President Muhammadu Buhari, has commended Nigerians for supporting his administration’s plans to transform Nigeria, saying that the change yearning for by the citizens would manifest more in 2017.
The President in his New Year message to Nigerians yesterday rolled out plans to improve the country’s status in year 2017.
Buhari urged the citizens to continuously support his administration in its effort to change Nigeria for the good of all, saying that the current present challenges were temporary and that the situation ease when the economic seeds in gestation begin to bloom to fruition.
The president noted that the impressive turnaround in the country’s security and socio-economic situation in the outgoing year indicated that the country was already set for greatness in 2017.
Reeling out his achievements in security within the outgoing year and since inauguration, the president noted that the successful capture of Sambisa Forest in Borno state, spearheaded by troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, indicated a new phase in the country’s battle against its common enemy, Boko Haram.
Buhari advised all Nigerians to be on the alert and watch out for strange people settling in their midst, so as to prevent Boko Haram members fleeing military onslaught in Sambisa Forest from taking shelter in their communities.
Buhari said suspicious faces should be reported to “the nearest security agencies, as our armed forces intensify the pursuit of fleeing terrorists from the captured Sambisa Forest.”
Nigerian soldiers last week conquered Camp Zero, Boko Haram’s last stronghold in the 60,000square kilometer expansive forest and captured more than 1,200 insurgents and rescued thousands of captives.
The Nigerian military, later in the week, announced the arrest of a Boko Haram commander in Lagos, who was caught after fleeing military operation in the forest.
The president emphasised that misguided elements who decided to take up arms against constituted authorities must be brought to face the full weight of the law.
He said the support of all Nigerians to security agencies to enable them successfully execute their mandate was crucial in the bid to effectively secure the country.
“Seeing the joyful return of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Damasak town in Borno State following the reopening of Maiduguri/Gubio/Damasak road in northern Borno on December 25, 2016, reassured us that the voluntary return of IDPs in other parts of the country is imminent,” he said.
Buhari said the federal government would spare no effort in seeing to the resettlement and rehabilitation of the unfortunate victims of terrorism and insurgency.
He urged state governments, privileged Nigerians, donor agencies and countries to redouble their contributions towards this goal.
He assured that the nation’s defence and security forces were more than ever before, ready to perform their constitutional role of protecting lives and property in the New Year.
President Buhari also assured that the country would surely overcome all other forms of security challenges.
“The lingering security issues in several states will be frontally addressed. These ugly crises cannot be allowed to fester as they strain the unifying bonds of brotherhood and neighbourliness,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari said his government was aware of some mistakes and wrongdoings in handling the affairs of the internally displaced persons.
He declared that his administration’s determination “to wrestle corruption to the ground remains unshaken.”
According to him, the fight against corruption, “which will be guided by respect for the rule of law and due process, will not spare anybody or organ of government. It is a collective undertaking and resolve that must be seen to its logical conclusion in spite of certain distractions. The fate of our country lies partly in the success of this campaign. It will be unthinkable on my part to allow the boat of this crucial campaign promise capsize mid-stream.”
Buhari said he was happy to welcome Nigerians to the beginning of a New Year and felicitate with them at a time their nation was witnessing a new and impressive turnaround in its security and socio-economic situations.
He said he knew the citizens would join him to, once again, congratulate “the heroic and gallant efforts of our military and other security agencies on their remarkable successes to rid the nation of terrorism.”
The president said following the successful capture of Sambisa Forest, spearheaded by troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, the nation had entered a new phase in its battle against its common enemy, Boko Haram.
“When we see our beloved 21 Chibok girls reuniting with their families and community for Christmas, it gives us the hope that those who are still in captivity will one day return to the loving arms of family, friends and well-wishers,’’ he said.
Buhari said some sections of the press and some politicians should avoid provocative and inflammatory statements while the government was painstakingly trying to find solutions to the country’s challenges.
Ruling out the possibility of the country’s disintegration, the president said: “I want to remind you on the first day of this New Year, of an African proverb that says ‘it is easy to break a broomstick but not a bunch.’ Nigeria is a bunch and is more than equal to troublemakers.
“I have interacted with a broad spectrum of Nigerians – the old and the young – and they have told me unequivocally that they believe in the unity and stability of Nigeria. The year 2017 provides an opportunity for us to build on those aspects of our national life that unite the country. We are courageous, hardworking, hospitable, steadfast and resilient people, even in the face of difficulties.
“These are the attributes that define us and have for years confounded the pessimists who do not believe in our continued existence as a united and indivisible nation. We are a remarkable nation that has succeeded in harnessing our multiple diversities for national development. We must continue to support and tolerate one another and live together as one.”
He said his government would continue to pursue peace initiatives in the Niger Delta as he again called “on our brothers in that region who have taken to violent disruptions of economic infrastructure to come to the negotiating table.”
He added: “As for our brothers and sisters of the Shia Community, we urge them, too, to embrace peace. They must accept the laws of the country they live in. They cannot be islands by themselves. At the same time, the law enforcement agencies must treat them humanely and according to the rule of law.”
He said since its inauguration on May 29, 2015, his administration had focused its energies to turn around the economy, create jobs, fight corruption, and transform agriculture to replace oil and gas as a major revenue earner for the nation.
The president stated that he was encouraged “that we are getting things right.”
He said: “The agricultural revolution has begun. Farmers in different parts of the country are experiencing bumper harvests; states are getting into strategic partnership towards attaining self-sufficiency in rice, and the era of over-dependence on oil for foreign exchange revenues is gradually waning. I am optimistic that the change we all yearned for in voting this administration to power in 2015 will manifest more and be sustained in different sectors, particularly agriculture, in 2017.
“As you may be aware, our economic recovery and growth plan in 2017 is anchored on optimizing the use of local content and empowering local businesses.
“In pursuit of this administration’s philosophy, we will continue to appeal that we buy ‘made in Nigeria’ goods. Like I said during the 2017 budget presentation to the National Assembly, farmers, small and medium-sized manufacturers, agro-allied businesses, dressmakers, entertainers and technology start-ups, will remain the true drivers of our economic future. They are the engine of our economic recovery and their needs underpin our economic recovery and growth plan.
“On job creation, this administration will sustain existing programmes aimed at lifting a vast number of our youth out of poverty, while at the same time creating the opportunities for people to fend for themselves.”
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