President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday took stock of his performance for the past 10 months at the helm and concluded that he has effectively charted the course to tackle the myriad of problems bedevilling the nation.
Addressing members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, he cited the significant progress recorded in ensuring the security of lives and property particularly in the troubled North-East geo-political zone as a milestone recorded during the period.
Saying more need to be done to tackle the menace of oil theft and pipeline vandalisation in the oil-rich Niger Delta, he enjoined those behind such dastard act to bury their hatchet and join hands with his administration to build a virile and prosperous Nigeria.
President Buhari, who particularly singled out his resolve to implement the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which has put N3 trillion in government kitty as a key dividend of his drive to block leakages in the polity, stated that the N3 trillion would surely come handy in the implementation of this year’s N6.07 trillion worth budget.
Citing the controversies that trailed the re-run elections in Rivers, Bayelsa and Kogi states as indications of the inadequacies of the electoral system, he remarked that all hands must be on deck to ensure credibility of the electoral system.
The President further reiterated his commitment to ensure that the anti-graft campaign was in line with the dictates of the rule of law.
President Buhari also pointed out that his administration gave a blanket order, “which we had to rescind when we said all boards are suspended or dissolved. We had to go back and lick our vomit in terms of university boards because we found out that according to their laws, they cannot choose Vice Chancellors unless the Boards sit down, interview prospective candidates who want to be VCs. So, there is nothing wrong in saying sorry and going back on your decision. So, we said sorry and allow all the universities to continue with their boards. But for the rest, eventually, we will make it. So, please, try to bear with us as we reflect on where we found ourselves.”
Meanwhile, resolutions at the end of the NEC meetings attended by governors of APC-controlled states and party executives and principal officers of the National Assembly led by the Senate President Bukola Saraki include the need to diversify the economy, establish a budget for the cash-strapped APC, reduction of the size of Board of Trustees (BOT) in line with the party constitution and conduct of congresses to fill vacant positions in the party across the states of the federation.
Justifying his series of diplomatic shuttle across the globe, he enjoined chieftains of the party to bear with his administration as there are three more years to fulfill the party’s manifesto, which revolves around employment generation, power generation and revitalisation of the economy.
Said he: “On security, we have made progress. It was a very courageous decision that the party took and executed by the Executive by removing most of the military hierarchy and appointing those to take over from them, acquiring some new hard and software and raising the moral of the military to go secure the rest of the country which was then 14 out of 774 local government. I have said it often that as far as I know and the service chiefs who are on ground, they are not holding any local government. But they still have some capability especially on soft target by using technology.
“On the economy, the fall of oil prices after Nigeria has made itself a mono-economy is a disaster. I wonder why people could not believe that in Nigeria, about 27 of 36 states have difficulty in paying basic salaries of their workers. If from 1999 to at least 2003, oil is above $100 per barrel and an export of about two million barrels per day, how come Nigeria failed to make some arrangement to cushion the effect of a probably volatile oil market?”
Earlier in his welcome address, the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, noted that the APC-led administration has recorded giant strides that are worth celebrating.
Said he; “The fight against corruption: the gains are clear, the era of impunity is beginning to disappear from our land. Even from reading the papers, social media, critical as they may be, virtually every Nigerian today now accepts that corruption was perhaps, the worst affliction that this nation has ever suffered from. And of course, finally, the cost of governance is down. So, even with the lean resources, it is clear that all over the nation, from the federal level to the state level, we will be able to do more with less.”
Stressing that the leadership of INEC has been changed, President Buhari appealed to the leadership of the military, security agents and INEC thus: “ What I want Nigerians to remember me for, even if I have to leave the Presidency tomorrow is that I respect them. I want all Nigerians to believe and hold their PVC as personal entitlement as Nigerians and use it the way they like, and vote for whoever they like at whichever election. If they voluntarily sold it, it is part of their right and so, let them sell it and remain at home and not participate in any election. But let the law enforcement agencies give them the confidence that nobody will come out who has money to hire thugs, give them drugs and stop them from exercising their fundamental right.”
“I am afraid I did not succeed in the election in Kogi, Bayelsa, Rivers. I think that more Nigerians are killed or killed themselves in Rivers than in any particular state. At this stage of our political development, to remain brutal is shameful and as a government, I promise we will do something by the next general election.”