Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech to commemorate the country’s 59th independence celebration highlighted his administration’s progress so far and plans for the future.
Here are the 10 things we learned from the president’s speech.
The Kick against hate speech on social media
Buhari emphasised that his government will continue to take “decisive action” against people who spread hate speech on social media.
Although he said the government respects the rights of individuals, Buhari said the abuse of technology that undermines national security will not be allowed to fester.
“Our attention is increasingly being focused on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material being propagated on social media,” Buhari said.
The President is still persistent in his war against corruption. Critics have found loopholes in the president’s war against corruption from his first administration till the current one. They said the corruption war seems to be only against the opposition party while the president’s allies are immunised against prosecution. Hence, the anti-graft agencies are now referred to as lapdogs who only go after opposition and wag its tails for the president’s friends.
But the President maintained that his dministration has fought against corruption, by investigating and prosecuting those accused of embezzlement and the misuse of public resources.
“We have empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases of evidence, traced the proceeds of crimes and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds,” he said.
The institutionalisation of Special Intervention Programmes
The President has ordered the movement of the National Special Intervention Programmes (NSIPs) to the newly created Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development ministry with the aim of “institutionalising” them.
The Nigerian president explained that “Our ongoing N500 billion Special Intervention Programme continues to target these vulnerable groups, through the Home-grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, loans for traders and artisans, Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest families and social housing scheme.”
“To institutionalize these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date.”
Prior to this, activities of NSIPs were coordinated by a government Steering Committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo which comprises Finance, Education, Health, Agriculture, Trade and Investment, Youth and Sports, Women Affairs, Labour and Productivity, Information ministers to implement the government’s agenda.
Nigeria’s budget and national planning ministry was NSIPs secretariat.
Osinbajo had been the arrowhead for the implementation of NSIPs- Trader Moni, Market Moni, Farmer Moni, Anchors Borrowers Scheme, N-Power and the Home Grown School Feeding programme across the country.
With the institutionalising of the NSIPs, Buhari assured beneficiaries of these programmes that his government’s commitment to social inclusion will increase.
He said the government will continue to invest in education, health, water and sanitation, as well as food security, to ensure that citizen’s basic needs are met.
Reformation of the power sector
The call for the reformation of the power sector has been as old as the country. Buhari said his government is resolute in reforming the power sector.
“ In August this year, we launched the Presidential Power Initiative to modernize the National Grid in 3 phases: starting from 5 Gigawatts to 7 Gigawatts, then to 11 Gigawatts by 2023, and finally 25 Gigawatts afterwards,” Buhari said.
“ This programme, in partnership with the German Government and Siemens, will provide end-to-end electrification solutions that will resolve our transmission and distribution challenges.”
He said the programme will also look to localise the development and assembly of smart meters as well as the operations and maintenance capabilities of transmission and distribution infrastructure.
Despite the country’s economy has stagnateds in recent years, the president is still optimistic that this administration will fix the major challenging sector, economy.
Buhari said his administration has learned from the previous government that relying on oil and imported goods will keep crumbling the country’s economy. Therefore, his government will exploit other sectors to generate revenue.
He said, “our commitment to achieving economic diversification has been at the heart of our economic strategies under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which I launched on the 5th of April, 2017.”
“This medium-term development plan charted the trajectory for our economy to exit from recession and return to the path of sustainable, diversified and inclusive growth for Nigerians.”
He said pursuant to these reforms, the economy has recovered and has nine successive quarters of growth since her exit from recession.
Buhari said his administration is significantly increasing investments in critical infrastructure.
He said there will be a continuous increase in welcoming and encouraging private capital for infrastructural development through Public Private Partnerships.
The progress in security was also a major highlight in the president’s speech. Although, there is nothing different from what the president has always said that his government has combated Boko Haram. However, there has still cases of insecurity, terrorism in the country
Buhari praised the men and officers of the security agencies, through whose efforts the country has been able to achieve the present results.
“We are also grateful to our neighbours and allies – within the region and across the world – who have supported us on this front,” he said.
He said the capacity of Nigeria’s armed forces to defend our territorial integrity continues to be enhanced by the acquisition of military hardware as well as continued improvements in the working conditions of our service men and women.
He said the Ministry of Police Affairs has been resuscitated to oversee the development and implementation of strategies to enhance internal security.
Buhari said his recent assent to the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act has created a legal framework to support the Police with increased fiscal resources to enhance their law enforcement capabilities.
“These initiatives are being complemented by the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 constables into the Nigeria Police Force.”
There was barely little or nothing mentioned by the president on a plan to improve the country’s education sector. The president said his administration will continue to “ invest in education, health, water and sanitation, as well as food security, to ensure that their basic needs are met while providing them with every opportunity to live peaceful, prosperous and productive lives.”
Release of N600 billion for capital expenditure
Buhari said he has ordered the release of N600 billion for capital expenditure in the next 3 months
“The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been directed to release N600 billion for Capital Expenditure in the next 3 months,” Buhari said in his Independence Day broadcast.
Buhari had budgeted N2 trillion for capital expenditure in the 2019 budget with economists saying the allocated sum was low and a sign of pressure on the economy.
The president said he had previously ordered the release of N1.74 trillion for capital expenditure as at June 20, 2019. The N1.74 trillion was encapsulated in the 2018 budget.
He said the implementation of the 2019 capital budget, which was only approved in June 2019, “will be accelerated to ensure that critical priority projects are completed or substantially addressed.”
Nigeria’s budgets under Buhari have been the largest ever. But economists say implementation has been poor and failed to provide the type of capital expenditure needed to improve infrastructure.
Still blaming the past administration
Buharu is still yet to get over the past administration.
The president while making a case for his administration progress on economy said his government “inherited a skewed economy, where the Oil Sector comprised only 8% of Gross Domestic Product but contributed 70% of government revenue and 90% foreign exchange earnings over the years.”
“ Past periods of relatively high economic growth were driven by our reliance on Oil Sector revenues to finance our demand for imported goods and services.”
He said regrettably, previous governments abandoned the residual investment-driven non-oil sector, which constituted 40% of Gross Domestic Product and comprised agriculture, livestock, agro-processing, arts, entertainment, mining and manufacturing activities that provide millions of jobs for able-bodied Nigerians and utilize locally available raw materials and labour for production.
The stability of the exchange rate
Although the president did not mention any plans to work on bringing down the exchange rate, however, said the stability of the exchange rate is commendable.
He said the exchange rate in the last 3 years has remained stable, with robust reserves of US$42.5 billion, up from US$23 billion in October 2016.
The President said this has also helped the progress of the country’s economy.
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