Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari has pledged, in his New Year broadcast, to reorganise Nigeria’s security apparatus, as well as the personnel of both the armed forces and the police in the new year, as part of his administration’s commitment to battling the security crisis facing the country.
The president assured that his administration would not abdicate its responsibility to make the country safe for its people, adding that the re-energising and reorganisation of the security system would be done with the overall intention to enhance their capacity and consequently dismantle the operations of terrorists and other criminal elements terrorising the country.
According to the president, the rapid collaboration of security forces, which led to the rescue of the 344 pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, last month, showed that the country has the internal capacity to effectively battle terrorism.
He expressed the necessity to be more proactive in handling security issues by being pre-emptive and consequently avert repeats of such situations which he said could be traumatic to victims.
“Some of the key priority areas we would direct our attention and strengths to include: re-energising and reorganising the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country,” be said.
“In line with the current security challenges, we are facing as a nation, I would like to reiterate the promise I made recently when over 300 of our boys abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, were successfully rescued by our security operatives.
“The professionalism shown by our security forces and the collaboration from all stakeholders across both state and federal governments that led to the successful rescue of the boys is proof that Nigeria has the internal capacity to decisively deal with terror attacks on our citizens.
“However, we recognise that we rapidly have to move to a more proactive and preemptive posture to ensure that these sorts of traumatic incidents do not become a norm. Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, and we will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing.”
Buhari, who thanked God for seeing the country through the various challenges of the year caused by COVID-19 pandemic, said what befell Nigeria did not happen in isolation but also affected other countries of the world.
He described the outgone year as a tough one that tested national resilience and the ability to survive tough times.
Buhari recalled that Nigeria marked 60 years of independence last year, a situation he said called for gratitude.
He stated that whereas some countries expected Nigeria to break up within a few years, it has survived for over 60 years.
Buhari also recalled the #EndSARS protests last October, saying the youths meant well and their five demands would be fully met.
He explained that as the country’s commander-in-chief, he was aware of different challenges which confronted different parts of the country during the year and would remain committed to addressing them.
“While acknowledging that 2020 was a very tough year, we saw this year put to test our national resilience and ability to survive these tough times and also gave renewed hope that we will again brave any storms that lay ahead in 2021 and beyond.
“As we celebrate the opportunity before us in this New Year 2021, we must also acknowledge the passing away of our brothers and sisters who didn’t make it into this New Year. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
“We must remember that we also celebrated the historic occasion of our 60 years as an independent and sovereign country on October 1st, 2020. In the spirit of hope and gratitude, I would like to remind us again that as a country on the difficult journey to nationhood and greatness, we have confounded the many pundits at home and around the world who never gave the newly-born country that emerged unto the world stage on 1st October 1960 a chance of surviving much longer than a few years.
“Yet, here we are, 61 years by the next anniversary in October, and not only are we here, we are standing tall in the comity of nations as one country united under the will of God and also actively growing that indivisible Nigerian spirit that has enabled us, year after year, decade after decade, to weather all stormy waters and emerge stronger and better where others have fallen and disintegrated. This nation, this Nigeria, will survive and thrive.
“In this journey to nationhood, we have experienced the highs and lows. 2020 indeed came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability. This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths; fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.
“In the midst of all these challenges, I had initially pledged that as your elected president and Commander-in-Chief, I would ensure that these ongoing challenges will be faced head-on with renewed determination and with all the appropriateness and urgency required. Your voices have been heard and we would continue to listen to you, and all the key stakeholders who are committed to the unity of Nigeria to ensure that every region of this nation is safe for us all, while guaranteeing that the future is also secure for the coming generation,” he added
He also committed his administration to the affairs of Nigerians, especially the youth, whom he said needed collective encouragement and support of all.
He noted that if the country will be secured, then the future of the youth must be secured.
He described the youth as the country’s “most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad,” adding that “their ingenuity, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is evident to all,” and many of them “are excelling in various spheres of life including sports, entertainment, information and communication technology, commerce and are globally recognised as achievers.”
The president said in the government’s efforts to explore the creative energies of the youth, the government would “partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled across regions.”
According to him, in 2021, the federal government will work towards reinforcing the hopes of Nigerians in the pursuit of a united and progressive Nigeria and continue to focus on delivering what he described as key strategic priorities of security, economy and anti-corruption agenda of the federal government.
Buhari also spoke on the economy, saying the federal government will concentrate on revamping the economy through its national economic diversification agenda that will support national food self-sufficiency.
He said the initiative had helped to reduce the escalating food inflation “and have in considerable measure positively impacted our food security status during the long months of the pandemic lockdown.”
He also highlighted what he described as his administration’s infrastructure building efforts to include construction of roads and rail.
“With the recent opening of our borders, we expect that the pent-up demand of legitimate cross-border and international trade will boost the fortunes of the many small businesses and agricultural enterprises that depend on Nigeria’s trade and commerce,” he stated.
On anti-corruption war, he said some successes had been recorded and the government would sustain the fight in 2021 by collaborating with other arms of government to get combat graft.
While pledging the government’s resolve to work with the National Assembly to review some laws that would aid anti-corruption fight, Buhari said efforts would be made for diligent prosecution of suspects.
He, however, pleaded with the judiciary to ensure speedy prosecution of corruption cases.
He said perpetual violence in various parts of the country by Boko Haram insurgents and other criminal groups had hampered government’s effort to embrace social policy and quality investment in citizens.
Buhari, however, was civil this time in addressing critics of his government, in contrast to his approach during his last Independence Day speech when he made scathing remarks about his predecessors for criticising his government.
His comments had drawn attacks from different parts of the country, with his critics describing him as the most divisive leader in Nigeria’s history.
However, this time, he merely admonished them, saying he wasn’t offended by their views since they also wish the country well.
But he pleaded with them to show understanding, considering the poor resources he met in 2015.
He said: “In parts of the country where chronic poverty, social exclusion and disillusionment among sections of the youth were already a problem, the cycles of violence that have been unleashed by mindless groups like Boko Haram and others have thwarted the efforts of government to undertake the social policy and associated investments that could make a huge difference in the quality of life of our citizens.
“I am aware that for some of our compatriots, the progress we have registered since the inception of this administration is not nearly as fast or as sufficient as they would wish. I do not begrudge them their views in so far as they signify a wish, in which we all share, for only the very best for our country.
“Nevertheless, I call upon all Nigerians to carefully recall the circumstances of our coming to office, the facts on the ground and the resources at our disposal since 2015 with the accomplishments of this administration.”
Buhari stated that the country had shown resilience in the face of challenges posed by COVID-19, adding that the country is finalising plans to purchase COVID-19 vaccines and effectively distribute them.
He urged Nigerians to strictly abide by COVID-19 advisories to prevent further spread.
He said as the president, he would play his part well, and implored others to do same, saying both himself and citizens owe the founding fathers of Nigeria and the next generation the responsibility to do so.
“As your elected president, my pledge to you is the same as it has always been; I will play my part fully and without fear or favour. I invite all of us to do the same. It is what we owe to the founding generation of our beloved country and also to the coming generation. It is what we desire for national prosperity for all demands,” he said.
Parts of this report is credit to ThisDay