By Rotimi Ijikanmi, Abiemwense Moru
Abuja, June 12, 2019
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that most instances of inter-communal and inter-religious strife and violence were and are still being sponsored or incited by ethnic, political or religious leaders.
The President who stated this in his Democracy Day address on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the leaders were hoping to benefit by “exploiting our divisions and fault lines, thereby weakening our country’’.
He noted that in spite of activities of the saboteurs, his government had remained focused in fulfilling the campaign promises in the areas of security, economy and fighting corruption.
“When I took the oath of office on May 29, 2015, insecurity reigned.
“Apart from occupying 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the Northeast, Boko Haram can at will attack any city including the Federal Capital Territory, can threaten any institution including bombing the United Nations building and Police Headquarters in Abuja.
“Admittedly, some of the challenges still remain in kidnappings and banditry in some rural areas. `
“The great difference between 2015 and today is that we are meeting these challenges with much greater support to the security forces in terms of money, equipment and improved local intelligence.
“We are meeting these challenges with superior strategy, firepower and resolve,’’ he said.
The president reiterated the greatness of Nigeria in the comity of nations and the need for every citizen to work towards reclaiming the glory.
“Our country Nigeria is a great country. According to United Nations estimates, our population will rise to 411 million by 2050, making us the third most populous nation on earth behind only China and India.
“We have water, arable land, forests, oil and gas and vast quantities of solid minerals. We are blessed with an equable climate.
“However, the bulk of our real wealth lies in Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Mining. We possess all the ingredients of a major economic power on the world stage.
“What we require is the will to get our acts together. And our strength is in our people – our youth, our culture, our resilience, our ability to succeed despite the odds.
“A huge responsibility therefore rests on this and succeeding Administrations to develop, harness and fulfil our enormous potentials into a force to be reckoned with globally,” the president said.
On the nation’s military strength, the president said Nigeria had contributed to UN peace-keeping responsibilities all over the world.
He said that Nigeria helped to stabilise Liberia, Sierran Leone, Ivory Coast and recently prevented the Gambia from degenerating into anarchy.
“Without Nigerian influence and resources, the liberation of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and ultimately South Africa would have come at greater cost.
“This fact has been attested to by none other than the late Nelson Mandela himself.
“ Elsewhere, Nigeria is the Big Brother to our neighbours. We are the shock-absorber of the West African sub-region, the bulwark of ECOWAS and Lake Chad Basin Commission.
“We can therefore be proud to be Nigerians. We must continue to be Good Neighbours and Good Global Citizens,’’ he said.
At the event, which was attended by some African leaders, President Buhari also promised to address the emerging challenges of climate change as well as resettle communities displaced by insecurity across the country.
“For the next four years, we will remain committed to improving the lives of people by consolidating efforts to address these key issues as well as emerging challenges of climate change, resettling displaced communities and dealing decisively with the new flashes of insecurity across the country, and the impacts on food scarcity and regional stability.
“We are not daunted by the enormity of the tasks ahead.
“Instead, we are revived by this new mandate to work collaboratively with state and local governments, legislators, the diplomatic corps, and all Nigerians to rebuild and reposition our country as the heartbeat and reference point for our continent,’’ he stated.
Buhari said that in spite of the enormous resources pledged to infrastructure development in the past four years, there was the urgent need to modernise the roads and bridges, electricity grid, ports, and rail systems.
“Whilst agriculture and industrial output have recovered since the recession, we are more committed than ever to work with the private sector to improve productivity and accelerate economic growth.
“The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, which is the gauge of manufacturing activity in the country, has also risen for 26 consecutive months since March 2017, indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector,’’ he said.