SWITZERLAND, JUNE 12 – ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPURLIC OF NIGERIA DURING THE (2020 DEMOCRACY DAY) STATE HOUSE, ABUJA) 12TH JUNE, 2020
The 2020 celebration of Democracy Day marks 21 year of uninterrupted civil administration in our dear country. This day provides us an opportunity to reflect on our journey as a nation, our achievements and struggles.
2. It is a day to honour our founding fathers who toiled to establish our republic and every Nigerian who has worked tirelessly to sustain it.
3 We are celebrating this year’s Democracy Day despite the COVID nineteen pandemic which afflicts our nation and the whole world.
4 It is indeed a very difficult time for everyone especially those who have lost loved ones to the virus and those whose sources of livelihood have been severely constrained by the stringent measures we introduced at every level of government to contain the virus and save lives.
5. The dedication of our health and other essential services staff towards containing this virus is a testament of our courage and resilience as a people and as a great nation, and I use this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for your service to the nation.
6. Sustaining our democracy thus far, has been a collective struggle and I congratulate all Nigerians and particularly leaders of our democratic institutions for their resilience and determination to ensure that Nigeria remains a shining example of democracy.
7. In my 2019 democracy day address I promised to frontally address the nation’s daunting challenges, especially insecurity, economy and corruption. I therefore find it necessary to give an account of my stewardship on this day.
8. We have recorded notable achievements in the course of implementing our nine priority objectives and are establishing a solid foundation for future success.
9. On the economic front, our objectives have remained to stabilize the macro-economy, achieve agricultural and food security, ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, develop infrastructure, fight corruption and improve governance.
10. We have witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from one point nine-one percent in 2018 to two point two-seven percent in 2019 but declined to one point eight-seven percent in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID nineteen pandemic.
11. Every single economy in the world has suffered a decline. Ours has been relatively moderate.
12. In order to stabilize the economy, the Monetary Authority took steps to build the external reserves which resulted in improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market. The external reserves grew from thirty three point four-two billion US dollars on April 29th 2020 to about thirty six billion US dollars in May, 2020 which is enough to finance seven months of import commitments.
13. Agriculture remains the key to our economic diversification strategy. The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme continues to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizers to our farmers. This initiative has also revived 31 blending plants and created a significant number of direct and indirect jobs across the value chain
14. Government is also revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.
15. Through the food security initiative, we are promoting “Grow What We Eat and “Eat What We Grow’. I am also delighted that more and more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agri-business sector. I assure you that government will continue to support Agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and similar schemes.
16. To protect our farming investments, we have deployed five thousand Agro-Rangers and employed thirty thousand two hundred and eighty nine in our para-military agencies We are also integrating rural communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to rural farmers and building feeder roads.
17. Our efforts on growing non-oil exports have started to yield some results. For instance, in the past year, our revenue from Cocoa and Sesame Seed increased by seventy nine point four million US dollars and one hundred and fifty three million US dollars.
18 Africa presents a huge opportunity for our export base diversification and we are developing our strategy to grow intra-Africa trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
19. Business ranking from 146th to 131st and is now rated as one of the top ten performing countries. Nigeria has risen by 25 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 146th to 131 and is now rated as one of the ten top performing countries.
20 This development is due to the Visa on Arrival policy, consistent promotion of initiatives that expand facilities available to Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, robust electronic registration and payment system, seamless processing of business registration and reduction of cost of registering business by 50%.
21 We are confident that on-going efforts would result in further improvement of this rating
22. We remain committed to expanding our mining sector. To this end I have directed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant based on Government-to-Government financing and a Public-Private Sector financing.
23 With foreign and domestic investments and the participation of Small Scale Miners, we are harnessing the supply value chain in gold production.
24. We would also be launching a fully digitized mineral rights management platform for quick processing of mineral rights application digitization of records and plugging revenue leakages.
25 The Power Sector remains very critical to meeting our industrial development aspirations and we are tackling the challenges that still exist in the delivery of power through different strategies
26 We are executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme including the:
a. Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to
b. 330KV DC 62KM line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba
c Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project
d. Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme, and
e. Northern Corridor Transmission Project.
27. Our agreement with Siemens will transmit and distribute a total of
11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve our electricity needs.
28. On transportation, another critical sector to improving our
Economic competitiveness, we are growing the stock and quality of our
road, rail, air and water transport infrastructure.
29. Through the SUKUK-Funded Road Projects, a total of four hundred and twelve kilometers of the targeted six hundred and forty three kilometers road projects have been completed, representing 64%.
30. The Presidential infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well.
31. On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved
32. We have constructed one hundred and two kilometers of the three hundred and seventy six kilometers Abuja Kaduna – Kano Road representing 38%, and the forty two point nine kilometers Obajana -Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.
33. Furthermore, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has completed routine maintenance on over four thousand kilometers of federal roads out of the five thousand kilometers targeted.
34 . We are extending and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja- Kaduna Rail Line.
35. The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Wari Town to Warri Port on the other.
36 The Lagos-lbadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.
37. The Kano-Maradi Single Track Standard Gauge Railway Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt- Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea Port are all ready for concessioning
38. Government continues to make investments in the Aviation sector to position it as a travel and trade hub in West Africa and the wider African continent.
39. Airport Terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Pot Harcourt are being expanded, while the rehabilitation of the Enugu Airport is almost completed. All our airports are being raised to international standards with the provision of necessary equipment, especially navigational aids, to guarantee world class safety standards.
40. For the first time in over ten years, Nigeria is conducting bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil Fields to increase revenue and increase the participation of Nigerian companies in oil and exploration and production business.
41. We continue to grow local content in other areas of the oil and gas sector with the disbursement of funds from the two hundred million US dollars Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to indigenous manufacturers and service providers
42. With sustained engagement of youths, opinion leaders and other stakeholders, We have restored peace in the Niger Delta Region and maintained our oil production levels.
43. The Head office of the Niger Delta Development Commission will be commissioned shortly. The Funding of sections I-IV of the East-West Road shall be pursued with a view to completing the project by the end of 2021.
44. Furthermore, I am determined to ensure that development meant for the people of the Niger Delta get to them so I have authorized a Forensic Audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
45 Digital Economy continues to play an important role in our development agenda as we move into the age of Artificial intelligence
46. Since the creation of the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy. the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy has been launched. Steps have been taken to achieve a reduction of connectivity cluster gaps from two hundred and seven to one hundred and fourteen as well as increase the level of 4G coverage by 30%.
47. Nigeria remains committed to expanding access to quality education to enhance the productivity of its citizens and would continue to pursue the enforcement of free and compulsory basic education for the first 9 years of schooling.
48. In pursuit of this, we have launched the Better
Education Service Delivery for All in 17 states, established additional 6 Federal Science and Technical Colleges and currently executing a pro-active Teacher Training Plan with all states of the Federation.
49. In our revision of the operations of specialized education funds and to implement reforms that would optimize their benefits to the sector, we have adopted a Public-Private Sector Partnership for provision of infrastructure and also collaborate with the private sector to create jobs.
50. Our pursuit of affordable housing for the low and middle-in Come earners has received a boost with the delivery of one thousand two hundred housing units, provision of five hundred and twenty Service plots with infrastructure through a Public Private Sector partnership and the issuance of eight hundred and sixty eight mortgages totaling seven point seven billion Naira. Similarly, Home Renovation Loans totaling sixteen point two billion Naira have been granted to nineteen thousand two hundred and ten people.
51. To enable sustainable access to safe and sufficient water to meet the social, cultural, environmental and economic development needs of all Nigerians we continue to expand our water supply, irrigation and dam facilities.
52. The Completion of Amauzari, Amla Otukpo and other 42 Earth Dams with combined job creation of about forty three thousand, three hundred and fifty four direct jobs and seventy one thousand, one hundred and seventy two indirect jobs, would provide more support for irrigation agriculture and water supply.
53. To further institutionalize our effort in this regard, I signed the Executive Order 009 on Ending Open Defecation in Nigeria.
54. In order to improve our forest cover and in fulfillment of my commitment at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly
in 2019, we have commenced the planting of twenty five million trees.
This initiative will also contribute to our effort to mitigate the effect of climate change.
55. In the area of security, we remain unshaken in our resolve to protect our national infrastructure including on-shore and off-shore oil installations, secure our territorial waters and end piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
56 the nation is being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.
56 Ending insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality across the nation is being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.
57. All the Local Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram Insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.
58. The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities.
59 I regret recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions. Security Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bringthem to swift justice.