Promises to ensure rule of law, efficient power supply in 2020
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari early hours of Wednesday reiterated his resolve to withdraw from any political contest after his tenure in 2023.
This is coming on the backdrop of the speculations in some quarters that there might be a third term agenda for the President.
President Buhari in a letter released in Abuja on New Year’s day to Nigerians to mark the beginning of the new decade, he said: “I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available in any future elections.
“But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region, where several ECOWAS members go to the polls this year.”
He said that his administration will abide by the rule of law having previously come under criticism for paying little attention to it was promised more engagement of citizens to promote dialogue, partnership and understanding.
According to him, “Our actions at all times will be governed by the rule of law. At the same time, we shall look always to engage with all well-meaning leaders and citizens of goodwill to promote dialogue, partnership and understanding.”
He said that the nation’s security forces will be held to the highest standards of professionalism and respect for human rights.
He said, “Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry, and in turn will be held to the highest standards of professionalism, and respect for human rights.
“We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.
“We need a democratic government that can guarantee peace and security to realise the full potential of our ingenious, entrepreneurial and hard-working people.”
The president noted the success of the current economic diversification effort, saying that for the first time in a long time, the nation’s festivities did not witness the consumption of imported commodities that can be produced in the country.
On the closure of the nation’s land borders, he said Nigeria cannot afford to allow its economic plans to be sabotaged, saying therefore that the borders will remain closed until enough safeguards are in place
He said, “The joint land border security exercise currently taking place is meant to safeguard Nigeria’s economy and security. No one can doubt that we have been good neighbours and good citizens.
“We have been the helpers and shock-absorbers of the sub-region but we cannot allow our well-planned economic regeneration plans to be sabotaged. As soon as we are satisfied that the safeguards are adequate, normal cross-border movements will be resumed.”
On various sectors of the economy, President Buhari promised more liberalization of power to make it possible for the private sector to generate and distribute power.
Buhari stated: “Power has been a problem for a generation. We know we need to pick up the pace of progress. We have solutions to help separate parts of the value chain to work better together.
In the past few months, we have engaged extensively with stakeholders to develop a series of comprehensive solutions to improve the reliability and availability of electricity across the country.
“These solutions include ensuring fiscal sustainability for the sector, increasing both government and private sector investments in the power transmission and distribution segments, improving payment transparency through the deployment of smart meters and ensuring regulatory actions maximise service delivery.
“We have in place a new deal with Siemens, supported by the German government after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited us in Abuja, to invest in new capacity for generation, transmission and distribution.
“These projects will be under close scrutiny and transparency, there will be no more extravagant claims that end only in waste, theft and mismanagement.
“The next 12 months will witness the gradual implementation of these actions, after which Nigerians can expect to see significant improvement in electricity service supply reliability and delivery.
“Separately, we have plans to increase domestic gas consumption. In the first quarter of 2020, we will commence work on the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 Gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline.”
He also promised more radical reforms in the oil and gas sector towards which, he pointed out, his administration has just approved a fair framework for the USD10 billion expansion of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas.
The president spoke on some of the key infrastructure projects that will come on stream in the next 12 months including the commencement of work on the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 Gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline.
He noted the areas where progress has been achieved to enhance the ease of doing business.
On transportation, he said the government was making significant progress on key roads such as the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja – Kano highway.
While noting that 2020 will also see tangible progress on the Lagos to Kano Rail line., he added: “Through Executive Order 007, we are also using alternative funding programmes in collaboration with private sector partners to fix strategic roads such as the Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway. Abuja and Port Harcourt have new international airport terminals, as will Kano and Lagos in 2020.
“When completed, all these projects will positively impact business operations in the country. These projects are not small and do not come without some temporary disruption; we are doing now what should have been done a long time ago. I thank you for your patience and look forward to the dividends that we and future generations will long enjoy.”
President Buhari assured of his commitment to the fight against corruption and promised to press foreign partners to refund stolen assets to Nigerian.
He said: “They can also be certain of our unshakeable commitment to tackle corruption.
“As we create an environment that allows initiative, enterprise and hard work to thrive, it is more important than ever to call out those who find the rule of law an inconvenience, or independent regulation an irritation.
“We are doing our part here in Nigeria. We will continue to press our partners abroad to help with the supply side of corruption and have received some encouragement. We expect more funds stolen in the past to be returned to us and they will be ploughed back into development with all due transparency.
“This is a joint initiative. Where our policies have worked best, it has been because of the support of ordinary Nigerians in their millions, numbers that even the most powerful of special interests cannot defy. I thank you for your support. Transition by its very nature carries with it change and some uncertainty along the way.
“I encourage you to be tolerant, law-abiding and peace-loving. This is a new year and the beginning of a new decade – the Nigerian Decade of prosperity and promise for Nigeria and for Africa.”
Read the full speech here