PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has delivered his last New Year Message to Nigerians as their leader.
The message was the President’s eighth New Year speech since he assumed office on May 29, 2019, after his historic and unprecedented victory over the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking on various issues, ranging from the economy, security, infrastructure, and the anti-corruption campaign, to the nation’s nascent democracy and the need to further cement the country’s frail unity, Buhari said he offered his best to the country.
“I offer my own personal felicitations, mindful of the various opinions and interpretations of our executive legacies.
“I welcome and accept both the accolades and criticisms in an equal measure, secure in the conviction that I did my best to serve our dear country Nigeria and I pray that the next President will also pick up the baton and continue the race to make Nigeria one of the leading countries of the world by the end of this century,” the President stated.
Describing his speech as valedictory, Buhari said his eight-year term of four years apiece “must necessarily come to an end”.
Buhari reiterated his promise to ensure a free, fair and credible election as Nigerians go to the polls in February and March 2023 to elect a new President and other leaders.
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He appealed to the citizens, especially the electorate and politicians, to conduct themselves in manners acceptable to the law.
The President vowed to ensure that anyone who attempts to undermine the electoral process would face the full weight of the law.
He also appealed to the citizens to support the security agencies with intelligence that would help their operations against criminals and others whose activities threaten the country’s peace and unity.
Buhari boasted of his government’s success against insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West and general routing of criminals by security forces across the country.
According to him, over 82,000 insurgents with their families surrendered to the Nigerian military.
He pointed out the resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna train attacked this year by insurgents as one of the successes recorded by his government.
Gains of #EndSARS protest
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The President explained that the October 2020 #EndSARS protests across the country was yielding results with expected reforms in the Nigerian Police Force taking place.
The reform, he noted, is built on the Presidential Vision for Policing in the country.
He said his government framed the vision in a roadmap that transcends the tenure of his administration, and the vision is predicated on six principles, namely:
- Building Trust and Legitimacy.
- Leadership, Accountability and Oversight.
- Technology and digital media d) Community Policing and Crime Reduction.
- Officers Training and Education.
- Funding, Officers’ Welfare, Wellness and Safety.
“This reform programme is very much in its foundational phase but has recorded noteworthy successes in improving police welfare and their emoluments.
“Other gains have been the ongoing training of 500 police cadet trainers to enable a better training regimen for the 2022 first batch of the 10,000 new cadets with an additional 10,000 set for 2023.”
He said the government was providing the police with equipment, welfare and other requirements to make them compete with their peers worldwide.
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Buhari pledged to focus on maintaining and building economic growth through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the goal of national food self-sufficiency.
He said the government also prioritized building the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and sustaining the non-oil GDP growth surge.
The President identified the Nigerian Start-up Act as a huge step towards boosting job creation and supporting the entrepreneurial drive of the country’s youths.
He said despite the negative effects of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, the nation had managed rising global inflation and subsidised power costs to buffer households.
The ICIR reports that with five months remaining to the end of his government, the President promised to solidify delivering key strategic priorities under the “SEA” (Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption) agenda on which he rose to power in 2015.
On security, he said the government would continue to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against the nation.
The President said the government’s “ongoing infrastructure revolution” would see him deliver key national projects in power, rail, roads, ports and technology.
The President claimed that from 117 convictions in 2017, his government achieved 3,615 convictions in corruption cases as of December 31.
Describing the effort as a record in the fight against corruption in the country, the President restated his pledge to rid the country of all forms of corruption.
The ICIR reports that while many Nigerians see Buhari’s nearly eight years of leadership as a gross failure, others believe he offered his best as he said.
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