â€¢ Claims security has improved since 2015
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in Abuja recalled the mild drama staged by a former Minister of the Niger Delta Ministry, Godsday Orubebe, during the collation of the 2015 presidential election results, saying such drama would remain indelible.
Buhari who made the recollection while delivering an address during the Democracy Day lecture organised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) at the International Conference Centre, also recalled the machinery put in place by former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, which he said gave the opposition at the time the confidence that the output of the 2015 general election would be acceptable to it.
He also recalled the effort by former United States President Barrack Obama to ensure that the election was free and fair.
â€œI must digress to raise an observation by the programme organisers because I did not see Orubebe who ought to have come and listen to Professor Jega deliver his lecture, this is a major observation.
â€œThat instance, for those of us who were lucky that there was light and we had the television to see the confrontation between Orubebe and Jega, it will remain a life impression to many of us.
â€œThe other one is the Jega briefing to the government, the opposition and the military before the date of the election was finally agreed on. Jega, as a professor, it was not surprising, briefed us of his activities between 2011 and 2015, the recruitment, equipping and training of INEC officials, that gave those of us who are lucky to get the report, the courage that nothing outside the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be accepted by the opposition.
â€œSo, the question of an interim administration or postponing election for more than 90 days shouldnâ€™t be on the table and I thank personally the United States government then under President Barack Obama by sending John Kerry to read the riot act to the government and to us the opposition then that nothing other than a free and fair election will be acceptable.â€
In his proper address, Buhari said the theme of this yearâ€™s anniversary of democracy, â€œPeace Building and Good Governance for Sustainable Development,â€ had been carefully selected to reflect the countryâ€™s current opportunities and challenges.
According to him, though rough times had been experienced in the last three years, emerging challenges had been put under control through good governance as he listed the challenges confronting the country to include border disputes and efforts to ensure peaceful co-existence between Nigeria and neighbouring countries.
Arguing that security challenges bedeviling the country have improved considerably from what it used to be in 2015, Buhari said dialogue had been a tool deployed by the government for the restoration of peace among warring groups and communities adding that the rebuilding of the North-east devastated by Boko Haram was ongoing.
He also said the resolve to fight the war against corruption was predicated on the realisation that anti-graft battle was the platform for attaining sustainable growth and development in the country.
The president also said the government was not relenting in its effort to equip the military with the aim of ensuring that they have the capacity to combat violence, adding that cases of bombings of communities and villages by insurgents have been largely curtailed.
Also, insisting that the countryâ€™s economic is on course, Buhari said there had been growth in economic activities with increased foreign reserve, food production, diversification of the economy and investment in infrastructure.
He said: â€œAccordingly, we have engaged in several rounds of dialogue and town hall meetings, targeted at peace building, between the aggrieved and in some cases warring factions and communities. We have worked hard to dialogue with and if they turn unreasonable decimate insurgents in various parts of the country.
â€œWe are still grappling but successfully, with border disputes and restoring the much needed peaceful co-existence amongst our people and neighbouring countries. The rebuilding of the North East is ongoing, to return our internally displaced brothers, sisters and children to their ancestral homes.
â€œOur resolve to fight corruption was informed by the realisation that reducing corruption and ensuring the effective and just utilisation of public resources, are crucial for achieving sustainable growth and development in Nigeria. Corruption has been at the root of most of the development challenges of our country. There can be no progress in any facet of our national life unless we tackle and curb corruption.
â€œGood governance is the polar opposite to corruption. Accordingly, we will not relent in our efforts to eliminate it regardless of the opposition.Â It manifests itself in several forms includingÂ accelerating poverty, conflicts and civil disturbances, as those who feel short-changed, resort to violence and destruction.
â€œThe security in the country today has considerably improved against the background of what we met in May 2015. Incidences of bombings in towns and villages have been drastically curtailed, series of plots have been averted and stopped and culprits arrested through the vigilance, patriotism and professionalism of our security agencies. The entire country has been freed from occupation of any of its parts by insurgents.
â€œWhile we grieve with our compatriots who have lost relatives and properties, we are unrelenting in equipping and preparing our troops to confront the agents of violence, who have been engaging in banditry and reckless killings in various parts of the country under whatever guise, until total victory is achieved. Again it is pertinent to note that insurgency and terrorism are world-wide phenomena affecting even the best policed nations.
â€œOur economy is on the mend. We have achieved a good number of our set objectives, notably increased food production and food security; increased economic diversification into sectors that were hitherto neglected or under-explored. Our foreign reserves have reached new heights and the outcome in respect of investments in infrastructure expansion are manifest everywhere.â€