#NigeriaAt60: 10 things we learnt from President Buhari’s Independence Anniversary speech

As is common with previous Independence Anniversaries, President Muhammadu Buhari, addressed Nigerians in an early morning broadcast Thursday.

The President’s speech touched on a number of areas from the economy to democracy, elections and the rule of law; spirit of excellence, unity and nationalism; to national healing and return to moral values and ethics.

A major departure from the usual Independence day speech however, was extolling the sacrifices of the country’s Independence heroes and armed forces.

Below are ten things we learnt from the President’s speech:

1. President Buhari wants Nigerians to use the 60th Anniversary to reflect on the challenges we face and ask questions

“At this stage in our nationhood it is important that we reflect how we got here to enable us work TOGETHER to get to where we aspire to be as a strong indivisible nation, united in hope and equal in opportunity.”

“Sixty years of nationhood provides an opportunity to ask ourselves questions on the extent to which we have sustained the aspirations of our founding fathers. Where did we do the right things? Are we on course? If not where did we stray and how can we remedy and retrace our steps?”

2. Rural-Urban Migration is a major challenge amidst population explosion

“…That philosophy guided the foundation that was laid for our young nation of 45 million people with an urban population of approximately 7million occupying an area of 910,768 square kilometers. These demographics led to development challenges for which major efforts were made to overcome.

Today, we grapple with multiple challenges with a population exceeding 200million occupying the same land mass but 52% residing in urban areas.”

3. Nigeria is not likely to return to true federalism or be restructured under the Buhari administration

“Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control.

An underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault-lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester. In addition, institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline.”

4. The President believes national healing is the solution to agitations for secession and ethnic nationalism

“We need to begin a sincere process of national healing and this anniversary presents a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are. The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration.

To start this healing process, we are already blessed with the most important asset any nation requires for such – OUR PEOPLE – and this has manifested globally in the exploits of Nigerians in many fields. It has been demonstrated time and time again that Nigerians in the diaspora frequently excel in science, technology, medicine, sports, arts and many other fields.

Similarly, the creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Nigerian at home have resulted in globally recognized endeavours. I am convinced that if we pursue our aspirations TOGETHER we would be able to achieve whatever we desire. That informed our adopting the theme TOGETHER to mark this epochal event.”

5. President Buhari wants to be remembered for bequeathing a free and fair electoral process

“I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President. The recent build-up and eventual outcome of the Edo State elections should encourage Nigerians that it is my commitment to bequeath to this country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count.

“The problems with our electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office. Democracy, the world over and as I am pursuing in Nigeria, recognizes the power of the people. However, if some constituencies choose to bargain off their power, they should be prepared for denial of their rights.

This call is made more urgent if we realise that even after a transparent, free, fair and credible election, desperation leads to compromising the judiciary to upturn legitimate decisions of the people. It is necessary to, therefore support the enthronement of the rule of law by avoiding actions which compromise the judiciary.”

6. The Buhari-led administration would pursue a new drive for excellence, return to high moral and ethical values, especially in the Public Service

“I wish to re-iterate that our people and our spirit of excellence remains our most important asset. In this wise, the need to return to our age-old ethical and high moral values would be necessary and this informed my launching of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy on Monday 28th September, 2020.

The policy would not implement itself and the first contact of the visibility of its implementation is the Public Service whose on-going reforms would be expected to be sustainable and give a radical re-direction in providing services to all Nigerians.”

7. The country’s revenue has witnessed a drop, of up to 60 percent due to 40 per cent drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities during the lockdown

“Fellow Nigerians, in addition to public health challenges of working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, we have suffered a significant drop in our foreign exchange earnings and internal revenues due to 40 per cent drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities, leading to a 60 per cent drop in government revenue.

Our government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources. In this regard, sustaining the level of petroleum prices is no longer possible. The government, since coming into office has recognized the economic argument for adjusting the price of petroleum. But the social argument about the knock-on effect of any adjustment weighed heavily with the government.”

8. The APC-led Federal Government is still not done with blaming past administrations for the current challenges of the country

“No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security. Those in the previous Governments from 1999 – 2015 who presided over the near destruction of the country have now the impudence to attempt to criticize our efforts.”

9. The Federal Government arrived at the current price of petrol by comparing the price of the product in Nigeria with fellow oil-producing countries but ignored the economic realities in those countries

“In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions. Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point;

a. Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre

b. Niger, also an oil producing country sells 1 litre at N346.

c. In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre.

Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.”

10. The President wants Nigerians to do a fresh assessment at the end of the anniversary activities in 2021

“It is my sincere hope that by the end of this anniversary on September 30th 2021, we will all be proud of taking this individual and collective self-assessment for the progress of our great Nation.”

See the full speech here.

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