President Muhammadu Buhari has again expressed his personal commitment and executive promise to seeing the conduct of free and fair elections in 2023.
In his New Year message, the President stresses that the collective electoral will and votes of Nigerians will be fulfilled, even in the twilight moments of his watch.
He says reflecting on the Year 2022 allows his government to examine its legacies of successes and challenges, as well as celebrate its wins and review its obstacles, noting that governance is a continuum, which still places a transitional responsibility on the administration to provide for the incoming government a non-partisan and objective roadmap for 2023.
“This year is particularly important to me because this message is in essence valedictory”.
“After having the honour of serving you, my compatriots, for the last seven plus years, my tenure as your President in the most revered tradition of our ongoing and maturing democracy must necessarily come to an end”.
“In the next five months we would have gone to the polls and elected a new president along with new governors and a plethora of other elected officials at both the national and state levels.
“All these electoral and democratic principles are working in concert because of the transcendent beliefs, beyond partisan politics, of you the great citizen of Nigeria”, the President states.
The President emphasises that the administration has done its utmost by amending the Electoral Act to prevent malpractices and ensure that future election results represent the true choices of Nigerians, citizens also have a responsibility to ensure that the objective works out as planned.
“We as Nigeria; one country united under the will of God and actively growing as an indivisible entity, have been enabled year after year, decade after decade, to weather all stormy waters and emerge stronger and better where others have fallen and disintegrated”.
“This has made us a unique nation across the globe and our continent. In year 2023, Nigerians go to the polls to exercise our right to vote and elect a new administration, it is an important year for our country to ensure that we have another smooth transition of government, to whoever the people have decided upon”.
“This administration’s landmark Amended Electoral Act will ensure that we have free and fair elections across the Nation. We as Nigerians must also take responsibility to ensure we participate in ensuring that the 2023 elections are free and fair by not engaging in anti-state activities and other nefarious acts that may affect the run of the polls”, the President advises”.
He urges the electorate to resist every attempt to be used by politicians to create unrest in any form to disrupt the elections, warning that the government will ensure such activities are met with the full force of the law.
“As our security agencies continue to make the country proud, we must continue to assist our patriotic forces by providing much needed community intelligence.
President Buhari says it is the citizens’ collective responsibility to ensure that Nigeria remains safe and peaceful, adding that citizens have a duty and obligation to support Nigerian troops and intelligence agencies by being alert and reporting anything suspicious.
According to him, the fight against insurgence in the northeast region has continually recorded very clear wins in the past year.
He explains that the Federal and the Borno State Governments have started the journey of returning internally-displaced persons to their ancestral homes earlier taken by the insurgents.
“Also, over 82,000 insurgents with their families have surrendered to the Nigerian military. A number of surrendered insurgents are currently being processed by the rehabilitation (Operation Safe Corridor) Programme.
“The fight against banditry, kidnapping and other crimes in the northwest and other regions is gaining momentum and showing very clear results. One of which is the resumption of Train Service along the Kaduna to Abuja corridor”, he says.
President Buhari says in the aftermath of the EndSars, his administration took heed and instituted the ongoing Police Reform Programme based on a new Presidential Vision for Policing in Nigeria.
He says the new vision is framed in a clear road map that transcends the tenure of this administration and it is predicated on six principles of building trust and legitimacy, leadership, accountability and oversight, technology and digital media, community policing and crime reduction, officers training and education, and funding officers’ welfare, wellness and safety.
“This reform program is very much in its foundational phase, but has recorded noteworthy successes in improving police welfare and their emoluments.
“Other gains have been the ongoing training of 500 police cadet trainers to enable a better training regimen for the 2022 first batch of the 10,000 new cadets with an additional 10,000 set for 2023.
“In support of these reforms has been the provisioning of new material for the Nigeria Police to steadily improve on its constitutional responsibility to enforce law and order, protect lives and property as well as street level peace and security”, the President states.
On the economy, President Buhari says despite the ongoing global economic crisis, Nigeria has been able to weather the storms.
He notes that inflation across the globe is at its highest, but that the Federal Government has been resolute through its economic interventions to remain above water.
“2022 brought a combined impact from ongoing wars and aftereffects of Covid-19. Though creating its own fiscal challenges, we have continued to subsidise our energy costs to buffer households from inflationary pressure of high energy costs.
The President says in 2023, the government is focused on building on the GDP and sustain the huge surge in the non-oil GDP growth.
He says the Nigerian Start-up Bill has been passed as an Act, which he considers a huge step in lowering Nigeria’s unemployment figures by boosting job creation and supporting the entrepreneurial drive of the youth.
“If you recall in my 2021 New Year speech, I had mentioned the need to secure the future of our youth, recognising that our young people are our most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad.
“In this regard, we worked with the legislature to develop an enabling law to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled across regions. 2023 will see the implementation of the Nigerian Start-up Act nationwide”, the President explains.
The President says the year 2023 will be a time when the government will work to solidify on delivering key strategic priorities under its Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption Agenda, SEA.
“Some of the key priority areas we would direct our attention and strengths to include:
A. Focus on Security, we will continue to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities across the Nation.
“We will also focus on ensuring that free and fair elections would be held come February 2023.
“Our security forces are working in partnership to ensure the wins we have got in war against insurgency, banditry, secession, and other crimes are sustained and more wins acquired.
“B. For the ECONOMY, our focus would be on maintaining and building economic growth through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the goal of national food self-sufficiency and growth in non-oil sources.
“The ongoing infrastructure revolution by our administration will see us deliver the key projects across the Nation in power, rail, roads, ports and technology.
“C. ANTI-CORRUPTION: On the anti-corruption drive of our administration, we have created new records in this fight, growing from 117 convictions in 2017 to 3,615 convictions as at December 2022. We as a government are committed to ridding our nation of all forms of corruption, through the collaboration with all the arms of Government to effectively prosecute this fight”, the President emphasises.
He urges Nigerians to welcome 2023 with hope, and consider it a year to move forward as a nation towards unity, progress, and prosperity.
“I offer my own personal felicitations, mindful of the various opinions and interpretations of our executive legacies. I welcome and accept both the accolades and criticisms in equal measure secure in the conviction that I did my best to serve our dear country Nigeria, and I pray that the next President will also pick up the baton and continue the race to make Nigeria one of the leading countries of the world by the end of this century.
While wishing Nigerians a happy and prosperous New Year, he expresses gratitude and honour to the Almighty for seeing them safely through the year 2022 and giving them the opportunity to see another year.
“Each New Year is an opportunity to reflect on the past year, reposition, and move forward with the New.
“As we celebrate the opportunity to be alive in the year 2023, we must also acknowledge the passing away of our brothers and sisters who didn’t make it into this new year. May their souls rest in perfect peace”, said the President.
Writing by Abdullah Bello; Editing by Chinasa Ossai and Muzha Kucha