President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday addressed Nigerians as the country marked its 58th Independence anniversary.
In a speech broadcast across the nation, the President called for unity, while promising to ensure free and fair elections in 2019.
Among other things, the President hailed the military and security agencies for the progress made in tackling insecurity in the country and warned disruptive and corrosive forces on social media to desist from their acts or be prepared to face the law.
Read his full speech below:
NATIONAL BROADCAST BY H.E MUHAMMADU BUHARI PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE 58TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY, 1ST OCTOBER, 2018
Today is a day of celebration and solemn reflection. It is the anniversary of the day Nigerians realised one of the most cherished of human desires – the desire for freedom. We, therefore, give thanks to and remember our founding fathers who laboured so hard and sacrificed so much to build and bequeath to us this wonderful nation. It is our duty to consolidate this great legacy.
On this first October date and on the eve of the start of the general election cycle, we should do well to reflect on what binds us together and the great strength our diversity bestows on us. Ours is an ambitious nation, and, as citizens we have every right to look forward to the future with confidence and optimism which are well founded, considering where we find ourselves today.
There has been a steady improvement in the security situation in the North East. We remain committed to ending the crisis and make the North East safe for all.
Our thoughts and prayers are always with the victims of the Boko Haram's atrocities and their families. Beyond that, we know that the goals of the Boko Haram terrorists include capturing territories, destroying our democracy and denying our children the right to education. We will not allow them to succeed.
I want at this point to pay tribute to the men and women of our armed forces, the Police and other security and law enforcement agencies, who have been working under the most difficult conditions to keep the country safe. In the process, many have made the supreme sacrifice.
As their Commander -In- Chief, I assure these our gallant men and women that I will continue to empower them by deepening their professionalism and providing all the necessary force multipliers and enablers required for them to prevail on the field. I am looking into all reported cases of inadequacies in relation to their entitlements, their welfare and those of their families.
We are diversifying away from reliance on oil to increased manufacturing capacity, solid minerals development, and agriculture.
Efforts are on course in the Niger Delta to clean up polluted lands, restore hopes of the youths in the region and re-establish livelihoods, and strengthen their capacity to guarantee for themselves and for our country a brighter future.
The age-long conflict between herders and farmers that was being exploited by those seeking to plant the seeds of discord and disunity amongst our people, is being addressed decisively. We will sustain and continue to support the commendable efforts by all including civil society organisations, local and states governments and our traditional and religious leaders in finding durable solution to this problem.
This being a transhumance issue, we are working with countries in our region that are also facing similar difficulties to complement our common efforts. In this context I must warn that the perpetrators of murder and general mayhem in the name of defending or protecting herders or farmers will face the full wrath of the law. Meanwhile, we urge all peace-loving Nigerians to reject any simplistic portrayal, at home or abroad, of this conflict as either religious or ethnic based.
We are one of the countries in the world most affected by environmental degradation, as a consequence of climate change. We are signatories to almost all conventions and agreements aimed at slowing down the effect of climate change and mitigating its now evident consequences.
The consequences on lives and livelihoods of the shrinking of the Lake Chad and the pollution caused by oil exploitation activities alone make it mandatory on us to be at the forefront of the struggle for a safer and more sustainable environment. We will continue to mobilise international support for our efforts in this regard.
We are making progress in the fight against corruption and recovery of stolen public funds and assets despite vicious and stiff resistance. The shameful past practice, of the brazen theft of billions of Naira is no more. Shady oil deals and public contracts that were never delivered have become things of the past.
Consequently, and this is very evident across the country, we have done more with less in infrastructural developments. Roads, railways, major bridges, schools, energy and power, air and sea ports, welfare of serving and retired personnel both civilian and military including payment of legacy debt such as pension arrears, have been attended to.
There is now an enabling environment for local and foreign investment in Nigeria. We are building a rules-based system – a level playing field that is free from fixers and intermediaries. This is the cornerstone to help genuine investors and honest consumers, and the platform that will allow for the real reforms that we intend to deliver over the coming years.
We are gradually strengthening the economy with a stable Naira and falling inflation rate. We are building an economy that is moving away from over reliance on oil. Consequently we have witnessed massive return to farms and seen bumper harvest, despite recurrent floods across the country.
These positive developments are the result of our collective pursuit of a common vision through hard work and dedication, after the missed opportunities and disappointments that followed the return to democracy in 1999.
At the forefront, have always been our youths. They have been at the vanguard of the struggle for independence. They fought in the war to keep the country united. And it was they who kept alive the struggle for democracy and human rights in our country at times when these were at risk, especially following the June 12th 1993 election and the historic 2015 election process.
Even today, our youths play a central role in Nigeria's continuing progress and developments in all fields of our national endeavour –technology, agriculture, mining, engineering and especially the creative arts. Together we are building a more diverse, inclusive and self-reliant economy.
In the past three years we have introduced many policies and programmes targeted at youth development and youth empowerment. We support the 'not too young to run' legislation aimed at giving the youths greater say in our national politics and governance.
The school feeding program in primary schools is aimed at encouraging enrolment and attendance. We are building on what we have already introduced to support schools and universities to which funds have recently been released for upgrade of facilities, training programs for our entrepreneurs, and rehabilitation schemes for victims of terrorism and human trafficking.
Now we have in our hands technology that is a powerful tool that we can and should use for knowledge and understanding. As with other countries, we must also learn how to manage those tendencies that, instead, look to abuse new technologies to provoke passions and stir tensions.
Never before have we faced such a challenge. We must all rise to the responsibility of shutting out those disruptive and corrosive forces that hide in today's world of social media. We need critical minds and independent thinking, to question and question until we are satisfied we have the facts. Otherwise, all the progress we have made as a democracy since 1999 is at stake.
I have committed myself many times to ensure that elections are fully participatory, free and fair and that the Independent National Electoral Commission will be exactly INDEPENDENT and properly staffed and resourced. The ballot box is how we make our choice for the governments that rule in our name.
Developing a thriving democracy is not an easy task. There can be no quick fixes or short cuts. These are the most important lessons that we have learnt in our 58 years as an independent nation.
At the international level, we remain a responsible and respected member of the international community, playing active positive roles within ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations as well as all other regional and international organisations and institutions of which we are members.
We will continue to support initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges of our times: global and regional crises and conflicts, terrorism, trans-border crime, climate change, human rights, gender equality, development, poverty and inequality within and between nations, etc. In this context, we are working hard to achieve both the AU 2063 Agenda for socio-economic transformation of our continent; and the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, which together aim at addressing these challenges
As we celebrate the 58th Anniversary of our independence, we know we are on the right path. Although we have our differences, they count for far less than the values, virtues and common aspirations that unite us as a nation. We have so much for which we should be grateful, and in which we should rightly take pride. Our journey is not finished but we have come a long way.
I want to assure you that as President, I will continue to work tirelessly to promote, protect and preserve what really matters: a united, peaceful, prosperous and secure Nigeria, where all, irrespective of background, can aspire to succeed.
Thank you. I wish you a memorable independence celebration.
Many compliments. I know that in the course of our disagreement I have not had any chance to speak with you and I choose to do so now in the light of the many allegations you made against me in the presence of the National Chairman our party Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Alhaji Farouk Aliyu, a valuable friend and colleague His Excellency Alhaji Wammako, former Governor of Sokoto State, and Hon. Braimah Chief of Staff to the National Chairman.
Under normal circumstances my response would have been copied and delivered only to these four persons who were present at the meeting when the allegations were made, but unfortunately the allegations you made at the meeting are now being shared and posted as facts all over the media even when I was not given any opportunity to respond to them at the meeting. This goes to the root of fair hearing and I feel I should be heard.
A lot of what you said was nothing but purposeful slander. Since you released these information to the press I have no option than to make my response to the public.
Let me say that I am pained beyond measure in taking this decision but having yourself brought these issues before the public you leave me with no choice. I will constrain myself only to the issues you raised. However, should any more issues about my character be raised in the public space I will respond in like manner.
Sir, before I proceed let me repeat what I said at the meeting which were:
That I remain grateful to you for every support and act of friendship that you have shown towards me and my family.
That I did not and will not betray you in any way. My decision to run for Governor of our state, a position to which you are not aspiring and cannot aspire does not constitute a stab in the heart.
That in the course of our disagreement I have tried not to respond to all the public things that you have said about me or to show you disrespect. If however I have done so inadvertently in any way I am sorry, and I apologize.
Throughout our relationship I have also done my best to add value to your life and your politics in any way I reasonably could and I will continue to do so.
The party should decide how best to properly conduct a primary election in which I as a member of the party can stand a fair chance since you as the leader of the party in the state has chosen to work openly against me. Let me assure everyone that if that is done and a candidate emerges I will file behind the candidate of the party, and contribute my own quota.
In your response rather than deal with these issues you made the following allegations which in my humble opinion were totally irrelevant to the purpose of the meeting and intended only to tarnish my reputation. I will list the allegations and respond to them seriatim.
In responding to these allegations I will not introduce any new issues neither will I try to defend myself anymore than necessary because even if every thing you have said is true, it still does not answer the question that was at the heart of that meeting which is why I cannot be allowed to participate freely in the primaries of our party.
Let me now go to the issues as raised by you.
You said that I arranged for my associates to write a petition against you and your wife to the British Police. My response is that not only is this allegation against me false but you know it to be false. You had earlier told Governors Lalong and Bello that I , Magnus Abe wrote the petition against you to the British Police, so your modification of your earlier allegation to now say it was my associates is an acknowledgment that your earlier position is unsustainable. I have never and will never go that far whatever may be our issues, not just against you but against any other politician, neither will I allow anyone else to do it. If you have any evidence to the contrary please bring it forward and I will withdraw from the race.
You said I was not elected by the minority party in the house of assembly but rather Dr Odili asked you to go and choose your team and you chose me as Minority Leader and imposed me on the house. That is not true. I was elected as Minority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly by the minority caucus at the home of Chief Ebenezer Isokariari, our Governorship candidate in the presence of Prince Emma Anyanwu. Those who contested against me were Hon. Ben Horsefall, Hon Adokiye Oruwari, and Hon John Bazia. Luckily all these actors are still alive and you have their phone numbers for ease of reference. The PDP position which you referred to is of course false to your knowledge, because no one ran against me on the floor of the assembly as the records will show.
You said I did not win elections in Gokana, and that Chief Victor Giadom brought out a gun and stuck it to the head of the Electoral Officer and threatened to kill him before results were changed in my favour. This is laughable, the name of the E.O and his phone number is available you can call him to ask if any such incident ever took place. The issue in the Gokana election was that party leaders in some wards who promised the Youth Corpers refreshments deliberately refused to keep their word to the personnel even when they had the means to do so. In anger and frustration a lot of the corpers started changing results or mutilating results in favour of PDP chieftains who came to take advantage of the widespread anger among the electoral personnel. Even then the action was not significant and could not have affected the ultimate outcome.Yes Chief Giadom got there and called my attention to what was going on. This was the call for which I thanked Chief Giadom. It had nothing to do with guns and before he called me several people had already called my attention to this deliberate sabotage by some of our party leaders. It is not surprising that these are the same persons that are opposed to me today.
You said I am a serial betrayer and I betrayed Chinwe Aguma, our late Attorney- General who was buried just a week previous to this meeting, and you also cited the case of someone standing trial for what happened during my elections that has been abandoned by me. Both stories are also false to your knowledge. For one the trial relates to an incident that occurred in Port Harcourt outside my senatorial district and it is not election related. For the other I was shocked that you could drag the name and memory of a friend who just so recently passed away into the midst of our party politics. However you said they should ask Igo Aguma his younger brother who is with you and who told you that I betrayed Late Chinwe. I will supply the phone number of Hon Igo Aguma for anyone to call him and ask Igo to give the details and particulars of this betrayal for public consumption. Till that happens I will respect the memory of my late friend and hold my peace. Chinwe was never a pretender, and no one could have used him to settle their personal political score if he was alive.
You said I deceived you into appointing Mr. Derek Mene as Executive Director in NDDC. I did not deceive you. I merely reminded you of the promise you made to me that in the event of an APC victory in 2015 that my interest in the national government will be placed above every other interest in Rivers state including your own interest. That clearly has not been the case. It was when I reminded you of that promise that you conceded to the appointment of Mr. Mene. I do not see how making an effort to keep a promise you made voluntarily and without preconditions can be said to be deceit.
You said I am working with Governor Nyesom Wike against the party and you mentioned two things to buttress your allegation. First, you said that when people went to court to protest against the High Court ruling in the case filed by disenfranchised party members in Rivers state, Governor Wike brought the Judge to the court in his car and stood behind the judge while the ruling was delivered. You quoted two senior police officers as your witnesses.
This of course is a lie.
You also said that Hon. Mpigi told you that Governor Wike gave me 34 million naira for my thanksgiving. This also is a lie from the pit of hell. I invited Governor Wike to my thanksgiving service for two reasons, one was because you chose to host a parallel event against me on the same day and second because I am Anglican and my Archbishop who was to preside at the service called me and asked me in the name of God to forgive the Governor and invite him. Wike did not give me a Kobo to host the event and I have never received 34 million naira from Wike. I am convinced that even at the time you were saying that, you knew that was not true. Governor Wike did not give you any money to host the Free Rivers event in Bori the headquarters of Ogoniland on the day I was holding my thanksgiving, neither did Wike take the decision to disenfranchise party members and refuse nomination forms to party members who paid money to the party to contest for positions in the congresses. To continually drag Wike's name to the crisis created by deliberate acts of injustice to others, is nothing but a cheap smear campaign. It will surely fail.
I was particularly sad when you told the National Chairman that I cornered all NDDC contracts in Rivers state. All contracts in NDDC are approved by the MD who is your friend. I have not cornered any contract at all from the Commission. It is on record that simple courtesies and favours extended to Niger Delta Senators including PDP Senators are not extended to me. The only issue you have with the NDDC is the fact that Mr Mene refused to lead the campaign against me in Ogoniland despite all threats and intimidation including the threat to hand him over to the EFCC.
You said I deceived you into sacking Mrs Ibim Seminitari so I could appoint Mr Mene. This is of course a chronological impossibility. I was one of the defenders of Mrs Seminatari even in our meetings and the issue of Mr Mene did not come up until the new board was to be set up. In other words Mrs Seminitari was sacked by the decision to set up a new board.
You said I am only a friend to power and I only followed you because you were powerful. Time will tell, because it is in the nature of power to move. So one day we will either leave power or power will leave us, then we will know those who follow us because we have power. When we started our political journey you did not have the power you have today. I can still remember several times when it was just me and you together during your battle to be Governor, and even more so when you we were fighting the power of Jonathan. If I was only a friend to power as you claim today, I would have moved on long ago. I have tried to live by some rules that is why I have decided to contest for the Governorship of our state even under this very difficult circumstances and against your stated decision.
You said Chief Victor Giadom told you that I did not support you when you were the court fighting for your mandate and you named some Ogoni leaders as those who came to tell you that the Ogoni people are not with me. I will refrain from mentioning their names here but you may make their names public if indeed they told you so. Please believe whatever is convenient for you today. It will not change anything.
Finally, I have tried to go over everything you said about me including the fact that if the story of my life is in ten chapters, you will occupy six of it. My challenge is that even if you said is true, I still cannot find the stab in the heart to which you kept making reference that necessitated this bitter war in the party. The only thing I can find is the fact that I insisted on my right to contest for the ticket of our party against your stated desire. In my humble opinion, that action does not constitute a stab in the heart of any true democratic leader.
I remain yours faithfully,
Delta State Governor Dr Ifeanyi Okowa was on Monday inaugurated as the Chairman of the special National Convention Planning Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he assured that no matter the venue chosen for the Convention, the Committee will work round the clock to organise free, fair and acceptable convention. Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Elder Yomi Akinwunmi inaugurated the Committee on behalf of the Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.
According to Governor Okowa, “I thank the National Working Committee and members of our party for finding us worthy to serve in this Committee; all of us believe that the party should remain united and focused; what is needed is a free and fair primaries to be conducted for all our aspirants, no matter where the venue is, we will do what is right and no one will have reason to complain; we believe we are capable of doing the work.”
“We do know as a party, that we are in critical situation as a nation, this is about the most important assignment of our party this year as the special convention will see to the emergence of candidate who will be our next President; we are grateful to God that we have credible party men who are contesting for the position,” he said. Governor Okowa continued, “when the process is credible and the election is free and fair, we will have buy-in of all the aspirants who will lead us into the campaign.” “We will put in all our best, all that is in us, trusting God, we will come out with a candidate in a free and fair manner that no one will complain,” he emphasised.
Elder Akinwunmi had said while inaugurating the Committee that Governor Okowa was chosen to be the Chairman of the Convention Planning Committee because, “he is a thorough gentleman who conducted the best Convention ever had in Eagle Square, the international community wants to see the process that will lead to the emergence of the next President of Nigeria that is why we have chosen a man of integrity, a man of pedigree to work with reputable, tested and trusted men of our party to organise the Convention.” High point of the occasion was the unveiling of the Special National Convention Flag and presentation of appointment letters to members of the Committee which has the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi as Secretary.
...Says No Intention To Contest VP Seat
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that he will not be vying for the position of Vice President of the country as being speculated in certain quarters ahead of the 2019 elections.
The Majority Leader of Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule has described Barr. Mrs Ifeyinwa Aguma as qualified to serve the State as an Executive member of the State Council.