Dear Great People of our nation,
I greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the New Year today. As we mark the beginning of this New Year, 2015, a new nation is being born. A new nation is being born because of the foundations we have all laid, working together for the good and progress of our dear fatherland.
I join you all in thanking God Almighty who has brought us this far, for continually bestowing His Grace upon us and for guiding our great nation safely through all the challenges of the past year.
This year, as in the year past, I reaffirm my commitment to work to ensure a secure future for our dear country and the generations yet unborn.
Last year, we celebrated our hundredth year of nationhood. The year brought us further progress, challenges and fresh opportunities.
We have contended with the normal challenges of nation-building and the unusual challenges of terrorism.
But we have continued to vigorously confront those who seek to destroy the bonds of unity that hold us together.
On this first day of the New Year, I want to pay special tribute to the gallant officers, men and women of our Armed Forces and other security agencies who have been in the forefront of the war against terrorism and violent extremism in our country and sub-region.
I also commend all Nigerians who have remained vigilant and cooperative with our security agencies in the fight against the common enemy.
We are re-equipping and re-positioning our armed forces to enhance their capacity to win the ongoing war against terror and insurgency.
Regrettably, terrorists have unleashed much pain and agony on our land. They have made widows of our mothers and sisters and orphans of our children. They have shut down businesses, desecrated places of worship and brought untold hardship to both men and women. They have violated the culture and peaceful way of life in our country, which took generations to build.
They have destroyed countless schools and displaced people from their communities, driving them into exile.
I want to assure you that the terrorists will not get away with their atrocities: they will not win; they will be routed. As President, I feel the pain of all affected communities and families. I hear their cries and share their sorrow and pain.
We will not forget; we will not look the other way. We have done a lot of painstaking planning and work to resolve the current security challenge. We will bring justice to the savage terrorists known as Boko Haram. They will be defeated.
That is the solemn commitment I make today as President of the Federal Republic, and Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces.
By the Special Grace of God, the Federal Government, under my leadership, has continued, in the past four years to lead our country forward, even under the most trying circumstances.
The progress we have made in priority areas bears us testimony.
Amongst other achievements, we have rehabilitated and expanded our rail transportation network, successfully privatized power generation and distribution, significantly reformed and increased local participation in our oil and gas industry, and improved nationwide access to potable water from 57% in 2010, to 70% at present.
We have also made significant progress in improving access to primary, secondary and tertiary education by building and equipping more schools, including special Almajiri schools, and establishing additional universities to ensure that each state of the nation now has at least one Federal University.
Our national economy maintained a steady growth rate of close to seven per cent in the past four years and millions of fresh employment opportunities were created for our people as a direct consequence.
Recently, we launched the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) and the $100 million dollars Government and Donor Fund for Agriculture Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) to fast-track the positive transformation of our agricultural sector.
The Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) targets 750, 000 market-oriented young agricultural producers while the $100 million dollars Fund is to provide affordable long-term financing to support the development of small and medium agribusinesses in the country.
This is in addition to a N50 billion Farm Mechanization Support Fund set up by the Central Bank to establish 1,200 agricultural equipment-hiring enterprises.
Both funds will become fully operational this year. Policies and programmes such as these to boost agricultural production remain topmost on the agenda of this administration.
Being very conscious of the inherent perils of our over-reliance on income from crude oil exports for national development, we have focused on accelerating the diversification of our economy.
The non-oil Sector which has grown by an average of 8% in the last few years, is now a major driver of growth in our economy.
The 2015 national budget, which is now before the National Assembly, is targeted at deepening our efforts at becoming a non-oil economy.
The budget also includes measures to ensure that the downturn in the price of oil does not affect our development plans and our national economy too adversely. We are adjusting our financial processes to safeguard our economy. We are also taking steps to ensure that the poor and the low and medium income earners do not bear the brunt.
In 2015, this administration will continue to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy that attracts significant Foreign Direct Investment and promotes policies that ensure economic stability.
We will ensure stability in the value of the Naira by striving to take away speculative behaviours that cause market exchange pressures.
We will continue to build and maintain a healthy external reserves position and strengthen fiscal buffers. We will ensure the Naira remains strong, and gives foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need, to guide future investment decisions.
We will continue to improve our payment systems and strengthen risk-based supervision mechanism for Nigerian banks to ensure overall health and stability of the banking system.
We are introducing a broad spectrum of financial instruments to boost sector-specific enterprise areas in agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), manufacturing, and oil and gas to enhance our aggregate supply capacity, reduce poverty, promote job creation and increase the general well-being of our people.
These efforts and other measures being spearheaded by relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, are geared to ensure a secure future for Nigeria and create a much more prosperous country, where people live more peaceful and fulfilled lives.
Fellow countrymen and women,
As we enter an election year, I assure you that our administration will remain fully focused on providing good governance and the delivery of better public services to our people.
The coming campaigns and elections will not distract us from our ongoing work to significantly improve the living conditions of our people. And I urge all tiers of government not to be distracted as well.
The elections are very important for us as a country. Their successful conclusion will further strengthen our democratic institutions and place our beloved country even more firmly in the comity of truly democratic nations.
Given the challenges that have characterized some previous electoral contests in our country, the eyes of the world will certainly be on the conduct and outcome of our fifth post-military rule general elections.
I reassure all Nigerians and the international community of our firm commitment to free, fair and credible elections. My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote remains unwavering.
Our administration has worked hard in previous elections to prepare all key stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the electorate optimally, to ensure a progressively improved electoral process in the country under my watch. We will continue to do so for the coming elections.
We will continue to provide adequate funding to INEC and maintain the Commission’s independence and isolate it from any form of interference or meddling in its day-to-day affairs. This shall continue to guarantee its impartiality and ability to conduct more credible and acceptable elections.
National security agencies will also be given all necessary support to enhance their ability to ensure that the elections are peaceful and violence-free. The Nigeria Police has already established an Elections Security Planning and Monitoring Unit.
I am optimistic that with the cooperation of all law-abiding citizens of the country, our commitment to have a peaceful and violence-free election will be actualized.
I will like to say this, once again, to my fellow politicians and political leaders. None of our political ambitions is worth the blood of any of our countrymen, women and children. The improvement of their lives and living conditions ought to be our primary motive and the driving force of our quest for political power and leadership positions.
Let us not promote sectionalism, disunity, intolerance, hate, falsehood or the malicious abuse of political opponents. Whatever we feel or seek, we must have a nation and a people before we can dream of political ambitions. Let us put the nation and the people first.
Let us all conduct our electoral campaigns with the highest possible decorum and civility towards political opponents. Let us give INEC the fullest possible support and cooperation it requires to conduct credible and violence-free elections in 2015.
After the 2011 general elections, some unpatriotic elements embarked on an orgy of violence, resulting in the destruction of lives and property. That will not be allowed to happen this time around. This government will act decisively against anyone who disrupts the public peace, before, during or after the 2015 general elections.
All Nigerians, of voting age, are free to vote based on their convictions. It is our duty to defend and protect that basic right, and let no one be in doubt, we will.
Fellow Nigerians, I urge all of you to enter the New Year with renewed zeal and patriotism, to serve our fatherland with love, honesty, faithfulness and hope for a greater tomorrow.
As I have always maintained, none of the challenges before us is insurmountable. We must come together as a people and work with single-minded unity of purpose to overcome them.
Nigeria is a key country in Africa. We must work together to maintain our strategic position and collaborate with others to move the continent forward. I call for peace in Africa and an end to all conflicts in our continent. I urge all Africans to promote democracy in their respective countries to ensure faster development of the continent and faster economic and political integration.
We will continue to pray and offer hands of fellowship and assistance to our fellow Africans suffering from the Ebola Virus Disease. I urge all Nigerians to show compassion and contribute in whatever way we can to help our African brothers and sisters.
As we go into this New Year, I salute the indomitable and resilient spirit of our people in Nigeria and wherever they are in the world. Our spirit of enterprise and the doggedness to succeed amongst all odds has been our strength.
With our collective prayers and efforts, we will grow our economy and our people will become wealthier. Government will continue with programmes deliberately designed to create more jobs for our youth, to enable them contribute more to the growth and development of our nation.
Let us continue our march to the future, towards the attainment of our collective vision of a strong, united, prosperous and harmonious nation – a secure nation for us and for our coming generations.
I wish you all a happy and fulfilling 2015.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Happy New Year, Nigeria!
I thank you all.