Sydney Casely-Hayford writes: My Buhari moment

Buhari White2 9 President Muhammadu Buhari

Fri, 7 Oct 2016 Source: Sydney Casely-Hayford

By Sydney Casely-Hayford

President Muhammadu Buhari called on Nigerians to give thanks to God and pray for the founding fathers as Nigeria celebrated her 56th Independence day anniversary. In his address to the nation in the morning, Buhari said today is a day of celebration for Nigeria as she achieved the most important of all human desires, freedom and independence, 56 years ago.

I am so blown away with the forthrightness and admission of problems yet to be resolved, but most of all I think that solutions so clearly isolated and addressed openly, sets the stage on the level platform with Magufuli of Tanzania and reminds me of Museveni before he became what he is today.

Africa needs leaders such as Buhari. We need the open governance and credible managers who see the task and the bottlenecks and who can put their heads together after they have properly functioning governments to resolve the rest of the discordants and make a platform for the youth who desperately need this vision.

When I was a much younger “pressure” youth, my grandfather always assured me that one day our generation will reap the rewards of all the fight for independence they were fighting and rest assured we would resolve all this in our time.

Well, granddad, I am 62 this month and you were wrong. You didn’t factor in the likes of the current crop of politicians we wrongly elected, but I can forgive you. We are mainly to blame and you couldn’t have foreseen the lack of integrity and incompetence the pretenders to the throne have conjured.

How could you? Even me - your 4th grandson am older than most of them.

But what Buhari said to his fellow Nigerians inspired me to look closely at how easy it would be to just say what is true and promise only as can be delivered. We made a big mistake in the last elections and the Supreme Court did us no favor with a contentious verdict, which now on re-read should have gone against this Government. We must learn more from those who are doing what is right and proper in this put-aside world they call the third.

So here some highlights from his speech.

On economic recession

I know that uppermost in your minds today is the economic crisis. The recession for many individuals and families is real. For some it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it’s not being able to afford the high cost of food (rice and millet) or the high cost of local or international travel, and for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic. I know how difficult things are, and how rough business is.

I believe that this recession will not last. Temporary problems should not blind or divert us from the corrective course this government has charted for our nation. We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions.

On security

On Security, we have made progress. Boko Haram was defeated by last December, only resorting to cowardly attacks on soft targets, killing innocent men, women and children. Nigerians should thank our gallant men of the Armed Forces and Police for rescuing large areas of the country captured by insurgents.

Now, residents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, as well as several neighboring states go about their daily business in relative safety. People can go to mosques, churches, and market places in reasonable safety. Besides Boko Haram, we are confronting other long-running security issues, namely herdsmen vs farmers, cattle rustling, kidnappings. This administration is firmly resolved to tackle these challenges and to defeat them

On Niger Delta militancy

A new insurgency has reared up its head in the shape of blowing up gas and oil pipelines by groups of Niger Delta Militants. This Administration will not allow these mindless groups to hold the country to ransom. No group can unlawfully challenge the authority of the Federal Government and succeed. Our administration is fully sympathetic to the plight of the good people of Niger Delta and we are in touch with the state governments and leaderships of the region. We have however, continued to dialogue with all groups and leaders of thought in the region to bring lasting peace.

On corruption

Corruption is a cancer, which must be fought with all the weapons at our disposal. It corrodes the very fabric of government and destroys society. Fighting corruption is key, not only to restoring the moral health of the nation, but also to freeing our enormous resources for urgent socio-economic development. In fighting corruption, however, the government would adhere strictly by the rule of law. Not for the first time I am appealing to the judiciary to join the fight against corruption.

On restructuring the economy

The third plank in this administration’s drive to CHANGE Nigeria is re-structuring the economy. Economies behaviour is cyclical. All countries face ups and downs. Our own recession has been brought about by a critical shortage of foreign exchange. Oil price dropped from an average of hundred USD per barrel over the last decade to an average of forty USD per barrel this year and last.

There are no easy solutions, but there are solutions nonetheless and government is pursuing them in earnest. We are to repair our four refineries so that Nigeria can produce most of our petrol requirements locally, pending the coming on stream of new refineries. That way we will save ten billion USD yearly in importing fuel.

At the same time, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank have been mobilized to encourage local production of rice, maize, sorghum, millet and soya beans. Our target is to achieve domestic self-sufficiency in these staples by 2018.

On power generation

The second plank in our economic revival strategy is centred on the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. The ministry will lead and oversee the provision of critical infrastructure of power, road transport network and housing development. In the meantime, government is going ahead with projects utilizing alternate technologies such as hydro, wind, and solar to contribute to our energy mix.

In this respect, the Mambilla Hydro project, after many years of delay is taking off this year. Contract negotiations are nearing completion with Chinese firms for technical and financial commitments. Hence the plan to produce one thousand two hundred megawatts of solar electricity for the country would be realized on schedule.

On road construction

Roads construction and rehabilitation has taken off. The sum of twelve billion naira was allocated to this sector in the 2015 Budget, not enough even to pay interest on outstanding unpaid claims.

On railways

We have provided our counterpart funding to China for the building of our standard gauge Lagos -Kano railway. Meanwhile, General Electric is investing two point two billion USD in a concession to revamp, provide rolling stock, and manage the existing lines, including the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Line. The Lagos-Calabar railway will also be on stream soon.

On housing

We have initiated the National Housing Programme. In 2014 four hundred million naira was voted for Housing. In 2015 nothing. Our first budget this year is devoting thirty five point six billion naira. Much of the house building will be private–sector led but Government is initiating a pilot housing scheme of two thousand eight hundred and thirty eight units uniformly spread across the 36 states and FCT.

According to the president the programs outlined will revive the economy, restore the value of the naira and drive hunger from the land. Buhari commended Nigerians for their patience, steadfastness and perseverance.

Now CHRAJ owes us a duty to do more than be afraid to speak the truth. Now we have a license to do the wrong things as long as they are done unethically.

Ghana, Aha a y? din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

Writer's e-mail: thenewghanaian@gmail.com

Columnist: Sydney Casely-Hayford