As Nigerians celebrate the democracy day every year, it is a culture for the President to deliver a speech to celebrate the special day.
Here is the full speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari during the 2016 Democracy Day:
It is one year today since our administration came into office. It has been a year of triumph, consolidation, pains and achievements. By age, instinct and experience, my preference is to look forward, to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead and rededicate the administration to the task of fixing Nigeria. But I believe we can also learn from the obstacles we have overcome and the progress we made thus far, to help strengthen the plans that we have in place to put Nigeria back on the path of progress.
We affirm our belief in democracy as the form of government that best assures the active participation and actual benefit of the people. Despite the many years of hardship and disappointment the people of this nation have proved inherently good, industrious tolerant, patient and generous, PremiumTimes reports.
The past years have witnessed huge flows of oil revenues. From 2010 average oil prices were $100 per barrel. But economic and security conditions were deteriorating. We campaigned and won the election on the platform of restoring security, tackling corruption and restructuring the economy. On our arrival, the oil price had collapsed to as low as $30 per barrel and we found nothing had been kept for the rainy day. Oil prices have been declining since 2014 but due to the neglect of the past, the country was not equipped to halt the economy from declining.
The infrastructure, notably rail, power, roads were in a decrepit state. All the four refineries were in a state of disrepair, the pipelines and depots neglected.
Huge debts owed to contractors and suppliers had accumulated. Twenty-seven states could not pay salaries for months. In the north-east, Boko haram had captured 14 local governments, driven the local authorities out, hoisted their flags. Elsewhere, insecurity was palpable; corruption and impunity were the order of the day. In short, we inherited a state near collapse.
On the economic front, all oil-dependent countries, Nigeria included, have been struggling since the drop in prices. Many oil rich states have had to take tough decisions similar to what we are doing. The world, Nigeria included has been dealing with the effects of three significant and simultaneous global shocks starting in 2014:
1. a 70% drop in oil prices.
2. Global growth slowdown.
3. Normalization of monetary policy by the united states federal reserve.
Our problems as a government are like that of a farmer who in a good season harvests ten bags of produce. The proceeds enable him to get by for rest of the year. However, this year he could only manage 3 bags from his farm. He must now think of other ways to make ends meet.
EFCC was given the freedom to pursue corrupt officials and the judiciary was alerted on what Nigerians expect of them in the fight against corruption. On the economy, in particular, foreign exchange and fuel shortages, our plan is to save foreign exchange by fast tracking repair of the refineries and producing most of our fuel requirements at home. And by growing more food in Nigeria, mainly rice, wheat and sugar we will save billions of dollars in foreign exchange and drastically reduce our food import bill.
We resolved to keep the naira steady as in the past, devaluation had done dreadful harm to the Nigerian economy. Furthermore, I support the monetary authority’s decision to ensure alignment between monetary policy and fiscal policy. We shall keep a close look on how the recent measures affect the naira and the economy. But we cannot get away from the fact that a strong currency is predicated on a strong economy.
And a strong economy pre-supposes an industrial productive base and a steady export market. The measures we must take, may lead to hardships. The problems Nigerians have faced over the last year have been many and varied. But the real challenge for this government has been reconstructing the spine of the Nigerian state.
These are the pillars of the state on which democracy can take root and thrive. But only if they are strong and incorruptible. Accordingly, we are working very hard to introduce some vital structural reforms in the way we conduct government business and lay a solid foundation on which we can build enduring change.
As well as making savings, we have changed the way public money is spent. In all my years as a public servant, i have never come across the practice of padding budgets. I am glad to tell you now we not only have a budget, but more importantly, we have a budget process that is more transparent, more inclusive and more closely tied to our development priorities than in the recent past. 30% of the expenditure in this budget is devoted to capital items. Furthermore, we are projecting non-oil revenues to surpass proceeds from oil. Some critics have described the budget exercise as clumsy. Perhaps. But it was an example of consensus building, which is integral to democratic government. In the end, we resolved our differences.
We are also engaged in making recoveries of stolen assets some of which are in different jurisdictions. The processes of recovery can be tedious and time-consuming, but today I can confirm that thus far: a significant amount of assets have been recovered. A considerable portion of these are at different stages of recovery. Full details of the status and categories of the assets will now be published by the ministry of information and updated periodically. When forfeiture formalities are completed these monies will be credited to the treasury and be openly and transparently used in funding developmental projects and the public will be informed.
Meanwhile, the first steps along the path of self-sufficiency in rice, wheat and sugar – big users of our scarce foreign exchange – have been taken. The labour intensive farming enterprise (life), will boost the economy and ensure inclusive growth in long-neglected communities. Special intervention funds through the bank of agriculture will provide targeted support. Concerns remain about rising cost of foods such as maize, rice, millet, beans, and gari. Farmers tell me that they are worried about the cost of fertilizers, pesticides and the absence of extension services. The federal and state governments are on the same page in tackling these hurdles in our efforts at increased food production and ultimately food security.
I would like to pay a special tribute to our gallant men and women of the armed forces who are in harm’s way so that the rest of us can live and go about our business in safety. Their work is almost done. The nation owes them a debt of gratitude.