NEW YEAR SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
1ST JANUARY 2021
My fellow countrymen and women,
First, I would like to thank and praise the Almighty who saw us through the year 2020 and has given us the opportunity to witness the start of another new year. We especially thank God because the year 2020 was one of the most trying years since our existence as a Nation.
2. This can also be said about all other nations around the world, due to the challenges posed on our collective humanity by the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
3. While acknowledging that 2020 was a very tough year, we saw this year put to test our national resilience and ability to survive these tough times and also gave renewed hope that we will again brave any storms that lay ahead in 2021 and beyond.
4. As we celebrate the opportunity before us in this New Year 2021, we must also acknowledge the passing away of our brothers and sisters who didn’t make it into this New Year. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
5. We must remember that we also celebrated the historic occasion of our sixty years as an independent and sovereign country on October 1st 2020. In the spirit of hope and gratitude, I would like to remind us again that as a country on the difficult journey to nationhood and greatness, we have confounded the many pundits at home and around the world who never gave the newly-born country that emerged unto the world stage on 1st October 1960 a chance of surviving much longer than a few years.
6. Yet, here we are, 61 years by the next anniversary in October, and not only are we here, we are standing tall in the comity of nations as one country united under the will of God and also actively growing that indivisible Nigerian spirit that has enabled us, year after year, decade after decade, to weather all stormy waters and emerge stronger and better where others have fallen and disintegrated. This nation, this Nigeria will survive and thrive.
7. In this journey to nationhood, we have experienced the highs and lows. 2020 indeed came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability. This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.
8. In the midst of all these challenges, I had initially pledged that as your elected President and Commander-in-Chief, I would ensure that these ongoing challenges will be faced head-on with renewed determination and with all the appropriateness and urgency required. Your voices have been heard and we would continue to listen to you, and all the key stakeholders who are committed to the unity of Nigeria to ensure that every region of this nation is safe for us all, while guaranteeing that the future is also secure for the coming generation.
9. I wish to also use this occasion of New Year to reaffirm my commitment to the people of Nigeria, especially the youth who need our collective encouragement and support. In securing this nation we need to secure the future of our youth.
10. Our young people are our most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad. Their ingenuity, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is evident to all. Many of our young people are excelling in various spheres of life including sports, entertainment, information and communication technology, commerce and are globally recognized as achievers.
11. As a Government we are committed to actively engaging with the creative energies of our young people. In this regard, we will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled across regions. This will create vast opportunities in fintech, agriculture, business process startups and in the entertainment industry.
12. The year 2021 will indeed be a year where we will work to reinforce the hopes of fellow Nigerians in the vision of a united and progressive Nigeria. This administration would continue focusing on delivering key strategic priorities under our “SEA” – (Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption) Agenda. Some of the key priority areas we would direct our attention and strengths to include:
ON THE SECURITY:
13. Re-energizing and reorganizing the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country.
14. In line with the current security challenges, we are facing as a Nation, I would like to reiterate the promise I made recently when over 300 of our boys abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara were successfully rescued by our security operatives.
15. The professionalism shown by our Security Forces and the collaboration from all stakeholders across both State and Federal Governments that led to the successful rescue of the boys is proof that Nigeria has the internal capacity to decisively deal with terror attacks on our citizens.
16. However, we recognize that we rapidly have to move to a more proactive and preemptive posture to ensure that these sorts of traumatic incidents do not become a norm. Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, and we will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing.
ON THE ECONOMY:
17. Our focus is on revamping the economy through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the primary goal of national food self-sufficiency. This has helped reduce the growing food related inflationary figures and have in considerable measure positively impacted our food security status during the long months of the pandemic lock down.
18. We are also currently rebuilding our national infrastructure base and, in the process, introducing transformation through the rehabilitation, modernization, and expansion of the railway system, national roads and bridges both in rural and urban centres, alongside the airports and seaports.
19. The reforms we have put in place in the power sector would guarantee increased efficiency in our drive to significantly expand the generation and distribution of electricity for use in homes and factories.
20. As an administration we are currently undertaking a series of special interventions designed to boost job creation and support the entrepreneurial drive of our youths.
21. With the recent opening of our borders, we expect that the pent-up demand of legitimate cross-border and international trade will boost the fortunes of the many small businesses and agricultural enterprises that depend on Nigeria’s trade and commerce.
22. The message to our West African neighbours is that Nigeria is once again fully open for those willing to conduct business in a fair and equitable way.
23. On the anti-corruption drive of our administration, we have recorded substantial gains so far and this year, we are committed to continuing along the path of eradicating corruption, through collaboration with all the arms of Government to effectively prosecute this fight.
24. While we would be working with the Legislature to enact laws that would strengthen this fight, we would also be looking at reviewing some of our laws which would ensure that this fight is more effective. On the part of the executive, we would ensure the diligent and timely prosecution of corruption cases, while appealing to the judiciary to ensure that corruption cases are dispensed with expeditiously.
25. The persistence of various forms of violence has meant that in the most affected parts of the country, the fabric of inter-communal harmony woven through years of investment of effort at building trust, mutual respect, and harmony has been threatened.
26. Insecurity as a challenge has direct repercussions on our national economic stability, growth, and development, setting us back at critical points through the destruction of public and private investments.
27. In parts of the country where chronic poverty, social exclusion, and disillusionment among sections of the youth were already a problem, the cycles of violence that have been unleashed by mindless groups like Boko Haram and others have thwarted the efforts of government to undertake the social policy and associated investments that could make a huge difference in the quality of life of our citizens.
28. I am aware that for some of our compatriots, the progress we have registered since the inception of this administration is not nearly as fast or as sufficient as they would wish. I do not begrudge them their views in so far as they signify a wish, in which we all share, for only the very best for our country.
29. Nevertheless, I call upon all Nigerians to carefully recall the circumstances of our coming to office, the facts on the ground and the resources at our disposal since 2015 with the accomplishments of this administration.
30. As a people, we have shown admirable resilience in the face of every adversity, an unmatched capacity to recover speedily from every setback, an unparalleled generosity of spirit when we resolve our differences, and a constant readiness to invest faith and hope in the destiny we share as a united country built on the diversity of its peoples.
31. It is these attributes that underpin the Nigerian spirit of “can do, will do” that gives me hope that we shall yet get to destination and fulfill our calling together, especially with the solid resolutions we are setting in this new year.
32. Keeping our country on a forward march is a duty which we all have and share. In this regard, keeping our country safe from a resurgent cycle of COVID-19 as this administration finalizes its plans to procure and efficiently and effectively distribute the COVID-19 vaccines, I urge you all fellow citizens to observe strict COVID-19 prevention protocols.
33. As your elected President, my pledge to you is the same as it has always been; I will play my part fully and without fear or favour. I invite all of us to do the same. It is what we owe to the founding generation of our beloved country and also to the coming generation. It is what we desire for national prosperity for all demands.
34. Long Live the Nigerian spirit of oneness, togetherness, and unity. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF), on COVID-19 has said that Lagos, Kaduna and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), account for 70 per cent of Coronavirus infections in the country.
Chairman of PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha made this known during a national briefing on Monday, in Abuja.
Mustapha said that two major indicators highlight the current increase in cases and transmission across the country.
“Over the past four briefings, the PTF has been raising the alert flag on the rising number of infections in the country and the possibility of a second wave arriving at our shores.
“Recent epidemiology records confirm to the PTF that Nigeria is now facing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide which is similar to the second wave of infections occurring in other countries across the world.
“Particularly, Lagos, Kaduna and the FCT have emerged as the new epicentres during this period, with over 70 per cent of all confirmed cases,” he said.
The SGF said that, though the country’s testing numbers were fast approaching the peak recorded in July 2020, the number of cases being reported were disproportionately higher.
“For example, in the FCT, despite recording an increase of 85 per cent in tests conducted over the last week, the number of confirmed cases increased by 285 per cent during the same period.
“These trends point to a higher Test Positivity Rate (TPR) – the number of positive cases detected as a proportion of all tests.
“The TPR was below five per cent through September and October and we recorded a low point of three per cent nationally in late October.
“However, recent trends in cases have seen this number increase to 10 per cent in the second week of December,” he said.
The SGF said that the high numbers were further reflected in the increase of admissions to COVID-19 treatment centres and fatalities, particularly in the three epicentre states.
“The result of the analysis carried out by the PTF further indicate that the current pattern of spread and the surge is likely to be driven by the following factors:
“The lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions particularly the disregard for mask use in public, large gatherings as a result of events linked to the yuletide season and recent civil demonstrations.
“Further disregard for other public health preventive measures, such as hand hygiene and physical distance requirements,” he said.
The SGF said that the activities and assumptions of the youthful population which had resulted in an increase in the infection rate among young people, who were subsequently infecting older and more vulnerable family members.
“From our assessment, the current situation is clearly the consequences of certain occurrences and events of the last few weeks,” he noted.
He said that sudden increase in social gatherings involving large congregations from different parts of the country, and the world, at events such as weddings, religious activities, political rallies, conferences and end of year celebrations could increase the spread.
“These events, classified globally as ‘supers-spreader events’, make the risk of a single infection causing a large outbreak among attendees significantly higher
“Furthermore, as we reopened the economy, we ex
perienced increased economic, social and religious gatherings and activities all of which have combined to play a part in viral transmissions.
“These include the opening of the international airspace in September 2020 – while the average number of daily imported infections into the country in the last 90 days is estimated to be about seven cases, compared to 100-150 reported new infections in the community since the beginning of community transmission.
He added that the test positivity rate in travellers arriving Lagos had recently doubled to 6.3 per cent.
According to him, with the resumption of schools, outbreaks have been reported in some schools following the resumption of physical classes.
The resumption of NYSC orientation camps – this risk has been mitigated by ensuring that all NYSC members were screened for COVID-19 prior to admission to camp, but confirmed cases have still been identified through tests carried out.
The full opening of offices with the return to work of government workers from GL. 12 and below .
Outbreaks have also been reported in public office to overcrowding, poor ventilation and the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions, and,
The opening of the economy with progressive relaxation of restrictions in congregational areas such as places of worship, restaurants, bars, lounges, shopping, and event centres.
It would be recalled that the PTF established the Nigeria International Travel Portal for the control of possible importation of the virus.
Statistics show that a good percentage of in-bound travellers had breached the travel protocols thereby making surveillance and testing suffer undue setbacks.
The chairman disclosed that the PTF had concluded arrangements with the Nigeria Immigration Service to impose sanctions on these defaulters for breaching the public health protocols, within the ambit of the law.
He said that the PTF had surveyed developments and actions taken by governments around the world, assessed the domestic environment and have accordingly submitted its recommendations to Mr President on immediate measures to be taken. (NAN)
The Senate on Monday passed the 2021 Appropriation Bill of N13.5 trillion. This followed the adoption of the report of Senate Committee on Appropriations at plenary. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Oct. 8, presented the 2021 budget of N13.08 trillion to the joint session of the National Assembly for approval. NAN.