President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday called on all Nigerians to forego all hurts of the past and begin the process of National healing.
He made the appeal yesterday in his national broadcast to mark Nigeria’s 60 years of independence.
According to him, an underlying cause of most of the problems Nigerians have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault-lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.
He added that institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline.
The president said, “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.
Buhari also admitted the nation is passing through security and economic challenges.
“Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control”.
Buhari said it had been demonstrated time and time again that Nigerians in the diaspora frequently excel in science, technology, medicine, sports, arts and many other fields.
Similarly, he noted the creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Nigerian at home have resulted in globally recognized endeavours.
His words: “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.
“Together we can change our condition for the better and more importantly, together we can do much more for ourselves and for our country”.
Buhari further stated that Nigeria is not a country for Mr President, any ruling or opposition party but a country for all Nigerians who must play their part, irrespective of the challenges, to make the country what they desire.
To achieve this, Buhari noted: “We must focus our minds, TOGETHER as a people, on ways of resolving the identified critical challenges that underlie our present state”.
He listed the challenges to include evolving and sustaining a democratic culture that leaves power in the hands of the people, lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, strengthening institutions to make them stronger in protecting National Interests and imbibing tolerance in diversity.
President Buhari reiterated that he is a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during his period as a democratically elected president.
He said the recent build-up and eventual outcome of the recent governorship election in Edo State should encourage Nigerians that it is his commitment to bequeath to the country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count.
He explained that the problems with the electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office.
The president re-emphasized his dedication and commitment, which he said propelled his public service career and informed his quest to continually seek for ways of improving the lives of Nigerians, set Nigeriaon the path of prosperity and lead the country to a better future.
The president said his administration had been focused on rebuilding and laying the foundations for a sustainable Nigeria.
He stated: “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.
“I wish to re-iterate that our people and our spirit of excellence remains our most important asset”.
Buhari added that in addition to public health challenges of working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, Nigeria has 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.
He said his government was grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in the face of drastically reduced resources.
In this regard, Buhari said sustaining the level of petroleum prices was no longer possible.
The government, he said since coming into office, has recognized the economic argument for adjusting the price of petroleum.
He noted that the social argument about the knock-on effect of any adjustment weighed heavily with the government.
Accordingly, Buhari said in the last three years, his administration had introduced unprecedented measures in support of the economy and to the weakest members of the society by way of Tradermoni, Farmermoni, School Feeding Programme, job creation efforts and agricultural intervention programmes
He further stated: “No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security. Those in the previous Governments from 1999 – 2015 who presided over the near destruction of the country have now the impudence to attempt to criticize our efforts.
“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”.
In a subtle hint to secessionist, Buhari said Nigeria is greater together than being smaller units of nationalities.
He noted: “Fellow Nigerians, to achieve the great country we desire, we need to solidify our strength, increase our commitment and encourage ourselves to do that which is right and proper even when no one is watching.
“Fellow Nigerians, let us collectively resolve to continue our journey beyond the sixty years on the clear understanding that as a nation we are greater together than being smaller units of nationalities. By the special grace of God we shall come through any transient challenges.
“It is my sincere hope that by the end of this anniversary on September 30th 2021, we will all be proud of taking this individual and collective self-assessment for the progress of our great Nation”.