President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians on Thursday morning in a nationwide broadcast to celebrate the 60th Independence Anniversary.
The 51-point address offered insights into the President’s inner thinking policy direction for the next three years.
Here are five takeaways from the Presidential speech:
1. Nigeria must succeed together: The President was vehement Nigerians must jettison tribalism and nepotism, which have retarded national development. He said: “My summary of our journey so far as a nation is necessary to appropriately chart where we need to go and how to get there TOGETHER. The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration.
2. Nigeria needs healing: Buhari was clear that years of suspicion and insecurity have made the country to bleed massively almost to the point of total collapse. To change the narrative, he said Nigeria must undergo a healing process. According to him: “To start this healing process, we are already blessed with the most important asset any nation requires for such – OUR PEOPLE – and this has manifested globally in the exploits of Nigerians in many fields. . Nigeria is not a country for Mr. President, any ruling or opposition party but a country for all of us and we must play our part, irrespective of challenges we face, to make this country what we desire.”
3. Nigeria is broke: Owing to coronavirus pandemic and dip in foreign exchange earnings, Nigeria’s income has shrunk with as much as 60 percent, Buhari revealed in the speech. It is an all-time dip for a nation that used to earn so much with little to show for it. According to him: “We have suffered a significant drop in our foreign exchange earnings and internal revenues due to 40 per cent drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities, leading to a 60 per cent drop in government revenue. Our government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources.”
4. Full deregulation has come to stay: The Federal Government recently deregulated the fuel price mechanism. Buhari was unequivocal it was the best decision despite Organised Labour’s opposition and two-week suspension of a nationwide protest and strike to demand for reversal. The President stated: “. In this regard, sustaining the level of petroleum prices is no longer possible. The government, since coming into office has recognized the economic argument for adjusting the price of petroleum. But the social argument about the knock-on effect of any adjustment weighed heavily with the government.”
5. Nigerians may pay more for fuel: At 161 per litre, many Nigerians are already heavily burdened. But Buhari argued it is by far one of the cheapest price regimes in the world for the commodity. He said it doesn’t make sense for Nigerians to buy cheaper fuel than Saudi Arabians. The President pointed out Chad sells petrol at N362 per litre; Niger at N346; Ghana at N326 per litre; Egypt at N211 per litre and Saudi Arabia at N168 per litre. “It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia,” he argued.