President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said his administration will use the year 2021 to “work to reinforce the hopes of fellow Nigerians in the vision of a united and progressive Nigeria.”
President Buhari, in a New Year broadcast to the nation, said 2020 was a very tough year that put “our national resilience and ability to survive these tough times” to test due to the challenges posed on collective humanity by the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
The President, however, said that it gave renewed hope that “we will again brave any storms that lay ahead in 2021 and beyond.”
He said 2020 came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to “understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability.”
He restated his pledge to ensure that the ongoing challenges were faced head-on with renewed determination and with all the appropriateness and urgency required.
Youth, the target
Buhari, who used the occasion of New Year to reaffirm his commitment to the people of Nigeria, especially the youth who needed collective encouragement and support, stressed the need to secure the future of the youth in order to secure this nation.
“As a Government, we are committed to actively engaging with the creative energies of our young people.
“In this regard, we will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled across regions.
“This will create vast opportunities in fintech, agriculture, business process startups and in the entertainment industry,” he added.
Focus on Security, economy
The President renewed the commitment of his administration to continue focusing on delivering key strategic priorities of security, economy and anti-corruption (SEA) agenda.
Buhari said the administration recognised that “we rapidly have to move to a more proactive and preemptive postures” to ensure that terror attacks on citizens “do not become a norm.”
The President said the message to the West African neighbours with the recent opening of our borders was that Nigeria was “fully open” for those willing to conduct business in a fair and equitable way.
Buhari said: “Some of the key priority areas we would direct our attention and strengths to include: “re-energizing and reorganizing the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country.
“….Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, and we will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing.
“On the economy, our focus is on revamping the economy through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the primary goal of national food self-sufficiency.
“This has helped reduce the growing food related inflationary figures and have in considerable measure positively impacted our food security status during the long months of the pandemic lock down.
“We are also currently rebuilding our national infrastructure base and, in the process, introducing transformation through the rehabilitation, modernization, and expansion of the railway system, national roads and bridges both in rural and urban centres, alongside the airports and seaports.
“The reforms we have put in place in the power sector would guarantee increased efficiency in our drive to significantly expand the generation and distribution of electricity for use in homes and factories.
“As an administration, we are currently undertaking a series of special interventions designed to boost job creation and support the entrepreneurial drive of our youths.
“With the recent opening of our borders, we expect that the pent-up demand of legitimate cross-border and international trade will boost the fortunes of the many small businesses and agricultural enterprises that depend on Nigeria’s trade and commerce.”
He added: “On the anti-corruption drive of our administration, we have recorded substantial gains so far and this year, we are committed to continuing along the path of eradicating corruption, through collaboration with all the arms of Government to effectively prosecute this fight.
“While we would be working with the Legislature to enact laws that would strengthen this fight, we would also be looking at reviewing some of our laws which would ensure that this fight is more effective.
“On the part of the executive, we would ensure the diligent and timely prosecution of corruption cases, while appealing to the judiciary to ensure that corruption cases are dispensed with expeditiously.”
The President, who said keeping the country safe from a resurgent cycle of COVID-19 was a priority, said the administration had finalised “its plans to procure and efficiently and effectively distribute the COVID-19 vaccines.”
He urged citizens to observe strict COVID-19 prevention protocols.