True Federalism Necessary Now – PMB

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave a clue into the direction his administration will take in the next four years when he declared that the practice of true federalism is imperative in the country. He said that to advance Nigeria’s democratic development, the country must embrace true federalism. The president took this position when he received an award of appreciation from the Progressives Governors Forum at the presidential villa, Abuja. Buhari asserted that the time had come to build bridges across divide for the sake of an indivisible country. According to him, “we remain committed to improving the welfare of the Nigerian people. Your Excellencies, it will be belaboring the point to say that true federalism is necessary at this juncture of our political and democratic evolution. “At a time when some few privileged individuals and groups have chosen to exploit and manipulate the ethnic and religious fault lines for seeking personal and partisan advantage, we need to build bridges across the different divides and in still faith in the unity and indivisibility of one Nigeria,” he said. 

While appreciating the governors’ gesture in conferring the award on him, President Buhari described it as a reflection of the collective commitment of the federal and state governments to work harmoniously to find solutions to the developmental challenges facing our country. He acknowledged the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors’ contributions to the political, economic, social and cultural development of Nigeria, noting that economic growth and competitiveness of nations depended on the harmonious collaboration of all the tiers of government, particularly in a federal set-up like Nigeria. Buhari said: “Hence, against the backdrop of the challenges we have been passing through as a nation arising from past economic and political mismanagement, we must feel justifiably proud to have contributed actively in getting Nigeria back on track in the last four years, in human and infrastructure development.” 

.He acknowledged the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors’ contributions to the political, economic, social and cultural development of Nigeria, noting that economic growth and competitiveness of nations depended on the harmonious collaboration of all the tiers of government, particularly in a federal set-up like Nigeria. Buhari said: “Hence, against the backdrop of the challenges we have been passing through as a nation arising from past economic and political mismanagement, we must feel justifiably proud to have contributed actively in getting Nigeria back on track in the last four years, in human and infrastructure development.” The president urged state governments to be strong pillars of support for his administration’s anti-corruption crusade as well as continue to rally round his social protection, school feeding and other policies geared towards human capital development. Going forward, Buhari charged the governors to work towards building a socially-cohesive society where the resources of the country work for all, adding that “we will continue to apply public funds in such a way that no section of the country or segment of the population suffers social exclusion. “You are all quite aware that insecurity has remained a big challenge for us all. 

We are determined to face this challenge and secure the country more than ever before. While the protection of life and property is the primary responsibility of government, it is also incumbent on the citizens to share in it, as security is a collective responsibility,” the president stated. While calling on all Nigerians to continue to have faith in the country, Buhari told the forum that Nigeria was on a renewed growth trajectory.

 He said: “Accordingly, we will do everything within our powers to sustain the current economic recovery efforts.  We will continue to reinforce our macroeconomic policies to achieve sustainable economic stability and growth. “We will also continue to ensure that the growth comes along with more jobs and a fair and just distribution of the national wealth. Your continued cooperation in this regard is very vital,” he said. The president wondered what would have happened to the country if the opposition did not come together to win power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which he accused of frittering away the nation’s wealth. The opposition, according to him, came to save the country, and urged the governors to maintain the confidence of their “constituencies.” Buhari said that he was humbled by the award, saying, “it is a further reminder for me to continue to dedicate my life and my time to serving the Nigerian people. 

Thank you all for your attention.” At the event, the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, singled out the chairman and publisher of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, for recognition and drew Buhari’s attention to his loyalty to the APC. Okorocha described Nda-Isaiah as being one of the APC presidential aspirants in 2014 who is still standing with the ruling party. Nda-Isaiah contested the APC presidential primaries in 2014 with Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Okorocha. Atiku and Kwankwaso have since defected to the PDP while Nda-Isaiah has continued to work for the party’s greatness.

 Okorocha said: “At this point, Mr. President, there is one man also I will not forget because today is a day of appreciation; he was one man that was with you standing with me and about the only two of us left, Nda-Isaiah. He was a presidential candidate attempted. That means, he remembered that he once aspired to be the president of Nigeria.” He explained that the award to Buhari was informed by his “visionary leadership.” The governor said: “Mr. President, let me be personal with you this morning; the truth is and you may not know that you are a God-given asset to this nation. I am not saying so for purpose of flattery or praise singing. “I have observed all categories of leaders in this country, but you seem to have distinguished yourself for this onerous reason. Most of the leaders in this country are those who either buy their love, fame or political position but in your case you don’t spend one naira and you have love come your way; you have leadership come your way, that is the only judgement I have to say that you are destined by God to govern this country,” he said. On insecurity, he said that “I hear people say President Buhari is doing well but what is he doing about insecurity. Insecurity was there before Buhari came in but what is important is that Buhari is doing something about the insecurity of this country and is making a major effort to curb it. We the governors pray for you and wish you well that you will succeed in the fight against insurgency. “As for me, Mr. President knows me for as much as I know myself. This is our prayer without mincing words, that you will succeed and your detractors can never stop you from where God has destined for you to be,” he said. Eight founding governors of the forum also received awards. 

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