At 7am today, Nigeria’s Number One citizen spoke to his compatriots on radio and television to mark the country’s 60th Independence Anniversary.
The theme of the celebration is ‘TOGETHER’.
In what he referred to as a stage to ‘reflect how we got here to enable us work TOGETHER to get to where we aspire to be as a strong indivisible nation’, President Muhammadu Buhari drew attention to areas where his government had put strategies in place to resolve the country’s problems, and focused on some issues relating to the economy, nationhood, the electoral process and petroleum pricing, saying it was no longer possible to sustain the current prices of petroleum products.
EXCERPTS FROM THE BROADCAST
“At this stage in our nationhood it is important that we reflect how we got here to enable us work TOGETHER to get to where we aspire to be as a strong indivisible nation, united in hope and equal in opportunity…………An underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault-lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.
ON THE HEALING PROCESS
“We need to begin a sincere process of national healing and this anniversary presents a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are. The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration. To start this healing process, we are already blessed with the most important asset any nation requires for such – OUR PEOPLE – and this has manifested globally in the exploits of Nigerians in many fields. It has been demonstrated time and time again that Nigerians in the diaspora frequently excel in science, technology, medicine, sports, arts and many other fields. Similarly, the creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Nigerian at home have resulted in globally recognized endeavours. I am convinced that if we pursue our aspirations TOGETHER we would be able to achieve whatever we desire. That informed our adopting the theme TOGETHER to mark this epochal event”.
ON DEMOCRACY & CREDIBLE ELECTIONS:
“I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President. The recent build-up and eventual outcome of the Edo State elections should encourage Nigerians that it is my commitment to bequeath to this country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count. The problems with our electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office. Democracy, the world over and as I am pursuing in Nigeria, recognizes the power of the people. However, if some constituencies choose to bargain off their power, they should be prepared for denial of their rights. This call is made more urgent if we realise that even after a transparent, free, fair and credible election, desperation leads to compromising the judiciary to upturn legitimate decisions of the people. It is necessary to, therefore support the enthronement of the rule of law by avoiding actions which compromise the judiciary”.
ON THE ECONOMY:
“In moving forward together, it is important to strengthen our economy to provide sustainable means of livelihood for as many Nigerians as possible so as to eradicate absolute poverty from our midst…………..This administration has been focused on rebuilding and laying the foundations for a sustainable Nigeria. Of course, we have met and are still meeting the challenges inherent in any rebuilding initiative – more so that of a nation like Nigeria that has undergone avoidable levels of deprivation – but can be surmounted if we all work together………In addition to public health challenges of working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, we have suffered a significant drop in our foreign exchange earnings and internal revenues due to 40 per cent drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities, leading to a 60 per cent drop in government revenue. Our government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources. In this regard, sustaining the level of petroleum prices is no longer possible. The government, since coming into office has recognized the economic argument for adjusting the price of petroleum. But the social argument about the knock-on effect of any adjustment weighed heavily with the government”.
“In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions. Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point.
- Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre.
- Niger, also an oil producing country sells 1 litre at N346.
- In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre.
Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia”.
IMAGE CREDIT: femiadesina.com