all daily pre-occupy ourselves with
pursuing the Nigerian Dream – which is the desire to
better our lives and circumstances vigorously and honestly
– it is inevitable that grievances and frustrations will arise
from time to time.
24. This is normal. What is not normal, or acceptable, is
employing these frustrations as justification for indulging
in discrimination or hate speech or hateful conduct of any
kind, or for seeking to undermine by violent or other
illegal means the very existence of the sovereign entity
that has brought us all together as brothers and sisters and
citizens.
25. Nigeria belongs to all of us. No one person or group of
persons is more important or more entitled than the other
in this space that we all call home. And we have a
responsibility to live in peace and harmony with one
another, to seek peaceful and constitutional means of
expressing our wishes and desires, and to resist all who
might seek to sow confusion and hatred for their own
selfish interests.
26. Before I end this speech, let me ask for your continued
prayers for the restoration to full health and strength and
the safe return of our President.
27. I congratulate all of you on today’s commemoration of
this important day in the democratic calendar our country.
Nigeria is on a journey of greatness, and together we shall
arrive at the destination of our dreams.
28. May God bless you all, and bless the Federal Republic of
Nigeria.

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