President Muhammadu Buhari’s Independence Day address dwelt on security, the clamour for restructuring, corruption and reviving a faltering economy.
Here are 10 things we took away from the speech; which was delivered to commemorate Nigeria’s 57th year as a nation state.
1. Buhari blames leaders of Southeast for IPOB’s rise
In this address, the president made it clear that Nigeria isn’t going to break up under him.
With renewed agitations for a Biafra State by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu culminating in unrest and clashes in the Southeast, Buhari had strong words for political and traditional leaders in the Southeast.
“I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through (during the civil war of the ‘60s). Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly”, Buhari scolded.
2. Agitators for a break-up of Nigeria are irresponsible
Buhari said calls for restructuring of the country are in order.
But he also lamented that these calls have led to the rise of “irresponsible” groups who are calling for a balkanization through violent means.
“Recent calls on re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy.
“As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about two million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through”, the president said.
3. Buhari says restructuring advocates and separatists should go through legislature
As separatist agitations boil over in the Southeast and Niger Delta regions, Buhari reminded activists and separatists alike that they still have to follow due process and not resort to violence.
“At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the National and State Assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for national debate, not some lop-sided, un-democratic body with pre-determined set of objectives”, the president said.
“Government is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace. We intend to address genuine grievances of the communities”, he added.
4. Past leaders didn’t save for rainy day
According to the president, past Nigerian leaders frittered proceeds of crude oil which inevitably led to the depressed economy he inherited.
“However, in spite of oil prices being an average of $100 per barrel and about 2.1m barrels a day, that great piece of luck was squandered and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected.
“We were left with no savings and huge infrastructure deficit. The APC government’s campaign rallying cry to restore security, re-balance the economy and fight corruption was not all rhetoric”.
5. Corruption is Nigeria’s number one enemy
Buhari was elected president thanks largely to a strong anti-corruption reputation.
In this address, he stated that he isn’t about to let up on his bare-knuckled fight against graft and sharp practices in the polity.
“We must fight corruption which is Nigeria’s Number One Enemy”, Buhari declared.
He added: “We are fully aware that fighting corruption was never going to be a straightforward task. We expected corrupt elements to use any weapon to fight back, mainly judicial obstruction and political diversion. But we are determined to eradicate corruption from our body politic.
"In this fight, the government has empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds.
Buhari also listed his administration’s institutional reforms to include: "enforcing Treasury Single Account, the Whistle-Blowers Policy and the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System".
6. Buhari says you should always blow a whistle
According to the president, the war against corruption can only be won if all Nigerians take to the battlefield with him.
“Fighting corruption is a bottom to top operation. I call on all Nigerians to combat corruption at every turn. By not asking for and refusing to accept a bribe, by reporting unethical practices or by blowing a whistle, together we can beat corruption”, Buhari said.
7. You should always celebrate on October 1
Nigeria may have gone through plenty of challenges since 1960, but your president wants you to be thankful and pop some wine on Independence Day.
“Over the years, the country has gone through trials and tribulations, but October 1st is always a day for celebrations”, Buhari says.
“It is a day for thanksgiving, reflection and re-dedication.
“It is also a day for remembrance. We should remind ourselves of the recent journey from 1999 – 2015, when our country happily returned to democratic rule”.
8. Judiciary is being reformed to fight corruption
Some pundits suggest that until the judiciary is reformed, Nigeria won’t make progress in the fight against corruption.
The president says the judiciary is being reformed on his watch, to better help in the anti-corruption battle.
“There are signs of increasing cooperation from the Judiciary. Recently the Chief Justice of the Federation directed Heads of all our Courts of first instance and Appeal to accelerate hearings of corruption cases and dismiss any judicial officers found to have been compromised”, says the president.
“Justice Salami has just been appointed to chair the Judiciary’s anti-graft committee. Government expects a lot from this Committee".
9. There’s been improvement in the power sector
Apart from promising that his administration will accelerate its work in the next two years, President Buhari also said the power sector is experiencing an improvement.
“Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12th, production of power reached an all time high of 7,001 Megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial log jam bedeviling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.
“Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years of limbo, Mambilla Power Project has taken off”.
10. Buhari promises improvement in next two years
The Buhari administration has gone past its half way mark. There are two more years before the president's first term elapses.
Buhari says improvements are underway before 2019.
"As we enter the second half of our term of office, we intend to accelerate progress and intensify our resolve to fix the country’s challenges and problems", he vowed.