President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, reassured Nigerians that the 2019 elections will be free and fair.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Monsur Dan Ali (rtd) gave the assurance in Jos at the graduation ceremony of Senior Executive Course 40, 2018 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State.
“We as a government also wish to reiterate our commitment to ensuring that the elections are free, fair and credible as part of measures to deepen our democracy,
“As we prepare for the forthcoming elections in 2019, Nigerians are once again enjoined to exercise their civic obligation as stakeholders in our development project,” he said.
The president, who said that his administration was committed to good governance, also disclosed that the ranking of Nigeria has improved tremendously in the ease of doing business by the World Bank, with the foreign reserve now $44 billion in the last five years.
“We have reduced rice importation by 90 per cent and increased our capacity to produce fertiliser locally. Moreover, we have tremendously improved on our ranking in the ease of doing business by the World Bank. Our foreign reserves is now USD 44 billion, the highest in the last five years. The implication of these is that Nigeria remains the strongest economy on the African continent due to the policies put in place by this government,” he said
He explained further that the administration on assuming office in 2015 met an economy in a shambles as a result of widespread corruption and mismanagement of the national commonwealth, compounded by a sharp drop in the prices of oil.
According to him, the government inherited an empty treasury, depleted foreign reserves, poor and dilapidated infrastructure, huge capital and current liabilities, food import dependency, long-standing insurgency, myriads of internal security challenges and a situation where many state governments owed workers’ salaries.
“These inherited circumstances put us under extreme difficulty, particularly when measured against the expectations of Nigerians who voted for us expecting a better governance. We had to develop and implement some policies that would quickly get us out of this unsavory situation.
“To address the problems fundamentally, we put in place several policy frameworks, the major one being the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which laid out the strategy for achieving the government’s vision of sustained and inclusive growth,” he explained.
The ERGP provided the framework for short term recovery and structural reforms aimed at diversifying the economy to set it on a path of sustainable growth over the medium and long term. We took further measures including the Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business to address identified bottlenecks,” he stated.
In his welcome address, Acting Director General of NIPSS, Mr. Jonathan Mela Juma disclosed that for the first time, the participants’ research projects were subjected to ‘originality test,’ the essence of which, according to him, was to improve the quality and professionalism of the participants’ research projects.
Juma added that all the participants’ research projects met the originality test criteria. He recalled that last week, the participants, led by the management team, successfully presented to President Muhammadu Buhari, the theme of the entire course.
He pointed out that the president thereafter directed the relevant government agencies to renew recommendations of the report for implementation, appreciating him for giving them the opportunity to contribute to policy formulation which is national life, particularly within the context of the ongoing efforts to contain the numerous challenges facing the nation.
He asserted that no nation can develop its food potentials without well-thought out implemented policy frame work of the country. “Indeed, a nation is as strong as a foundation of which its policy thrust fundamentals are laid. It was for this reason that NIPSS was founded in 1979 as the apex policy think-tank and policy development in all areas of national life as it trains the nation’s elite on issues of policy formulation and implementation.”
Juma stressed that the aim of the National Institute has been to produce first class technocrats who are capable of responding to present and future national challenges, pointing out that the Institute in the past 40 years, has worked assiduously to fulfil its mandate through high-level programmes and policy research.