Calls for restructuring in order, says Buhari

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    •Warns ‘irresponsible groups’ not to dismember Nigeria
    •Berates leaders for not restraining ‘hot-headed’ youths
    •’National, State Assemblies proper channels for debate’

    President Muhammadu Buhari this morning acknowledged calls for restructuring, saying the clamour is in order.

    But he noted that the debate has been hijacked by those he branded “highly irresponsible groups.” These groups, he said, had turned it into a campaign for the country’s dismemberment.

    This, Buhari said in his Independence Day broadcast, would not be tolerated.

    “We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy,” the President said.

    He recalled the “horrendous consequences” of the civil war and wondered why “responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through.”

    He said: “those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through.

    “Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly.”

    He spoke of government’s intention to “address genuine grievances of the communities,” and cited its dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace as an example of its goodwill.

    “At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the National and State Assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for National debate, not some lop-sided, un-democratic body with pre-determined set of objectives,” he said.

    He hailed Niger Delta representatives for their “responsible leadership.”

    On the security challenge in the Northeast,he said the military has established mobile strike teams in the axis to “ensure the final push to wipe out the remnants of Boko Haram,” while efforts are on to ensure release of the remaining Chibok girls, and others persons in Boko Haram captivity,as well as check kidnapping, armed robberies and herdsmen/farmers violence.

    He was full of praise for the armed forces for their achievements in the fight against Boko Haram,saying: “through targeted air strikes most of the leadership and identified logistics bases and routes of the insurgents have been neutralized. The Armed Forces have established a Naval presence in the Lake Chad Basin as part of the coordinated military efforts to curtail the movements or re-emergence of the sect in the area.

    He announced a new presidential initiative for the creation of a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths in each state, with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.

    Buhari described the economy diversification of his administration as an outstanding success through which N43.92 billion was released for agricultural programmes under the Anchor Borrowers Programme launched in November 2015.

    Two hundred thousand small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation are benefitting from the scheme while 233,000 hectares of farmland have been dedicated to the cultivation of rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soya-beans, cassava and groundnuts, in addition to fish farming and poultry.

    He confirmed that electricity generation reached an all time high of 7,001 Megawatts on September 12,while plan is on to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.

    He gave an update on the economy too.

    His words: “the country has recorded 7 consecutive months of lower inflation, Naira rate is beginning to stabilize, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.

    “The special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7 billion has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.”

    He said the federal government has given a total of N1.642 trillion to the state and local governments by way of financial assistance made up of State Excess Crude Account loans, Budget Support Facility,and Stabilization Fund Release.

    He vowed to continue with the war on corruption although he said he expected “corrupt elements to use any weapon to fight back, mainly judicial obstruction and political diversion.”

    He asked for the cooperation of the National Assembly in this regard by ensuring “swift passage of enabling corruption laws” and of the generality of Nigerian by “not asking for and refusing to accept a bribe, by reporting unethical practices or by blowing a whistle.”

    “The government for its part will work for accountability at all levels – Federal, State and Local Governments. CHANGE will then be real,” he said.

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