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Nigeria at 55: Full text of President Buhari’s speech

President Muhammadu Buhari

“October 1st is a day for joy and celebrations for us
Nigerians, whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in because it is the
day, 55 years ago; we liberated ourselves from the shackles of colonialism and
began our long march to nationhood and to greatness.

“No temporary problems or passing
challenges should stop us from honouring this day. Let us remind ourselves of
the gifts God has given us. Our Creator has bequeathed to us Numbers – Nigeria
is the ninth most populated country on the planet. We have in addition arable
land; water; forests; oil and gas; coastline; and solid minerals
“We have all the attributes of a
great nation. We are not there yet because the one commodity we have been
unable to exploit to the fullest is unity of purpose. This would have enabled
us to achieve not only more orderly political evolution and integration but
also continuity and economic progress.
“Countries far less endowed have made greater economic
progress by greater coherence and unity of purpose.
“Nonetheless, that we have remained together is an achievement we should all
appreciate and try to consolidate. We have witnessed this year a change in our
democratic development.
“The fact that an opposition party
replaced an entrenched government in a free and fair election is indicative of
the deeper roots of our democratic system. Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians
must thank former President Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat
and thereby saving the country untold consequences.
“As I said in my inaugural speech,
I bear no ill will against anyone on past events. Nobody should fear anything
from me. We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of
their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view to
join me in working for the nation.
“My countrymen and women, every
new government inherits problems. Ours was no different. But what Nigerians
want are solutions, quick solutions not a recitation of problems inherited.
“Accordingly, after consultations
with the Vice President, senior party leaders and other senior stakeholders, I
quickly got down to work on the immediate, medium-term and long-term problems
which we must solve if we are to maintain the confidence which Nigerians so
generously bestowed on us in the March elections and since then.
“As you know, I toured the
neighbouring countries, marshalled a coalition of armed forces of the five
nations to confront and defeat Boko Haram. I met also the G-7 leaders and other
friendly presidents in an effort to build an international coalition against
Boko Haram.
“Our gallant armed forces under
new leadership have taken the battle to the insurgents, and severely weakened
their logistical and infrastructural capabilities. Boko Haram are being
scattered and are on the run.
“That they are resorting to
shameless attacks on soft targets such as I.D.P. camps is indicative of their
cowardice and desperation. I have instructed security and local authorities to
tighten vigilance in vulnerable places.
On power, government officials
have held a series of long sessions over several weeks about the best way to
improve the nation’s power supply in the safest and most cost-effective way.
“In the meantime, improvement in
the power supply is moderately encouraging. By the same token, supply of petrol
and kerosene to the public has improved throughout the country. All the early
signs are that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for
the better.
“Preliminary steps have been taken
to sanitize NNPC and improve its operations so that the inefficiency and
corruption could be reduced to a minimum.
“Those of our refineries which can
be serviced and brought back into partial production would be enabled to resume
operations so that the whole sordid business of exporting crude and importing finished
products in dubious transactions could be stopped.
“In addition to NNPC, I have
ordered a complete audit of our other revenue generating agencies mainly CBN,
FIRS, Customs, NCC, for better service delivery to the nation. Prudent
house-keeping is needed now more than ever in view of the sharp decline in
world market oil prices. It is a challenge we have to face squarely. But what
counts is not so much what accrues but how we manage our resources.
“We have seen in the last few
years how huge resources were mismanaged, squandered and wasted. The new APC
government is embarking on a clean up, introducing prudence and probity in
public financing.
“At an early stage, the federal
government addressed the issue of salary arrears in many states, a situation capable
of degenerating into social unrest. The APC government stepped in to provide
short-term support to the debtor states and enabled them to pay off the backlog
and restore the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.
“Fellow Nigerians, there have been
a lot of anxiety and impatience over the apparent delay in announcement of
ministers. There is no cause to be anxious. Our government set out to do things
methodically and properly. We received the handing over notes from the outgoing
government only four days before taking over. Consequently, the Joda Transition
Committee submitted its Report on the reorganization of Federal Government
structure after studying the hand over notes. It would have been haphazard to
announce ministers when the government had not finalized the number of
ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.
“Anyway, the wait is over. The
first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to
the senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course. Impatience is not
a virtue. Order is more vital than speed. Careful and deliberate decisions
after consultations get far better results. And better results for our country
is what the APC government for CHANGE is all about.
“I would like to end my address
this morning on our agenda for CHANGE. Change does not just happen. You and I
and all of us must appreciate that we all have our part to play if we want to
bring change about. We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public
office and public trust. We must change our unruly behaviour in schools,
hospitals, market places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and offices. To
bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.
“Happy Independence Celebrations.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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