Joyce Banda Releases Statement On Malawi General Elections Outcome
June 1, 2014 | 0 Comments
Fellow Malawians,I would like to first of all, thank all Malawians that took part in the just ended, first ever tripartite elections. Despite isolated incidences of disturbances, Malawians generally embraced peace throughout the election period and exercised impeccable patience as we awaited the conclusion of the elections. I commend all Malawians for the patience exercised during this delicate time of transition.Last evening, on 30th May 2014, the Malawi Electoral Commission announced the Presidential results of the Tripartite Elections that were held from Tuesday, 20th May to Thursday, 22nd May 2014. I take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate the President Elect Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and the Vice President Elect Mr. Saulos Klaus Chilima on their victory in an election that was closely contested. I wish the President Elect and the Vice President Elect every success as they take up the mantle of leadership for the nation of Malawi. It is my prayer that the new President and his Government will successfully guide our nation to greater heights of prosperity I would like to thank all Malawians for the support rendered to me and my government during my term in office as President of this great Republic.It has been an honor and privilege to serve my country, Malawi, and more so as the country’s first female president. During my term, significant reforms that aimed at taking the nation to the right development trajectory were implemented, and I appreciate the support and encouragement that Malawians and all other well wishers gave me during these reforms As I leave office today, I am happy that there are visible positive outcomes of these reforms in the macro economy, in governance and observance of human rights, in food security, in women’s empowerment, in rural development and international relations to mention but a few. I am happy that the country is at a better place than was the case when I assumed office in 2012. I therefore wish to take this opportunity, to urge all Malawians to support the newly elected President Professor Mutharika and his Government as they take on this foundation of progress and endeavour to develop Malawi even further. In conclusion, while these elections have been tense, I would like to urge all Malawians to move forward as one nation, to remain united, to uphold the rule of law, and continue being peaceful and calm as we head into the next fifty years of Malawi’s future. May God continue to protect and bless our Nation, Mother Malawi. I thank you for your attention President Dr Joyce Banda Republic of Malawi *Courtesy of News of the South]]>
President Goodluck Jonathan’s “Democracy Day” Speech
May 29, 2014 | 0 Comments
I have a duty to protect my country, says Museveni
May 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
President Yoweri Museveni has vowed to protect Ugandans and their property at all costs, saying it would be a vote of no confidence to our country to delegate that responsibility to foreigners. He said for the country to develop, peace and security is paramount. “I have never called the United Nations to guard your security. Me, Yoweri Museveni to say that I have failed to protect my people and I call in the UN….I would rather hang myself. We prioritized national security by developing a strong army otherwise our Uganda would be like DRC, South Sudan, Somalia or Nigeria where militias have disappeared with school children. It would be a vote of no confidence to our country and citizens if we can’t guarantee our security, what kind of persons would we be?” he said amidst cheering from the crowd. The President was speaking at a grand final campaign rally for the NRM woman flag bearer Rebecca Nalwanga at Zirobwe Town Council grounds after a busy afternoon that saw him address the Nubian Community at a stopover at Bombo and an impromptu gathering at Kalagala. “Am here to teach and undo the lies. Some people have turned politics into a game of lies and un seriousness. They don’t sensitize you about development but they play around with your lack of information. The issue of development is a very serious one not a joke. I detest the dishonesty and lies of the opposition who concentrate on what has not been done without considering what has been done,” he said. The President said that when the NRM came to power it revitalized the economy and increased revenue collection, the government had to prioritize the major pillars to national development starting with national security the reason the country has been peaceful and stable for a long period, health through mass immunization, education with Universal Primary Education and Universal secondary education and then infrastructure such as roads and power generation. He described some of the criticism from the opposition on some development programs that have not been done as “irresponsible talk”. “If we made a mistake to prioritize education then let anyone come up and suggest otherwise and we divert UPE and USE funds to other sectors” he said. He also castigated the opposition politicians for using lies and negative propaganda to gain political support and wondered why the electoral commission does not invoke the electoral law to disqualify them from being elected because it’s an electoral offence. At Bombo, Lomule Parish, President Museveni assured the Nubian Community in Uganda that issues to do with their frozen accounts after the Amin war would be handled and said the children of soldiers returning from Congo will be treated as Ugandans with an entitlement to a Ugandan identity card. He warned against mixing religion with politics saying infrastructure such as roads has no tribe and are used by all. He said the war against Amin was political with many Muslims supporting the NRA and that after the war he encouraged all of them to return from exile and settle home. He urged them to help him fight corruption. Museveni used the occasion to strongly warn politicians and citizens against electoral violence and instructed the Luwero district police commander to arrest and bring to justice anyone involved in this vice. “We want a civilized conduct in the electoral process and there should be zero tolerance to electoral violence. Please even you our supporters don’t involve yourselves in electoral violence or malpractices, people should not suffer because of an election” he added. He urged them to work towards overcoming household poverty which he said was the main challenge facing the country which he said can be overcome by engaging in modern agriculture that is profit oriented. *Source New Vision Kenya]]>
President Museveni's speech at Anti-gay Bill signing
February 25, 2014 | 2 Comments
It seems the topic of homosexuals was provoked by the arrogant and careless Western groups that are fond of coming into our schools and recruiting young children into homosexuality and lesbianism, just as they carelessly handle other issues concerning Africa. Initially, I did not pay much attention to it because I was busy with the immediate issues of defense, security, electricity, the roads, the railways, factories, modernization of agriculture, etc. When, eventually, I concentrated my mind on it, I distilled three problems: 1. those who were promoting homo-sexuality and recruiting normal people into it; 2. as a consequence of No. 1 above, many of those recruited were doing so for mercenary reasons – to get money – in effect homosexual prostitutes; these mercenary homosexual prostitutes had to be punished; 3. Homosexuals exhibiting themselves; Africans are flabbergasted by exhibitionism of sexual acts – whether heterosexual or otherwise and for good reason. Why do you exhibit your sexual conduct? Are you short of opportunity for privacy – where you can kiss, fondle (kukirigiita, kwagaaga) etc.? Are we interested in seeing your sexual acts – we the Public? I am not able to understand the logic of the Western Culture. However, we Africans always keep our opinions to ourselves and never seek to impose our point of view on the others. If only they could let us alone. It was my view that the above three should be punished harshly in order to defend our society from disorientation. Therefore, on these three I was in total accord with the MPs and other Ugandans. I had, however, a problem with Category 4 or what I thought was category 4 – those “born” homosexual. I thought there were such people – those who are either genetic or congenital homosexuals. The reason I thought so was because I could not understand why a man could fail to be attracted to the beauties of a woman and, instead, be attracted to a fellow man. It meant, according to me, that there was something wrong with that man – he was born a homosexual – abnormal. I, therefore, thought that it would be wrong to punish somebody because of how he was created, disgusting though it may be to us. That is why I refused to sign the Bill. In order to get to the truth, we involved Uganda Scientists as well as consulting Scientists from outside Uganda. My question to them was: “Are there people that are homosexual right from birth?”. After exhaustive studies, it has been found that homosexuality is in two categories: there are those who engage in homosexuality for mercenary reasons on account of the under – developed sectors of our economy that cause people to remain in poverty, the great opportunities that abound not withstanding; and then there are those that become homosexual by both nature (genetic) and nurture (up-bringing). The studies that were done on identical twins in Sweden showed that 34% – 39% were homosexual on account of nature and 66% were homosexual on account of nurture. Therefore, even in those studies, nurture was more significant than nature. Can somebody be homosexual purely by nature without nurture? The answer is: “No”. No study has shown that. Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the Bill. Since Western societies do not appreciate politeness, let me take this opportunity to warn our people publicly about the wrong practices indulged in and promoted by some of the outsiders. One of them is “oral sex”. Our youth should reject this because God designed the human being most appropriately for pleasurable, sustainable and healthy sex. Some of the traditional styles are very pleasurable and healthy. The mouth is not engineered for that purpose except kissing. Besides, it is very unhealthy. People can even contract gonorrhea of the mouth and throat on account of so-called “oral sex”, not to mention worms, hepatitis E, etc. The Ministry of Gender and Youth should de-campaign this buyayism imported from outside and sensitize the youth about the healthy life style that is abundant in our cultures. We reject the notion that somebody can be homosexual by choice; that a man can choose to love a fellow man; that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. Since my original thesis that there may be people who are born homosexual has been disproved by science, then the homosexuals have lost the argument in Uganda. They should rehabilitate themselves and society should assist them to do so. Yoweri K. Museveni Gen. (Rtd) P R E S I D E N T 24th February, 2014.]]>
Mbeki: The Relationship Between Africa And Its Ex-Colonizers Is Illegal
February 17, 2014 | 2 Comments
Charity begins at home, and Africans need to take the first bold steps to deal with problems affecting them instead of depending on the west. Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki’s message was met with a resounding applause at the 6th edition of Africities in Dakar, Senegal.
Whilst it is no secret that conflicts are a bane of African development, the responsibility of conflict resolution should be left to Africans. Mkebi appears relentless when it comes to the Western interventions on the African continent.
“The Ivorian and Libyan crises confirmed a dangerous tendency with western countries who believe that they can intervene in every conflict on the continent,” Mbeki thundered with a clenched fist.
According to him, this behavior reveals an “illegal relationship between Africa and its former colonial masters!”, and Africa had become too dependent on the West”.
But what are the solutions that would allow Africans to better manage the string of conflicts plaguing the continent?
Thabo Mbeki, suggests that encouraging unity between African states is key, and that the African Union (AU) needs to provide the needed support. “We must stand united to protect our interests” he says.
His words come as the organization continues to suffer from its inability to reach a unanimous decision in its handling of the Libyan conflict.
Nonetheless, Mbeki argues that the competence of the AU must be strengthened. “Our country must pass on part of their sovereignty to the African Union to ensure peace and security”.
*Source The African Economist
Help us develop economy, Equatorial Guinea leader asks investors
February 8, 2014 | 0 Comments
President Obiang[/caption] – Equatorial Guinea wants international investors and financial institutions to help open up and diversify its energy-dependent economy, its president said on Tuesday, while insisting the nation’s oil and gas wealth was a “blessing and not a curse”. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema told a small group of foreign journalists in a rare interview that the small African nation’s reputation in the West as a secretive autocracy was undeserved, although he recognised his government’s failure to provide hard economic and social statistics for analysis. “They call me a dictator,” Obiang, 71, who seized power in a 1979 coup and is Africa’s longest-serving ruler, said in a conversation with correspondents from Reuters, CCTV, Russia Today and Deutsche Welle held in the capital Malabo. Rejecting reports from human rights groups of political repression and from development agencies of pervasive poverty despite oil riches, Obiang acknowledged his nation was “not all roses” but said it faced a campaign of negative publicity. “One thorn that we have is that the international community doesn’t want to understand what we are doing in this country,” he said. He pointed to a massive government infrastructure programme in recent years that he said had built not only roads, ports and airports but also schools and hospitals both on Bioko Island and on the Rio Muni mainland. Obiang spoke on the sidelines of an investors’ conference hosted by his government, which is seeking to involve foreign entrepreneurs in a diversification drive to develop non-energy sectors of Africa’s No. 3 oil and gas producer. Big hydrocarbons discoveries from the mid-1990s onwards have given Equatorial Guinea and its small population of under 800,000 people the highest GDP per capita in Africa – estimated at over $25,000 per inhabitant. But transparency advocates say that figure is skewed by the fact that wealth has filled the pockets of a tiny ruling elite that includes the president and his family. Obiang and his government deny this and say they have been using the country’s oil and gas revenues to haul its people out of the chronic poverty and underdevelopment they suffered for a decade following independence from Spain in 1968. “When my government came to power, the country was the worst in the whole world, the whole world,” said Obiang, who in 1979 overthrew his uncle, dictator Francisco Macias Nguema. “There are some who say that having oil is a curse, but I say, ‘no, it’s a blessing’,” added the president, speaking in a meeting room in a large, Chinese-built conference centre. According to the “oil curse” theory, underdeveloped countries which subsequently discover huge mineral wealth often suffer severe economic and social distortions in which the benefits of the new-found riches fail to reach the majority of the population, sometimes leading to conflict. Obiang said his government recognised the nation’s oil and gas might not last forever in a fluctuating global market, and for this reason now looked to open up to foreign investment sectors such as farming, petrochemicals, mining and tourism. “We can’t just see ourselves as self-sufficient in our own development, we want international support,” Obiang said, making clear this included seeking not just private capital but also more cooperation with global financial bodies like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. “NEGATIVE PRESS” Foreign diplomats, delegates and investors at the Malabo investment conference welcomed what they said appeared to be a new spirit of openness and reform expressed by economic ministers in Obiang’s government, who pledged to work to improve the climate for doing business in Equatorial Guinea. “I think there is a willingness to address what needs to be done,” Jon Shields, the IMF’s chief of mission for Equatorial Guinea, said in one of the conference sessions on Tuesday. But Shields and other participants said an accurate analysis of the nation’s real economic and social situation was almost impossible in the complete absence of reliable data from the government on GDP, imports and the balance of payments. Obiang acknowledged that one of his government’s biggest weaknesses was its failure to provide up-to-date statistics and he said he had requested IMF and World Bank help to do this. But he flatly rejected portrayals of Equatorial Guinea as a repressive poster child of the “oil curse”, saying: “The country is not being shown for what it is”. He disputed that poverty existed in Equatorial Guinea, saying he preferred to use the term “shortages”. “Even in the big countries like the United States, there are poor people, in Britain, in France, in Spain, there are poor people,” Obiang said, although he admitted a shortage of skilled professionals was a major brake to Equatorial Guinea’s development, but the government was working to solve this. In a parliamentary election held in May last year, the president’s Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) announced it had won all but two seats. The vote was denounced as fraudulent and illegal by the main Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS) opposition movement. Obiang told the reporters on Tuesday that persistent allegations by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that political freedoms were not being respected were “sensationalist campaigns to tarnish the image of Equatorial Guinea”. “I think there is total freedom of expression, there has never been repression in that sense,” he said, a statement at odds with press watchdog reports that rank Equatorial Guinea among the world’s 10 worst for media freedoms. “We have the acceptance of the Guinean people … What I don’t understand is that when my government is doing important things, why does it have to face this negative press?” *Source Reuters]]>
My Gov’t Is Swallowing Bitter Pills On Ghanaians’ Behalf -President Mahama
February 8, 2014 | 0 Comments
Hala Dunie* President John Mahama says his government is taking difficult decisions to fix the economy. [caption id="attachment_8432" align="alignleft" width="231"] Leaders of today hate to hear the truth unless that truth will benefit him or her-President Mahama[/caption] “We are taking some tough decisions. We are swallowing some bitter medicine and strengthening the fundamentals to ensure a better and brighter economic future for our people”, President Mahama told the Diplomatic Corp at the Peduase Lodge in the Eastern region on Wednesday. He said his team is taking prudent economic decisions to improve the fiscal state of the economy. “Our economic management team led by my capable Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has begun the implementation of our ambitious 2014 budget. This budget is designed to achieve a proper calibration of our macro-economic fundamentals to ensure that the economy continues to stay on a positive trajectory in order to address the fiscal deficit caused by expenditure overruns of the past”, he said. President Mahama also said his Government “is exercising stricter financial discipline and public sector institutions are being encouraged to make the necessary adjustments that will result in improving the wellbeing of our people across the nation”. The local currency, the cedi, is currently losing ground against the dollar and other international currencies. The Central Bank has announced a series of measures toward arresting the fast depreciation of the local currency. The Bank of Ghana recently injected $20 million into critical areas of the economy as part of efforts to shore up the cedi. In a statement issued on February 4, 2014, the Bank of Ghana said it has revised rules governing the operations of Foreign Exchange Accounts (FEA) and Foreign Currency Accounts (FCA) with effect from Wednesday February 5, 2014. It has therefore ordered authorised dealers not to sell foreign exchange for the credit of FEA or FCA of their customers. It also stated that cash withdrawals over the counter from FEA and FCA shall only be permitted for travel purposes outside Ghana and shall not exceed US$10,000.00 or its equivalent in convertible foreign currency, per person, per travel. Also, no bank shall grant a foreign currency denominated loan or foreign currency linked facility to a customer who is not a foreign exchange earner, it added. The Central Bank in a separate statement also says all exporters are required to collect and repatriate in full, the proceeds of their exports to their local banks within 60 days of shipment. It warned that violation of any of the measures will attract punishment including pecuniary sanctions, jail terms, suspension and revocation of operating licences amongst others. Meanhwile the Ghana Trades Union Congress, in a strongly worded statement, said the Government is to blame for the fast depreciating value of the cedi as well as Ghana’s compounding economic woes. In a long statement issued by the Congress on Wednesday, the TUC said it “shares the view that the dollarisation of the economy is partly to blame for the current messy situation. But Government itself is most guilty on this”. It said: “We are in a country where custom duties charged by government are dollar-indexed. State agencies, like the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) sell land at dollar-indexed prices. The Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), along with other public educational institutions, have indexed their fees to the US Dollar. In such an environment, one can only expect rational economic actors to procure dollars ahead of time to shield themselves from exchange rate losses. Yet, Government turns round to blame innocent Ghanaians for dollarizing the economy”. According to the TUC, “the US$20 million that the Bank of Ghana says it has injected into the economy is roughly equivalent to what one telecom company will have to transfer out of the country in a month”. It added that: “With the value of the Cedi declining on a daily basis, the domestic prices of imports keep rising and this has adverse implications for the living conditions of workers whose salaries are fixed throughout the year”. The statement signed by Secretary General Kofi Asamoah said: “…It is not just imported items that experience price increases. Landlords adjust their rents to be able to cope. Lorry fares continue their upward trend. In general, Ghanaians are facing difficult times as nearly all prices are going up. *Source Modern Ghana]]>
Motlanthe: Persistent inequality threatens SA's peace
January 30, 2014 | 0 Comments
CHANTELLE BENJAMIN* At the M&G’s 20 years of economic transformation summit, Kgalema Motlanthe says while poverty has declined, inequality in the workplace has not. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Wednesday government was concerned about “persistent inequality” in the workplace, which was threatening the 18 years of relative peace the country has experienced. Speaking at the Mail & Guardian 20 years of economic transformation summit in Sandton, he said that while poverty declined, inequality did not, with the richest 10% of households still getting over half of the country’s national income. Aware that concerns over labour unrest and the impact it has on investment, he said that “peace was premised on the idea there would be real change towards increased training, career pathing and equality. If we do not address these underlying factors towards workplace conflict, we cannot hope to bring about a more productive economy.” In trying to address both challenges of poverty and equality, government had much success in overhauling apartheid-inherited labour laws and creating greater equality in the work place. But one of its key policies, broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE), proved challenging as it became obvious that there were some unintended consequences. “Over time, shortcomings with how B-BBEE is implemented emerged,” he said. “Among others, emphasis on ownership and senior management has unintended consequences such as fronting, speculation and abuse of the tender system … B-BBEE regulations also fail to adequately incentivise job creation and support for small enterprises and local procurement”. He said revision of code and the passing of the B-BBEE Amendment Act were intended to deal with this. “Our route towards meaningful transformation is long and hard. We enter into the next 20 years of economic transformation proud that we have done much that has positively impacted own the lives on our people … We have turned around an economy marked by distortions that included large domestic debt, high inflation and interest rates as well as stabilising financial fundamentals.” He said in 1994 growth averaged at 1.5% of over a decade, investment was below 15% of gross domestic product, and less than 40% of the adult population had employment, compared to the global average of 60%. Motlanthe said the only solution was to invest in people. “Experience has shown that there is no substitute for people driven development.” Motlanthe’s opening address Programme director, Professor Adam Habib, The executive deputy chair of Mail & Guardian, Mr Trevor Ncube, The chief executive officer of the Mail & Guardian, Mr Hoosain Karjieker, Fellow panellists; Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for this opportunity to interact with you as we assess the progress our country has made in terms of economic terms transformation since the onset of democracy in 1994. Looking back at the twenty-year period of economic transformation in South Africa, the democratic state can truly be proud of its record, while simultaneously recognising failures. The democratic government inherited an economy that was in crisis; depended heavily on mineral exports; and was characterised by deep inequalities and rising unemployment. I would first like to focus on key accomplishments, before discussing the challenges we face as well as continued government efforts to address them. Since 1994, the South African economy has grown at an average rate of over 3% a year. To put this in perspective, in the 15 years before democracy, growth was under 1.5% a year. Since 1994, employment has grown by around 4.5-million, or about 45%. In contrast, the economy generated almost no new jobs from the late 1970s through 1994. As a result, the share of adults with employment had plummeted from around 60% to under 40%. Economic growth since then has stabilised this employment ratio, with around 42% of adults employed today – still far too low by global standards, but at least some improvement on the past. In 1994 the rate of investment was less than 15% of [gross domestic product]. Today, the figure is over 19%, which is a marked improvement that takes us nearer to the 20% threshold. Especially since 2005, investment has been underpinned by a multi-billion-rand outlay in infrastructure, which is laying the foundations for faster and more inclusive growth in the future. The share of the labour force with post-secondary education has risen to 17% – almost exactly the norm for middle-income economies, excluding China and India (which was much lower). Some 8% of working-age people have a degree, compared to 5% in 1994. Finally, we brought down poverty rates substantially over the past 18 years. In 1994, over 25% of households with children said they had gone hungry at some point or another. In 2012, the figure had fallen to 6,5% – still unacceptably high, but a vast improvement nonetheless. Importantly, in the past 20 years, growth has normalised, despite the global setback of the 2008 recession, while investment has improved and positions of power in the economy are becoming more representative. In short, we can be proud of our economic record. But we also have to be aware of two remaining challenges, challenges that we need to address to bring about a better life for all going forward. First, while poverty has declined, inequality has not. As far as we know, inequality increased during the commodity boom of 2000 and subsided with mineral rents. In 2011 the gene coefficient was still around 0.65, which is extraordinarily high by global standards. The richest 10% of households still get over half of our national income. We should not underestimate the impact of inequality on our society. Social stratification, which cuts across the colour line today, sharpens sense of economic injustice among some sections of the South African population. Second, the economy has not diversified sufficiently and manufacturing in particular has grown only slowly. The fastest growing industries have been telecommunications and the financial sector. In contrast, manufacturing has fallen from 20% of the GDP to 10% in the past 18 years. To ensure sustained growth going forward, we will need to reverse this trend. Programme director, for 20 years now, we have struggled with the dual tasks of dynamising the economy as well as making it more equitable. Any analysis of our successes and failures since 1994 has to take into account the unique institutions, the pattern of investment and infrastructure, workplace relations, and the structures of education, skills and ownership set up through centuries of colonial and apartheid rule. We all know the key elements of the apartheid economy, although the attendant difficulties to its transformation are not always obvious. Africans faced the pass laws, which meant many, especially women, could not live legally in economic centres. Black people, and especially Africans, were denied the right to own land or have businesses in city centres. They could not go to the best schools or train as artisans. Most could not get credit – a restriction that hit hardest at African women. The state did not provide basic infrastructure such as energy, roads, telecommunications and portable water in many black communities. That led not only to worse living standards but also to reduced economic opportunities. Ultimately, all of these inhibitions ensured a population that was largely impoverished, without assets or land, adequate qualifications, or entrepreneurial experience. As I pointed out earlier, at the time of the democratic elections, growth had averaged under 1.5% for over a decade, investment was below 15% of the GDP, and less than 40% of the adult population had employment, compared to a global average of 60%. Since the inception of democracy, the main economic objectives of government have been job creation, the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality, while simultaneously maintaining investment and growth. In essence, the country adopted fiscal and monetary policies geared to maintaining economic stability, while seeking to bring about economic transformation and increasing productivity. In this context, government adopted a variety of strategies to bring about a more equitable and resilient economy. They centred on:
- redirecting government investment in social services and infrastructure towards historically disadvantaged communities;
- the introduction of labour rights and a new skills system;
- programmes to broaden economic power by supporting emerging enterprise, land reform and incentives for increased representivity in management and ownership;
- industrial and trade policy measures to diversify the economy and support employment creation; and
- work with stakeholders both to ensure evidence-based and effective policies and to mobilise our forces as a country in support of economic development.
- measures to reduce the tax compliance burden for small enterprises;
- providing dedicated credit facilities;
- establishing support, extension agencies and incubators; and
- diversifying procurement toward emerging enterprises where possible.
No ambition is worth the blood of Nigerians – JONATHAN
January 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
President Goodluck Jonathan[/caption] President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said that no Nigerian should kill or maim himself or herself because of his presumed 2015 second term ambition, saying that “any ambition I have at any time is not worth the blood of Nigerians.”Meanwhile, President Jonathan has told the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur that he would require the support of every Nigerian, not only him (Tukur), to win the 2015 election if he would contest the election.The President stated this at a meeting with Vice President Namadi Sambo, Tukur, and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC — Jonathan spoke on the need for peace in the PDP and warned that accusations and counter accusations must stop. He also said that he would “never, ever expect a Nigerian to spill a drop of his blood because Goodluck Jonathan has some ambitions. Nigerians should always preach peace and unity in all their engagements. This is the only way the country will achieve greatness.” Speaking at a special church service to mark this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Jonathan reminded politicians that no ambition was worth the blood of innocent Nigerians, adding that if we continued to kill ourselves, there would be no nation to govern. He said: “Sometimes I get worried and embarrassed when I hear provocative statements that come from very senior citizens; people that ordinarily will be perceived as senior citizens, who ordinarily should know that the unity of this country is more important than the interests of any individual or a group of individuals. And that the peace of Nigeria is more important than any interest of individuals or group of individuals. Some people even encourage young people to take arms and fight themselves. “I always say as a politician that I pray all politicians should know that there will be no nation if we kill ourselves. If you want people to come out and vote, why do you threaten them? If you threaten people they will stay in their houses and how will you win election? “In an occasion like this, we should also admonish ourselves that we should preach peace and unity in all our conversations. If we do that all our problems will be resolved, our security issues will be resolved. If all of us collectively talk about the unity of this country, about peace in this country, then our country will progress and move in the direction we want the country to move.” The president noted that this year’s remembrance celebration was unique as it was coming at a time that the country is celebrating its 100 years of existence as a nation. He paid tributes to members of the Armed Forces, saying that their sacrifices had ensured that Nigeria remained one indivisible country, despite the challenges it had faced. “The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is unique and this year’s programme is more unique because first January marks 100 years of our existence as a nation. It is not easy to get here. The country faced a lot of challenges no doubt about that. Some of us witnessed the civil war. For us who have survived this 100 years, some people paid dearly for it, some people worked for it like the armed forces. We know the challenges they faced during the civil war. But for their sacrifice, Nigeria would have been more than one nation. They worked for it, some died in the process while some died serving in wars outside Nigeria. These are the people that we are remembering today. We all have to emulate them. Those of us who are alive, what we can do to honour them is to ensure that whatever we do, whatever we say, whatever song we sing is a song that will bring peace and unity to this country.” Earlier in his message, the Arch Bishop of the Abuja Diocese of the Methodist Church, Arch Bishop Job Ojei, who read from Hebrew 11:13. And 2 Timothy 4:7, called on Nigerians to stop making “unedifying utterances that will weaken those in leadership” while those who are power drunk should be rebuked. “All politicians should give us peace of mind. Some of the utterances we hear from them make us begin to fear. If you need our votes don’t threaten us. If you continue to threaten us no body will come out to vote. Leave 2015 alone. God will take care of it. By hating other tribes or other religion, you will never eliminate those tribes or religion. By causing trouble for a particular religion will not eliminate any religion. God knows why he allowed the existence of other tribes and religion. Every religion is meant to build up the nation,” he said. While paying tribute to the fallen heroes, the Methodist bishop called on government to look after members of the. Armed forces and the family of those left behind by the fallen heroes. “Some of the fallen heroes did not only fight for the survival of this country but of other African countries and beyond. The fallen heroes and their blood was to keep Nigeria one. We should always remember them and especially those who are still in service. Nigeria must take good care of them. They have given us some respite from the Boko Haram attacks. We must acknowledge what has been achieved in the aviation sector, the power sector, by reducing unemployment, by not recruiting thugs and hired assassins. We must stop unedifying utterances that will weaken those in leadership but we must rebuke those who are power drunk” he said. The first reading was taken by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika while the second reading was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan. Those in attendance were the service chiefs, the president of the senate, David Mark, the chairman of the board of trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, the mother of the President, Eunice Jonathan, Anyim Pius Anyim, among several others. *Source Vanguard Newspaper Nigeria ]]>
"A tremendous amount of work has been done.Nevertheless, there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done."-Ghanaian President Mahama
January 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
President Mahama[/caption] Good Morning, Ladies & Gentlemen of the Media … Thank you for being here, for this First Presidential Press Conference of the Year. A very happy and prosperous New Year to you, and to every one following this event across all media platforms. Today marks one year since I took the oath of office and began my first term as the duly elected President of our dear nation Ghana. In my inaugural address, I invited all Ghanaians, irrespective of party affiliation, ethnicity, religion and socio-economic status to join me, in a renewed partnership that creates prosperity and equal opportunities for all our citizens. Over these past twelve months I have been working hard – despite some clear challenges and hurdles – to move our country’s prospects onto a firm and steady path that should truly make our nation great and strong. Together, with the prayers, support and hard work of all Ghanaians, and also the favour of the almighty God, we have not only survived but we have stood tall, as we tackled the devastating impact of a series of mysterious fire outbreaks in some of our markets. These fires threatened the economic activities and livelihoods of some of our hardworking traders, especially our women. With the commitment, goodwill and determination of all Ghanaians we emerged out of the stormy clouds created by an eight-month-long election petition hearing. Ghana emerged with her democratic credentials intact and continues to be the beacon of stability, good governance and democracy on the African continent. Despite the adverse impact the uncertainty generated by the petition had on our economy, evidenced by slow growth, postponed investment decisions, and delay of release of pledged donor funds, our economy bounced back in the latter part of the year and we are on track to achieve a respectable provisional GDP growth rate of 7.4% for year 2013. Again, working with organized labour we have been able to bring under control the spate of industial actions that characterized year 2013. While the wage bill continues to exert pressure on the budget, I am certain that understanding of the challenges our economy faces and a spirit of goodwill and consensus building with organized labour will see us through this difficulty too. Dear friends, sisters and brothers … I know we have hard work to do, so we can improve the living standards of every Ghanaian child, woman and man – whether it is the farmer or the fisherman, the trader, the businessman or businesswoman; whether it is the skilled professional, the labourer or artisan; the student or the teacher, or the nurse who is dedicated to her job of delivery health care, even under the most difficult circumstances. Every Ghanaian deserves the best and I am constantly concerned about the plight and living conditions of every one of us. So, I am re-energised and more determined in my desire and ambition to build a prosperous, more stable, and more united nation with great opportunities for all our citizens. Together, with my team, we are renewing our commitment towards the rapid transformation of the economy, so that we can all enjoy great improvements in the delivery of basic social services and infrastructure, especially for the vulnerable and deprived in our communities. During this first year of my first term as president, my government has taken a range of important measures to ensure fiscal disciple. We placed a moratorium on new award of new projects to reduce the deficit, we continued implementation of the single spine salary structure, we improved ministerial responsibility and accountability by having ministers sign performance contracts. In my continuing drive for responsible, transparent and accountable governance, we also began installing pre-paid meters in government offices and bungalows. Overall, my government wants to be judicious and wise in the way we spend the resources entrusted into our care by the people of this great land. That is why I have banned any use of public funds for the purchase and distribution of Christmas hampers, for example. We want to ensure that the people’s money is used in a manner that brings the best and maximum benefit to our people. Commenced identification and registration of government vehicles. In addition, we are making progress in resolving a number chieftaincy disputes. We have also taken decisive measures to deal with illegal mining. In Parliament, we have acted quickly to present and support many important but long-delayed bills, including the Right To Information Bill. We re-committed ourselves to the fight against corruption, by introducing and monitoring strong anti-corruption initiatives. We must prevent corruption in every sphere of our national life, and where it occurs we must join together to deal with it forcefully. Dear Friends, my sisters and my brothers … A brand new year is here with us, and we have a bright hope for a great future. In this second year of my first term, we are forging ahead, with faith and fortitude to build on the foundations we have laid. In this new year, 2014, we have greater work to do. In the area of jobs and decent work, I am going to focus on implementing policies that generate jobs, especially for our youth. We are certain that a number of key projects we have embarked on, like the Takoradi Harbour Extension and the construction of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra, plus several road projects, will deliver some decent jobs. The drive to create jobs is one of the reasons why we have worked hard to ensure that any unscheduled power cut (or dumsor) becomes a thing of the past. We have made some progress, and load-shedding – that resulted in many days of power outages – has been curtailed. But we not done yet. We will work even harder this year to ensure that we achieve further and lasting improvements in our power supply. With reliable and predictable power supply, jobs can be created, as more and more people set up small and medium-scale businesses. In the area of education, we have laid some strong and steady foundations for the construction of a good number of senior high schools. Through these building projects in the area of education we should also be able to generate some extra jobs. I recommit myself to the necessary hard work, dedication and wise leadership for the rapid improvement in the lives of all Ghanaians. My pledge is to do everything, within the powers invested in me by the people, to take Ghana and Ghanaians to a better place. Together, we CAN make lives better. We CAN build a more united, more inclusive and a truly better Ghana. With every Ghanaian engaged and involved and by the grace of Almighty God, we shall attain a Ghana of excellent living standards, and a Ghana that is greater and stronger. We are a nation of great and hardworking people, let’s close our ranks, focus on the things that unite us, and renew our pledges and allegiance to this great land once again. I wish to thank every member of the media for your support, encouragement and constructive criticism. With your help we can and must do better. Thank you. I will now take your questions … *Opening Remarks at the Press Conference / Media Encounter Marking First Year of the First Term as President of the Republic of Ghana Tuesday, 7th December 2014]]>
"Embrace a new spirit of patriotism."-Biya to Cameroonians in new year message
January 2, 2014 | 0 Comments
My dear compatriots, The year 2013 gave Cameroonians genuine reasons to feel satisfied, thus paving the way for excellent prospects for the future Let me explain. The senatorial elections of 14 April and the legislative and municipal elections of 30 September took place in a calm and transparent atmosphere. All observers confirmed this fact and I believe that it reflects the maturity of the Cameroonian people who have understood that achieving social progress requires stable institutions and sound policies. The few failings reported were not enough to challenge the validity of the said elections. In this regard, ELECAM deserves to be commended. The enhanced credibility of the legislative and municipal elections sufficiently justified the time it took to introduce biometrics into our electoral system. I therefore believe that there is every reason for us to be satisfied with this new milestone in our democratic process. The marked increase in the number of women in Parliament and municipal councils is a further sign of progress. In any case, having put in place the Senate and local and regional authorities, the establishment of the Constitutional Council within a reasonable timeline will complete the institutional structure enshrined in our Constitution. Our political horizon is now very clear. It is time for serious and objective discussions on issues that are dear to Cameroonians which, as you know, are purchasing power, employment and living conditions. In other words, such issues constitute what our people legitimately expect from a prosperous and equitable economy and a just and interdependent society. Of course, this is no revelation to us. In recent decades, we have spared no effort to improve the living conditions of Cameroonians. This has been achieved despite the often tense political context, the economic crisis and threats to peace. Significant progress – perhaps still unevenly shared – has been made. Let me mention just two examples, namely health and our major projects. With the resurgence of malaria in its most severe form which affects infants, we have approached international partners for assistance. With their help, we will be able to secure free treatment of this pandemic for under-five children. Furthermore, I am pleased to announce that our country’s health map will soon have three additional referral hospitals, namely the Yaounde National Emergency Centre, the Douala Gynaecological, Obstetric and Paediatric Hospital and the Sangmelima Referral Hospital. Regarding our major projects, those of the first generation are, as you know, either ongoing or in the start-up phase. Concerning second-generation projects which will be implemented as from 2015, the related studies and financing are currently under negotiation. These include notably power generation, transportation, water supply, road and highway infrastructure as well as industrial and mining facilities. As you can see, our economy is picking up and some kind of national consensus on the goal of economic emergence is discernible. I believe that we should muster all our energy to champion this cause and summon all our strength to ensure growth. In fact, it seems that our efforts alone, no matter how laudable, will not suffice to make Cameroon an emerging country in 2035. International financial institutions have sounded this friendly warning to us; and it is in our interest to heed it. In 2013, our growth rate stands at 4.8%, and thus below our forecast of 6.1%. Of course, there is nothing so dramatic about this, yet it clearly indicates that we need to redouble our efforts. Our growth is currently sustained by buoyant oil revenues and public appropriations. Private investments remain inadequate. We still need to improve the business climate, but this certainly does not spare us from pursuing ongoing structural reforms and further strengthening fiscal discipline. Definitely, there is still room for improvement in the effectiveness of our economic policies. We have a growth and employment strategy which guides us towards achieving our goals. But, how come then that in some sectors of our economy, State action often seems to lack consistency and clarity? Why is it that in many cases, decision-making delays still constitute a bottleneck in project implementation? Why can’t any region of our country achieve a public investment budget execution rate of over 50%? Lastly, one can rightfully question the usefulness of certain project monitoring committees which are unable to take any decisions. What we need in the coming years is a real contingency plan. With the GESP, we have a trend chart. Now is the time to act. Our short-term priorities are well known, namely: to correct our growth curve by creating jobs and maintain a high level of performance over several years in a row. To this end, we need to set timelines on our roadmaps and strictly adhere to them. It will be absolutely imperative that we address the causes of our weaknesses by removing sticking points, areas of dispersion and duplication. Would we be unable to do what some other countries comparable to ours have done or are doing? I do not think so. We have talented, resourceful, well-trained and enterprising men, women and youth, who are capable of meeting these challenges. We have abundant and diverse natural resources as well as modern and democratic institutions. Our country is peaceful and stable. What then do we lack? I think we need to improve in two key areas: prioritizing general interest and coordinating our efforts. Though attached to our communities of origin – which does not prevent us from being fervent patriots whenever national honour is at stake – we are an individualistic people, more concerned with personal success than general interest. Our administration remains susceptible to private interest, which is most often in conflict with national interest. Such trends must not be tolerated in a modern state. At one stage of implementation or another, most of our major projects involve the skills of various services. I am not sure that there has been effective coordination between them. Clearly, therefore, there is a need for improvement in this regard. My dear compatriots, I would now like to draw your attention to a problem that has reached disturbing proportions in recent months – that of insecurity in our country. Not long ago, we were striving to overcome “ordinary” insecurity. Simply put, we fought minor and organized crime in urban areas and “highway robbers” in remote rural areas. For some time now, a new form of crime referred to as cross-border crime has reached a worrying scale, particularly in the northern and eastern parts of the country. This has been brought about by the presence around our borders of armed bands, driven by extremist ideologies and lured by profit. They do not hesitate to cross over to our territory where they commit various atrocities. This phenomenon is not entirely new. However, it has witnessed a fresh upsurge as not long ago there was an attack in Kette Subdivision in the eastern part of our country. Elite units have been deployed to the area to check such incursions. Over the months, in the Far North, such criminals have kidnapped foreign nationals for ransom. Memories of the abduction of the French family MOULIN-FOURNIER are still fresh. Thanks to our cooperation with the Nigerian authorities and French services, we were able to secure their release. More recently, a French priest was manhandled and taken to Nigeria. I strongly condemn such unspeakable acts perpetrated in the quest for gain against defenceless persons, including children. Of course, we are doing our best to prevent and combat such acts, and we will not relent. I congratulate the élite units ensuring security in these areas and urge the local population to cooperate with them as necessary. For some time now, terrorism has also become rife at sea. Its motivations are mainly financial, but the methods have not changed. They consist in inspecting ships to loot the contents and kidnapping crew members for ransom. Cameroon has witnessed this in its maritime space. The phenomenon has expanded to the entire Gulf of Guinea, such that the maritime trade of countries located in this area is being compromised. There was a first response at the Summit on Maritime Security and Safety in the Gulf of Guinea, held in Yaounde last 25 and 26 June. It is clear that, whether on land or at sea, security, which is first and foremost a national issue, also has a collective and even international dimension. It should not be underestimated. Where it is not guaranteed, anarchy settles in, abuses become rife, economic and social progress grinds to a halt. Examples of such forms of breakdown in societal values, unfortunately, abound in our continent and even in our immediate external vicinity. While it is true that the affected areas of our territory are very limited, we remain on the alert. Our security forces on the ground can intervene at any time. This is an opportunity for me to stress that each one of us must be aware of the benefits of living in a stable country where institutions are functioning normally, where the security of people and property is guaranteed, and where every citizen can nurse hopes of a better life. The current situation in the Central African Republic demonstrates the possible consequences of instability and disorder. Massacre, looting and displacement have become the order of the day in that brotherly and friendly country. It was the duty of, and an honour for, Cameroonian troops to participate in the operations of the multinational force aimed at restoring security and protecting people within the territory of our immediate neighbour. My dear compatriots, We are somewhat at a crossroads. Growth is within our reach; our budget is viable; our public debt is sustainable; in short, our economic and financial situation gives us every reason to hope for prosperity. -It is either we take the easy road by postponing reforms, in which case in 10 or 20 years time we shall have had such a cumulative delay that we can hardly meet the needs of our people. -Or we set high goals for ourselves, and adopt strict collective discipline, in which case we will embark resolutely on economic emergence. I suggest that we adopt the latter option, that of sacrifice and courage. At a time when we are beginning to see many concrete signs of our democratic, economic and social progress, I invite you to embrace a new spirit of patriotism. I believe we can do a lot better. I am not asking for your sweat, or blood, or tears; rather, I am merely urging you to commit yourself wholeheartedly to this new phase of our Grand National plan. At the dawn of this New Year, I would like, on behalf of you all, to address our Indomitable Lions. Dear Indomitable Lions, You have qualified for the final phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. We want you to follow in the footsteps of your illustrious predecessors of the glorious campaigns in Spain in 1982 and Italy in 1990. Give us a thrill once again. The Cameroonian people are with you. To conclude, I am pleased to announce the release of Father Georges Vandenbeusch. Thanks to the action of our services, backed by Nigerian and French authorities, this priest, so devoted to his mission, has been freed today. My dear compatriots, I would now like to extend to you all, my best wishes for good health and happiness in the New Year. Happy and Prosperous New Year 2014! CRTV]]>
“Let’s Work For national unity, peace, stability and progress” –Jonathan Urges Nigerians In New Year Message
January 1, 2014 | 0 Comments
I greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the year 2014 which promises to be a momentous one for our country for several reasons, including the fact that it is also the year of our great nation’s centenary celebrations. I join you all in giving thanks to God Almighty for guiding us and our beloved nation safely through all the challenges of the outgoing year to the beginning of 2014. Exactly 100 years ago today, on January 1, 1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated what was then the separate Protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, giving birth to the single geopolitical entity known as Nigeria. For us therefore, today is not just the beginning of a new year, but the end of a century of national existence and the beginning of another. It is a moment for sober reflection and for pride in all that is great about Nigeria. Whatever challenges we may have faced, whatever storms we may have confronted and survived, Nigeria remains a truly blessed country, a country of gifted men and women who continue to distinguish themselves in all spheres of life, a country whose diversity remains a source of strength. We pay tribute today, as always to our founding fathers and mothers, and all the heroes and heroines whose toil and sweat over the century made this country what it is today. As I noted, a few days ago, the amalgamation of 1914 was certainly not a mistake but a blessing. As we celebrate 100 years of nationhood, we must resolve to continue to work together as one, united people, to make our country even greater. I assure you that our administration remains fully committed to the progressive development of our country and the consolidation of peace, unity and democratic governance in our fatherland. Despite several continuing domestic and global challenges, for us in Nigeria, the year 2013 witnessed many positive developments which we will strive to build upon in 2014. We have diligently carried forward the purposeful and focused implementation of our agenda for national transformation in priority areas such as power, the rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agricultural development, education and employment generation. You may recall that our 2013 Budget was on the theme, “Fiscal Consolidation with Inclusive Growth”, and I emphasized the need for us to “remain prudent with our fiscal resources and also ensure that the Nigerian economy keeps growing and creating jobs”. I am pleased to report that we have stayed focused on this goal. Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth. We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy. In 2013, we commenced implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) aimed at industrializing Nigeria and diversifying our economy into sectors such as agro-processing, light manufacturing, and petrochemicals. We have also negotiated a strong Common External Tariff (CET) agreement with our ECOWAS partners which would enable us to protect our strategic industries where necessary. I am pleased to note that as a result of our backward integration policies, Nigeria has moved from a country that produced 2 million metric tonnes of cement in 2002, to a country that now has a capacity of 28.5 million metric tonnes. For the first time in our history, we have moved from being a net importer of cement to a net exporter. Foreign direct investment into Nigeria has also been strong. In fact, for the second year running, the UN Conference on Trade and Development has named Nigeria as the number 1 destination for investments in Africa. We are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector and the results are evident. We have tackled corruption in the input distribution system as many farmers now obtain their fertilizers and seeds directly through an e-wallet system. In 2013, 4.2 million farmers received subsidized inputs via this programme. This scheme has restored dignity to our farmers. Last year we produced over 8 million metric tonnes of additional food; and this year, inflation fell to its lowest level since 2008 partly due to higher domestic food production. Our food import bill has also reduced from N1.1 trillion in 2011, to N648 billion in 2012, placing Nigeria firmly on the path to food self-sufficiency. The sector is also supporting more jobs. Last year, we produced 1.1 million metric tonnes of dry season rice across 10 Northern states; and over 250,000 farmers and youths in these States are now profitably engaged in farming even during the dry season. This Administration is also developing our water resources which are key for both our food production and job creation goals. In 2013, we completed the construction of nine dams which increased the volume of our water reservoirs by 422 million cubic metres. Through our irrigation and drainage programme, we have increased the total irrigated area by over 31,000 hectares creating jobs for over 75,000 farming families while increasing production of over 400,000 metric tons of assorted irrigated food products. Fellow Compatriots, I have always believed that the single greatest thing we can do to ensure all Nigerians realize their potential and play a full part in our nation’s future, is to invest in education. The education of our young people is a key priority for this Government. We take this responsibility very seriously and I urge all other stakeholders in the sector to recognize the national importance of their work, and to help advance the cause of education in our nation. Between 2007 and 2013, we have almost tripled the allocation for education from N224 billion to N634 billion – and we will continue to vigorously support the sector. We have improved access to education in the country with the construction of 125 Almajiri schools, and the establishment of three additional Federal Universities in the North, bringing to twelve, the number of universities established by this administration. In 2013, we rehabilitated 352 laboratories and constructed 72 new libraries in the Federal Unity Schools; and also rehabilitated laboratories of all the 51 Federal and State polytechnics across the country. In the Health sector, we are building strong safety nets and improving access to primary health care under the Saving One Million Lives programme. In 2013, we recruited 11,300 frontline health workers who were deployed to under-served communities across the country. Over 400,000 lives have been saved through our various interventions. We have reached over 10,000 women and children with conditional cash transfer programmes across 8 States and the FCT and we intend to scale up this successful initiative. Our national immunization coverage has exceeded 80%. And for the first time in the history of the country there has not been any transmission of the Type-3 Wild Polio virus for more than one year. We have also eradicated the guinea worm that previously affected the lives of over 800,000 Nigerians yearly. In tertiary health care, we upgraded medical facilities across the country. Two of our teaching hospitals – the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, and the University College Hospital in Ibadan – commenced open heart surgeries this year after the installation of new facilities. Fellow Nigerians, I have dwelt on some of our administration’s achievements in 2013 to reassure you that we are working and results are being achieved on the ground. As we enter our Centennial year, there is still much work ahead. We are determined to sustain our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, to strengthen our domestic institutions, and to invest in priority sectors. These investments will create more jobs for our youth. Government will at the same time, continue to scale-up investments in safety nets and the MDGs to take care of the poor and the vulnerable so that they too can share in our growth and prosperity. In 2014, we will continue to prioritize investments in key sectors such as infrastructure development, power, roads, rail transportation and aviation. In the past year, the Federal Government completed the privatization of four power generation companies and 10 power distribution companies. We are also in the process of privatizing 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP). We shall boost investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed. In this regard, we have already mobilized an additional $1.5 billion for the upgrade of the transmission network in 2014 and beyond. Government will also strengthen regulation of the sector, and closely monitor electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day. We will complete the privatization of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on our gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy. Our administration believes that the cost of governance in the country is still too high and must be further reduced. We will also take additional steps to stem the tide of corruption and leakages. We have worked hard to curb fraud in the administration of the pension system and the implementation of the petroleum subsidy scheme. We have introduced a Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General. This department will now ensure that those of our pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud. Prosecution of all those involved in robbing our retired people will continue. The Petroleum Subsidy Scheme is also now being operated under new strict guidelines to tackle previous leakages in the scheme and prevent fraud. Foreign travel by government personnel will be further curtailed. This directive shall apply to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government. Our strategy to curb leakages will increasingly rely on introducing the right technologies such as biometrics and digitizing government payments. I am therefore pleased to inform you that we shall complete the deployment of the three electronic platforms in 2014 – namely, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – which are all geared towards improving efficiency and transparency in our public finances. Through these reforms, we have already saved about N126 billion in leaked funds and intend to save more. To sustain Nigeria’s ongoing agricultural transformation, we have planned further investments in the sector. We will provide input subsidies to five million farmers nationwide using the e-wallet system. This Administration recently launched a self-employment initiative under the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), called the Nagropreneur programme. This scheme would encourage our youth to go into commercial agriculture as entrepreneurs and we plan to develop over 750,000 young Nagropreneurs by 2015. We will also establish new agro-industrial clusters to complement the staple crop processing zones being developed across the country. In 2014, this Administration will continue to work with the private sector to improve financing in the agricultural sector. For example, we will launch the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) which will serve as a private equity fund to invest in agri-businesses across the country. Our Small and Medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. We have about 17 million registered SMEs, and they employ over 32 million Nigerians. When our SMEs grow, more jobs will be created for our youth. Therefore, in 2014, this Administration will focus strongly on implementing the Nigeria Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) to address the needs of small businesses. Our interventions will include helping SMEs with access to affordable finance, business development services, and youth training. In addition, our new CET policies will enable us to support our emerging industries. We will also intensify our investment promotion efforts abroad, to ensure we bring the biggest and best companies from around the world to invest in Nigeria. Dear Compatriots, the housing and construction industry is a critical sector in most developed economies. When the housing sector booms, it creates additional jobs for architects and masons, for electricians and plumbers, forpainters and interior decorators, and for those in the cement and furniture industries. Today, I am pleased to inform you that this Administration is reinvigorating our housing and construction sector. We have established the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) which will increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide a secondary market for mortgages, and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at an affordable price in the country. In 2014, we will work in a number of pilot states where the State Governors have agreed to provide fast-track land titles, foreclosure arrangements, and serviced plots. This new institution will enable us to create over 200,000 mortgages over the next five years at affordable interest rates. In addition, those at the lower end of the economic ladder will not be left behind as this new initiative will expand mass housing schemes through a re-structured Federal Mortgage Bank and other institutions to provide rent-to-own and lease-to-own options. I am confident that very soon, many more hardworking Nigerian families will be able to realize their dream of owning a home. In this our centenary year, we will continue our efforts, through the Saving One Million Lives initiative to strengthen primary health care services. We will scale up interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, routine immunization, HIV/AIDS, malaria elimination, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and non-communicable diseases. We will pay greater attention to the provision of universal health coverage. Besides the implementation of new initiatives such as my comprehensive response plan for HIV/AIDS, we shall continue to collaborate with global health partners to deliver our health sector transformation agenda. I am glad that the issues responsible for the long-drawn ASUU strike have been resolved and our children are returning to their campuses. We are committed to making our tertiary institutions true centers of learning for our young people. We will therefore focus on upgrading hostels, laboratories, classrooms, and halls. As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, we will continue to expand access to basic education for all Nigerian children. Working with State Governments, we shall decisively tackle the problem of the large numbers of out-of-school children in this country. We will also invest in technical and vocational education to promote skills development for our youth across the country. Nigerian entrepreneurs still lack access to affordable financing, with medium-to-long-term tenors. To address this gap, a new wholesale development finance institution will be established in 2014 to provide medium-to long-term financing for Nigerian businesses. We are working with partners such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, the BNDES Bank in Brazil, and KfW in Germany, to realize this project. Our existing Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry will be re-structured as specialized institutions to retail financing from this new wholesale development bank. In addition to the foregoing, our administration will also do all within its powers to ensure the success of the forthcoming National Conference. The report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Conference is undergoing urgent review and the approved structure, guidelines and modalities for the conference will soon be published as a prelude to its commencement and expeditious conclusion. It remains our sincere hope and expectation that the success of the national conference will further enhance national unity, peace and cohesion as we move ahead to the 2015 general elections. In keeping with our avowed commitment to progressively enhancing the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process by consistently upholding the principle of one man, one vote, our Administration will also ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receives all required support to ensure that it is adequately prepared for the next general elections. As peace and security remain prerequisite conditions for the full realization of our objectives, we will also do more in 2014 to further empower our security agencies who are working in collaborative partnerships with our friends in the international community to stem the scourge of terrorism in our country and enhance the security of lives and property in all parts of Nigeria. The allocation of over N600 Billion to Defence and Policing in the 2014 Budget attests to this commitment. Fellow compatriots, the task of making our dear nation a much better place for present and future generations cannot be left to government alone. I therefore urge you all to be ready and willing to do more this year to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s Agenda for National Transformation in every possible way. Let us all therefore resolve as we celebrate the new year, and Nigeria’s Centenary, to place the higher interests of national unity, peace, stability and progress above all other considerations and work harder in our particular fields of human endeavour to contribute more significantly to the attainment of our collective aspirations. I urge all Nigerians, no matter their stations in life, to rededicate themselves to contributing meaningfully to further enrich our national heritage. The time for that re-dedication is now, not tomorrow. I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2014. God bless Nigeria. Happy New Year ]]>