Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
In spite of the challenges facing the country, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday reiterated the need for the various ethnic nationalities in the country to remain united, noting that the nation had made terrible mistakes in the past due to its dependence on oil as a mono-product economic booster for sustenance.
He therefore said the citizens are now paying dearly for such mistakes and failure by past leaders.
Speaking shortly after he performed the inauguration ceremony of the Edo State University, Iyahmo, in Etsako West Local Government Area to end his two-day official visit to the state, Buhari explained that Nigeria was reputed for earning greater chunk of her foreign reserves from the export of cocoa, palm kernel, groundnut, hides and skin before the discovery of petroleum.
The president lamented that the nation’s woes began the moment crude oil was discovered and developed in large quantity and the consequent abandonment of every other sector of the economy to the peril of the country’s growth and development.
His words: “Once petroleum was discovered and developed in large quantity, we threw everything to the dust. Now petroleum is diving from one hundred dollars to between 40 and 50 dollars per barrel and that is the price we are paying now. What have we done to our agriculture, power, rail, road and social infrastructure; education and health, just check and find out. We have been wasteful, now we have to go back to land to solid minerals and do a lot of savings so that we can leave a better country for our children and our grandchildren.”
“We are doing our best because we find ourselves to be part of this great country called Nigeria. We are blessed with human and material resources, we have made terrible mistakes in allowing ourselves to be cornered in a mono economy and we are now paying dearly for our mistakes. Nigeria saved its money from cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel, groundnut, hides and skin. Once petroleum was discovered and developed in quantity, we threw everything to the dust”
He explained that democratic party system of government remained the best for the country, adding that in a country of at least 250 cultures and people where some groups and individuals cannot believe in their nationality, it is not easy to come together, only God can do it.”
According to Mr. President, “In this contribution, I very much congratulate the governor. He has shown a lot of foresight by the quality of infrastructure he has put on ground. May God grant him abundant health; and for those of us that are here and other constituencies, please continue to persuade your colleagues to bear with the leadership of this country at all levels because this is a time of hard work. This is a time of rebuilding Nigeria. We plead for peoples understanding, gradually for what we are here for and what we stand for.”
According to him, “During my campaign throughout this country, we emphasised three things; security, economy and fighting corruption. In each one of them, we have met our purpose and that was coupled by the fact that the rainy season this year was good; if the rainy season had failed this year, especially in the northern part of the country, I doubt what the future would have been now because there was no savings, there was no infrastructure and coupled with hunger. I think it is a big recipe for disaster. We thank God for saving us from that disaster.”
The President who particularly commended Oshiomhole for the foresight, hard work and personal integrity, expressed optimism that the governor would galvanise himself for the work of nation building after leaving office as the governor of the state.
Earlier, Oshiomhole told his guest that the Edo University, Iyahmo, was built to assist in offering quality education and to meet the needs of both the rich and poor as well as contribute to human capital and skills development.
Oshiomhole explained that the president’s visit for two consecutive days and for the first time in his eight years in office was not for political purpose but to look at what the administration had been doing across the various sectors in the three senatorial districts of the state, in the health sectors, flood and erosion control, urban renewal programme, construction of quality school buildings for public use and road network.
He pointed out that no local government area within the senatorial districts where the APC-led government under his watch did not show its presence in terms of solid infrastructure, adding that “one thing is to have the mandate of the people on the basis of assumption of what they think or belief you would do that is the basis for voting but whether in the end you are able to satisfy their expectation is what makes the difference.”
The president while in Edo State for the two-day working visit, inaugurated several key projects which cut across the three senatorial zones of Edo South, Central and North respectively and had since left the state for Abuja.