Democracy day: Buhari thanks health, essential staff for containing COVID-19

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President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the dedication of the nation’s health and other essential service staff toward containing the spread of Coronavirus virus in the country.

The president gave the commendation in his broadcast to the nation, to mark the country’s 21 Democracy day on Friday in Abuja.

Duaglobalnews reports that the Day also signifies uninterrupted civil administration in the country and an opportunity for Nigerians to reflect on the journey so far with a view to moving the nation forward.

Buhari said:”It is a testament of our courage and resilience as a people and as a great nation, and I use this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for your service to the nation.

“We are celebrating this year’s Democracy Day despite the COVID-19 pandemic which afflicts our nation and the whole world.

“It is indeed a very difficult time for everyone, especially those who have lost loved ones to the virus and those whose sources of livelihood have been severely constrained by the stringent measures we introduced at every level of government to contain the virus and save lives.”

On democracy, Buhari, who noted that sustaining Nigeria’s democracy thus far had been a collective struggle,congratulated all Nigerians, particularly leaders of the country’s democratic institutions, for their resilience and determination to ensure that “Nigeria remains a shining example of democracy.”

He told the nation that his administration had recorded notable achievements in the course of implementing its nine priority objectives as well establishing a solid foundation for future success.

Giving account of his stewardship, based on the promise he made during his broadcast to mark the 2019 edition of the Day, the president disclosed that his government had remained committed to implementing its economic programmes

“Our objectives have remained to stabilize the macroeconomy, achieve agricultural and food security, ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, develop infrastructure, fight corruption and improve governance.

“We have witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019 but declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

” Every single economy in the world has suffered a decline. Ours has been relatively moderate.

“In order to stabilize the economy, the Monetary Authority took steps to build the external reserves which resulted in improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market.
” The external reserves grew from $33.42 billion on April 29th 2020 to about $36.00 billion in May, 2020 which is enough to finance seven months of import commitments.’

According to him,agriculture remain the key to the nation’s economic diversification strategy.

He noted that the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme continued to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizer to the farmers.

“This initiative has also revived 31 blending plants and created a significant number of direct and indirect jobs across the value chain.

“Government is also revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.

” Through the food security initiative, we are promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow” I am also delighted that more and more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agri-business sector.

“I assure you that government will continue to support the Agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and similar schemes.

“To protect our farming investments, we have deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military agencies.

“We are also integrating rural communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to rural farmers and building feeder roads.  

” Our efforts on growing non-oil exports have started to yield some results. For instance, in the past year, our revenue from Cocoa and Sesame Seed increased by $79.4 million and $153 million.

“Africa presents a huge opportunity for our export base diversification and we are developing our strategy to grow intra-Africa trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

“Nigeria has risen by 25 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 146th to 131st and is now rated as one of the top ten reforming countries.

“This development is due to the Visa on Arrival policy, consistent promotion of initiatives that expand facilities available to Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, robust electronic registration and payment system, seamless processing of business registration and reduction of cost of registering business by 50%.”

The president,who expressed confident that the on-going efforts would result in further improvement of such rating, assured Nigerians that his administration remained committed to expanding the mining sector.

According to him,he has directed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant,based on Government-to-Government financing and a Public-Private Sector financing, among other efforts aimed at moving the nation to the next of development.

Some residents of Lokoja, kogi state, who commented on the president’s broadcast, louded the Federal Government for its efforts at curtailing the spread of Coronavirus but called for increased efforts interms of security of life and property.

Malam Saidu Adamu, a politician said: “Truely, the Buhari administration, to me, must be commended in many areas of the nation’s economy but I wish the government can do more in the security of lives and property in the country.

“Despite the efforts of the government in checking the high rate of insecurity in Nigeria, many Nigerians continue to lose their lives in the hands of either armed robbers, kidnappers or cultists.

Another Nigerian, Miss Agnes Alabi, called on the Federal government to pursue the completion of Ajaokuta steel project to the logical end.

“With the completion of this big promising big project and commencement of work, there will be more employment opportunities for the army of unemployed youths roaming the streets in search of the elusive white-collar jobs.

“When jobless youths are engaged in meaningful employment, they will not have time to indulge in crime and criminality and the nation will be better for it.

“If the crime rate assumes downward trend today, local and foreign investors will engage in establishing various companies in Nigeria and that will mean employment of more youths,” she said.

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