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NIGERIA AT 61: The Most Difficult 18 Months in the National past — President Muhammadu Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that the last 18 months had been the most difficult in the country’s history.

He made the announcement this morning in a nationwide broadcast to commemorate the country’s 61st Independence Day.

According to the president, the country has not faced problems like those it has faced in the last year and a half since the Civil War.

“Fellow Nigerians, the past eighteen months have been some of the most trying times in our country’s history,” he added. I don’t think we’ve experienced a moment with more heightened challenges than this since the civil war.”

President Buhari also revealed that high-profile persons are funding the operations of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), and Sunday Adeyomo, a Yoruba separatist leader.

He named a sitting member of the National Assembly as one of the secessionists’ backers.

Buhari stated that the government is prepared to arrest and prosecute anyone who incites violence by words or actions, and that the administration’s commitment to a peaceful, united, and undivided Nigeria is unshakeable.

The president stated that words sow the seeds of violence in people’s minds, claiming that the reckless comments of a few have resulted in the deaths of many innocent people and the destruction of property.

Such unfiltered and unverified lies and hate statements by a few terrible people, he believes, must be stopped.

President Buhari further remarked that news organizations and commentators must move away from simply publishing reckless utterances and instead investigate the truth behind all assertions and present the facts to viewers.

“We must all speak out against the lies that are being spread. At this point, I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to a large number of our traditional, religious, and community leaders, as well as other well-intentioned Nigerians, who are openly spreading the message of peaceful coexistence and conflict resolution through dialogue in their respective communities through their various fora.

“Nigeria belongs to us all. Its unity cannot be compromised, and its ultimate success can only be realized if we all work together toward a single objective of peace and prosperity for our country.

“We will continue to work on solutions that are based on conversation in order to resolve legitimate issues. However, we continue to be prepared to take firm action against separatist agitators and their backers who pose a threat to our national security.

“The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, as well as the ongoing investigations into their backgrounds, have revealed several high-profile funders.

He said, “We are following these financiers actively, including one identified as a serving member of the National Assembly.”

The president went on to say that if Twitter complied with the federal government’s requirements, the suspension would be lifted.

He bemoaned the fact that recent events have demonstrated that social media is more than just a harmless tool for disseminating information.

Rather, he pointed out that some users have exploited the network to plan, coordinate, and carry out illegal operations, spread fake news, and incite ethnic and religious hatred.

To combat these negative trends, Buhari said that the federal government would ban Twitter’s operations in Nigeria on June 5, 2021, giving the administration time to put measures in place to solve the issues.

“Following the suspension of Twitter operations, Twitter Inc. reached out to Nigeria’s Federal Government to resolve the impasse,” he stated. Following that, I formed a Presidential Committee to work with Twitter to see if there was a way to resolve the problem.

“The Committee has worked with Twitter, together with its technical Tteam, and has rectified numerous critical issues. National security and cohesion; registration, physical presence, and representation; fair taxes; dispute resolution; and local content are the items on the list.

“The difficulties are being addressed as a result of the numerous discussions, and I have directed that the suspension be lifted, but only if the requirements are met to allow our residents to continue to use the platform for business and constructive engagements.

“As a country, we are dedicated to ensuring that digital businesses use their platforms to improve the lives of our citizens, respect Nigerian sovereignty and cultural values, and promote online safety,” he said.

Buhari said the country has observed a recurrence of insecurity in various sections of the country as the economy continues to free up following the COVID-19-related lockdowns.

“Over the previous four months, the valiant men and women of the military and security agencies have made significant headway in confronting these new security problems. We’re attacking our adversaries from all sides, and we’re winning.”

Over 8,000 Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered in the North East region alone, according to the president.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces have recruited over 17,000 people across all ranks to support our surge approach to combating banditry. In addition, I have authorized the Nigerian Police Force to hire 10,000 police personnel per year for the next six years.

“I’m also happy to report that the majority of the Air Force systems we’ve acquired in the last three years have begun to arrive in Nigeria. These will have a good influence on our security operations around the country,” he said.

As Nigerians prepare to commemorate our sixty-one years as a nation, he says, “we must remember that Nigeria does not begin and finish with the federal government.”

“This country is a great collective in which the government, at all levels and arms, the business sector, and, most importantly, individuals all have a role.

“Security, in particular, is a top-to-bottom endeavor. By joining our hands and hearts, we will be able to protect ourselves and our country.

“I well appreciate many Nigerians’ concerns about the country’s failure to progress from a great nation to a great one, despite its seemingly limitless potential.

“Infrastructure, social care, governance, Nigeria’s image and influence in Africa and the international community have all improved significantly in the last six years.

“However, detractors confuse modest development with stasis. Despite limited resources, this Administration has taken on our problems front on since taking office. Since 1999, no government has done more to get Nigeria back on track than we have in the last six years.

“We will continue to serve the country, listen to everyone, and defend our democracy and country,” Buhari said.

Nigeria at 61: Currency depreciation, insecurity, high inflation, and insufficient power supply stifle economic growth.

As if the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and its associated social disruptions weren’t bad enough, the Nigerian economy also had to deal with insecurity, high inflation, poor power supply, and a currency crisis, to name a few issues that hampered its modest growth in the previous year.

Despite the government’s frantic efforts to contain these problems, the end does not appear to be in sight.

The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 5% in the second quarter of this year, reversing the losses that sent it into recession in November last year. GDP increased from -6.10% in the second quarter of 2020 to -0.79% in the second quarter of 2021.

Naira

In the parallel market, the Naira’s value plummeted the most during the year. Following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to stop providing foreign exchange to Bureau de Change operators and surrender the task of selling dollars to commercial banks for travel allowance, education and medical costs, the Naira began to depreciate.

The Naira’s value decreased from N395 to N575 in three months, prompting the CBN to target websites that aggregate the currency’s street value, such as abokifx.com.

Inflation

The economy has also been subjected to significant inflationary pressure in the recent year, with inflation rising from 13% to over 18%, eroding many people’s purchasing power.

From 15.48 percent a year ago, food inflation soared to 22.95 percent in March 2021, the highest level since 2001, before easing to 20.30 percent in August this year.

In March 2021, however, headline inflation reached 18.17 percent, the highest level since January 2021, when it was 18.72 percent. However, in August 2021, it fell to 17.01 percent.

Nigeria also experienced its largest foreign trade deficit since 1981, with a N7.38 trillion trade deficit in 2020. According to data received from the National Bureau of Statistics, this is the case (NBS).

Total imports in 2020 were valued at N19.9 trillion, exceeding total exports of N12.52 trillion, resulting in a trade imbalance of N7.38 trillion, according to a recent international trade report. Nigeria has had a negative trade balance for the second time in the last ten years.

In the second quarter of 2021, the power industry contributed significantly to the overall gain in GDP, with the electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply sector growing by 114.30 percent year on year.

Recent measures to improve cash returns, such as a 50% increase in electricity tariffs in November 2020 and again in January 2021, as well as greater meter supplies and the federal government’s financial investments in the sector, were credited with the increase.

Despite massive interventions totaling N4.23 trillion over the last few years, the power industry has seen no change. The performance of Nigeria’s power sector has remained terrible, with less than 4,000 megawatts of electricity produced, which analysts say does not represent the country’s progress.

Nigeria’s power generation remained at 3241 megawatts as of September 29, 2021, according to data from the country’s System Operation (SO), a far cry from its 13,000 megawatt capacity.

The financial industry grew somewhat over the last year, with the nation’s capital market gaining N6.5 trillion and pension fund assets increasing by N780 billion between October 2020 and September 2021, according to NAIJAGENRE Friday.

The Nigerian stock market has fared admirably in the last year, with market capitalization rising from N14.105 trillion on October 2, 2020 to N20.523 trillion on September 29, 2021.

The All-Share Index (ASI) increased by N46.72 percent from 26,985.77 points on October 2, 2020 to 39,592.29 points on September 29, 2021.

The N6.5 trillion increase is equivalent to over half of the existing national budget.

Similarly, according to the National Pension Commission’s most recent monthly report, the nation’s pension fund assets increased by N780 billion between October 2020 and July 2021. (PenCom).

At the end of October 2020, the pension fund’s assets were N12.05 trillion, but by the end of July 2021, they had risen to N12.78 trillion. According to the inquiry, investment income was critical to the continued expansion of pension funds, despite the fact that governments, particularly at the state level, are not paying their workers’ monthly pension contributions on time.

Similarly, the large increase was related to increased pension contributions, interest on fixed income securities, and net realized on stocks and mutual fund investments, according to research.

Meanwhile, despite surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian economy has not had a dull moment in the previous year, with policies and events nearly back to back, with inflation surging from 13% to over 18%, eroding many people’s purchasing power.

The CBN created the Naira4Dollar initiative to stimulate increasing remittance inflows by incentivizing remittances into the country.

After the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the launch of the eNaira on October 4, 2021, the Nigerian banking industry became one of the few countries to have implemented the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

The ICT sector benefited the most from the epidemic because most commercial transactions are now done online, which helps the sector’s patronage.

According to the latest data issued by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the gross domestic product (GDP), the Nigerian economy’s ICT sector expanded by 14.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. The sector was not only the fastest growing, but it was also the only one with double-digit growth, at 12.90 percent, across the full GDP evaluation.

According to Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the ICT sector has sent over N1 trillion to the Federal Government account in the two years since his resume in office.

Meanwhile, according to statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), telecommunication companies lost 20.83 million subscribers in the first half of 2021 as a result of the decision to prohibit the sale of SIM cards until the National Identification Number (NIN) registration process is completed.

The federal government had opened proposals for the concession of four international airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Kano in August 2021.

The request for qualification (RFQ) is open to corporations or consortia with a track record in airport terminal management and a net value of N30 billion per bidding firm or consortium, as part of attempts to administer the facilities effectively and profitably.

The federal government has previously suggested a concession period of 20 to 30 years for the facilities, allowing private investors to own, operate, and recoup their investments.

Following the reopening of the country-wide lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 epidemic, the Nigerian oil and gas industry began to slowly return to normalcy towards the end of 2020.

Following the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2021 and President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to it, the industry experienced a watershed moment in the previous few months.

The bill’s main goal is to establish a legal, governance, regulatory, and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, as well as the development of host communities and other associated issues.

Furthermore, the federal government announced a meter implementation program under the National Mass Metering Program (NMMP) in November 2020, as part of attempts to close the country’s metering gap. This was also done to mitigate the impact of the Service Reflective Tariff on the country’s power users.

Meanwhile, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced in March 2021 an ambitious plan to power the country’s economy exclusively with gas by 2030.

The manufacturing sector, which had been expected to do well after a high performance due to the border closure, experienced a major blow. In the same line, inflationary pressure has remained a cause of concern since COVID-19 disturbed the global economy’s demand and supply sides.

“The pandemic created unprecedented challenges for economies across the globe as the period under review recorded an unprecedented distortion in the value chain as countries directly or indirectly shut their borders and imposed export restrictions on critical raw materials, while some imposed outright bans on food,” said Engr. Mansur Ahmed, president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

He went on to say that, in order to mitigate the impact, the government launched a slew of spectacular initiatives in the shape of economic policies, plans, and projects targeted at boosting enterprises and building on previous accomplishments.

“It is our conviction that the foreign exchange unification initiative will engender a regime of balanced participation for forex users and promote a transparent as well as efficient allocation of forex required for sustained economic growth,” MAN said, praising the government for its initiative to unify foreign exchange windows in the country.

However, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has had difficulty purchasing new locomotive engines to operate passenger and goods trains on the narrow gauge railway line since the few engines in its stock break down on a regular basis.

Only five operational locomotive engines are currently in the corporation’s fleet across the narrow gauge network, acquired during the late Musa Yar’Adua’s administration.

Rent defaults and legal evictions have continued to rise in stratospheric proportions in the real estate sector, as more tenants face eviction and court proceedings to evacuate their residential units and premises owing to insolvency and rent default.

As a result, there is a decrease in the use of office space as more organizations evaluate their space requirements, profit margins, capital formation, overhead costs, and supply side penetration while considering the benefits of remote working and online jobs.

The APC has returned Nigeria to pre-independence days – the PDP

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) declared Tuesday that despite the failures of President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, Nigeria will never fail.

In a statement commemorating Nigeria’s 61st anniversary of independence, the party claimed that the Buhari presidency and the APC had returned the country to pre-independence days, “with associated bondage mentality and frustration resulting in many losing faith in the system and leaving our country in droves within the last six years.”

Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP’s national publicity secretary, said this during a news conference, accusing the APC administration of driving the country to the brink, as evidenced by our daily lives.

“Our nation has continued to exist by the resilient spirit of Nigerians,” he said, accusing the APC-led administration of lying, injustice, human rights violations, state-sponsored violence, impunity, nepotism, treasury theft, harsh economic policies, and accommodation of terrorists.

Despite the PDP’s criticism, Mai Mala Buni, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and the Governor of Yobe State, remarked that Nigeria’s 61 years of independence give a significant source of unity and strength.

The governor stressed that Nigerians should focus on issues that unify the country rather than divisive tendencies, citing the country’s long history of integration among various ethnic and socio-cultural groups as a source of unity in diversity.

Despite the fact that Nigeria has not yet achieved its goals after 61 years of independence, Governor Buni noted, “we have cause to rejoice our existence as a country.”

Let us work together for peace and progress. Others, like Lawan, Abdulsalami, and Atiku Abubakar, have urged Nigerians to vote.

Ahmad Lawan, the president of the Senate, has urged Nigerians to unify for the country’s prosperity and to be loyal to their fatherland.

“This is the first year of our seventh decade as a nation, as well as the second year of the third decade of the Fourth Republic,” Lawan said in a message commemorating the country’s 61st anniversary of independence.

“It strikes me as incredible that we are living in the longest period of democracy in our country’s history.

“While that may appear to be a minor accomplishment, it is a cause for celebration in light of our political experience.

“Every patriot will remember with joy the momentous moment on October 1, 1960, when the British Union Jack was lowered and replaced with our Green-White-Green flag.

“That moment represents our independence from colonial tyranny. But it also signals the start of the difficult work that we have set for ourselves: establishing a united, peaceful, and successful nation.”

Under the leadership of General Abdusalami, Nigeria has become more united.

General Abdusalami Abubakar, a former military head of state, has stated that, contrary to popular belief, the military did not destroy Nigeria, but rather kept it united better than civilian governments.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, speaking to journalists to commemorate the country’s 61st year of independence, adding that politicians were doing little to bring the country together.

“It depends where you are coming from,” he remarked when asked if he agreed that the military ruined Nigeria. As a retired military personnel, I will say “no,” the military did not harm our country in any way; rather, the military battled to maintain this country together, as you can see.”

“As much as possible during the military dictatorship, the infrastructure that the military put in place can be observed. They attempted to instill a sense of nationalism in us so that we all regard Nigeria as our homeland.

“Now, instead of talking for Nigeria, you discover that any Nigerian who talks speaks for himself – either for his state, his local government, or his town; you barely see anyone wake up and start talking for Nigeria once the military handed over.

“I believe that is where we, as a country, make a mistake; we need to talk for the country, for its togetherness, and, of course, to accomplish that, there must be equality and justice so that everyone is brought along, so that everyone realizes he is part and parcel of this country,” he said.

In response to a query about whether the military expected the country to degrade to this point when they handed over, he answered,

“My answer to this question will be no; we expected a more united country, with our leader’s first priority being the welfare of the people and the nation’s progress.

“We expected no bitterness in politics because whether you are in government or opposition, you are serving the people. In government, you legislate and provide governance; and in opposition, you check the government to ensure that they do the right thing and implement development projects that will benefit the country,” he declared.

Unity is demanded by Atiku, Nnamani, and Olawepo-Hashim.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, on his part, has urged Nigerians to remain united despite their current existential crises and economic survival struggles.

He also urged governments at all levels to implement measures that will improve the standard of living for the common Nigerian, while promising that the country’s future will be brighter and better.

In a goodwill message on the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, the former Vice President voiced concern about the country’s level of divisiveness, intolerance, and prejudice, which has resulted in conflicts and the loss of human lives and property.

According to Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, former governor of Enugu State and senator representing Enugu East Senatorial District in the Senate, an egalitarian society where every citizen feels a sense of brotherhood is possible if justice, equity, and fairness to all become cardinal principles and hallmarks of governance in Nigeria.

“The uncertainties in our country’s socioeconomic and political life, as well as agitations in some quarters and violent crimes in some parts of the country, could be limited if citizens feel a sense of belonging and accommodation in the Nigerian equation,” Senator Nnamani stated.

Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, a senior member of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), urged current political leaders to emulate the tolerance and political accommodation shown by Nigeria’s independence leaders, who helped the country move forward as one and achieve rapid socioeconomic development from 1955 to 1960.

“Most of the leaders of that era, who were younger in age compared to various regional leaders of today, demonstrated considerable maturity and spirit of compromise when facing thorny national issues such as the best date for colonial rule to end, whether the regions should have the right to secede from the Republic or not, and who controls telecommunications,” the former presidential candidate maintained.

In Abuja, the Minister calls for peace and unity.

Malam Muhammad Bello, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has stated that citizens of the FCT have an obligation to fulfill the dreams of the capital city’s founding fathers by actually making Abuja the symbol of Nigeria’s unity.

In his Independence message to residents, the minister also expressed his gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his exemplary leadership during this period in Nigeria’s history as an independent nation, saying that his unique character and personality have done much to instill hope in Nigerians for a brighter future as a strong, virile, and indivisible nation.

“Let us also remember our founding fathers, the heroes of our independence battle, and our leaders, past and present, who have made immense sacrifices over the years to bring us this far.

“The Federal Capital Territory was established on the foundation of our country’s unity and as a location that every Nigerian can call home, and we have worked hard over the years to create the Capital Territory of our collective dreams.”

Nigeria Will Grow Despite Challenges, Says Bauchi Governor

Although Nigeria confronts significant developmental issues, according to Bauchi State Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, the problems are not insurmountable.

Governor Mohammed, through his media aide, Muktar Gidado, issued a statement commemorating Nigeria’s 61st independence day, expressing optimism that the country will overcome its issues and thrive.

Mohammed asked residents of the state and the country as a whole to reflect on the sacrifices made by the country’s heroes of independence.

“The 61st anniversary of our country’s independence should be used to commemorate the founding fathers’ effort and sacrifice.

“As we reflect on our heroes’ merits, we should take this opportunity to emulate them and guarantee that their efforts are not in vain,” Mohammed said.

The governor stated that decades of military control was one of Nigeria’s greatest problems in the past, but that despite the setback, Nigeria has the capacity to be a great country.

Fintiri extends a warm welcome to Nigerians.

On the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has expressed his deepest congratulations to all Nigerians.

“Today, we commemorate 61 years of nationhood,” his chief press secretary, Humwashi Wunosikou, said in a statement. We rejoice the restoration of our liberties, our dignity, and the democratic resilience we have created over the last six decades.”

Fintiri praised the resilience of Nigeria’s founding fathers, who fought to birth a Nigeria that today stands tall in the comity of nations, while congratulating Nigerians on their faith in the country’s road to nationhood.

At the age of 61, the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation greets Nigeria and Nigerians.

The Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation has partnered with other well-intentioned Nigerians to commemorate our country’s 61-year freedom from British colonial rule in 2021.

Engr Abubakar Gambo Umar, the foundation’s managing director and chief executive officer, said in a statement that since independence, “we have leveraged our heterogeneity, size, and resources to project a stronger and more united nation with the attainment of growth and development.”

France, the United States, and India Nigerians should rejoice.

On the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, France and the United States congratulated the country on its achievement, and both governments pledged to strengthen bilateral relations with Nigeria on all fronts.

President Emmanuel Macron recognized Nigeria as Africa’s top economic and demographic force in a congratulatory letter to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, which was made available to Naijagenre Friday by the French Embassy in Abuja yesterday.

He believes that the Franco-African Business Council, which met in June at the Palace of Versailles, will pave the way for many more structural projects between French and Nigerian businesses.

He went on to say that the number of Nigerian students studying in France has been steadily increasing over the last three years, emphasizing that they can contribute to Nigeria’s growth and the strengthening of bilateral connections.

Also, in an essay congratulating Nigeria, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, complimented Nigeria’s leadership in the area and praised Nigeria for standing up for the integrity of democratic states in West Africa.

In addition, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind congratulated Nigeria’s government and people on their 61st independence anniversary.

In a congratulations letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, Kovind expressed his best wishes for the Nigerian leader as well as the country’s continuing development, according to a statement by Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina.

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