President Muhammadu Buhari, at 7am this morning addressed several burning issues in his New Year’s speech. Here are 10 key points from the speech, which will be of immense importance to Nigerians.
1. Fuel scarcity was due to sabotage
The President empathized with Nigerians on the on going fuel scarcity, which he blamed on blackmail by some elements. He also expressed his determination to get to the root of the issue, and prevent it from occurring again.
I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.
Heads may thus roll at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
2. Rice importation will end this year.
While the president did not state when this would end, the news will definitely come as a blow to the thousands of Nigerians involved in this line of business. Locally made rice is more expensive than imported brands. Large volumes of rice are still being smuggled into the country, and the announcement will only increase these activities.
3. Fixing infrastructure remains key
The President also expressed his s determination to fix infrastructure in the country as a greater part of his speech was devoted to his administration’s efforts to fix power, roads and rail in the country. The Federal Road Maintenance Agency has been reconstituted and charged with a 12 week rapid intervention to cover all the political zones .
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Negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line railway line. Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, including the one running from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.
4. The Economy is on course
President Buhari also expressed confidence that the massive public works being embarked on, will create jobs and boost economic activities. The country’s exchange rate has become relatively stable and output in the agricultural sector has improved.
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5. Nigerians should embrace entrepreneurship
President Buhari also encouraged Nigerians to look beyond white-collar jobs, especially from the government. Great nations, in his view are created by enterprising people.
6. Power generation will increase
Power generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.
The country may witness improved power generation as several key power projects are on going. The Zungeru power project will be completed this year. The generation capacity of the Afam power station will be expanded to 240 MW through a Public Private Partnership.
7. The cost of governance is worrying
The President also acknowledged concerns that the cost of running the government was high, and expressed his administration’s openness to ideas that would lower it. This may be an impossible task to see through, with a review of the minimum wage in the works. The administration may also be unwilling to downsize, in view of impending elections in 2019.
8. Restructuring is on the back burner
Advocates of restructuring may have to press harder as the President was of the opinion that the country’s problems are more due to process than structure. In his view, Nigerians needed to give a long period for trial and improvement.
9. Niger Delta engagement is ongoing
In his speech, Buhari also revealed that talks with Niger Delta leaders was still on going in order to address grievances. The Ogoni clean up is making significant progress. Peace in the area is key as it produces a large bulk of Nigeria’s crude oil, and thus foreign exchange revenue.
10. Security remains important
President Buhari also restated his administration’s commitment to maintaining the security in the country, especially in the North East. The President asserted that Boko Haram had been largely defeated. Kidnappers should expect harsher sentencing.