We’ll Continue to Guarantee Press Freedom…Buhari…

…Says
Nigeria Will Always be Governed by Rule of Law, Uphold Citizens’ Rights

Against the backdrop of
increasing attacks on the media, President Muhammadu Buhari has restated the
commitment of his administration to continue to guarantee press freedom, while
saluting the media for its doggedness in the struggle for the attainment of
democracy. He also stressed that the country will always be governed according
to the rule of law.

“We will continue to
guarantee freedom of the Press as we place high premium on responsible
journalism that is devoid of hate speech, fake news and other unethical
professional conduct,” he says in veiled response to the rising cases of
arrests of Journalists and media workers, particularly in the wake of Covid-19
pandemic, which has now spiked close to 15,000 cases with the country also
recording 387 deaths..

Addressing the nation
on the occasion of Democracy Day, now
to be marked on June 12 of every year, to celebrate the June 12, 1993
Presidential Election, perceived as the nation’s freest and won by frontline
businessman, Mr Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the President was effusive in his
appreciation of the media

“I will also like to
convey our deep appreciation to members of the Press for your doggedness in the
struggle for attainment of democracy since the beginning of our nationhood.

“I must admit that the
relationship between the media and successive governments has not always been
perfect. But there is no denying the fact that you have been an effective watchdog
for the society especially in holding public officers to account. It is sad
that in the course of securing our democracy, some of your colleagues have had
to pay a heavy price.”

Pressing on further on
the strife by his administration to uphold the rights of the citizenry,
President Buhari assures: “This administration is focused on ensuring that
Nigeria would always be governed by the Rule of Law and I would do my utmost to
uphold the constitution and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.

“Government has
initiated a number of policies and programmes designed to promote the legal
rights of Nigerians, facilitate the institutionalization of a responsive legal
system, provide support to all constituted bodies in implementing their
mandates and improve our custodial system of justice.”

Growing
External Reserve

Although he lamented
that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which grew from 1.91%in2018 to 2.27% in
2019, had declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the
wane in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the President
was upbeat about the achievements of his administration in the last five years
as he reels them out:.

“In order to stabilize the economy, the Monetary
Authority took steps to build the external reserves which resulted in improved
liquidity in the foreign exchange market. The external reserves grew from
$33.42 billion on April 29th 2020 to about $36.00 billion in May, 2020 which is
enough to finance seven months of import commitments.

Gains
in Agriculture

“Agriculture remains the key to our economic
diversification strategy. The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme
continues to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality
fertilizers to our farmers. This initiative has also revived 31 blending plants
and created a significant number of direct and indirect jobs across the value
chain.

“Government is also revamping the cotton, textile
and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would
considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.

“Through the food security initiative, we are
promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”. I am also delighted
that more and more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the
agriculture and agri-business sector. I assure you that government will
continue to support the Agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers
Programme and similar schemes.

“To protect our farming investments, we have
deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military agencies.

Critical
Projects in Power Sector

“The Power Sector remains very critical to meeting
our industrial development aspirations and we are tackling the challenges that
still exist in the delivery of power through different strategies.

“We are executing some critical projects through the
Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme including the:

* Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin
and Kaduna to Kano;

* 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba;

* Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project;

* Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and

* Northern Corridor Transmission Project.

“Our agreement with
Siemens will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to
serve our electricity needs.

Infrastructural
Development

President Buhari says, “The
Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very
well. On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach
roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved. We
have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing
38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.

“Furthermore, the
Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has completed routine maintenance on over
4,000km of federal roads out of the 5,000km targeted.

“We are extending and
upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches
and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line. The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe –
Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one
end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.

“The Lagos-Ibadan Rail
Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help
address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.

“The Kano – Maradi
Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt
– Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running
through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea
Port are all ready for concessioning.

“Government continues
to make investments in the Aviation sector to position it as a travel and trade
hub in West Africa and the wider African continent.

“Airport Terminals in
Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt are being expanded, while the
rehabilitation of the Enugu Airport is almost completed. All our airports are
being raised to international standards with the provision of necessary
equipment, especially navigational aids, to guarantee world class safety
standards,” he says..  

Full Address

NATIONAL
BROADCAST BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI ON DEMOCRACY DAY, JUNE 12TH 2020

Fellow Nigerians,

  1. The 2020 celebration of Democracy Day
    marks 21 years of uninterrupted civil administration in our dear country. This
    day provides us an opportunity to reflect on our journey as a nation, our
    achievements and struggles.
  2. It is a day to honour our founding
    fathers who toiled to establish our republic and every Nigerian who has worked
    tirelessly to sustain it.
  3. We are celebrating this year’s Democracy
    Day despite the COVID-19 pandemic which afflicts our nation and the whole
    world.
  4. It is indeed a very difficult time for
    everyone especially those who have lost loved ones to the virus and those whose
    sources of livelihood have been severely constrained by the stringent measures
    we introduced at every level of government to contain the virus and save lives.
  5. The dedication of our health and other
    essential services staff towards containing this virus is a testament of our
    courage and resilience as a people and as a great nation, and I use this
    opportunity to say thank you to all of you for your service to the nation.
  6. Sustaining our democracy thus far has
    been a collective struggle, and I congratulate all Nigerians and particularly
    leaders of our democratic institutions on their resilience and determination to
    ensure that Nigeria remains a shining example of democracy.
  7. In my 2019 Democracy Day address, I
    promised to frontally address the nation’s daunting challenges, especially
    insecurity, economy and corruption. I therefore find it necessary to give an
    account of my stewardship on this day.
  8. We have recorded notable achievements in
    the course of implementing our nine priority objectives and are establishing a
    solid foundation for future success.
  9. On the economic front, our objectives
    have remained to stabilize the macroeconomy, achieve agricultural and food
    security, ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, develop
    infrastructure, fight corruption and improve governance.
  10. We have witnessed eleven quarters of
    consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 1.91% in 2018
    to 2.27% in 2019 but declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result
    of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  11. Every single economy in the world has
    suffered a decline. Ours has been relatively moderate.
  12. In order to stabilize the economy, the
    Monetary Authority took steps to build the external reserves which resulted in
    improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market. The external reserves grew
    from $33.42 billion on April 29th 2020 to about $36.00 billion in May, 2020
    which is enough to finance seven months of import commitments.
  13. Agriculture remains the key to our
    economic diversification strategy. The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative
    programme continues to deliver significant quantities of affordable and
    high-quality fertilizers to our farmers. This initiative has also revived 31
    blending plants and created a significant number of direct and indirect jobs
    across the value chain.
  14. Government is also revamping the cotton,
    textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that
    would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile
    imports.
  15. Through the food security initiative, we
    are promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”. I am also delighted
    that more and more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the
    agriculture and agri-business sector. I assure you that government will
    continue to support the Agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers
    Programme and similar schemes.
  16. To protect our farming investments, we
    have deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military
    agencies.
  17. We are also integrating rural
    communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to
    rural farmers and building feeder roads. 
  18. Our efforts on growing non-oil exports
    have started to yield some results. For instance, in the past year, our revenue
    from Cocoa and Sesame Seed increased by $79.4 million and $153 million.
  19. Africa presents a huge opportunity for
    our export base diversification and we are developing our strategy to grow
    intra-Africa trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
  20. Nigeria has risen by 25 places on the
    World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 146th to 131st and is now
    rated as one of the top ten reforming countries.
  21. This development is due to the Visa on
    Arrival policy, consistent promotion of initiatives that expand facilities
    available to Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, robust electronic
    registration and payment system, seamless processing of business registration
    and reduction of cost of registering business by 50%. We are confident that
    on-going efforts would result in further improvement of this rating.
  22. We remain committed to expanding our
    mining sector. To this end, I have directed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta
    Steel Plant based on Government-to-Government financing and a Public-Private
    Sector financing.
  23. With foreign and domestic investments
    and the participation of Small Scale Miners, we are harnessing the supply value
    chain in gold production.
  24. We would also be launching a fully
    digitized mineral rights management platform for quick processing of mineral
    rights application, digitization of records and plugging revenue leakages.
  25. The Power Sector remains very critical
    to meeting our industrial development aspirations and we are tackling the
    challenges that still exist in the delivery of power through different
    strategies.
  26. We are executing some critical projects
    through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme including the:

a.     Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to
Benin and Kaduna to Kano;

b.     330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi
and Kamba;

c.     Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure
Project;

d.     Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and

e.     Northern Corridor Transmission Project.

27. Our agreement with
Siemens will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to
serve our electricity needs.

28. On transportation,
another critical sector to improving our economic competitiveness, we are
growing the stock and quality of our road, rail, air and water transport
infrastructure.

29. Through the
SUKUK-Funded Road Projects, a total of 412km of the targeted 643km road
projects have been completed, representing 64%.

30. The Presidential
Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well. On the
2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are
being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved. We have
constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%,
and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.

31. Furthermore, the
Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has completed routine maintenance on over
4,000km of federal roads out of the 5,000km targeted.

32. We are extending
and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives,
coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line. The Central Ajaokuta –
Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to
Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.

33. The Lagos-Ibadan
Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would
help address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.

34. The Kano – Maradi
Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt
– Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running
through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea
Port are all ready for concessioning.

35. Government
continues to make investments in the Aviation sector to position it as a travel
and trade hub in West Africa and the wider African continent.

36. Airport Terminals
in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt are being expanded, while the
rehabilitation of the Enugu Airport is almost completed. All our airports are
being raised to international standards with the provision of necessary
equipment, especially navigational aids, to guarantee world class safety
standards.  

37. For the first time
in over ten years, Nigeria is conducting bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil
Fields to increase revenue and increase the participation of Nigerian companies
in oil and exploration and production business.

38. We continue to grow
local content in other areas of the oil and gas sector with the disbursement of
funds from the $200 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to indigenous
manufacturers and service providers.

39. With sustained
engagement of youths, opinion leaders and other stakeholders, we have restored
peace in the Niger Delta Region and maintained our oil production levels. 

40. The Head office of
the Niger Delta Development Commission will be commissioned shortly. The Funding
of sections I–IV of the East-West Road shall be pursued with a view to
completing the project by the end of 2021.

41. Furthermore, I am
determined to ensure that development meant for the people of the Niger Delta
get to them so I have authorised a Forensic Audit of the Niger Delta
Development Commission.

42. Digital Economy
continues to play an important role in our development agenda as we move into
the age of Artificial Intelligence.

43. Since the creation
of the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, the National Digital
Economy Policy and Strategy has been launched. Steps have been taken to achieve
a reduction of connectivity cluster gaps from 207 to 114 as well as increase
the level of 4G coverage by 30%.     

44. Nigeria remains
committed to expanding access to quality education to enhance the productivity
of its citizens and would continue to pursue the enforcement of free and
compulsory basic education for the first 9 years of schooling.

45. In pursuit of this,
we have launched the Better Education Service Delivery for All in 17 states,
established additional 6 Federal Science and Technical Colleges and currently
executing a pro-active Teacher Training Plan with all states of the Federation.

46. In our revision of
the operations of specialized education funds and to implement reforms that
would optimize their benefits to the sector, we have adopted a Public-Private
Sector Partnership for provision of infrastructure and also collaborate with
the private sector to create jobs. 

47. Our pursuit of
affordable housing for the low and middle-income earners has received a boost
with the delivery of 1,200 housing units, provision of 520 service plots with
infrastructure through a Public Private Sector partnership and the issuance of
868 mortgages totaling N7.7 Billion. Similarly, Home Renovation Loans totaling
N16.2 Billion have been granted to 19,210 people. 

48. To enable
sustainable access to safe and sufficient water to meet the social, cultural,
environmental and economic development needs of all Nigerians, we continue to
expand our water supply, irrigation and dam facilities.

49. The Completion of
Amauzari, Amla Otukpo and other 42 Earth Dams with combined job creation of
about 43,354 direct jobs and 71,172 indirect jobs, would provide more support
for irrigation agriculture and water supply.

50. To further
institutionalize our effort in this regard, I signed the Executive Order 009 on
Ending Open Defecation in Nigeria.

51. In order to improve
our forest cover and in fulfilment of my commitment at the 74th Session of the
United Nations General Assembly in 2019, we have commenced the planting of 25
million trees. This initiative will also contribute to our effort to mitigate
the effect of climate change.

52. In the area of
security, we remain unshaken in our resolve to protect our national
infrastructure including on-shore and off-shore oil installations, secure our
territorial waters and end piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

53. Ending insurgency,
banditry and other forms of criminality across the nation is being accorded
appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria
have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.

54. All the Local
Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe
and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these
areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their
ancestral homes.

55. The total collapse
of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food
security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other
economic activities.

56. I regret recent
sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a
result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions. Security
Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice.

57. I must implore
state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets so that the
Security Agencies can nip in the bud any planned attacks in remote rural areas.
I send my heartfelt condolences to all the relatives and communities
affected. 

58. As part of the
strengthening of our internal security architecture, the Ministry of Police
Affairs was created.

59. Amongst others,
Government has expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen
states of the federation, resuscitated the National Public Security
Communication System and commenced the implementation of the Community Policing
Strategy.

60. Government has
similarly established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund as a public-private sector
vehicle for alternative sources of funding security activities.

61. To reduce security
challenges through our external borders especially smuggling of oil products
out of the country, inflow of small arms and drugs into the country and equally
protect our local manufacturers, we introduced operation “Ex-Swift Response”
closing our borders from August 20th 2019, and have considerably succeeded in
meeting its objectives as well as improving our national revenue.

62. Our Government has
continued to work to reduce social and economic inequality through targeted
social investment programmes, education, technology and improved information.

63. Our Social
Investment Programme has continued to be a model to other nations and has
engaged 549,500 N-Power beneficiaries, 408,682 beneficiaries of the Conditional
Cash Transfer Programme and 2,238,334 beneficiaries of the Growth Enhancement
and Empowerment Programme. This is being done in collaboration with the States.

64. Similarly,
“Marketmoni” and “Tradermoni” Programmes have provided affordable loans to
small and micro scale enterprises to grow their businesses. Under the National
Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, over 9,963,729 children are being fed to
keep them in school and improve their nutritional status.

65. Fellow Nigerians,
the year 2020 has been like none other. In January 2020, the COVID-19 was
declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The number of
global infections has risen from less than 8,000 shared between China and eighteen
other countries to over 7million spread over 216 countries and on all
continents.

66. Nigeria recorded
its first case of COVID-19 on February 27th 2020 and within the first 100 days,
I have had cause to address the nation on three occasions within one month,
which underscores the gravity of this pandemic.

67. There is no doubt
that this pandemic has affected the global economy and all known socio-economic
systems. It has also brought grief and pain to families that have lost their
loved ones. Like many Nigerians, I feel the grief and pain not only as your
President but also as someone who has lost a close member of my staff and some
relatives and friends.

68. In order to have a
robust National response, I approved a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to
provide guidance and leadership in tackling the pandemic nationwide.

69. State Governments
also constituted their own COVID-19 Task Forces.  Complementing this was the establishment of a
National Emergency Operations Centre responsible for providing technical and
professional guidance in the National Response.

70. The overall
objective of the PTF COVID-19 is to ensure that the pandemic does not overwhelm
our health systems, while ensuring that we maintain an effective Case
Management System to help in containing the spread of the virus.

71. The impact of the
pandemic has disrupted our economic system and to ensure its functioning while
still addressing the spread, the Federal Government put in place a number of
various non-pharmaceutical measures to slow down the spread of the virus, in
addition to a progressive re-opening of the economy.

72. As part of the
strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on our youths, I
directed the employment of 774, 000 Nigerians. These youths will be engaged in
Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic
downturn. Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be
allotted 1,000 slots. I am pleased to report that this programme has commenced.

73. I receive regular
briefing from the PTF on COVID-19.  I
note that the National Response relies on Science, Data and Experience in
taking decisions. This informed my approval for the ease of lock down phase to
ensure a balance between lives and livelihoods.

74. I am confident that
the steps being taken by the PTF would result in flattening the COVID-19 curve.
I, therefore, implore all Nigerians to abide by the approved guidelines and
protocols. There is hope for us all if we take individual and collective responsibility.

75. Government is
determined to turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by
building a nation-wide public health care system that will help us overcome the
COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.

76. Already, we have
begun to look inward and I charge our inventors, researchers and scientists to
come up with solutions to cure COVID-19.

77. Government has
continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open
Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions.
Similarly, we have strengthened auditing and accountability mechanisms so as to
ensure that rules and regulations are followed strictly.

78. Anti-Corruption
Agencies have secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in
excess of N800 billion. These monies are being ploughed into development and
infrastructure projects.

79. The Public Service
of Nigeria remains the bedrock for the formulation and implementation of
policies, programmes and projects in the country. This accounts for why it
continues to evolve especially as new socio-economic challenges emerge for
Government to address.

80. I will continue to
give all the necessary support for the on-going reforms designed to return
discipline, integrity and patriotism as the hallmark of the public
service.   

81. In the face of
dwindling resources and rising cost of governance, I have authorized that the
White Paper on the Rationalisation of Government Parastatals and Agencies be
reviewed for implementation.

82. Our youth
population remains a source of strength in achieving development objectives. In
this regard, we would continue to concentrate in developing their skills,
providing them with opportunities to express their entrepreneurial, research
and industrial capacities as well as ample opportunity to take leadership
positions in the service of the nation.

83. The commitment of
this Administration to the well-being of people living with disabilities
remains unwavering. Government recognises their contributions to development. I
have directed that all relevant Government agencies pay special attention to
the peculiarities of persons with disabilities in the formulation and
implementation of their policies and programmes, and where suitable their
employment.

84. Nigerian women
remain a particular treasure to this nation and for this reason this
Administration has continued to give them a place of pride in the affairs of
our country.

85. I salute your
courage, enterprise and resilience as well as your contributions to national
development. I wish to assure all our women of this administration’s
determination to fight Gender Based Violence through the instrumentality of the
law and awareness creation. I am particularly upset at recent incidents of rape
especially of very young girls. The Police are pursuing these cases with a view
to bringing perpetrators of these heinous crimes to swift justice.

86. Government
continues to recognize and harness the power of the media for positive
development. The reforms of the broadcast and advertising industries including
digital switch over and continuous engagement through town hall meetings remain
central to accurate and credible information dissemination.

87. Our culture
provides the basis for our existence as a people and a nation. In preserving
iconic aspects of our national culture, this government has been pursuing the
recovery of artefacts removed from Nigeria, promoting heritage sites and
festivals and working towards designating some of our heritage sites as UNESCO
World Heritage Centres.  

88. This administration
is focused on ensuring that Nigeria would always be governed by the Rule of Law
and I would do my utmost to uphold the constitution and protect the lives and
property of all Nigerians.

89. Government has
initiated a number of policies and programmes designed to promote the legal
rights of Nigerians, facilitate the institutionalization of a responsive legal
system, provide support to all constituted bodies in implementing their
mandates and improve our custodial system of justice.

90 The National
Assembly has been an important partner in our quest to sustain our democracy
and achieve our development objectives.

91. I therefore greatly
thank the leadership and members of the Senate and the House of Representatives
for their invaluable support at all times.

92. I will also like to
convey our deep appreciation to members of the Press for your doggedness in the
struggle for attainment of democracy since the beginning of our nationhood.

93. I must admit that
the relationship between the media and successive governments has not always
been perfect. But there is no denying the fact that you have been an effective
watchdog for the society especially in holding public officers to account. It
is sad that in the course of securing our democracy, some of your colleagues
have had to pay a heavy price.

94. We will continue to
guarantee freedom of the Press as we place high premium on responsible
journalism that is devoid of hate speech, fake news and other unethical
professional conduct.

95. Fellow Nigerians,
as we celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, let us remember that,
notwithstanding our aspirations, humanity and indeed democracy is under the
threat of COVID-19. Nigeria has survived many crises before and came out
stronger. I am confident that by God’s grace we shall overcome this one and
emerge stronger and more purposeful.

96. Thank you for
listening. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Before you Run (1)

“Whatever political level you have laced up to run for: presidential, governorship, senatorial, house, local government, or ward, before you run, hear now what you are coming in to run or govern.”

 

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