- Pledges to guarantee peaceful, secure Nigeria
- To ensure INEC’s independence, free, fair polls
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari this morning said he was aware that the ultimate goals of Boko Haram were to destroy Nigeria’s democracy and deny children their right to education, vowing to stop them from achieving such evil goals and objectives.
The president who made the pledge in a nationwide broadcast in commemoration of the 58th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence today, also vowed to remain committed to ending insurgency in the North-east.
Buhari, who commiserated with victims of Boko Haram insurgency, also praised members of the armed forces, who have been at the forefront of the battle against insurgency, promising to address flaws relating to the welfare of the troops.
He said, “Our thoughts and prayers are always with the victims of the Boko Haram’s atrocities and their families. Beyond that, we know that the goals of the Boko Haram terrorists include capturing territories, destroying our democracy and denying our children the right to education. We will not allow them to succeed.
“I want at this point to pay tribute to the men and women of our armed forces, the police and other security and law enforcement agencies, who have been working under the most difficult conditions to keep the country safe. In the process, many have made the supreme sacrifice.
“As their Commander -In- Chief, I assure these our gallant men and women that I will continue to empower them by deepening their professionalism and providing all the necessary force multipliers and enablers required for them to prevail on the field. I am looking into all reported cases of inadequacies in relation to their entitlements, their welfare and those of their families.”
But amid protracted accusations that his administration had inflicted division, insecurity and poverty on Nigerians more than any other administrations, the president vowed to aggressively pursue a united, peaceful, secure and prosperous Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria is currently on the right path as he acknowledged that even though there are obvious differences, such differences are incomparable with values and aspirations which unite the country.
He added, “As we celebrate the 58th Anniversary of our independence, we know we are on the right path. Although we have our differences, they count for far less than the values, virtues and common aspirations that unite us as a nation. We have so much for which we should be grateful, and in which we should rightly take pride. Our journey is not finished but we have come a long way.
“I want to assure you that as President, I will continue to work tirelessly to promote, protect and preserve what really matters: a united, peaceful, prosperous and secure Nigeria, where all, irrespective of background, can aspire to succeed.”
He, therefore, said as Nigeria marked its 58th independence anniversary today, it is more profitable “to reflect on what binds us together and the great strength our diversity bestows on us.”
He described Nigeria as an ambitious nation whose citizens look forward to the future with confidence and optimism, stating that efforts are geared towards cleaning up polluted places in the Niger Delta.
He also promised to restore hopes to the youths of the region, re-establish livelihoods, and strengthen the capacity of young men and women of the region to access a brighter future.
The president also said his administration was currently addressing the protracted violence against farmers by herders which according to him had become an effective tool in the hands of unscrupulous individuals to promote disunity.
He commended the roles played by civil society organisations, traditional and religious institutions as well as the state and local governments in finding solutions to the menace.
Buhari also threatened to bring to justice those who engage in wanton destruction of human lives and property, urging Nigerians at home and abroad to ignore insinuations that the conflicts were laced with religious and ethnic colourations.
“The age-long conflict between herders and farmers that was being exploited by those seeking to plant the seeds of discord and disunity amongst our people, is being addressed decisively. We will sustain and continue to support the commendable efforts by all including civil society organisations, local and states governments and our traditional and religious leaders in finding durable solution to this problem,”
“This being a transhumance issue, we are working with countries in our region that are also facing similar difficulties to complement our common efforts. In this context I must warn that the perpetrators of murder and general mayhem in the name of defending or protecting herders or farmers will face the full wrath of the law. Meanwhile, we urge all peace loving Nigerians to reject any simplistic portrayal, at home or abroad, of this conflict as either religious or ethnic based,” he added.
The president who further said the government would continue to mobilise international support to save the Lake Chad, also said the country was making progress in the fight against corruption as well as the recovery of stolen public funds and assets amid what he described as vicious and stiff resistance.
While submitting that there is now an enabling environment for both local and foreign investments in Nigeria, the president said the economy was being strengthened with stable Naira and falling inflation, adding that “we are building an economy that is moving away from over reliance on oil.”
He also commended the Nigerian youths whom he said had played central roles in Nigeria’s continuous progress and developments in all fields of national endeavour, noting that whereas technology is a veritable tool for knowledge acquisition, abuse of the social media must be resisted.
According to him, “Now we have in our hands technology that is a powerful tool that we can and should use for knowledge and understanding. As with other countries, we must also learn how to manage those tendencies that, instead, look to abuse new technologies to provoke passions and stir tensions.
“Never before have we faced such a challenge. We must all rise to the responsibility of shutting out those disruptive and corrosive forces that hide in today’s world of social media. We need critical minds and independent thinking, to question and question until we are satisfied we have the facts. Otherwise, all the progress we have made as a democracy since 1999 is at stake.”
He reiterated his promise to ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lives up to its name as an independent agency and also ensure that elections are not only free and fair but also participatory, pointing out that the moves to develop democracy is tasking.
“I have committed myself many times to ensure that elections are fully participatory, free and fair and that the Independent National Electoral Commission will be exactly INDEPENDENT and properly staffed and resourced. The ballot box is how we make our choice for the governments that rule in our name,” he stated, adding, “Developing a thriving democracy is not an easy task. There can be no quick fixes or short cuts. These are the most important lessons that we have learnt in our 58 years as an independent nation.”