•Laments devastating impact of COVID-19
•Says rural insecurity endangers urbanites
Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
President Mohammadu Buhari yesterday acknowledged that Nigeria, like many countries worldwide, “is in a state of turmoil.”
According to him, global currents are interacting with local tides to create stormy trends for our society.
Buhari, also, lamented the worsening cases of COVID-19, which according to him, had grave effects upon the global economy resulting in the increased healthcare spending and infrastructure projects.
He expressed grave concern about diverse national challenges at the graduation of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) 42 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Jos, the Plateau State capital yesterday.
He, specifically, acknowledged that the facts and figures were grim but said the point was not to drive the citizens into despondency or disillusionment.
He said: “Rather, it is to attune our minds to the enormity of the task ahead. The times levy a demand on institutions such as this one and on its graduates for innovation and creative intelligence in addressing our national challenges.”
Buhari, who was represented by Plateau State Governor, Senator Simon Lalong, said: “You are all probably familiar with an axiom that never let a crisis go to waste. It is an axiom that sums up the imperative of the present moment.
“A crisis, such as we are facing now, is an opportunity to institute a new and better order of things. Inherent in this moment, is an opportunity to dispense with old unproductive models of thinking and summon the future.
“Whether you are a senior bureaucrat or a military officer or a law enforcement official or a chieftain in the private sector, you must, as of this moment, see yourself as part of a cohort that must lead the change into the future.”
He lamented the severe impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, which he said, had resulted in increasing expenditure on healthcare and related infrastructure, disruptions to supply chains and suspension of economic activities as a result of prevalent lockdowns and massive job losses.
He added that measures taken to contain COVID-19 “have the effect of depressing the demand for crude oil and precipitating an unprecedented oil price crash. All of these have tipped the Nigerian economy into recession.”
He noted that there was a plague of cynicism in the public life that had been fostered by the apathy and indifference of the elites to the common good.
The president explained that the principle of enlightened self-interest “does not ask us to do things merely out of the goodness of our hearts. It derives instead from a rational assessment of reality.
“To interrogate our present situation and reflect upon our circumstances is to realise that we cannot take solace in our relative affluence in the midst of widespread misery.
“Consider how the institutional reputations of our law enforcement and security agencies have rendered their personnel vulnerable to personal attacks.
“Even if we are not directly endangered by these perils, consider the price that our families and loved ones must pay by association. This is because ultimately, neither status nor class can indemnify elites against social catastrophes.
“Precisely because they share the same economy and ecosystem, the fates of the elites and the masses are intertwined. When, for example, insecurity plagues rural agrarian communities, urbanites feel the impact in terms of the rising cost of food.
“Rural-urban migration leads to increased pressure on urban infrastructure and an increase in urban poverty. Rural insecurity leads inexorably to urban insecurity.
“These plagues emanate from the failure of institutions and all of you gathered here are custodians of institutions. More importantly, they underscore the importance of legitimacy in the relations between state and society.
“It is no longer enough to boast of successful careers in distinctly unsuccessful institutions. The true measure of our success will be revealed by the extent to which we are able to promote progressive values in our spheres of influence.
“You are by no means powerless bystanders in the trends and events shaping the fate of this nation. You are critical actors now and in the days to come. As individuals and as a cohort, you possess sufficient authority and influence to reorient the institutions over which you have charge.”
He, therefore, urged the graduates to consolidate the associations and friendship that they had established and used them as networks for positive change across all sectors of public life.
He noted that great societies “are built by a critical mass of citizens that are guided by enlightened self-interest. It is my hope that you will be the lynchpin of this critical mass of elites in our nation.”