Buhari woos militants, seeks end to destruction of infrastructure
President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Niger Delta militants, and members of the Shia community in the North to halt violent disruption of economic activities, as well as the destruction of critical infrastructure and embrace peace initiatives put in place by his government.
According to the president, who has tasked law enforcement agencies to treat these agitators humanely and in line with the rule of law, the unity, stability and economic development of the country are predicated on the collective resolve of all and sundry to forge ahead, even as the government seeks solutions to the myriad of challenges besetting the country.
The president who described the pains that Nigerians are going through as a temporary development, assured that the situation would ease when the economic seeds currently in gestation begin to bloom in 2017.
In his New Year message, yesterday, to usher in 2017, he further assured that the country’s defence and security forces were ready to perform their constitutional role of protecting lives and property in the country, as they strive to overcome the onerous task of addressing all forms of security challenges.
The president said the lingering security issues weighing down several states would be frontally addressed in 2017 for the good of all Nigerians.“These ugly crises cannot be allowed to fester as they strain the unifying bonds of brotherhood and neighbourliness. I want to remind you on the first day of this New Year of an African proverb that says ‘it is easy to break a broomstick but not a bunch.’ Nigeria is a bunch and is more than equal to troublemakers.
“I have interacted with a broad spectrum of Nigerians, the old and the young, and they have told me unequivocally that they believe in the unity and stability of Nigeria.
“The year 2017 provides an opportunity for us to build on those aspects of our national life that unite us. We are courageous, hardworking, hospitable, steadfast and resilient people, even in the face of difficulties,” the president said.
He continued: “We will continue to pursue peace initiatives in the Niger Delta as I again, call on our brothers in that region, who have taken to violent disruptions of economic infrastructure to come to the negotiating table.
“As for our brothers and sisters of the Shia Community, we urge them, too, to embrace peace. They must accept the laws of the country they live in. They cannot be islands by themselves. At the same time, the law enforcement agencies must treat them humanely and according to the rule of law.”
He stressed that, “On our part, in the past 20 months since our inauguration on May 29, 2015, we have focused our energies to turn around the economy, create jobs, fight corruption, and transform agriculture to replace oil and gas as a major revenue earner for the nation. I am encouraged that we are getting things right.
“The agricultural revolution has begun. Farmers in different parts of the country are experiencing bumper harvests; states are getting into strategic partnership towards attaining self-sufficiency in rice, and the era of over-dependence on oil for foreign exchange revenues is gradually waning. I am optimistic that the change we all yearned for in voting this administration to power in 2015 will manifest more and be sustained in different sectors, particularly agriculture, in 2017.”
“In pursuit of this administration’s philosophy, we will continue to appeal that we buy ‘Made In Nigeria’ goods. Like I said during the 2017 budget presentation to the National Assembly, farmers, small and medium-sized manufacturers, agro-allied businesses, dressmakers, entertainers and technology start-ups, will remain the true drivers of our economic future. They are the engine of our economic recovery and their needs underpin our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,” he added.