5 things we learnt from President’s Independence Day address
President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation earlier today on the occasion of Nigeria’s 56th Independence Anniversary. We run the rule on the five lessons we picked up from his speech, below:
1. Economy is everything
All of the President’s speech can be summed up in one word—Economy. He commenced with the state of the nation’s economy and ended with it. The biting economic recession is Nigeria’s reality at the moment and there was no hovering around it in this address. It’s the single biggest challenge facing us as a nation today.
“I know that uppermost in your minds today is the economic crisis. The recession for many individuals and families is real. For some it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it’s not being able to afford the high cost of food (rice and millet) or the high cost of local or international travel, and for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic. I know how difficult things are, and how rough business is,” the President said. Yes, we are the economy and the economy is us.
2. Buhari remembers he ran for office four times…
Thank goodness! Please forgive us if at some point in the life of this administration, we forgot that President Muhammadu Buhari sought to do this job and campaigned so badly for our votes, four times in the past.
“I ran for office four times…. I ran for office because I know that good government is the only way to ensure prosperity and abundance for all. I remain resolutely committed to this objective,” said Buhari. Four times. Buhari has been asking and pleading to be a democratic president since 1999. You wouldn’t know that from watching how he took an eternity to form his cabinet, would you? You wouldn’t have guessed that given how slow he started, right?
There’s no way a President who has been preparing for office all these years, would have been taken by surprise by the plunge in the price of oil or that he’ll meet a near empty treasury. Buhari promised to hit the ground running, but once he hit the ground in May 2015, he stayed there for a while. He slept on it and then the blame game commenced. If you prepared for office since 1999, chances are that you’ll have a fairly decent picture of persons who’ll form a government with you once elected. Well, that’s because you aren’t Muhammadu Buhari.
3. Recessions come and go and so will this one
“I believe that this recession will not last”, said Buhari. He is right. Recessions are often temporary affairs. The big deal here is making sure there are sound, long term policies in place so we don’t return here any time soon.
“Temporary problems should not blind or divert us from the corrective course this government has charted for our nation. We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions”, added the President.
That second paragraph is the real deal—“We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions”. We can only offer an “Amen”. Buhari’s policies will determine how long we are in this recession. Let the countdown commence.
4. Money budgeted for infrastructure is commendable
Economists will tell you that to snap out of an economic recession, you’ve got to first spend out of it. In other words, when you find yourself in a hole, just stop digging. Nigeria is in one massive hole right now. To stop digging will mean revamping our moribund infrastructure. Said the President:
“The current budget allocated two hundred and forty billion naira for highway projects against twelve billion naira in 2015. Many contractors who have not been paid for three years have now remobilized to sites. Seven hundred and twenty point five billion naira has so far been released this budget year to capital projects.
“The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has received one hundred and ninety seven point five billion naira. Roads Construction and Rehabilitation has taken off. The sum of twelve billion naira was allocated to this sector in the 2015 Budget, not enough even to pay interest on outstanding unpaid claims”.
The huge outlay on infrastructure, if judiciously expended, will get us out of this recession hole in double quick time. In the past, only paltry sums were budgeted for infrastructure uplifts and that’s rather sad. Economies don’t grow on the back of the embarrassing infrastructure our country currently leans on. Fact.
5. Buhari despises the Niger Delta Avengers
Who doesn’t? In this Independence Day address, President Muhammadu Buhari made sure to remind the chaps who’ve made a pastime out of blowing up gas pipelines, who exactly the boss is. “We will not allow a tiny minority of thugs to cripple the country’s economy”, he vowed. “No group can unlawfully challenge the authority of the Federal Government and succeed”, he said emphatically in yet another paragraph. There was one more line devoted to the Avengers:
“A new insurgency has reared up its head in the shape of blowing up gas and oil pipelines by groups of Niger Delta Militants. This Administration will not allow these mindless groups to hold the country to ransom”.
This was the Military General in the President, brimming to the surface all over again. You could tell he’s been gutted by their heinous activities. Just like the rest of us.