The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has attributed the security challenges being faced in many parts of the country to the consequence of his regime’s “scattering” of insurgents in the North East.
He said it was the development that pushed the criminals further into the country.
Buhari stated this early on Saturday in his nationwide broadcast to Nigerians to mark the 2021 Democracy Day.
“When you elected me as your President in 2015, you did so knowing that I will put an end to the growing insecurity, especially the insurgency in the North East, but the unintended consequences of our scattering them in the North East pushed them further in-country which is what we are now facing and dealing with.
“We will, by the Grace of God put an end to these challenges too,” he said.
Buhari regretted that those he described as criminals were taking undue advantage of the nation’s difficult situation thinking they could not be dealt with under democracy.
He, however, promised to wield the big stick against them.
The President added, “Unfortunately, like in most conflict situations, some Nigerian criminals are taking undue advantage of a difficult situation and profiteering therefrom with the misguided belief that adherence to the democratic norms handicaps this administration from frontally and decisively tackling them.
“We are already addressing these obstacles and we will soon bring some of these culprits to justice.”
Buhari described Democracy Day as a celebration of freedom and a victory for “one people, one country and one Nigeria.”
He said: “As with all democracies we will always be going through improvement processes in our desire to reach the goal of a mature democracy, a strong, evolved and integrated nation state to be reckoned with globally.
“In the last two years, we have witnessed and overcome a good number of testy challenges that would have destroyed other nations especially relating to our collective security.
“The indefatigable ‘can do’ spirit of the Nigerian has sustained us and would keep pushing us to put these challenges behind us.
“Unfortunately, some of these challenges came in the shape of violent outrages leading to the loss of lives of many of our dear compatriots and the destruction of some of our infrastructure, including those devoted to improving our democratic processes.
“Once again, I want to render my sincere and heart-felt condolences to the families and friends of our gallant servicemen and women who lost their lives in the line of duty and as a sacrifice to keep Nigeria safe.”
Buhari said when his regime decided to change Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12, it was not only to honour the sacrifices of Nigerians who fought for the return to democracy but also to demonstrate the regime’s commitment to satisfy the aspirations of the people and creating an environment for democracy to be an accepted way of life.
He said he remained committed to providing an enabling environment for a free, fair and credible electoral system.
He, however, said Nigerians too must be ready to play their part by getting involved at any level they could by supporting a democratic system that worked for all and not for a section or a select few and demand accountability from their elected leaders.
He added: “My commitment to bequeathing a sustainable democratic culture remains resolute, my pursuit of a fair society remains unshaken and my desire to see that Nigeria remains a country for each and every one of us has never been stronger.
“In responding to the challenges that this period imposes on us, the government also recognizes the need to acknowledge notions of marginalization and agitations for constitutional amendments among various segments of our population.
“While this government is not averse to constitutional reform as part of our nation-building process, everyone must understand that the primary responsibility for constitutional amendments lies with the National Assembly.
“This body which, as I said, is the arm of government responsible for constitutional changes has concluded the preliminary stages of amending and improving our constitution in a way that the majority of Nigerians will be happy with.
“Government is, however, willing to play a critical role in the constitutional amendment process without usurping the powers of the National Assembly in this regard.
“As a nation, we have come very far from where we started and we are getting incrementally closer to where we ought to be.
“Overcoming the present challenges is but one of a necessary process that we have to undergo as a nation so that we can come out stronger. The day I joined the Nigerian Army, I was prepared to lay down my life for Nigeria.
“As your President, I remain ever committed to upholding and defending Nigeria’s corporate existence.
“In adhering to the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy notably section 14(2)(b), I shall do all within my power to ensure that the Security and welfare of the people remain the primary purpose of government.”
Buhari added that his strong belief in the Nigerian spirit gave him comfort that the country was facing challenges with a renewed commitment to keep the country as one.
He said his regime was addressing what he described as the twin underlying drivers of insecurity namely poverty and youth unemployment.
He said interventions led by the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria driving economic growth over the past six years were targeted mostly to the agricultural, services, infrastructure, power and health care sectors of the economy.
He listed his government’s achievements in agricultural sector, economy, efforts to eradicate poverty and infrastructural development, among others.
He, however, said, “I will be the first to admit that in spite of our efforts and achievements which are there for all to see, there is still much more to be done and we are doing our best in the face of scarce resources and galloping population growth rate that consistently outstrips our capacity to provide jobs for our populace.
“Our overall economic target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years is our goal notwithstanding COVID-19.
“In the last two years, we lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty – farmers, small-scale traders, artisans, market women and the like.
“I am very convinced that this 100 million target can be met and this informed the development of a National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy. The specific details of this accelerated strategy will be unveiled shortly.”