May 29 is an historic date for Nigerians. This public holiday commemorates the restoration of democracy in the Federal Republic, when the newly elected Olusegun Obasanjo took office as President in May 1999, ending multiple decades of military rule. May 29 is also the day Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as president. This was one year ago. To mark the occasion, the Nigerian head of state has addressed the Nation this morning. A speech during which he described his first year in office as “a year of triumph, consolidation, pains and achievements”.
Today marks Nigeria’s Democracy Day. A day declared to commemorate the country’s return to democracy from a protracted military regime. It was on May 29, 1999 that former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, handed over power to Olusegun Obasanjo, after decades of civil war and military coups. This day marked Nigeria’s transition to democracy, and the beginning of the 4th democratic Republic. During the signing of the 2016 budget into law on May 6, 2016, Muhammadu Buhari stated that he would address the Nation on this occasion. Promise kept as the president made a nationwide broadcast to keep the citizens abreast of his one-year in office.
Below are the highlights of the speech.
“We affirm our belief in democracy as the form of government that best assures the active participation and actual benefit of the people. Despite the many years of hardship and disappointment the people of this nation have proved inherently good, industrious tolerant, patient and generous”.
War against corruption
“EFCC was given the freedom to pursue corrupt officials and the judiciary was alerted on what Nigerians expect of them in the fight against corruption”.
“Today I can confirm that thus far: significant amount of assets have been recovered. Full details of the status and categories of the assets will now be published by the Ministry of Information and updated periodically. When forfeiture formalities are completed, these monies will be credited to the treasury and be openly and transparently used in funding developmental projects and the public will be informed”.
“The policy measures and actions taken so far are not to be seen as some experiment in governance…”
“The economic misfortune we are experiencing in the shape of very low oil prices has provided us with an opportunity to restructure our economy and diversify. We are in the process of promoting agriculture, livestocks, exploiting our solid mineral resources and expanding our industrial and manufacturing base”.
“Central Bank of Nigeria will offer more fiscal incentives for business that prove capable of manufacturing products that are internationally competitive. We remain committed to reforming the regulatory framework, for investors by improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria”.
On the Niger Delta region
“We are advancing clean-up operations. The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing Niger Delta problems. If the militants and vandals are testing our resolve, they are much mistaken. We shall apprehend the perpetrators and their sponsors and bring them to justice”.
Rising cost of food items
“Concerns remain about rising cost of foods such as maize, rice, millet, beans and gari. Farmers tell me that they are worried about the cost of fertilizers, pesticides and the absence of extension services. The federal and state governments are on the same page in tackling these hurdles in our efforts at increased food production and ultimately food security”.
“Today I re-affirm our commitment to rescuing our girls. We will never stop until we bring them home safely. As I said before, no girl should be put through the brutality of forced marriage and every Nigerian girl has the right to an education and a life choice”.
Watch the full speech of President Muhammadu Buhari below.