I want to, on behalf of our great Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.
While 2015 was difficult for many Nigerians, we must also look back, with relief and a collective sense of jubilation, to the momentous opportunity it offered to the electorate to make the long-desired change of political leadership at the federal level and in many states. And we must sustain the hope that brighter days are ahead of us. Although our challenges are legion, we have the courage and determination to rise up and meet them.
I want to give a firm assurance that all the promises made by the party in respect of the 2015 election to Nigerians will be kept. The New Year holds great dividends for Nigerians when the policies of the President Muhhamadu Buhari-led administration are enforced full blast in the 2016 financial year.
The unprecedented N6.08 trillion ‘Budget of Change’ presented by the President to a joint session of the 8th National Assembly on December 22, 2015 provides ample framework to deliver on these promises.
These include the proposed Social Welfare Programmes, which will pay unemployed Nigerian graduates (post-NYSC grant); feed school children and cater for a larger population of the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians.
As a result of the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the federal government is now able to in real-time electronically track and monitor all government revenue inflows and disbursements, a development that has greatly plugged revenue leakages.
In line with the party’s promise to restructure the country’s oil and gas sector which has been marred by corruption and inefficiencies, government has set in motion a mechanism to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to enhance more productivity and increased transparency and accountability.
President Buhari’s administration inherited a corruption-tainted subsidy regime run by corrupt cartels. Oil cartels and their cronies resisting change have continued to blackmail and sabotage government’s effort on the issue of subsidy and availability of petroleum products.
To this end, the presidential directive to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to adjust its pricing template to reflect competitive and market driven components should be supported. A review of PPPRA’s pricing template will result in a more efficient and realistic pricing system for petroleum products and also result in constant availability of fuel nationwide.
It is also reassuring that Nigeria is winning the war against insurgency. With their welfare now taken more seriously, the morale of our gallant troops in combat areas has been heightened. The international community is cooperating with Nigeria’s military offensives, including sharing of intelligence information, to end insurgency in Nigeria, as part of the efforts to combat global terrorism.
In spite of desperate and shameless attempts to discredit President Buhari’s anti-corruption efforts, the war against graft is being won. It is reassuring that the federal government has recovered huge sums from looters of our common wealth, which will be injected into the 2016 National Budget.
The state of government infrastructure is being improved. Electricity supply has improved in most parts of the country. Eleven years after the dismantling of toll gates on federal roads, the present administration has signalled its intention to reintroduce toll gates in a bid to generate revenue for road maintenance and in line with global best practice.
The present administration is also reviewing concessions arrangements and exploring ways of leveraging on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements in road construction and other infrastructural projects.
Job creation and social inclusion are critical to the administration’s development programmes, as a response to unemployment, poverty and inequality. To this end, President Buhari has promised that 500,000 new teachers would be recruited among other job creation initiatives.
As the National Assembly considers the proposed 2016 National Budget, the APC calls on members of the Senate and House of Representatives to rise above political, regional and ethnic sentiments and pass the proposed 2016 National Budget, which is pro-people and in the overall best interest of Nigeria.
I appeal to all members of our great party to play by the rules at the different levels where election re-runs are being conducted or where fresh elections will be held in the coming year. We must shun violence and other anti-democratic tendencies. Members from opposition parties who are genuinely inspired by the APC-led administration are welcome to our fold. It is their right to abandon a sinking ship and join one that is smooth-sailing.
The APC calls on the National Assembly, donor agencies, development partners, state government and well-meaning Nigerians to ensure the success of these laudable proposals by the federal government.
Looking back at the last seven months, there are clear indicators showing that the APC and the President Buhari administration is on the right track to delivering on its Change Agenda.
God bless Nigeria! Happy New Year!
Odigie-Oyegun is National Chairman of the APC.