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President Muhammadu Buhari gives Independence message to Nigerians

Benjamin Ukpabi

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This is the Independence Day address by his Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the occasion of Nigeria’s Sixtieth independence anniversary on Thursday, 1st of October, 2020.

 

 

 

Fellow Nigerians,

I speak to you today as your President and fellow citizen on this epoch occasion of our country’s 60th independence Anniversary. As President, I wish to renew my appreciation to Nigerians for entrusting me with your hopes and aspirations for a better and greater Nigeria.

2. Today, it is my unique privilege to re-commit myself to the service of this great country of great people with profound diversities and opportunities. We are bound by destiny to be the largest and greatest black nation on earth.

3. 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

4. On October 1st 1960 when Prime Minister Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa received the constitutional instruments symbolizing Nigeria’s independence, he expressed his wish that having acquired our rightful status as an independent sovereign nation, history would record that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace.

5. This optimism was anchored on the peaceful planning, full and open consultation and harmonious cooperation with the different groups which culminated in Nigeria emerging as a country without bitterness and bloodshed.

6. Our founding fathers understood the imperative of structuring a National identity using the power of the state and worked towards unification of Nigerians in a politically stable and viable entity.

7. 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.

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

9. 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?

10. Upon attaining independence, Nigeria’s growth trajectory was anchored on policies and programmes that positively impacted on all sectors of the economy. However, this journey was cut short by the 30-months of civil war.

11. We came out of the civil war with a focus on reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation that enabled the country to put in place world class development structures and a strengthened public service that well served the government. This positive trajectory continued with a return to democratic government which was truncated by another round of military rule.

12. For a cumulative 29 of our 60 years existence as a nation, we have been under military rule.

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13. My summary of our journey so far as a nation is necessary to appropriately chart where we need to go and how to get there TOGETHER.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. In addition, institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. Similarly, the creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Nigerian at home have resulted in globally recognized endeavours.

22. 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.

23. Together we can change our condition for the better and more importantly, together we can do much more for ourselves and for our country.

24. I chose the path of self-reflection because this is what I do on a daily basis and I must confess that at most times, I always felt the need for a collective reflection as I know that the foundation for a solid future which this administration is laying can only be sustainable if there is a collective commitment by Nigerians.

25. Nigeria is not a country for Mr. President, any ruling or opposition party but a country for all of us and we must play our part, irrespective of challenges we face, to make this country what we desire.

26. To achieve this, we must focus our minds, TOGETHER as a people, on ways of resolving the identified critical challenges that underlie our present state. These include:

a. Evolving and sustaining a democratic culture that leaves power in the hands of the people;

b. Supporting the enthronement of the rule of law, demanding accountability of elected representatives and contributing to good governance;

c. Increasing our commitment to peaceful co-existence in a peaceful, secure and united Nigeria;

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d. Harnessing and Optimizing our tremendous human and natural resources to attain our goal of being in the top twenty economies of the world and in the process;

e. Lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years;

f. Strengthening institutions to make them stronger in protecting National Interests; and

g. Imbibing tolerance in diversity.

27. I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President.

28. 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.

29. The problems with our electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office.

30. 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.

31. 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.

32. support the enthronement of the rule of law by avoiding actions which compromise the judiciary.

33. Fellow Nigerians, our history has shown that we are a people that have the capacity to live peacefully with one another.

34. As a government, we remain committed to our constitutional oath of securing the lives and properties of the citizenry. I, however, call on the citizenry to also support government by providing the necessary community level intelligence in addressing these challenges.

35. In moving forward together, it is important to strengthen our economy to provide sustainable means of livelihood for as many Nigerians as possible so as to eradicate absolute poverty from our midst

36. I want to re-emphasize my dedication and commitment, a dedication and commitment that propelled my public service career and informed my quest to continually seek for an opportunity to improve the lives of Nigerians, set the country on the path of prosperity and lead the country to a better future.

37. This administration has been focused on rebuilding and laying the foundations for a sustainable Nigeria. Of course, we have met and are still meeting the challenges inherent in any rebuilding initiative – more so that of a nation like Nigeria that has undergone avoidable levels of deprivation – but can be surmounted if we all work together.

38. I wish to re-iterate that our people and our spirit of excellence remains our most important asset.

39. 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.

40. 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.

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41. 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.

42. Our government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources.

43. 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.

44. Accordingly, in the last three years, we have introduced unprecedented measures in support of the economy and to the weakest members of our society in the shape of:

a. Tradermoni

b. Farmermoni

c. School Feeding Programme

d. Job creation efforts

e. Agricultural intervention programmes

45. 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.

46. In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.

47. 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.

48. 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.

49. Fellow Nigerians, to achieve the great country we desire, we need to solidify our strength, increase our commitment and encourage ourselves to do that which is right and proper even when no one is watching.

50. Fellow Nigerians, let us collectively resolve to continue our journey beyond the sixty years on the clear understanding that as a nation we are greater together than being smaller units of nationalities. By the special grace of God we shall come through any transient challenges.

51. 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.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Boko Haram terrorists are our Muslim brothers, shouldn’t be killed like pigs: Minister Pantami

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s communications minister Isa Pantami once condemned Nigerian Army’s incursion into Boko Haram strongholds, describing the insurgents as “our Muslim” brothers who did not deserve to be killed like pigs.

“See what our fellow Muslim brothers’ blood has turned to? Even pig blood has more value than that of a fellow Muslim brother,” Mr Pantami lamented in a sermon issued a few years ago when former President Goodluck Jonathan ramped up military operations against the rampaging terror sect.

Peoples Gazette obtained the audio through an anonymous contact on Thursday night. The location of Mr Pantami’s sermon and those who attended could not be immediately obtained, but the words, nonetheless, contradicted his recent claims that he had long maintained a hardline posture against Boko Haram.

Mr Pantami’s media allies have also been on an image laundering blitz to cast him as a moderate preacher who has been widely celebrated for his longstanding contempt for Boko Haram. Mr Pantami also joined his supporters to amplify a threat issued against him by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, evoking it to dismiss insinuations of his sympathy towards terrorists as counter-intuitive.

But in the February 2020 video, Mr Shekau appeared more frustrated by what he saw as Mr Pantami’s betrayal in becoming a top government official after spending years preaching Salafi doctrine than he was about the minister’s purported condemnation of Boko Haram’s deadly exploits.

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Mr Pantami has long been famous across northern parts of Nigeria as a respected Islamic cleric. He used most of his preachings to rail against the government’s high-handedness, and Peoples Gazette published a video on Thursday that showed him promising never to go into public service. The sermon was delivered in the mid-2000s, years before Mr Buhari appointed him in 2016 as the head of NITDA and later in 2019 as a cabinet minister in charge of communications.

“We are praying to God to answer all our prayers. It’s our right and obligation before all Muslim leaders, politicians, government appointees, academics,” Mr Pantami said in his prayers. “All of us should not fold their arms and watch helplessly how they shed our Muslim brothers’ blood and cheat them in vain.”

Mr Pantami said Boko Haram elements should have been treated with dignity as against the deadly military campaign, saying extermination of insurgents amounted to extrajudicial killing.

 

“Even if the Boko Haram fighters commit a crime, but can we justify the way and manner they are being killed?”

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“Just look at how they are killing people as if they are shooting pigs even though they commit a crime, why the extrajudicial killing? Take them before the law for a fair trial.

“You caught someone sleeping and you killed him. If it’s not Muslims that undergo such treatments who else?” Mr Pantami said.

The minister also said the previous administration should have pampered Boko Haram insurgents in the same manner as the Niger-Delta militants. Unlike Boko Haram that has been on senseless bloodshed against Nigerians of every faith and creed, the militants were fighting for a better share of oil wealth explored and extracted from their parts of the country.

After about three years of their violent campaign, which largely involved frequent abduction of expatriate oil workers and exchange of fire with security forces, the militants acquiesced to economic solutions and relinquished their arms in a deal brokered by former President Umar Yar’Adua.

But Mr Pantami disregarded the context of both groups and instead took a parallel position on how the government should respond to them.

“The Niger Delta people did something similar to this. They massacre people, steal weapons, killed expatriates and kidnap some of them,” Mr Pantami said. “Yet, you still accept them back, open a ministry for them, gave them a minister and put them on a monthly salary pay without work.”

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“The militants did more harm compared to what Boko Haram boys did,” the minister said. “But why will they do something like this? Why selective justice?”

 

The audio was part of a series of controversial sermons which Mr Pantami delivered at several worship centres and learning institutions across the northern parts of the country between the mid and late 2000s. The Gazette obtained the audio this week, most of which had already been transcribed and contextualized by an academic journal published online since March 2019.

Calls have now intensified for Mr Pantami to either publicly renounce his statements or step down from office, with some activists arguing that his position as a federal minister in charge of citizens’ data and the country’s telecoms infrastructure had become untenable.

As part of our series, The Gazette reached out to Mr Pantami repeatedly to learn whether or not he had renounced his controversial views but he declined all requests.

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Rapper CDQ Arrested by NDLEA For Being in Possession of Drugs, Currently Under Investigation

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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The Nigerian Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has confirmed that rapper CDQ was arrested for being in possession of a banned substance popularly known as ‘loud’.

The NDLEA confirmed on Thursday through it’s Director for Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, that CDQ was arrested in his Lekki home on Wednesday night.

He was that after being detained for some hours, CDQ was subsequently granted bail and was asked to return to the anti-drug law enforcement agency for further investigations.

The agency said it had an anonymous tip that the artist was in possession of cannabis which is illegal and they swung into action to make the arrest, adding that the rapper also mentioned some other big artists in the industry who use the illegal drugs.

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Yes, CDQ was arrested in his house at Lekki for being in possession of cannabis. He was arrested based on intelligence.

“As of last night, he was granted administrative bail, but he is expected back into custody today because it is an ongoing investigation. Some substances were found and he mentioned some names of some other big artists. So, it is an ongoing investigation.”

Babafemi further noted that the outcome of the investigation would determine if the rapper would be charged to court or counselled by the agency.

The outcome of the investigation would determine what would happen. There are cases whereby the investigation shows some sufficient infractions, and then the case will go to court.

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“There are other cases whereby if the quantity is insignificant, we will bring him in for counselling and possible rehabilitation. Those are likely scenarios that will happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, CDQ has taken to Instagram to react to the incident which he hinted that he must have been framed up.

“No sleep for the wicked. Iyalaya yin o ni sun for dis Lagos.They tryna set me up today but Olohun wa.” He wrote.

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Hunger, Hardship Bites Hard As Kidnappers, Bandits Now Demand Foodstuffs as Ransom

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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The current economic reality being faced by Nigerians may have spread to the forests where criminal elements reside as kidnappers and bandits now demand bags of rice, cartons of noodles, bread and other food items as part of the conditions to free their captives.

It has been revealed that the level of deteriorating security situation bedeviling the entire nation at the moment may not be unconnected to the current hardship in the land birthed by high cost of living as prices of essential commodities in the market have continued to skyrocket.

Recently, abductors of some residents of Kiyi and Anguwar Hausawa community in Kuje and Abaji area councils of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, told members of the families of their hostages to include food items in the ransom.

Some of the items demanded by the kidnappers included bags of rice, noodles, spaghetti and cartons of seasoning cubes.

According to a relative of one of the victims who identified himself simply as Joshua, the items were taken along with N1.5 million as condition for the release of each abductee.

Findings revealed that all the families of the eight people who were kidnapped alongside a Pastor of the RCCG, in Kiyi had to purchase foodstuffs and condiments for the kidnappers as demanded.

According to Joshua, “Other family members did the same thing before their kidnapped relatives were released.

“If you fail to buy those things and take only the cash to them, they will collect it and still hold the victim until you get the foodstuffs for them.”

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Similarly, late last year, families of those kidnapped from Ushafa in Abuja were instructed by the kidnappers to include 30 loaves of bread, 40 packets of cigarettes and other items. This was done alongside the payment of ransome before the victims were released.

This trend has stimulated reactions from concerned Nigerians as some have blamed the bandits and Fulani militias for making farming activities difficult for farmers across the country which according to them, has resulted in food crisis.

Some believe that the inability of governments in all levels to attend to the plights of the citizens particularly in the area of job creation, has plunged the entire nation into unimaginable hardship which may have been extended to criminal elements in their various hideouts.

A resident of Kaduna State where scores were recently abducted by bandits, Ijanebu Odeh, traced the trend to lack of job opportunities which has triggered unbearable hunger in the land.

According to her: They are doing that because of the situation of the country. Imagine how employers are sacking their workers, leaving them with frustrations and hunger, to even get a job in this country now, one needs connection and when you don’t have the connection, then there’ll be no job for you.

“Those kidnapping and demanding foods for ransom are hungry. They are people that think of how to feed their belly and those of their families too.

“No working class person or a businessman will just decide to go into kidnapping because he/she has money to provide whatsoever they need.

“Just of recent here in Kaduna, El-rufai sacked so many local govt workers, leaving them jobless and most of these workers have families to cater for.

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“So you see, the Govt is not trying at all and they are the cause of all these kidnappings. They should provide jobs for the youths because not everyone is good at business and there is the need to do something concerning the country’s poor economy.

“It’s not that there’s no money but our leaders have decided to take all the money to themselves and their family members.”

Meanwhile, Simon Bameyi, a radio presenter who spoke with DAILY POST correspondent via telephone interview was of the view that poisoning the food items before handing them over to the Kidnappers, would be a better way of eliminating them.

He said: “It’s cool. Let’s poison the food and give them. Kidnappers killed a police officer in my area yesterday and abducted no fewer than four people.

“In fact, since this year, this place has been their abode. They also deserve to die so whenever they demand for food items, it should be poisoned.”

Similarly, Aguredam Keghter Moses,
State Coordinator Africa Youth Union Commission, Benue State Chapter, lamented how prices of food items have skyrocketed in the market.

“Do you know how much foodstuff is in the market now? Bandits are not allowing farmers to go to farm. This has created hunger and poor supply of foodstuffs.

“If not hunger what else could make kidnappers to demand for foodstuffs? They prevented farmers from engaging in their usual farming activities and now they are also facing the reality and the repercussions of their actions”.

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Also, an educationist in Makurdi, the Benue State Capital told DAILY POST correspondent in an interview that the country is currently “about survival of the fittest”.

According to him, “Kidnappers asking for food as ransom! As hilarious as it might sound, it just exposes us to the current reality of things in the land. It’s about survival of the fittest and in this case, the kidnappers are holding firm because one is beginning to wonder why there is this sudden rise in cases of kidnapping and banditry.

“There’s hunger in the land, universities keep churning out thousands of graduates yearly with no employment opportunities, farmers and herders crisis is persisting daily, families are losing their means of livelihood. This sudden food for ransom is a clear departure from the norm. This is simply an act of desperation for survival.

“The government of the day needs to sit up because it is in this same country in 2020 that foods meant for the poor as palliatives were stored and not given to the masses even when there was hunger ravaging the land.

“They shouldn’t forget that desperate situation calls for desperate measures or like Sound sultan said ‘one day, the bush meat go catch the hunter’. A word is enough for the salacious”.

Meanwhile, when contacted for comment on the way forward, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mbah was unable to take his calls and could not respond to text messages forwarded to him.

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