I welcome you all to this occasion of the formal presentation of the Hand-over notes of my Administration to the in-coming Administration of the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari.
This event and tomorrow’s inauguration of a new administration are truly historic as it is the first time in the history of our nation that we are witnessing the democratic and orderly transfer of power at the Federal level from one political party to another.
The Hand-over notes which we now present, contain the governance philosophy, strategies, policies, programmes and activities of my Administration for the period – 2011-2015. Also to be found in the notes are the objectives, targets and implementation strategies, achievements and challenges of our key policies, schemes, initiatives as well as the status of commitments and liabilities of the various MDAs.
As we hand over the affairs of the nation, it is appropriate to recall that at inception, in May 2011, we committed ourselves to consolidating national unity through democratization and good governance. Our assessment then, and our firm belief ever since, is that the unity of Nigeria, the security, well-being, greater freedoms and opportunities for all citizens must remain the primary objectives of government.
The Agenda for National Transformation which we did our best to implement consisted of clear and consistent governance strategies, policies, plans, programmes and projects, in all facets of our national life. Emphasis was placed on human and state security, democratization, sound economic management, as well as structural and institutional reforms.
Our foremost concern was the unity of Nigeria.In keeping with that concern, we engineered a process that began with a review of issues outstanding from previous Constitutional Conferences by the Belgore Committee. After that, we widened political consultations through a National Dialogue that was orchestrated through the Okurounmu Committee. These culminated in the all-inclusive National Conference which unanimously reaffirmed that Nigeria must remain united and indivisible.
The Conference also made resolutions and recommendations for serious constitutional, political and governance reforms, which we have forwarded to the National Assembly for appropriate legislative action. It is our hope that the incoming Government will accord the Report of the National Conference the very high priority that it deserves, as a genuine expression of the will of our people.
The recognition that the starting point for good governance is the legitimacy of the government itself informed our commitment to promoting free and fair elections.
It also motivated innovations in the management and conduct of elections which we undertook. Hopefully, in the years ahead, those innovations will be properly and fully implemented so that Nigerians will be even more assured of the integrity of the electoral system and the legitimacy of any government that it produces.
To strengthen the social contract between the government and the governed, we institutionalized the rule of law as well as the independence of the legislature and the judiciary. We also promoted group and individual freedoms. As a result, there is vast expansion in democratic, social and economic space for all citizens.
Our nation and citizens faced many new challenges over the past four years but the greatest was the vastly increased menace of Boko Haram with their mindless terror, mass killings, utter ruthlessness, kidnapping of innocent children and other unspeakable acts of brutality.We should all remember that Boko Haram’s emergence predated our administration going as far back as 2002. The group however became extremely malignant with the killing of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf in July 2009.
It therefore became an urgent task for us to effectively confront the great threat Boko Haram posed to the security and well-being of our people. To do so, we overhauled and virtually reinvented our security architecture to confront Boko Haram and its insurgency. We re-organized our security apparatus. We re-equipped and fully motivated our forces.
Victory is now in sight and within our reach. However, the cost in blood of citizens and heroes; and the diversion of national treasure from urgent needs for development have been very high. While more than 500 women and children have been rescued from the clutches of Boko Haram thus far by our security forces, it remains my sincere hope and prayer that our beloved daughters from Chibok will soon be reunited with us.
I wish to thank the Nigerian people for their resilience and patience. I also wish to pay very special and personal tribute to all the men and women of our valiant armed forces and security agencies. Their sacrifice and dedication have brought us thus far.
While striving to overcome our national security challenges, we still gave necessary attention to economic development. Our goal was to achieve long-term economic growth and stability, improve the quality and quantum of infrastructure and enhance human capital development.
Our financial system reforms included the Treasury Single Account [TSA] that unified the structure of government accounts for all MDAs and thereby brought order to cash flow management; and Government Integrated Financial Management Information System [GIFMIS] was introduced to plug leakages and waste of resources. The Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System [IPPIS] weeded out 60,450 ghost workers in 359 out of 425 MDAs, yielding N185.4 billion in savings to the Federal government.
Improved Revenue Mobilization was achieved through improvements in the laws and compliance measures. In 2013 alone, these measures resulted in a 69% rise in Federal tax revenues from N2.8 trillion to N4.8 trillion. Also, Waiver Policy and Trade Facilitation were reformed to create a more rational regime. Our emphasis shifted to granting waivers to specific sectors instead of individual companies and the Sovereign Wealth Fund was established to provide stabilization from external shocks, provide funding for critical infrastructure and savings for future generations.
Our Financial Sector reforms addressed the issues of inefficiencies in the coordination and monitoring of the financial system. Our policies promoted transparency, better risk management, new banking models and payment systems. We established the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria as a resolution mechanism for toxic banking assets. We strengthened banking supervision and enhanced public confidence in Nigerian Banks.
Similarly, we undertook innovative reforms for job creation and repositioned the manufacturing, agriculture and housing sectors. Specifically, it was observed that over the years, job creation did not keep pace with economic growth. Thus unemployment, especially amongst the youth was assuming alarming dimensions.
To address this, my administration made job creation a key consideration for all programmes in the Transformation Agenda. Emphasis was also shifted towards empowering youths to become entrepreneurs rather than job seekers, through such initiatives as Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOU-WIN), Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), the SURE-P Technical Vocational Education and Training Programme (TVET) and the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP).
Manufacturing in Nigeria faces many challenges, including poor power supply, high cost of input, high cost of doing business, multiple taxation, poor infrastructure and lack of synergy with the labour market. To address these problems, we launched several programmes and initiatives including the National Industrial Revolution Plan and a new National Automobile Policy designed to boost domestic car production and expand existing capacity. Since then, five new private vehicle assembly plants have been established.
Agriculture is critical to national survival and yet the sector was besieged with many problems. By year 2010, Nigeria was the second largest importer of food in the world, spending about N1.3 trillion on the importation of fish, rice and sugar alone.
The reforms we introduced in agriculture dramatically increased local production of staple food and saved us vast amounts of money that we would have spent on the importation of food items.
To address the glaring inadequacy of critical national infrastructure, we focused on the Power Sector, Roads, Railways, Aviation, Ports and Harbours as well as on Water and Sanitation, Information and Communication Technology.
My government introduced the Power Sector Roadmap in 2010.Since then, we have privatized the generation and distribution aspects in a most transparent process. Obstacles to the private sector investments in power supply were removed and we developed cost effective electricity tariff to make the sector more attractive. It remains our hope that the successor companies to PHCN and also the private sector will step forward with the necessary investment to make the power reform work.
The major challenge in the road sector in Nigeria is the high cost of building roads and it continues to rise. The other challenge is the fact that because of regular use, roads are one of the fastest depreciating assets in developing countries.
To address this, Government has developed the required legal and regulatory framework and created opportunities for Private Public Partnership (PPP) in road construction and maintenance.
From Ore/Benin Road, Lagos/Ibadan Expressway to the Kano/Maiduguri dualisation projects, we made concerted efforts to address age-long problems of delays in construction, design defect, neglect and ineffective maintenance. The construction of the historic Second Niger Bridge has also commenced, and on completion, it will open new and far-reaching opportunities for greater trade and interaction among our people.
In the Aviation Sector, our government developed a Master Plan to institutionalise safety and security, and to develop infrastructure at the airports and local airlines. We embarked on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 22 airports nationwide. Construction work on five new international terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu are also on-going.
There has been a revolution in rail transportation. We rehabilitated the old narrow gauge network and ensured that it has served our people steadily for three years running with new coaches and improved expanded services nationwide.
We are in the construction stages of a new national network for standard gauge speed-train services, with the new rail line segment, from Abuja to Kaduna, successfully completed. In addition, we have initiated the process for the construction of an ultramodern coastal rail line that will run from Lagos to Calabar, with a link to Onitsha.
We have also successfully completed the dredging of River Niger, from Warri in Delta State to Baro in Niger State, and completed construction works for the Onitsha River Port. Other River Ports at Baro, Lokoja and Oguta, are at advanced construction stages. Working with the states and development partners, we have facilitated the process towards the development of two new deep sea ports at Lekki in Lagos, and Ibaka in Akwa Ibom. We have also implemented reforms to streamline the clearing regime in existing ports, increasing cargo turnover time and easing business for all users.
In the oil and gas sector, our local content policy has continued to empower Nigerian companies, particularly in technical and engineering projects. The Gas Revolution Industrial Park in Delta State is unprecedented in the subsector, and will not only deliver Africa’s biggest industrial park, but all the accompanying benefits to local industry and job creation.
We recognized Human Capital as the most important agent for transformational development. Our reforms in this sector focused on Health, Education and Social Development and also on Women and Youth Empowerment and Social Safety Nets.
In the Health sector, the comprehensive National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP) of 2011 laid the foundation for widening access and improving the quality of healthcare with lower infant mortality rates and higher life expectancy for the populace.Our effective curtailment of the Ebola epidemic has continued to receive worldwide acclaim as an example in prompt and effective national disease management. On our watch, guinea-worm has been eradicated from Nigeria and we are on the verge of wiping out polio entirely.
In the Education sector, our objectives are clear and precise. They emphasise expansion of access and the upgrade of quality. I am proud that we have widened access by establishing 18 more Federal Universities and other specialized polytechnics. We strengthened TETFUND and used it to boldly address the problems of inadequate infrastructure in the existing institutions.
I am particularly proud of our efforts with regards to Early Childhood Education and Out-of-School Children. We provided modern hybrid Almajiri Education Programme in the North, attended to schooling needs of boys in the South-East and ensured the construction of special girls’ schools in 13 States of the Federation to improve girl-child education. We expanded opportunities for open and distance learning and provided scholarships at all levels to help improve access to quality education for bright and promising Nigerians.
We have promoted gender-mainstreaming with commensurate priority and opportunities for our womenfolk, beginning with ensuring that not less than 30 per cent of key Federal appointments go to women. Other initiatives that we have taken include: the National Gender Policy, Establishment of Gender Units in Federal MDAs, Women Empowerment Training Programmes, Micro-Credit for Women, Social Safety Net Programmes and the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Scheme.
My Administration has emphasized giving a free hand to our Anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). We preferred that they mature into strong institutions instead of being the images, the hammer and the anvil of a strong man. We must encourage them to abide by the rule of law and due process instead of resorting to dramatic or illegal actions orchestrated for cheap applause.
Beyond the very impressive records of enhanced convictions by statutory anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC and ICPC, our other strategy has been to fashion economic policies that deliver higher deterrence and frustrate concealment. In this regard, the Bureau of Public Procurement has played a central role and impacted strongly on the fight against corruption.
In Sports, we have improved our national performance in team and individual events. The disappointment of not qualifying to defend our African Football Championship was cushioned by a decent FIFA World Cup appearance, an Under-17 World Cup win in addition to other victories in other international football tournaments and the Paralympics. We have also encouraged excellence in other sports, apart from football, resulting in exceptional performance in international sporting events, especially in athletics.
Our foreign policy position remains strong. In October 2013, Nigeria was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the second time on our watch. Our country had only served in that capacity thrice before 2011, since independence in 1960. Our Administration also played a leading role in the resolution of security and political challenges in our sub-region, particularly in Niger, Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso.
In addition, we increased engagement with Nigerians in the diaspora who contribute so much in remittances to their fatherland. Our Administration successfully encouraged more of them to invest in Nigeria and others to return home and join in the task of nation-building.
In summary, Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our administration has done its best to intervene robustly and impact positively on key aspects of our national life.
There is no doubt that challenges still abound, but they are surmountable and overwhelming national transformation remains realisable, with continuity, commitment and consistency.
Nigeria is blessed with citizens that will always remain faithful, firmly committed to national unity, accelerated political, social and economic development.
As we hand over the reins of government, I believe that our nation is secure, our democracy is stable, and the future is bright. Let us all work together, and with greater resolve, continue to build a stronger and more prosperous nation.
May God Almighty continue to bless our dear country, Nigeria.
I thank you all.