In a nationwide broadcast to commemorate the country’s 56th Independence Day anniversary, the President, however, assured Nigerians that his administration was pursuing the solutions available to it with a view to repositioning the country.
Buhari said it was normal for countries to face ups and downs, while attributing the economic recession in the country to a shortage of foreign exchange and violence by the Niger Delta militants.
According to him, the problems are temporary.
He said, “The recession has been brought about by a critical shortage of foreign exchange. Oil price dropped from an average of $100 per barrel over the last decade to an average of $40 per barrel this year and last.
“Worse still, the damage perpetrated by Niger Delta thugs on pipelines reduced Nigeria’s production to below one million barrels per day against the normal 2.2 million barrels per day. Consequently, the naira is at its weakest, but the situation will stabilise.
“But this is only temporary. Historically, about half of our dollar export earnings went to importation of petroleum products and food. Nothing was saved for a rainy day during the periods of prosperity. We are now reaping the whirlwinds of corruption, recklessness and impunity.
“There are no easy solutions, but there are solutions nonetheless. The 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 $10bn yearly.”
On the economic crisis plaguing the county, Buhari said he was aware of the difficulties being faced by Nigerians.
He acknowledged that many families could not afford to pay their children’s school fees or buy foods at exorbitant prices, while many others are unemployed.
He reiterated the problems his administration wished to tackle: security, corruption and the economy, “especially unemployment and the alarming level of poverty.”
On security, the President insisted that his government had made progress by defeating Boko Haram last December.
According to him, the Federal Government, while confronting other security issues like herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustling, and kidnappings, is determined to tackle and surmount the challenges.
Again, Buhari read the Riot Act to the militants in the Niger Delta, who had claimed responsibility for vandalising oil installations, describing them as “mindless groups (that want) to hold the country to ransom.”
He said his administration would no longer tolerate their excesses.
“It is known that the clean-up of the Ogoniland has started. Infrastructural projects financed by the Federal Government and post-amnesty programme financing will continue.
“We have however, continued to dialogue with all groups and leaders of thought in the region to bring lasting peace,” he said.
Buhari reiterated his position on corruption, saying it must be fought headlong.
He promised to adhere strictly to the rule of law while fighting the menace.
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