Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has once again, placed the blame for the country’s struggling economy on “past administrations” which he said, failed to pursue non oil sector growth.
The president who said this in his speech to mark the country’s 59th independence anniversary on Tuesday, pointed out that past periods of relatively high economic growth were driven by reliance on Oil Sector revenues to finance demand for imported goods and services, noting that “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.”
The president noted that change doesn’t just happen, and that Nigerians must abandon lawless habits to bring about the desired change.
He also restated his administration’s commitment to combating militancy in the Niger Delta, kidnappings and other violent crimes “across the nation” but failed to mention Fulani herdsmen that have killed thousands of people in recent months.
Read Full Speech:
October each year is an opportunity for us to reflect and thank God for his endless blessings on our country.
It is also a time for us, collectively, to:
Remember the sacrifices made by our Founders and great leaders past; by soldiers, by distinguished public servants; by traditional leaders, by our workers — sacrifices on which Nigeria has been built over the 59 years since Independence in 1960; and Rededicate ourselves to attaining the goals which we have set for ourselves: a united, prosperous and purposeful nation in the face of 21st century opportunities and challenges.
In the past four years, the majority of Nigerians have committed to Change for the Better. Indeed, this Administration was re-elected by Nigerians on a mandate to deliver positive and enduring Change through maintaining our National Security; restoring sustainable and inclusive Economic Growth and Development; and fighting Corruption against all internal and external threats.
This Change can only be delivered if we are united in purpose, as individuals and as a nation. We must all remain committed to achieving this positive and enduring Change.
As I stated four years ago, “Change does not just happen… We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust… simply put, to bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.”
Good Governance and Economic Development cannot be sustained without an enabling environment of peace and security. In the last four years, we have combatted the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our gallant men and women in arms, through whose efforts we have 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.
The capacity of our 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.
The Ministry of Police Affairs has been resuscitated to oversee the development and implementation of strategies to enhance internal security.
My recent assent to the Nigerian Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act has created a legal framework to support our 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. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to arrest the incidence of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes across our nation.
We remain equally resolute in our efforts to combat militant attacks on our oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta and accelerate the Ogoni Clean-up to address long-standing environmental challenges in that region.
The recent redeployment of the Niger Delta Development Commission from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs underscores our commitment to enhance the living standards of our communities in the Niger Delta, through coordinated and appropriate programmes.
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.
Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.
In this regard, I reiterate my call for all to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing their grievances and frustrations.
Whilst the ongoing national discourse on various political and religious issues is healthy and welcome, we must not forget the lessons of our past – lessons that are most relevant on a day such as this.
The path of hatred and distrust only leads to hostility and destruction. I believe that the vast majority of Nigerians would rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our unity.
This Administration 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.
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.
To address this imbalance, 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.
Pursuant to these reforms, the economy has recovered and we have had 9 successive quarters of growth since our exit from recession. 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.
Learning from the mistakes of the past, this Administration is committed to responsibly managing our oil wealth endowments. We will continue to prudently save our oil income and invest more in the non-oil job-creating sectors.
In this regard, we are significantly increasing investments in critical infrastructure. Last year, capital releases only commenced with the approval of the Budget in June 2018.”