INDEPENDENCE DAY ADDRESS PRESENTED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE CELEBRATION OF NIGERIA’S SIXTY-ONE YEARS INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY, FRIDAY 1ST OCTOBER, 2021.
It is with deep gratitude to God that today, we celebrate 60 years of Nigeria's Independence.
On October 1, 1960, all hands were in the hole. East, West, North all came together to celebrate freedom. Today it should not be a commemoration of the day the British handed over power to the people of Nigeria, but also to the united Nigerian people of all races, religions and regions.
Today, despite the challenges we face, many Nigerians still have the spirit of October 1. That is a wonderful vision and determination to make Nigeria a peaceful and prosperous nation. It is because of this united attitude that Nigeria continues to be strong enough to remain a united and undivided country.
People of Nigeria, the last eighteen months have been some of the most difficult times in the history of Nigeria. Since the civil war, I doubt we have seen a time of much higher challenges than we have seen during this time.
Our priorities for 2020 should continue to stabilize our economy following a deep recession while restoring peace in areas facing security challenges. But the COVID-19 epidemic and its negative impact on all nations meant that we needed to change gears and redesign strategies.
Nigerians come together to fight COVID-19. It is this attitude and the special grace of God, that we continue to survive this epidemic as a nation and, in fact, provide leadership and example at regional and global levels.
The foretold day of destruction for our country has never come. While Delta's diversity continues to spread, we have built up the capacity we need to respond now and in the future.
I would therefore urge Nigerians not to take COVID lightly, adhere to public and social health measures, wear your mask and be vaccinated. We can control this epidemic, but it requires effort on the part of everyone. The investment we have made in response to COVID-19 will also help our country cope with any future outbreak of disease or epidemic.
Despite global inequalities in achieving vaccines, the Nigerian Government has continued to explore all available options to ensure that Nigerians have free access to safe and effective drugs.
About 5 million vaccines have been given to Nigerians through efforts led by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and we will continue to explore ways to buy or obtain vaccines such as COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind the international community that the current state of access to COVID-19 vaccines is no longer acceptable. We cannot afford to pay for a situation where a number of countries keep global vaccinations available to other nations.
We must take action now to accelerate the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is the message I conveyed to the international community in New York last week.
As we strive to find the drugs for our immediate needs, we will invest more to support our pharmaceutical and research agencies to come up with ideas for locally produced vaccines. In the event of another pandemic in the future, our question is simple; will Nigeria be ready?
Accordingly, I have directed the Ministers of Finance, Budget and Planning, Health, Education and Science and Technology to work with Nigerian and international pharmaceutical companies and research organizations to increase the capacity of local medicine in Nigeria.
Currently, the Nigerian Investment Authority of Nigeria is raising $ 200 million for the program which will help Central Bank of Nigeria continue with the N85 billion Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to support local researchers in the development of drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs, including CO. -19.
People of Nigeria, this is just the beginning.
Similarly, in our approach to food security, I am proud to announce that Nigeria has embarked on its journey to the liberation of medicine.
This journey, which will take years to complete but will eventually lead to Nigerian companies developing Active Pharmaceutical products and the skills required by us to make our own drugs and vaccines.
People of Nigeria,
As our economy continues to open up after the COVID-19-related closure, we have also seen a resurgence of insecurity in some parts of the country.
Over the past four months, brave men and women of Military and Security Agencies have made great strides in addressing these new security challenges. We fight our enemies on every side and we win.
Earlier this year, I launched the National Protected Water and Sanitation Infrastructure, the Deep Blue Project, designed to protect Nigerian water into the Gulf of Guinea. I am pleased to inform the people of Nigeria that we have taken over the delivery of key assets for this project and soon, their impact will be felt.
In the North East region alone, there are more than eight thousand Boko Haram terrorists dedicated.
To support our fight against crime, the Nigerian armed forces have employed more than 17,000 personnel at all levels. In addition, I have also acknowledged that the Nigerian Police Force employs 10,000 police officers annually for the next six years.
I am also pleased that most of the Air Force platforms we have acquired over the past three years have already started arriving in Nigeria. This will have a positive impact on our security operations in all parts of the country.
In line with section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the security and well-being of the Nigerian people continue to focus on the programs and designs of our government.
As Government we are therefore prepared to arrest and prosecute all persons who incite violence in word and deed. Our decision to have a peaceful, united and united Nigeria remains unshakable.
That said, our hope is not to fight for peace. We can always resolve our grievances peacefully without bloodshed.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity, on this special day symbolizing the unity of our great nation, to call on all Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue, whatever your grievances are.
The seeds of violence have been sown in people's heads verbally. The negligence of a few has led to the loss of many innocent lives and the destruction of property.
Such unsubstantiated and unsubstantiated lies and hate speech of a few wicked individuals should be stopped. Our media outlets and analysts must move away from announcing nonsense and investigate the truth of all statements and present the facts to readers.
We must all go out and speak out against the lies being sold. At this point, I would like to sincerely acknowledge the large number of our Indigenous, Religious and Community leaders and other well-meaning Nigerians who are openly spreading the message of peaceful co-existence and conflict resolution through dialogue in their communities.
Nigeria belongs to all of us. Its unity is not negotiated. And its greatest success can only be achieved if we all come together for the common goal of peace and prosperity for our nation.
We will continue to work with negotiated solutions to address legal complaints. But we are always ready to take strong action against independent rebels and their allies who threaten our security in the country.
The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, as well as an ongoing investigation, have revealed some high-profile financiers behind the scenes. We are actively pursuing these funds which include one identified as an active member of the national executive.
People of Nigeria,
This is a clear example of how people are giving up their national leadership positions for selfish gain. Instead of preaching unity, they support and mislead our youth to commit criminal acts that sometimes lead to the unfortunate loss of life and property.
As so-called leaders run abroad to hide, our innocent youth are misled and left on the streets fighting for their irrational and destructive causes.
Government will continue, with greater participation and in partnership with our international partners, to improve security, reduce the environment for crime to thrive and eliminate terrorist funding opportunities.
Fellow Nigerians, our relentless effort to resolve almost two decades of suspension in the management of our Petroleum resources and to ensure equitable consideration in our host communities has resulted in the enactment of the Petroleum Industrial Act, 2021.
The Act not only changes the structure of the Institute, the regulation and finances of the Petroleum Industry but also reduces the uncertainty associated with the sector.
This is the first step in the transition as the process progresses. Already, to further improve the management framework, I have sought amendments to sections 11 (2) (b) and 34 (2) (b). We will continue to review and amend accordingly.
At this time, it is imperative that I develop the leadership and members of the Ninth Council by patriotism, commitment, transparency and, most importantly, to the legislators of this nation. I do not take that level of cooperation lightly and I hope it continues with the efficiency of the Federal Mission.
The Nigeria Roadmap for Local Refining is underway with the Commissioning of a Modular refinery in Imo State.
The second is scheduled to be released later this year in Edo State and the third is in Bayelsa State in 2022.
In addition to the modular projects, we have two mega filtering projects from Lagos and Akwa Ibom States.
As these refineries are exported, more jobs are created and more petrol products will be available for local use which will greatly reduce our dependence on imports.
Continuing to demonstrate our strategy to reduce our dependence on oil and affect our major gas resources, the government remains committed to the Tenth Decade of Gas, which aims to focus on the use of our major gas resources.
Already, we support and propose various energy-based projects including NLNG Train 7 and mega urea and ammonia projects in the South-South region.
As we continue to improve and develop our oil and gas sector, I am proud and pleased to say that our economic segregation strategy continues to continue with the continued increase in the contribution of the Non-Oil Sector to GDP.
We found ourselves in a recession in the fourth quarter of 2020 with a GDP growth rate of 0.11%, and grew by 0.51% and 5.01% in real terms in the first and second quarters of 2021.
The agricultural sector remains key to our economic diversification efforts as the sector has been moving steadily in the non-oil sector contributing 22.35% and 23.78% of total GDP in the first and second quarters of 2021.
We have seen significant private sector investment in almost all areas of agricultural tariffs. And this continued even during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Unfortunately, as our food production capacity increased, food prices continued to rise due to shortages created by retailers who bought and collected these essentials for profit.
To address this, I urge the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to revitalize the National Food Reserve Agency and work with the security services, the Nigerian Commodity Exchange, and the National Assembly to find a lasting solution to these disturbing and unpopular activities. .
To further improve food production, we have completed many new dams and are in the process of rehabilitating several River Basin Development Authorities to improve the supply of rainwater for rainwater and more irrigation water for irrigation agriculture.
The water projects we have completed between 2015 and 2020 have improved Nigerian access to drinking water to 71% between 2015 and 2020. This means that an additional 12.5 million Nigerians now have direct access to drinking water.
People of Nigeria,
This Government remains concerned about the lack of transport infrastructure that we have. Addressing the challenges that our passengers and truck drivers face on the road is still our priority.
To complement our budget allocation, the Presidential Fund for Infrastructure Development and the Road Investment Tax Scheme, we recently launched the N15trillion Infrastructural Corporation of Nigeria Limited (INFRACO), which is expected to start operating in the fourth quarter of this year.
INFRACO will also focus on resource utilization in the public-private sector for infrastructure development in Nigeria.
It is hoped that with these new programs, the additional cost burden on individuals and businesses due to inefficiency will be reduced and, eventually, removed.
We currently have more than 13,000 kilometers of roads and bridges under construction nationwide when the required percentage has been completed.
As we rehabilitate our roads, we continue to stretch and improve the Nigerian railway network with the remarkable opening of the standard Warri-Itakpe railway line.
To increase capacity, we have introduced additional trains, trainers and vehicles including the establishment of the Wagon Convention in Kaola, Ogun State.
Marine ports however remain a problem. The effect of our various interventions to reduce grade barriers and inefficiencies has been slower than expected.
However, the implementation of the Electronic Call-Up System and the conversion of the Lillypond Container Terminal into a Car Transport Area will improve the ease of transportation.
Our prioritization of the development of the Digital Economy of Nigeria has had a positive impact on the contribution of the ICT sector to our GDP.
We hope that our current efforts to ensure that all Nigerians use the National Identity Number and our systematic roll-out of 5G network technology will ensure that we remain in line with the global journey as a nation.
As we embrace the digital economy in Nigeria, we are fully aware of the prospects and risks. Our policies are designed to help Nigerians take advantage of opportunities and avoid the dangers of digital technology.
Social media is a very useful platform that has empowered millions of Nigerians to connect with their loved ones, develop their businesses, meet people, and access news and other information.
Recent events, however, have shown that the platform is not just an innocent platform for the distribution of information.
Instead, some users misuse the platform to organize, coordinate, and carry out criminal activities, spreading false stories, and promoting racial and religious feelings.
To address these bad practices, the Government of Nigeria has suspended Twitter operations in Nigeria on June 5, 2021 to allow the Government to put in place measures to address these challenges.