*SAYS FG HAS OPENED SEVERAL CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION WITH RELEVANT NIGER DELTA GROUPS
*CLEAN-UP OF THE REGION STARTING WITH OGONI IS AN IRREVOCABLE COMMITMENT
SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR, DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, VICE PRESIDENT, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON AT THE GRADUATION CEREMONY OF THE SENIOR EXECUTIVE COURSE 38 OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES, NIPSS, KURU, JOS, PLATEAU STATE ON NOVEMBER 19, 2016
I am delighted to be here with you this morning on the occasion of the graduation ceremony of the Senior Executive Course 38 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, our nation’s foremost institution for policy, research and training. It is re-assuring to note that since the establishment of the institute 37 years ago, the national institute has provided a vibrant platform for policy intellectuals and thought leaders on critical issues of national development.
The institute is to be commended for the quality of research and policy output that has been generated over the years. The innovative ideas that have been proffered by this intellectual power-house have positively influenced national policy and development of our nation through the years.
It is also specially heartwarming to note that some of the current members have contributed significantly to improving the infrastructure here at the institute and that the entire Senior Executive Course 38 of 2016 have donated a block of two shelters to accommodate all of the participants. Your altruism and generosity is a mark of the leadership efforts that we are confident will define the new Nigeria.
Please accept my sincere condolence on the sudden passing of your course mate, Hajia Maimuna Abdullahi who incidentally was present at the presentation ceremony of your course to me at the Presidential Villa only two weeks ago.
As has become traditional, the Special Guest of Honour’s speech at NIPSS graduation usually seeks to address some crucial policy issue, this is as it should be, our foremost policy think tank ought to be a place where thoughts, ideas and evolving policies in government are laid out and interrogated.
Today permit me to speak briefly on the law and order challenge in Nigeria.
(The law and order challenge in Nigeria, its scope, its implications and the critical pathways for resolving the issues that attempt this matter of law and order.)
It is clear that a stable, safe and prosperous society must be the desire of every group of policy makers and executors. It is probably true to say also that the chief function of government is the protection and assurance of the security of lives, livelihoods and the properties of the citizenry.
Indeed at the conceptual level, it explains the reason why individuals and communities give over their right of self-help and self-protection and even vengeance to the state; and the state cannot afford to compromise these responsibilities in anyway. Indeed many nation-states in exercising that duty of ensuring security find themselves unfortunately prioritizing the maintenance of law and order over individual and sometimes communal rights.
In recent years, Nigeria has had to deal with fairly significant and sustained breaches of the norms of law and order, these include the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast, several cases of herdsmen and farmer clashes, and also cattle rustling, facility and pipeline sabotage in the Niger Delta, kidnappings for ransom and the Shiite-Army and Police clashes with pro-Biafra agitators in the southeast among others.
But beginning with the Boko Haram insurgency, although in the past year, the capacity of the Boko Haram as a military force and to hold territory has, to a level, been degraded, much laws and instability has resulted, and it is essentially a rag-tag left-over that still carry out the itinerant ambushes and raids especially in border territories.
But almost over 2 million people have been displaced in the Northeast, some in IDP camps, but most in host communities, with orphans in the tens of thousands. As the insurgents fled very many small border hamlets, they left behind women and children that they had held in captivity, in many cases badly malnourished.
Several local and international humanitarian organisations, working in the region have worked hard with the government to contain the large number of individuals of malnourished and dying children. I ordered the establishment of an inter-ministerial task-force of relevant line ministries to create more order and synergy with the humanitarian organisations, NGOs and the UN agencies. Barely two weeks ago, I also formally inaugurated the Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiatives (PCNI) headed by General T.Y. Danjuma, Rtd, to coordinate both official and private initiatives in the region and also ensure that the state governments have the same power to rehabilitate in a particular area where they have found their competence useful.
Only recently, Dikwa Local Government had some of the public buildings, schools, hospitals rebuilt, and the PCNI provided the material while the state government, the builders, artisans and labourers executed the job.
Still the humanitarian tragedies are immense and the losses are enormous. No farming has taken place in many of the villages and communities for over three years. Farmlands in many cases have been mined by the fleeing insurgents and because they are largely at various communities, the deprivation of livelihood and economic opportunities is big.
Invariably, this dents agriculture’s 32 percent contribution to our GDP. Although the terrorists still hold several persons captive, the nation recently received the cheering news of the rescue of 21 of the Chibok girls after practically two years in captivity. They were reunited with their families.
Government is, and as I have said repeatedly, committed in ensuring that all the girls and all those who are in captivity are returned safely. Over twenty thousand Nigerians have lost their lives in the Boko Haram insurgency. The cost of rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure in the Northeast is enormous. The education of children in many communities has been stalled for years.
The military have shown tremendous professionalism and patriotism. The reports of humanitarian organisations and the activities have been very salutary indeed.
Turning to Fulani herdsmen and farmer clashes, this has had an unfortunate long history. Disputes have arisen, use of essential resources, farmlands and grazing areas and water, farmers complaining of invasion of their farms and destruction of their crops by cattle, climate change and the continuous decrease in grazing land have led to even greater complications and the dire needs that have continually presented this particular problem.
More recently, the disputes have turned more violent with the arming of herdsmen with guns. There is also evidence of the infiltrations of the ranks of the herdsmen by North African youths who have been involved in the civil conflict between Libya and Mali. The proliferation of small arms in these conflicts has probably made them more available to criminal acts. Cattle rustling has also been a prominent breach of law and order.
Early last year, governors in the northwest came together to launch combined operations against (the) crime, but the collaboration of the police and the armed forces achieve considerable successes in stemming the tide. It is evidence that stronger, more robust and more effective law enforcement is necessary to deal with all of these violent attacks.
My firm orders had been that even the bearing of arms without license is illegal and persons found with arms must be arrested and prosecuted.
No quarter can be granted to anyone who perpetrates violence or promote its occurrence in anyway. There is nothing noble about the banditry and criminal violence that we have seen more frequently and we must prevent their continuing occurrence.
Turning to the Niger Delta, the attacks on pipelines and export facilities in the Niger Delta is a different law and order challenge. The damage has far reaching consequences for the national economy, the perpetrators are few and their motives are not necessarily aligned. The huge degradation of the environment and the criminal neglect of the region due to corruption, failed policies and the continuous vandalization of facilities has created a vicious cycle of environmental damage, poverty and violence.
The economic dimensions of the disruptions in oil and gas production caused by militant activities in the region are grave indeed. The blowing of four strategic oil facilities and oil fields, the Trans Forcados pipelines to the terminal, the Qua Iboe terminal, the Brass pipeline, the Trans-Niger pipeline and the Nembe creek trunkline access both of which convey exports to the Bonny terminal, led to a decline in output from budgetary provisions of about 2.2 million barrels per day to about 1.1 million or sometimes less than 1.1 million barrels per day.
In August 2016, the loss of over 1 million barrels of oil per day translated to the loss of over 60 percent of gross revenues. This is compounded by the comparatively low price oil regime. When oil revenues crash, even the non-oil economy is affected because 52 percent of our non-oil sector revenues depend on oil. Real GDP growth is directly linked to the price of crude and the relationship between oil price, oil export, and GDP growth rate remain as important as ever.
Besides, as of February 2016, we were generating 5,000 Mega Watts of power for the first time in the history of the country but that same month the attack on Trans Forcados pipeline led to a 40 percent loss in gas for power. We suffered a sharp drop in power output to less than 2000 Mega Watts of power at some points.
The implication of these despicable acts of sabotage on the vast majority of our people and even our people who live in the Niger Delta trying to make a living is definitely obvious.While we have made it absolutely clear that criminality under any guise will not be tolerated in any part of the country and the sabotage of national assets is a heinous crime. We have nonetheless opened several channels of communication with all relevant groups in the Delta.
We remain firmly of the view that all legitimate issues can be resolved when there is commitment on the part of all to the good of our neighbours and the development of our nation.
The clean-up of the Niger Delta beginning with Ogoniland is an irrevocable commitment, it will be irresponsible of this generation of leaders to ignore or worsen the environmental degradation in the region. This is why the continual vandalization of pipelines ultimately jeopardizes the lives and the livelihood of the present and the next generation.
There is no question at all that the security, law and order come first in order of priority. As we have seen, violators of the law completely undermine our economic potentials and harm the poorest amongst us the most.
The policies of the government on law and order are quite clear: first, we believe in the dignity of every Nigerian regardless of status, tribe or religion. As a soldier, l pledged my life to defend this nation, since my youth; i have in adulthood, twice sworn, as Head of State and President, to defend the laws and constitution. Our constitution grants the right to life and with it I believe, the right to be protected from the violation of one’s cause or property and l take that oath seriously.
It is therefore the position of government that this criminal conducts cannot be tolerated in any form. Every criminal act must be accounted for. It must remain clear that impunity has come to an end in our country and there would be consequences for violations of the law. This is why we are working diligently to improve the nation’s capacity to maintain law and order.
We are supporting the incremental provision of state-of-the-art equipment of crime fighting especially using technology. Recently we commissioned a central criminal database of police in Abuja which will greatly assist in crime detection and prosecution.
Our system of criminal justice from investigation to prosecution and adjudication by the court needs to be re-engineered. A long delay in the trial process has impaired the credibility of our capacity to hold offenders to account. Our problem, it seems, is not access to justice, it is exiting our justice system once you have access to it. I have charged the judiciary often, and I do so again, on the task of developing a firm blueprint for a justice system that works, a system that delivers result.
When a person remains accused for years, it is bad for both the accused and the justice system. When a system does not deliver the result that it is created to deliver, self-help is the only option and of course the breakdown of law and order which it is meant to prevent inevitably follows.
Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, l received a report of these graduating senior participants a few weeks ago, the theme of the report is “Strengthening the Institutional Mechanisms for Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Development.” It is insightful, practical and solution -oriented. I again commend the course for the very useful contributions to our understanding of critical issues in the eradication of poverty.
Our approach as a government to the issue is multi-pronged. We believe that the economic policy must remain market-driven and the private sector-led, but the state must intervene where market forces would be slow or ineffective. This is why in the 2016 budget, we provided the largest social intervention allocation in the history of budgeting in our country with the sum of N500 billion. The sum is to provide the targeted intervention measures including 500, 000 volunteer graduate programme. And the employment of those who have graduated began yesterday. The first phase is the employment of 200, 000 volunteer corps graduates who will be paid for their services as they teach, render public health services as well as agriculture extension services in their various local government areas.
The fund also includes micro-credit facilities for market women and artisans and traders. We intend to satisfy at least a million market women, artisans and traders.
The programme also include the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme for one million poorest of the Nigerian families. We are working hand-in-hand with the World Bank in identifying the poorest families in the various communities. The sum of N5000 a month will be given to the women who are in these families in other to facilitate the feeding of their children and other sundry matters.
I have been briefed by the Vice President on some of the challenges facing the National Institute and I am pleased to inform you that we are addressing these problems. Already, the processes leading to the review of establishing the institute has progressed very well, being the nation’s foremost policy think-tank, conditions of service of the institute will be made more attractive to engage and retain strong academics and other Nigerians who have a relevant high level practical experience.
The government will continue to provide the necessary financial support within the limits of the available resources. The present economic realities has made it practically impossible for government alone to actually satisfy all the financial demands, hence the need for the institute to try funding through policy research, linkages, consultancies and corporate Nigeria.
l have been informed that some spirited Nigerians have already begun discussion with the institute on various areas of intervention. These are commendable partnerships. l use this medium to call on other private sector leaders to emulate the examples of those who are already speaking to the institute on ways of assisting them.
I’m equally aware of the support of some of our agencies like the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC and the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN in the area of infrastructure. I thank them all and l also urge that they continually look at other areas of assisting NIPSS in achieving its most important policy objectives.
Finally, let me congratulate the wives, husbands, family and friends of the graduands, for the day and moment belong to the new MNIs. Congratulations on the successful completion of this programme. l have no doubt that this very intensive programme has not only expanded your outlook and perspectives, it has also deepened the understanding and commitment of Nigerians and the resolution of these challenges. Your training has placed you in a position to positively impact the future of this nation. That future has already arrived and I pray that this will be the beginning of greater possibilities and elevations for you.
God bless you and God bless Nigeria!
Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
November 21, 2016