PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has dismissed calls for restructuring of the country stating that it is not the problem with the country.
Mr. Buhari in his traditional New Year address to the nation, however, contended that what is wrong with the country at the moment is not its structure but the process.
Dismissing hopes of restructuring under his watch, the president assured that his administration will revisit the cost of governance, which he admitted is extravagant.
-In respect of political developments, I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about -restructuring” No human law or edifice is perfect. Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country- socio-economic developments. We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible, considering our resources and capabilities. When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.
-We tried the Parliamentary system: we jettisoned it. Now, there are shrill cries for a return to the Parliamentary structure. In older democracies, these systems took centuries to evolve; so, we cannot expect a copied system to fit neatly our purposes. We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose,” he said.
The president restated his administration- commitment to fixing the country thorough massive investment in railways, road and power infrastructure, assuring that the economy is bound to experience rapid improvement in the years ahead.
-We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.
-With regard to railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already, in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.
“The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019, and will carry two million passengers per year, and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year, giving a substantial boost to the country- economy.
-Construction of the Kano-Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021, the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.
-At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu. The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport in Warri.
-Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, first from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic, passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi”
He said the Lagos to Calabar –Coastal Rail” would pass through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar.
The president said the management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and charged to intervene in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. He said altogether, 44 roads in all the six geo-political zones would be repaired.
He said 25 major highways would be funded using the N100 billion SUKUK facility, and all the zones in the country would benefit by an equal amount of N16.67 billion. He listed some of the affected roads as Oyo – Ogbomosho, Ofusu Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu, Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm, Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way, and Onitsha – Enugu Expressway. Others, according to him, include Kaduna Eastern Bypass, dualisation of Kano – Maiduguri Road, dualisation of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road and dualisation of Suleja – Minna Road, adding that he has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria -Kano Road, which was in a state of disrepair.
On power supply, President Buhari disclosed that electricity generation has now hit the 7,000MW threshold, saying that more Nigerians were now experiencing improved power supply.
The president, who maintained that his administration is slowly stabilising the economy through the Economic Recovery Plan, expressed confidence that the effort has started yielding dividends, especially in the agriculture and solid minerals sectors of the economy.
-Two years ago, I appealed to people to go back to the land. I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government- effort to re-structure the economy”
He pointed out that with the improvement, so far, recorded in agriculture, he is confident that rice importation would end this year.
-Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on,” he said.
He also reiterated his resolve to improve the security situation in the country, describing it as a global phenomenon, while commending the security agencies for remaining committed to securing the country.
While thanking Nigerians for sustaining him with their prayers and good wishes, he said government is still engaging responsible leadership of the Niger Delta communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region, adding that the clean-up programme, in collaboration with the United Nations, is making satisfactory progress.