President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented that the past 18 months have been the most difficult in Nigeria’s history.
He disclosed it this morning in a nationwide broadcast to mark the country’s 61st Independence Day anniversary.
According to the president, since the Civil war, the country has not gone through the kinds of challenges it experienced in the last one year and a half.
He said, “Fellow Nigerians, the past eighteen months have been some of the most difficult periods in the history of Nigeria. Since the civil war, I doubt whether we have seen a period of more heightened challenges than what we have witnessed in this period.”
President Buhari also disclosed that high-profile individuals are financing the activities of the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu and Yoruba separatist leader, Sunday Adeyomo.
He identified a serving member of the National Assembly as one of the sponsors of secessionists.
Buhari warned that government was ready to arrest and prosecute all persons inciting violence through words or action, saying the administration’s resolve for a peaceful, united, and one Nigeria remains resolute and unwavering.
The president pointed out that the seeds of violence are planted in people’s heads through words, saying the reckless utterances of a few have led to the loss of many innocent lives and destruction of property.
According to him, such unfiltered and unsubstantiated lies and hate speeches by a few evil persons must be stopped.
President Buhari further stated that media houses and commentators must move away from just reporting irresponsible remarks to investigating the truth behind all statements and presenting the facts to readers.
“We must all come out and speak against the lies being peddled. At this point, I would want to sincerely appreciate a large number of our traditional, religious, and community leaders as well as other well-meaning Nigerians who, in their various fora, are openly spreading the message of peaceful co-existence and conflict settlement through dialogue in their respective communities.
“Nigeria is for all of us. Its unity is not negotiable, and its ultimate success can only be achieved if we all come together with a common goal of having peace and prosperity for our nation.
“We shall continue to work on dialogue-based solutions to address legitimate grievances. But we remain ready to take decisive actions against secessionist agitators and their sponsors who threaten our national security.
“The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals.
“We are vigorously pursuing these financiers, including one identified as a serving member of the National Assembly,” he said.
The president further said he had directed the lifting of the suspension on Twitter if the organisation meets the conditions of the federal government.
He lamented that recent events have shown that the social media platform is not just an innocuous platform for information dissemination.
Rather, he noted that some users have misused the platform to organise, coordinate, and execute criminal activities, propagate fake news, and promote ethnic and religious sentiments.
To address these negative trends, Buhari said the federal government suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria on June 5, 2021, to allow the government to put measures in place to address these challenges.
He said, “Following the suspension of Twitter operations, Twitter Inc. reached out to the Federal Government of Nigeria to resolve the impasse. Subsequently, I constituted a Presidential Committee to engage Twitter to explore the possibility of resolving the issue.
“The Committee, along with its technical Tteam, has engaged with Twitter and has addressed several key issues. These are: national security and cohesion; registration, physical presence, and representation; fair taxation; dispute resolution; and local content.
“Following the extensive engagements, the issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens to continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements.
“As a country, we are committed to ensuring that digital companies use their platform to enhance the lives of our citizens, respect Nigeria’s sovereignty, cultural values and promote online safety.”
As the economy continues to open up after the COVID-19 related lockdowns, Buhari said the country has also seen a resurgence of insecurity in certain parts of the country.
“In the last four months, the gallant men and women of the military and security agencies have made tremendous progress in addressing these new security challenges. We are taking the fight to our enemies from all angles and we are winning.”
The president disclosed that in the North East region alone, over 8,000 Boko Haram terrorists had surrendered.
“To support our surge approach to fighting banditry, the Nigerian Armed Forces have recruited over 17,000 personnel across all ranks. Furthermore, I have also approved for the Nigerian Police Force to recruit 10,000 police officers annually over the next six years.
“I am also pleased to note that most of the Air Force platforms we acquired over the past three years have started to arrive in Nigeria. These will positively impact our security operations in all parts of the country,” he stated.
According to him, as Nigerians begin to celebrate our sixty-one years as a nation, “we need to be conscious that Nigeria does not start and end with the federal government.
“This country is a great collective where the government at all arms and levels as well as the private sector and, more importantly, individuals, have a role to play.
“In particular, security is a bottom to top undertaking. Joining hands and hearts together would enable us to secure ourselves and our country.
“I fully understand the anxiety of many Nigerians on the inability of this country to go beyond a never-ending potential for becoming a great nation to a great one.
“A lot has been achieved in the last six years on many fronts: in infrastructure, social care, governance, Nigeria’s image and influence in Africa and the international community.
“But critics misdiagnose incremental progress as stagnation. Since coming to power, this Administration has tackled our problems head-on despite the meager resources. No government since 1999 has done what we have done in six years to put Nigeria back on track.
“We shall continue to serve the country, listen to all and protect our democracy and country,” Buhari added.
Nigeria @ 61: Forex Crisis, Insecurity, High Inflation, Poor Power Supply Mar Economic Growth
As if the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and its associated social disruptions were not enough, the Nigerian economy grappled with insecurity, high inflation, poor power supply and forex crisis, amongst other challenges that blighted its modest growth in the last one year.
Despite frantic efforts by the government to rein in these challenges, the end does not seem in sight.
Specifically, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by five per cent in the second quarter of this year, thus reversing the losses which plunged it into recession in November last year as the GDP increased from -6.10 per cent as of second quarter 2020 to -0.79 per cent in second quarter 2021.
The Naira recorded the highest crash in value during the year in the parallel market. The Naira had begun a depreciation following the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop selling foreign exchange to Bureau de change operators and relinquishing the duty of selling dollars for travel allowance, school and medical bills to commercial banks.
The value of the Naira fell from N395 to the dollar to N575 within three months, which led CBN to go after websites that aggregate street value of the currency such as abokifx.com.
The economy also came under intense inflationary pressure in the last one year with inflation soaring from 13 per cent to over 18 per cent, hence weakening the purchasing power of many.
Food inflation escalated as high as 22.95 per cent in March 2021, the highest ever recorded since 2001, from 15.48 per cent a year ago, before moderating to 20.30 per cent in August this year.
Headline inflation on the other hand peaked at 18.17 per cent in March 2021, the highest ever recorded since January 2021 when it was 18.72 per cent. It however moderated to 17.01 per cent in August 2021.
Nigeria also recorded its biggest foreign trade deficit since 1981 as the trade balance stood at a deficit of N7.38 trillion in 2020. This is according to available data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the recent foreign trade report, total imports in the year 2020 was valued at N19.9 trillion surpassing the total exports of N12.52 trillion, indicating a trade deficit of N7.38 trillion. This is the second time Nigeria is recording a negative trade balance in the past 10 years.
The power sector contributed significantly to the general improvement in the GDP with the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply sector recording a year on year growth of 114.30 per cent in the second quarter of 2021.
The growth was attributed to recent reforms to improve cash returns, such as the 50 per cent increase in electricity tariffs first in November 2020, then again in January 2021, as well as higher meter supplies, and the federal government’s financial interventions in the sector.
Despite the huge interventions, which are no less than N4.23 trillion, in the last few years, the power sector has not seen any improvement. The Nigerian power sector performance has remained abysmal recording less than 4,000 megawatts of electricity, which experts say does not reflect the growth.
Power generation data from Nigeria’s System Operation (SO) showed that the country’s electricity generation stood at 3241 megawatts as at September 29, 2021, a far cry from its 13,000 megawatts capacity.
The financial sector did record marginal growth in the last one year, even as the nation’s capital market recorded N6.5trillion gains while the pension fund assets equally grew by N780 billion between October 2020 and September 2021, LEADERSHIP Friday can exclusively reveal.
The Nigerian stock market, in the last one year, performed impressively, as market capitalisation rose by N6.523 trillion to N20.523 trillion on September 29, 2021 from N14.105 trillion it was on October 2, 2020.
Similarly, the All-Share Index (ASI) gained N46.72 per cent from 26,985.77 points on October 2, 2020 to 39,592.29 points as at September 29, 2021.
The N6.5 trillion growth translates to about 50 per cent of the current national budget.
In the same vein, the nation’s pension fund assets gained N780billion between October 2020 and July 2021, which is the latest monthly report released by the National Pension Commission (PenCom).
The pension fund assets stood at N12.05 trillion as at the end of October 2020, but rose significantly to N12.78 trillion as at the end of July, 2021. Investment income, according to investigation, was instrumental to the continuous growth in pension funds, despite the fact that governments at majorly, State level, are not paying the monthly pension contributions of their workers as and when due.
Similarly, the huge increase, according to findings, was attributed to new pension contributions received, interest from fixed income securities and net realised on equities and mutual fund investments.
Meanwhile, having survived the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian economy has, in the last one year, yet to have a dull moment as policies and events were almost back to back, with inflation soaring from 13 per cent to over 18 per cent, hence, weakening purchasing power of many.
To encourage increased remittance inflow, the CBN had introduced the Naira4Dollar scheme which aims to incentivise remittances into the country.
The Nigerian banking industry also achieved a milestone of being one of the few countries to have adopted the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) after the CBN announced the launch of the eNaira which is slated to be launched on October 4, 2021.
The major beneficiary of the pandemic was the ICT sector as most business transactions move online, thus, aiding the patronage of the sector.
The latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the gross domestic product (GDP) showed that the ICT sector of the Nigerian economy grew by 14.70 per cent in the last quarter of 2020. The sector did not only emerge as the fastest growing one, it is also rated as the only sector to have posted double digit growth at 12.90 per cent in the entire GDP assessment.
According to the minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, within two years since his resumption in office as minister, the remittance of ICT sector to the Federal Government account is over N1 trillion.
Meanwhile, statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) show that telecommunication companies lost 20.83 million subscribers in the first half of 2021, owing to the decision to ban SIM card sales until the completion of the National Identification Number (NIN) registration exercise.
In the aviation sector, the federal government had in August, 2021, opened bids for the concession of four international airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano.
The request for qualification (RFQ), as part of efforts to run the facilities efficiently and profitably, is open to firms or consortia with track record in airport terminal management and net worth of N30 billion per bidding firm or consortium.
The federal government earlier proposed 20 to 30 years concession tenure for the facilities, which will enable private investors to own, operate and recoup investments.
For the energy sector, the Nigerian oil and gas industry began to experience a slow return to normalcy towards the end of 2020 following reopening of country-wide lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
However development in the last few months was historic for the industry following the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2021 and its assent by President Muhammadu Buhari into law.
The key objective of the bill is to provide legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities and related matters.
Moreover, in November, 2020, the federal government unveiled a meter rollout scheme under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), as part of efforts to further bridge the country’s metering gap. This was also meant to cushion the effect of the Service Reflective Tariff on electricity consumers in the country.
In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari, launched in March 2021, an ambitious plan by Nigeria to entirely power its economy with gas by 2030.
The manufacturing sector performance that was expected to be strong having recorded an impressive performance on account of border closure suffered a huge setback. In the same vein, inflationary pressure remains a source of concern as COVID-19 disrupted the demand and supply side of the global economy.
The president of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Mansur Ahmed said: “The pandemic created unprecedented challenges for economies across the globe as the period under review recorded an unprecedented distortion in the value chain as countries directly or indirectly shut their borders and imposed export restrictions on critical raw materials while some imposed outright ban on food, pharmaceuticals and other essentials.
He added that, to cushion the effect, the government introduced a number of impressive initiatives in the form of economic policies, schemes and projects aimed at encouraging businesses and consolidating prior achievements.
MAN commended the government for the initiative towards unifying foreign exchange windows in the country, saying, “it is our conviction that the foreign exchange unification initiative will engender a regime of a balanced participation for forex users and promote a transparent as well as efficient allocation of forex required for sustained economic growth.”
However, in the railway sector, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has been facing challenges of acquiring new locomotive engines to operate passenger and goods trains on the narrow gauge railway line as the few engines in its fleet break down at regular intervals.
Currently, there are only five functional locomotive engines, acquired during the administration of the late Musa Yar’Adua, that are in the corporation’s fleet throughout the narrow gauge network.
In the real estate sector, rent defaults and legal evictions have continued to increase in astronomical proportions as more tenants face eviction and litigations in court to vacate their residential apartments and premises due to insolvency and default in rent payment.
To this end, there’s a decline in the utilisation of office spaces as more businesses reassess their space requirements, profit margins, capital formation, overhead cost and the supply side penetration of their businesses while taking consideration on the advantages of remote working and online jobs
APC has taken Nigeria back to pre-Independence days – PDP
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said Nigeria will never fail despite what it called the failings of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
The party, while reflecting on Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary, said the Buhari Presidency and the APC had taken the nation back to the pre-Independence days “with associated bondage mentality and frustration resulting in many losing faith in the system and leaving our country in droves within the last six years.”
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, who stated this during a press conference, accused the APC administration of sinking the nation to the precipices as is evident in our daily lives.
He accused the APC-led administration of being characterised by lies, injustice, violations of rights, state-backed violence, impunity, nepotism, treasury looting, harsh economic policies and accommodation of terrorism, “but our nation has continued to survive by the resilient spirit of Nigerians.
Notwithstanding PDP’s criticism, the chairman All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Yobe state, Mai Mala Buni, has said that Nigeria’s 61 years of Independence provides a strong source of unity and strength.
The governor said the long history of integration among the various ethnic, and socio-cultural groups should be a source of unity in diversity for the country, stressing that “at 61 years, Nigerians should concentrate on issues that unite the country rather than divisive tendencies.”
Governor Buni said although Nigeria might not have reached where it wants to be after 61 years of independence “yet, we have cause to celebrate our existence as a country.”
Let’s unite for peace, progress, Lawan, Abdulsalami, Atiku, others urge Nigerians
The president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has urged Nigerians to unite for the progress of the country and to continue to keep faith with their fatherland.
Lawan, in a message on the 61st Independence anniversary of the country, said, “This is the first year of our seventh decade as a nation and also the second year of the third decade of the Fourth Republic.
“I find it remarkable that we are living in the longest era of democracy in our history as a nation.
“That may seem modest as an achievement but it is an additional cause for celebration in the light of our political experience.
“Every patriot will always remember with pride that historic moment on October 1, 1960 when the British Union Jack was lowered and our Green-White-Green flag hoisted in its place.
“That moment symbolizes our attainment of freedom from colonial rule. But it also marks the beginning of the onerous task of building a united, peaceful and prosperous nation that we set for ourselves.”
Nigeria More United Under Military-Gen Abdusalami
Former military head of state, General Abdusalami Abubakar, has said that contrary to notions in some quarters, the military did not destroy Nigeria but kept Nigeria united more than civilian administrations.
The former Nigeria leader, who spoke to journalists to mark 61st year independence anniversary, added that politicians were doing less to unite the country.
Asked whether he agreed that the military destroyed Nigeria, he said, “It depends where you are coming from. As a military retired personnel I will say ‘no’ the military has not destroyed this country in whatever way, the military fought to keep this country together and you could see quite honestly.”
“During the military regime, the infrastructure that the military put in place can be seen as much as possible. They tried to give a direction of nationalism so that we all look at Nigeria as our country.
“Now after the military handed over, instead of you talking for Nigeria, you find that any Nigerian, when he speaks he speaks for himself – either for his state, his local government and his village; hardly you see somebody wake up and start talking for Nigeria.
“I think that is where, again, we make a mistake as a country; we need to talk for the country, for its unity and, of course, to be able to do that there must be equity and justice so that everybody is carried along, so that everybody knows he is part and parcel of this country, ” he said.
Answering question on whether when military handed over they expected the country to deteriorate to this level, he said,
“My answer to this question will be no, we expected a more united country where our leader’s concern will be for the welfare of the people and the progress of the nation.
“We expected that their shouldn’t be any bitterness in politics, because whether you are opposition or you are in government, you are serving the people you in government, you legislate and give governance; and you in the opposition, you check the government to ensure that they do the right thing and implement development project that will bring development to the country,” he declared
Atiku, Nnamani, Olawepo-Hashim Urge Unity
On his part, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has urged Nigerians to remain united despite their current existential challenges and struggles for economic survival.
He also called on governments at all levels to enunciate policies that will lead to improved standards of living for the average Nigerian even as he assured that the future ahead of the nation will be brighter and better.
In his goodwill message on the occasion of Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary, the former Vice President expressed concern at the level of disunity, intolerance and bigotry in the country, which has which resulted in conflicts with its attendant losses of human lives and property.
An egalitarian society where every citizen feels a sense of brotherhood is feasible if justice, equity and fairness to all become the cardinal principles and hallmarks of governance in Nigeria , according to former governor of Enugu State and Senator representing Enugu East Senatorial District in the Senate, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani.
Senator Nnamani said “the uncertainties in the socio-economic and political life of our country, agitations in some quarters as well as violent crimes in parts of the country could be curtailed if citizens feel a sense of belonging and accommodation in the Nigerian equation.
On his part, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, enjoined current political leaders to exhibit tolerance and political accommodation typical of Nigeria’s Independence leaders which helped Nigeria to move as one and achieve rapid socioeconomic development right from the period of self-government between 1955-1960.
The former presidential candidate maintained that “most of the leaders of those era, who were younger in age compared to various regional leaders of today, demonstrated considerable maturity and spirit of compromise when facing thorny national issues such as the best date colonial rule should end, whether the regions should have the right to secede from the Republic or not as well as who controls the police force – the central government or regional governments.”
Minister Urges Peace, Unity In Abuja
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Malam Muhammad Bello has said that residents of the FCT have an obligation to uphold the dreams of the founding fathers of the capital city by truly making Abuja the symbol of Nigeria’s unity.
The minister, who made this known in his Independence message to residents, also said that he felicitates with President Muhammadu Buhari for his exemplary leadership at this time of Nigeria history as an independent nation, that his unique character and personality have done much to imbue in Nigerians hope in a greater future as a strong, virile and indivisible nation.
“Let us also spare some thoughts for our founding fathers, the heroes of our struggle for independence and our leaders, past and present, who have through the years sacrificed enormously to bring us this far.
“The Federal Capital Territory was founded on a platform of unity of our country and a place where every Nigerian can call home and we have over the years strived to build Capital Territory of our collective dreams.”
Bauchi Gov Says Despite Challenges Nigeria Will Grow
For Bauchi State governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, although Nigeria faces many developmental challenges, the problems are not insurmountable.
In a statement to commemorate Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary, Governor Mohammed, through his media aide, Muktar Gidado, expressed optimism that the country will overcome its challenges and prosper.
Mohammed urged citizens of the state and the country in general to use the occasion to reflect on the sacrifices made by Independence heroes.
“The 61st Independence anniversary should be used to reflect on the struggle and sacrifice of the founding fathers of this country.
“As we reflect on the virtues of our heroes, we should use this auspicious occasion to emulate them and ensure that their labour shall not be in vain”, Mohammed stated.
The governor said one of Nigeria’s major woes in the past was decades of military rule, adding that despite the setback, Nigeria has the potential to be a great country.
Fintiri Greets Nigerians
Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has extended his warmest felicitations to all Nigerians on the occasion of the nation’s celebration of 61st Independence anniversary.
A statement by Humwashi Wunosikou, his chief press secretary, said, “Today, we celebrate 61 years of nationhood. We celebrate the return of our liberties, the restoration of our dignity, and the democratic resilience we have built over the last 6 decades”.
Fintiri, while congratulating Nigerians for keeping faith with the nation in its journey to nationhood, commended particularly the resilience of Nigeria’s founding fathers who fought to birth a Nigeria that today stands tall in the comity of nations.
Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation Greet Nigeria, Nigerians At 61
The Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation has joined well-meaning Nigerians to celebrate the 2021 Independence Anniversary of our country as it attains 61 years of independence from British colonial rule.
In a statement issued by the managing director and chief executive officer of the foundation, Engr Abubakar Gambo Umar, he noted that to, a large extent, since independence, “we have used our heterogeneity, size and resources to project a stronger and a more united nation with the attainment of growth and development.”
France, US, India Felicitate With Nigeria
France and the United States have felicitated with Nigeria on the commemoration of the 61st Independence anniversary today, October 1, as both nations expressed commitment to strengthening the bilateral relations with Nigeria on all fronts.
In a congratulatory letter to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, made available to LEADESHIP Friday by the French Embassy in Abuja yesterday, President Emmanuel Macron described Nigeria as Africa’s leading economic and demographic power.
He said that the creation of the Franco-African Business Council, which met last June at the palace of Versailles, will hopefully allow the birth of many more structuring projects between French and Nigerian companies.
He added that the number of Nigerian students present in France had been increasing at a sustained rate over the past three years, stressing that they can contribute to the growth of Nigeria and the development of ties between the two countries.
Also, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, while felicitating with Nigeria in an article, appreciated Nigeria’s leadership in the region, and also praised Nigeria for standing up for the integrity of democratic nations in West Africa.
Also, President Ram Nath Kovind of India has congratulated the government and people of Nigeria on the occasion of the 61st independence anniversary.
According to a statement by Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, in a congratulatory letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, Kovind conveyed his best wishes to the Nigerian leader as well as the continued prosperity of the country.