From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
With the nation in the grip of recession, President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians to endure the effect of the corrective measures being put in place to achieve solutions that would last and birth a new era of national prosperity.
Delivering his Independence Day address to mark the nation’s 56th anniversary yesterday, the President reassured the nation that current economic recession would not last.
“Temporary problems should not blind or divert us from the corrective course this government has charted for our nation. We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions,” the President said.
Buhari noted that as someone who was a paid employee all his adult life, he understands the pain of salary not being enough.
“The recession for many individuals and families is real. For some, it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it’s not being able to afford the high cost of food (rice and millet) or the high cost of local or international travel, and for many of our young people, the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic.
“I know how difficult things are, and how rough business is. All my adult life I have always earned a salary and I know what it is like when your salary simply is not enough. In every part of our nation people are making incredible sacrifices.”
The President said he ran for office four times to make the point that the nation could be ruled with honesty and transparency, that the stealing of resources could be stopped so that the nation would have enough to provide jobs for the young people, security, infrastructure for commerce, education and healthcare.
He reaffirmed his resolute commitment to achieving this objective is his full recognition of the fact that “good government is the only way to ensure prosperity and abundance for all.”
The President condemned Niger Delta militants who he said were holding the nation to ransom through their mindless act of blowing up oil and gas pipelines.
He also reiterated the administration’s resolve to tackle the security challenges posed by menace of herdsmen, cattle rustling and kidnappings.
“What sense is there to damage a gas line as a result of which many towns in the country including their own towns or villages are put in darkness? What logic is there in blowing up an export pipeline and as a result income to your state and local governments and consequently their ability to provide services to your own people is reduced?”
He said the government would continue to dialogue with all groups and Leaders of Thought in the region to bring lasting peace.
Buhari said that the repair of the four refineries would save the nation $10 billion annually from importation of the products.
He said that the drive to achieve self-sufficiency in the local production of staple foods like rice, maize, sorghum, millet and soya beans is on track, with 2018 as the target date.
In this regard, the government, he disclosed, would reactivate 12 river basin development authorities.
On power, he said his administration is going ahead with projects utilizing alternate technologies such as hydro, wind, and solar to contribute to the energy mix.
“In this respect, the Mambilla Hydro project, after many years of delay is taking off this year.
Contract negotiations are nearing completion with Chinese firms for technical and financial commitments. The project is being jointly financed by Nigeria and the Chinese-Export-Import Bank. In addition, power purchase agreements have been concluded for 14 solar power projects.
On the vital issue of road transport, Buhari said that 9,000 construction workers laid off have been recalled following the release of funds to construction companies, resulting in the resumption of work on vital roads across the country,