Speech by President Buhari on Democracy Day, June 12, 2021
I join you all today to commemorate and celebrate our Democracy Day. It is a celebration of freedom and a victory for one people, one country and one Nigeria.
2.As with all democracies we will always be going through improvement processes in our desire to reach the goal of a mature democracy, a strong, evolved and integrated nation state to be reckoned with globally.
3.In the last two years we have witnessed and overcome a good number of testy challenges that would have destroyed other nations especially relating to our collective security.
4.The indefatigable CAN DO Spirit of the Nigerian has sustained us and would keep pushing us to put these challenges behind us.
5. Unfortunately some of these challenges came in the shape of violent outrages leading to the loss of lives of many of our dear compatriots and the destruction of some of our infrastructure, including those devoted to improving our democratic processes.
6.Once again, I want to render my sincere and heart-felt condolences to the families and friends of our gallant service men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty and as a sacrifice to keep Nigeria safe.
7.I extend the same condolence to the families and friends of our country men, women and children who were unfortunate victims of such senseless arsons, kidnappings and murders.
8.I also share the pains of families and direct victims of ransom-seeking, kidnaped victims who went through unimaginable trauma in the course of their forced imprisonment.
9.Let me assure my fellow citizens that every incident, however minor gives me great worry and concern and I immediately order security agencies to swiftly but safely rescue victims and bring perpetrators to justice.
10. When you elected me as your President in 2015, you did so knowing that I will put an end to the growing insecurity, especially the insurgency in the North East, but the unintended consequences of our scattering them in the North East pushed them further in-country which is what we are now facing and dealing with.
11.We will, by the Grace of God put an end to these challenges too.
12.Unfortunately, like in most conflict situations, some Nigerian criminals are taking undue advantage of a difficult situation and profiteering therefrom with the misguided belief that adherence to the democratic norms handicaps this Administration from frontally and decisively tackling them.
13.We are already addressing these obstacles and we will soon bring some of these culprits to justice.
14.We are, at the same time addressing the twin underlying drivers of insecurity namely poverty and youth unemployment.
15. Interventions led by Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria driving economic growth over the past 6 years are targeted mostly to the agricultural, services, infrastructure, power and health care sectors of the economy.
16.In the Agricultural sector, for instance, the Anchor Borrowers Programme resulted in sharp decline in the nation’s major food import bill from $2.23billion in 2014 to US$0.59billion by the end of 2018.
17.Rice import bill alone dropped from $1 billion to $18.5 million annually.
18.This initiative supported local production of rice, maize, cotton and cassava. Government financed 2.5 million small-holder farmers cultivating about 3.2 million hectares of farmland all over the country and created 10 million direct and indirect jobs.
19.Several other initiatives, namely AgriBusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme, the Non-oil Export stimulation Facility, the Targeted Credit Facilities operated across the 774 Local Governments.
20.In the manufacturing sector the CBN – BOI N200 billion facility financed the establishment and operations of 60 new industrial hubs across the country, creating an estimated 890,000 direct and indirect jobs.
21.The CBN’s N50 billion Textile Sector intervention Facility increased capacity utilization of ginneries from 30% to nearly 90%.
22.The Economic Sustainability Plan – our rebound plan for the COVID-19 pandemic developed in 2020 is currently being executed. The plan is primarily focused on the non-oil sector, which has recorded phenomenal growth contributing over 90% to the GDP growth in Q1 2021.
23.Though marginal we have recorded GDP growth over two quarters; Q2 2020 and Q1 2021. This is evidence of a successful execution of the ESP by the Federal Government.
24.My vision of pulling 100 million poor Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years has been put into action and can be seen in the National Social Investment Programme, a first in Africa and one of the largest in the world where over 32.6m beneficiaries are taking part. We now have a National Social register of poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities in the 36 States and the FCT.
25.Our conditional cash transfer program has benefited over 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households comprising more than 8 million individuals. This provides a monthly stipend of N10,000 per household.
26.I have also recently approved the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Plan that augments existing plans to further reduce poverty in Nigeria.
27.As at the end of 2020, the Development Bank of Nigeria had disbursed 324 billion Naira in loans to more than 136,000 MSMEs, through 40 participating Financial Institutions. I am to note that 57% of these beneficiaries are women while 27% are the youth.
28.We are able to do all these and still accelerate our infrastructure development through sensible and transparent borrowing, improved capital inflow, improving and increasing revenue through capturing more tax bases and prudent management of investment proceeds in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
29.Our infrastructure revolution continues with key projects attaining critical milestones under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund; The Second Niger Bridge, The Lagos- Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway.
30.I have also approved the establishment of Infraco Plc, a world-class infrastructure development vehicle wholly focused on Nigeria with a capital structure of N15 trillion.
31.The rail system is not left out as the Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail was completed and commissioned 33 years after construction began. The Lagos-Ibadan double track railway line which I have just commissioned has commenced operations.
32.We are focused on ensuring that our infrastructure drive is key to economic growth and one that can be felt by every Nigerian. Building critical infrastructure in our ports is also opening up opportunities for the Nigerian economy.
33.My approval for 4 new seaports using a Public-Private-Partnership approach is hinged on growing the Nigerian economy. These four sea ports; Lekki Deep Sea Port, Bonny Deep Sea Port, Ibom Deep Sea Port and Warri Deep Sea port will create massive job opportunities and foreign investment inflows.
34.We have worked at deepening our Eastern ports leading to success like having three container ships berth at Calabar port, a first in 11 years. Similarly, on October 30 2019, an LPG tanker operated by NLNG berthed in Port Harcourt, the first time an LPG ship is berthing at any of the Eastern Ports.
35.As we invest in these new assets, we have also made strides in ensuring that they are secured and protected. In this regard I am also pleased to note the launch of the NIMASA Deep Blue project – which is an Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure that I recently commissioned. This initiative is designed to add to the layer of security we have to safeguard our maritime sector.
36.I will be the first to admit that in spite of our efforts and achievements which are there for all to see, there is still much more to be done and we are doing our best in the face of scarce resources and galloping population growth rate that consistently outstrips our capacity to provide jobs for our populace. Our over-all economic target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years is our goal notwithstanding COVID-19.
37.In the last two years we lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty – farmers, small-scale traders, artisans, market women and the like.
38.I am very convinced that this 100 million target can be met and this informed the development of a National poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy. The specific details of this accelerated strategy will be unveiled shortly.
39.In the last one year, Nigeria and the whole world faced COVID-19 for which no one was fully prepared.
40.Our response to the pandemic involved making hard choices in balancing livelihoods and public health concerns. You are all living witnesses to how successful this has been due to a number of pro-active measures put in place. Our response to COVID-19 is globally acclaimed.
41.We were able to ensure that the various lockdown measures did not impact too negatively on the ability of ordinary Nigerians to continue sustaining their livelihoods.
42.During the pandemic, we disbursed N5,000 to 1 million Nigerians using a Rapid Response Register and advanced N20,000 to 750,000 beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Progamme and provided 1.37 million Nigerians with palliatives from CACOVID.
43.At the same time the Federal Government released 109,000 metric tonnes of food reserve stocks and 70,000 metric tonnes of grains to the poor and vulnerable in all 36 states of the federation.
44.In addition, Government reduced interest rates from 9% to 5% for struggling businesses and extended credit facilities to 548,345 beneficiaries.
45.When this administration decided to change our Democracy Day from 29th May to June 12th in my first tenure, it was not only to honour the sacrifices of the men and women of our country who fought for the return to democracy but also to demonstrate our commitment to satisfy the aspirations of the people and creating an environment for democracy to be an accepted way of life.
46.As your President, I remain committed to providing an enabling environment for a free, fair and credible electoral system under my tenure.
47.However, you need to play your part by getting involved at any level you can supporting a democratic system that works for all and not for a section or a select few and demand accountability from your elected leaders.
48.My commitment to bequeathing a sustainable democratic culture remains resolute, my pursuit of a fair society remains unshaken and my desire to see that Nigeria remains a country for each and every one of us has never been stronger.
49.In responding to the challenges that this period imposes on us, Government also recognises the need to acknowledge notions of marginalisation and agitations for constitutional amendments among various segments of our population.
50.While this government is not averse to constitutional reform as part of our nation building process, everyone must understand that the primary responsibility for constitutional amendments lies with the National Assembly.
51.This body which, as I said, is the arm of government responsible for constitutional changes has concluded the preliminary stages of amending and improving our constitution in a way that the majority of Nigerians will be happy with.
52.Government is, however, willing to play a critical role in the constitutional amendment process without usurping the powers of the National Assembly in this regard.
53.As a nation we have come very far from where we started and we are getting incrementally closer to where we ought to be.
54.Overcoming the present challenges is but one of a necessary process that we have to undergo as a nation so that we can come out stronger. The day I joined the Nigerian Army I was prepared to lay down my life for Nigeria.
55.As your President I remain ever committed to upholding and defending Nigeria’s Corporate existence.
56.In adhering to the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy notably section 14(2)(b) I shall do all within my power to ensure that the Security and welfare of the people remain the primary purpose of government.
57.I have, throughout my tenure, provided the security agencies with all they require relative to available resources and will be providing more as the dynamics unfold to put an end to our security problems.
58.My strong belief in the Nigerian spirit gives me comfort that we are facing these challenges with renewed commitment to keep our country one.
59.I thank you for your patience and attention and more importantly your resolve to join hands in making Nigeria the country of our dream.
Happy Democracy Day! God Bless us All, God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Celebrating Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele: A Pillar Of Progress In The 9th
By Victor Alade
As the curtains draw close on the remarkable journey of the 9th Senate at the Nigeria National Assembly, it is only fitting to acknowledge the outstanding contributions and unwavering commitment of Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele to the success and growth of this distinguished assembly. Representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Senator Bamidele has been an integral part of the 9th Senate, leaving an indelible mark on the legislative landscape of our great nation.
HITHERTO, MAKING THE SENATE WORK
When the 9th Senate was inaugurated, it faced an enormous task of overcoming the perception of being a “rubberstamp” to the Executive. However, Senator Bamidele, with his exceptional leadership and unwavering dedication, played a pivotal role in stabilizing, adding value, and legitimizing the Senate as an independent and effective arm of government.
His immense contributions have been instrumental in transforming the Senate into a proactive and robust institution that diligently carried out its legislative duties.
As the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Bamidele has played a critical role in advancing the cause of justice and human rights in Nigeria. He has also championed several bills that have had a direct impact on the lives of Nigerians, including the Whistle blower Protection Bill, the Family Support Trust Fund Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, and the National Human Rights Commission Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, among others.
Senator Bamidele was instrumental in the passage of several other crucial bills that have impacted positively on the lives of Nigerians, including the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019, and has made significant contributions to other bills such as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Throughout his tenure, Senator Bamidele displayed an unparalleled commitment to fostering good governance and accountability. His sponsorship and support of numerous bills, such as the Public Private Partnership Bill, 2021, demonstrated his unwavering resolve to drive economic growth, create employment opportunities, and enhance the welfare of Nigerians. His deep understanding of the legislative process and his ability to build consensus among his colleagues further solidified his reputation as a trusted and influential lawmaker.
A BASTION OF HOPE FOR A NEW NIGERIA.
As we usher in the 10th Senate, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele track record and experience make him a formidable force for progress and stability. His active involvement with the Stability Group, a coalition committed to promoting inclusivity and diversity in the Senate leadership, further underscores his dedication to ensuring balanced representation for all citizens.
With his vast knowledge, exceptional leadership acumen, and unwavering commitment to service, Senator Bamidele is poised to play a crucial role in the success of the incoming Senate. His ability to bridge divides, foster unity and promote good governance positions him as a beacon of hope in steering Nigeria towards a prosperous and inclusive future.
Beyond the walls of the Senate, Senator Bamidele has been a champion of youth empowerment and women’s rights. Through his various empowerment initiatives with which he provides scholarships to indigent students, he exemplifies his commitment to education and human capital development.
The Iyin Ekiti born Senator understands that investing in the youth is crucial to unlocking the potential of our great nation and creating a sustainable future.
Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele’s illustrious contributions to the 9th Senate have been nothing short of remarkable. His unwavering dedication, progressive mindset, and commitment to the Nigerian people have left an indelible mark on the legislative landscape.
As the 10th Senate takes the reins, we have every confidence that Senator Bamidele’s visionary leadership will continue to inspire and drive positive change in Nigeria.
Let us celebrate Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, a pillar of progress in the 9th Senate, and support his unwavering commitment to building a prosperous, inclusive, and united Nigeria.
-Victor Alade writes from Akure, Ondo State
Shock in Nasarawa Community As Dead Man Walks Out Of Casket At Point Of Burial
• Says I saw heaven, deceased childhood friends, ex-girlfriends
The Gidan Angalu community in Toto Local Government Area, Nasarawa State was thrown into shock penultimate Tuesday with the ‘resurrection’ of a native doctor at the point of burial two days after he was certified dead.
Fifty-nine-year-old Godwin Ugeelu Amadu had been confirmed dead by doctors at a private hospital at about 6 am on September 5, 2022, following which he was covered up and wheeled into the mortuary as doctors and family members awaited the arrival of his Abuja-based eldest son, Mr. Jacob Amadu.
Since the deceased native doctor was said to have left an instruction with his children that he must be buried not later than three days in the hospital before burial and he must not be embalmed with Formaline, arrangements were said to have been made for his burial two days later.
To the utter shock of Amadu’s children, relatives and sympathisers, however, the native doctor rose from the casket he was kept in as arrangements were being made to take his corpse to the graveyard, causing the crowd that had gathered for his burial to run in different directions.
The ‘resurrection’ of Amadu two days after his ‘death’ turned him into an overnight celebrity as people came from far and near to confirm what had happened.
Sharing his experience in an interview with our correspondent, Amadu, who said he has abandoned his career as a native doctor to become an evangelist, recalled that before his sickness and eventual ‘death’ on September 5, he had enjoyed good health and fully attended to patients who came from far distances to his village.
But sometime in July, he began to feel pains in his chest and legs. He said his legs were swollen and he tried treating himself as a native doctor but there appeared to be no improvement, prompting his two eldest children based in Abuja and one of his daughters based in Lafia to rush him to the Federal Medical Centre in Keffi.
At the hospital in Keffi, he was admitted for two weeks after which he was discharged and certified fit. But a week after he returned home, he developed severe chest pain.
He told his children who had gone back to their stations not to take him to the hospital again and also told them repeatedly not to keep his corpse longer than two or three days before burial.
With his condition getting worse, however, his children defied his instruction and returned him to a private hospital in a nearby community where he could get preliminary attention before he would be transferred to the Federal Medical Centre in Keffi where he had been treated before.
There, doctors battled to save his life before they thought he had given up the ghost and prepared him for burial.
Also speaking with our correspondent, the eldest son, Jacob, who said his father was declared dead while he was travelling from Abuja to see him on his sick bed in Nasarawa State, said: “I got to the hospital at about 10 am on September 5 and the mortician at the hospital wheeled out the trolley containing my father and unveiled his face for me to see, and it was indeed my father.”
“We advised the hospital not to embalm him because he actually told us repeatedly not to embalm him when he dies and to bury him immediately rather than keep his corpse inside a room.
“So we hurriedly left for the village to mobilise young men to help dig his grave so that we could bury him the second or third day as he had wished.
“On September 7, we brought his corpse to the village in a casket to bury him and sympathisers around the community were crying while others assembled in different locations discussing the sad event of his passing.
“While his body had been displayed in an open roof where he normally attended to his patients as a native doctor, the children brought the casket and put his body inside, preparatory for his burial, but he suddenly doctor rose from the casket.
“We were in the village when we suddenly saw the casket shaking and eventually fell and my father woke up to the surprised of many people in the village. A lot of the men and women who had gathered ran away, believing that it was his ghost.
“I summoned courage as a man to walk up to him and got a seat for him to sit on. He was not talking.
“I later held his hand and led him to the bathroom. He had a bath and after a few hours, he requested for food. He ate and then relaxed. “In the evening of the next day, he started talking a little and on the third day, he tried to narrate his experience.”
In an interview with our correspondent one week after he ‘resurrected’, Amadu said he could not fully recollect all that transpired during his struggles in the throes of death except that he was writhing in pains at one moment, felt relieved moments later and found himself in another world.
Amadu said: “I thank God that he has given me life again after tasting death. It is a miracle that God gave me a second chance and I think I will dedicate the days he has given me to live again to worship him and preach his gospel.
“My journey to heaven was a tranquil one. I feel very confused about what God has done to me. All I can remember for now is that I lost my memory when I was sick, but people later gathered in my village to mourn my passing.
“The cloud opened up and I saw something like a giant golden satellite suspended in space. I wouldn’t know whether this is what the bible calls heaven, but there I was greeted by a 75ft tall angel who stood in front of the gate.
“The angel had a beautiful sword and wore something like golden hair. As I looked round, I discovered that there were two other angels behind him holding pamphlets and books containing the words of God.
“The three angels had a brief discussion among themselves and later allowed me into the city of heaven.
“On entering the city, I met a childhood friend who died 22 years ago. His name was Choko Aguma. He was the one who took me round the city where everybody was committed to worshipping God
The UK Barn and The Hypocrisy of Covid-19 Guidelines in Nigeria
By Festus Fifen
Recently the United Kingdom in response to the global red alert on the omicron variant of Covid-19 placed Nigeria as part of the high risk countries which later metamorphose to flight restrictions from Nigeria and other selected African countries by some European countries. The United Kingdom over the years is a trusted partner as far as Nigeria is concerned. The flight restriction moves from some European countries especially the United Kingdom was perceived as unnecessary and discriminatory by a larger part of Nigerians home and abroad. No wonder the government through the honourable Minister of Information and culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed was very critical of the decision describing it as discriminatory and targeted at Nigerians for a virus that originated from China.
After about two days of the story making the rounds on different media platforms across the country, myself and the former Director General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, Professor, Abdulsalam Nasidi, (a professor of virology) were on a radio station in Abuja, analyzing the implications and the consequences of such action not forgetting the political and economic implications of the flight ban. I remember making a statement before we went on set and the professor agreed with me completely. And what was the statement? I told Prof. that the problem with us as a country is not the discrimination from the western countries. The problem with us is, over time, we don’t punish or let me put it this way, there are no consequences for misbehavior or flouting laydown rules and regulations as far as covid-19 regulation is concerned. This attitude over time paints a different picture about our core values as a country. This has even made countries in the world including some African countries cast aspersions on our personalities and the results that originate from our institutions of higher learning and even medical reports.
Now, that leads me to the topic of today, which I really want us to look at closely. While driving to the office this morning, there was this advert I heard through my radio set about a show that was coming up in Abuja the Nigeria Capital, I was trying to catch up with the headlines from the dailies and the adverts ended with “all COVID-19 protocols will be duly observed. I asked myself do we really talk about these COVID-19 principles and non-pharmaceutical guidelines because we want to obey them completely and diligently or we just mention it in public service announcement and advertisements so that people will know that we believe in the covid-19 protocols?
Let’s start from the government itself, I mean those people that are in charge of giving ‘us’ these rules and also in charge of implementation and enforcement
In the airports in Nigeria, after all the rigours of adhering strictly to COVID-19 protocols during the boarding process, you go into the aircraft to discover that you just wasted your time in a process that looks very much like a mere ritual. you are jam packed like sardines inside the plane. Without all the necessary precautions. That is a story for another day. I wouldn’t want to go there now.
Now you see senior government officials arranging or organizing events, they will go as far as announcing strictly by invitation and COVID-19 protocols will be followed and a few other things only for you to go there you realize that the lawmakers are actually the law breakers.
You will notice it’s a case of 49 sitting 99 standing (in the words of the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti). They don’t follow any of these non-pharmaceutical guidelines. You will still see people without facemask, no safe distance in the sitting arrangement and no proper coordination in crowd control. come back the next day you will hear COVID-19 protocols fully observed. In front or at the door of almost government office is the bold poster NO FACE MASK, NO ENTRY yet inside those offices are people that have thrown caution to the wind. At the entrance of shopping malls across the Nigerian Capital City Abuja you are forced to wear a face mask before entry, but as soon as you have access to the mall, everything returns to the pre-covid-19 era, same with Hotels and other public facilities and institutions. Let me not mention public transportation and taxis.
Who is deceiving us in this country? Why do we feel that the Foreigners, Diplomats I mean those who work in different high commission and embassies of other countries in Nigeria do not see how we throw caution to the wind in enforcement and implementation of protocols? Why do we feel that when it’s time to give updates about what is happening in Nigeria in the areas of compliance to Covid-19 guidelines they will not give their host country a true picture of what it is? Why do we feel that they (Foreigners) will follow us in our hypocrisy and make everybody believe we are following the guidelines?
Not too long ago stories about some travelers purchasing the vaccination certificate without taking the vaccine was played up by the media and till now no one person punished for doing that, we have also heard cases of health record officers inputting the wrong data for people and nothing has been seen to be done to those perpetrating such evil against humanity. The issues of “express” vaccination report given to international travelers at the airport is another can of worm we won’t open now.
The truth remains that as far as it is now, COVID-19 protocols and the announcement in Nigeria might just be a mere lip service. There are other areas that Nigeria can also look at as a country as far as this is concerned. The areas of the importance the government puts into the covid-19 fight. But we should ask ourselves who has bewitched us as a country?
My take is that the government should intensify efforts to make sure that the level of compliance is high, the high and mighty in the society should also be seen to follow the guidelines, this will go a long way in encouraging others to follow their footsteps. There should be more advocacy messages compared to the subtle threat that we have today in the system. Enforcers of covid-19 guidelines should spare no one in its enforcement approach. Everyone involved in the fight against Covid-19 should do what they are supposed to do, so that we overcome the hypocrisy of COVID-19 vaccines and we will be taken seriously by the international community. Thank you.
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