Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that in few days he will sign into law the “Not Too Young to Run” Bill.
“In few days to come, I will be joined by many promising young Nigerians to sign into law the “Not Too Young to Run” Bill.”
President Buhari made the promise in his address to the Nation to mark the 2018 Democracy Day celebration.
Not Too Young To Run is a campaign which seeks to reduce the age limit for running for elected office in Nigeria and globally.
The campaign started in support of bills and motions in Nigeria’s National Assembly sponsored by the Hon. Tony Nwulu in the House of Representatives and Sen. AbdulAziz Nyako in the Senate.
The President has also urged Nigerians ahead of the 2019 general elections, to conduct themselves “with the utmost sense of fairness, justice and peaceful co-existence such that we will have not only hitch free elections but also a credible and violence free process.”
President Buhari, who admitted that his administration has faced a lot of challenges in its efforts to deliver on the three cardinal points of Security, Corruption and the Economy, commended Nigerians for not wavering in their support.
On security, President Buhari said that apart from degrading the capacity of the insurgents which has resulted the re-establishment of authority of government, so far a total of 16,210 abducted persons have been freed from Boko Haram capacity including, 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls.
Buhari who described as “unfortunate” the incidences of kidnappings, herdsmen and farmers clashes in several communities which have led to high number of fatalities and loss of properties across the country, assured that the menace are being addressed adding “and the identified culprits and their sponsors shall be made to face the full wrath of the law. All the three tiers of Government are presently engaged with communities and religious organisations to restore peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.”
He continued, “This administration is pained over the grievous loss of lives and properties occasioned by the carnage of insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country. I wish to assure Nigerians that we will not rest until all criminal elements and their sponsors are brought to justice. Government is boosting the capacity of our security agencies through recruitment of more personnel, training and procurement of modern equipment, enhancement of intelligence gathering as well as boosting their morale in the face of daunting challenges.”
On the fight against corruption, he said, already Nigerians and the international community have begun to applaud the successes recorded so far, he however called for more support in the fight, insisting “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us.
The president listed some of the results recorded N200 billion saved from elimination of ghost workers in public service, over N500 billion from the Whistle-Blowing Policy, and over 52,000 ghost workers removed from government’s payroll.
He also said more taxes have been recovered from tax defaulters through the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) and that Sovereign Wealth Fund project portfolio has been expanded with an injection of US$650 million so as to strengthen its investment in local infrastructure, power, health, re-construction of Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, East West Road (Section V) and the Mambilla Hydro-electric Power project as well as the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.
President Buhari on the Economy said, his administration’s focus on revamping the ailing economy it inherited in 2015, led to his government expanding its capital expenditure by 30 percent, the first time in the nation’s history.
He said the development of a comprehensive medium term plan – the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017 – 2020, has started yielding positive results which include “The National Bureau of Statistics reports that the economy grew by 1.95% in 1st quarter 2018, which is a good performance when viewed against -0.91 in 1st quarter 2017 and -0.67% in 1st quarter 2016 respectively.
“Our foreign reserve has improved significantly to 47.5 billion USD as of May, 2018 as against 29.6 billion USD in 2015. The inflationary rate has consistently declined every month since January, 2017.
“Recently, Government conducted Focus Labs in three key sectors of the Economy namely, Agriculture & Transport, Manufacturing and Processing as well as Power and Gas. These have yielded significant prospects for investments and Job creation to the tune of US$ 22.5 billion with a potential for creating more than 500,000 jobs by 2020. These investment generation initiatives are expected to increase capital inflows in the form of foreign direct investment. There is a high prospect that the cumulative investments from this first phase of the Labs will hit US$39.2 billion by 2025.
“Under agriculture, Nigeria continues to pursue a strategic food security programme built around self-sufficiency and minimization of import dependency. As a result, rice importation from other countries has been cut down by 90% which has a direct impact on foreign reserves.
“The Social Investment Programmes (SIP) has been created as a means to graduating our citizens from poverty through capacity building, investment and direct support. The major strategic objective is to restore livelihood, economic opportunities and sustenance for the poor across the country. The SIP programmes and projects include:
“Home Grown School Feeding Programme – About 8.2 million pupils are currently being fed from 24 States of the Federation with over 75,000 Catering Staff engaged under the programme.
“The Conditional Cash Transfer has so far recorded over 297,000 caregivers and being trained by 2,495 Community Facilitators in 21 states. Less privileged Nigerians are now being paid N5,000 monthly stipend in 9 pilot States of Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Osun and Oyo. Eventually the scheme will cover all the 36 states of the federation including the FCT.
“Under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme – About 264,269 loans had been disbursed to 4,822 societies in the 36 States and FCT, while another 370,635 are awaiting release of funds.
“N-Power Job creation Scheme – is targeted at providing jobs for unemployed young graduates and has so far recruited 200,000 youths while the next batch of 300,000 have been selected, verified and would soon be deployed across the 36 States and the FCT. Furthermore, 20,000 non-graduate volunteers have also been selected to kick off the N-Build programme in collaboration with the National Automotive Design and Development Council and the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria.
“In the area of power generation, Nigerians from all parts of the country continue to report better power supply and less use of generators. This underscores the effectiveness of the methodical plan to deliver incremental and uninterrupted power supply to our homes, markets, offices and factories.
“The country achieved 5, 222.3 MW representing the highest peak of power generated onto the national grid and delivered to customers in December, 2017. With new facilities, repairs and rehabilitations by Government and private investors, generation capability now exceeds 7,500 MW.
“This Administration is committed to lawful interventions to ensure the operators of the distribution business live up to expectations especially in the areas of distribution capacity, service delivery, collection efficiency, and metering to eliminate contentious estimated billing.”