…Meets Taraba APC Stakeholders
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), H.E. Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, CON, on Saturday, September 9, 2017, addressed the second plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria holding at St. Charles Borromeo Pastoral Centre in Jalingo, Taraba State.
The APC National Chairman also addressed Party stakeholders in Taraba State to assess the leadership and the general running of the Party in the state.
The complete speech is reproduced below.
ADDRESS BY THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC), H.E. CHIEF JOHN ODIGIE-OYEGUN, CON, AT THE SECOND PLENARY OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF NIGERIA HELD AT ST. CHARLES BORROMEO PASTORAL CENTRE IN JALINGO, TARABA STATE, ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2017.
President Muhammadu Buhari under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC) received overwhelming support of the Nigerian electorate during the 2015 General Elections to save the country from the brink of disaster. A lot has been said about the condition in which the President Buhari administration found the country on assumption of office.
However, this is not the time to trade blames anymore but rather to focus on the task of stabilizing and pointing the country on a trajectory of sustainable recovery and growth. It bears restating however that the condition that the APC met the country was far worse than projected. I am however happy to confirm to your Lordships that while there is much work to be done, the President Buhari-led APC administration has been able to achieve a lot in its over two years of stewardship.
During the campaign, the APC focussed on three core areas, namely; the fight against corruption, stabilizing the economy and restoration of peace and security in the country.
This has remained one of the priorities of the APC administration. Despite spirited efforts to discredit the ongoing fight against corruption, the war is progressing satisfactorily and is being won. While the revelations about past levels of corruption are depressing and a sad reminder of how past administrations institutionalised corruption and impunity, there is now a general realisation that previous shocking levels of impunity, arrogance of power and corruption that bedevilled the country are no longer acceptable. The corruption scourge is steadily receding from our national life under the APC administration.
A whistle-blowing programme was instituted by the administration to accelerate the pace of the war against corruption and to enlist the wider participation of ordinary citizens in the anti-corruption campaign. The aim is to encourage all citizens to support the programme by reporting to relevant authorities, information about violations of financial regulations, mismanagement of public funds and assets, financial malpractices, fraud and theft, for investigation.
The national economy which after rebasing was rated the largest in Africa had suffered serious damage and was almost prostrate when the APC administration took over in May 2015. The situation was compounded by the collapse of the price of crude oil; increased militancy in the Niger Delta which resulted in sharp decrease in the volume of crude oil exported; lack of savings by past administrations for the rainy day (reference Genesis 41 for Biblical validation) and non-investment in infrastructure that underpin the economy. There were also enormous leakages in the financial system; massive corruption in the administration of the oil industry and huge debt not matched with corresponding assets which posed serious challenges to the economic wellbeing of the nation. This required a number of steps to be taken to instil discipline and reposition the economy.
The Treasury Single Account (TSA) was fully implemented to centralize funding receipts and monitor disbursements. This has plugged revenue leakages and allowed for targeted reflation of the economy amongst other benefits.
Oil sector reforms embarked on by the current administration involved the elimination of the scandalous subsidy racket and the liberalisation of the distribution chain of the downstream sector. Permit me to thank Nigerians for the trust and support for the President and Party over the liberalisation of the downstream sector which saw the introduction of a new petroleum products supply and pricing framework. Not minding the tough conditions, ordinary Nigerians backed the President rather than embark on disruptive strikes. To mitigate the effect of the economic hardship, more than a million Nigerians are currently benefitting from the N500billion social investment scheme and palliatives initiated by government.
Some of the positive outcomes of the oil sector reforms are:
- The new petroleum products supply and pricing framework has eliminated subsidy payments and other distortions in the petroleum distribution market which had been tainted by fraud in the past years.
- Removal of subsidy has freed more resources to enable government address other pressing social and infrastructure needs in the country
- The perennial fuel scarcity crisis has become history. Petroleum products are now readily available all over the country as a result of more efficient management of the sector and increased private sector participation.
The economy is being diversified and the output from the non-oil sector is steadily increasing. The economy went into recession because of the bad condition in which the APC administration took over the economy. The first budget of the administration and the 2017-2020 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which is a three year plan were designed to reflate and redirect the economy on the path of growth. This has resulted in massive capital investment of an unprecedented One Trillion Naira especially in rail infrastructure, airport refurbishing, road rehabilitation and power/energy upgrade. This is in addition to investment in the social sector such as the federal government’s Home Grown School Feeding Programme, conditional cash transfer scheme and N-Power.
The economy has started responding to these policy initiatives of the government as evidenced in the improvement and stability of the naira exchange rate; increase in the country’s foreign reserves and the recent announcement by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the country has officially come out of recession. This does not mean that tough times experienced by the ordinary citizen is immediately over but it points to the direction of improvement in the welfare of all citizens as the benefit of economic growth and exiting recession trickle down the economic chain.
PEACE AND SECURITY
The threat to national integrity by the Boko Haram insurgency has been substantially contained, except for sporadic attacks on soft targets by elements of the group. This is being tackled by specialised military units that have been setup to deal with these threats. The tough economic condition however, has created new threats to national security and peace in the form of kidnapping, herdsmen attacks, Biafra separatist movement and agitations for changes to the political structure of the country which underlying motivation is access to the economic resources of the land that have also become political. These new threats have stretched the capacity of our national security apparatus and additional resources and reforms are being positioned in order to enhance the capability of the government to ensure optimum peace and security.
The country has experienced an unprecedented 18 years of continuous civilian democratic administration which is an achievement to be celebrated, nurtured and sustained. The APC administration has been deliberate in sustaining democratic institutions and creating an environment for democracy to thrive through support for the conduct of free and fair elections both within the Party and INEC conducted elections. The atmosphere has been created for liberal political debates that allow all opinions to be heard and no view to be repressed. The freedom of the press to report, analyse and hold opinion has been sacrosanct. A campaign to inculcate national values of inclusion, integrity and patriotism through the ‘Change begins with me’ initiative of the federal ministry of information has been launched to shore up and strengthen the democratic base of the country.
In response to the agitations for structural reforms of the country’s political architecture and to structure the debate for the benefit of the sustained unity, peace and progress of the country, the APC constituted a broad-based committee with H.E, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, the Kaduna State Governor as chairman to review the reports of all past constitutional conferences, the APC constitution, manifesto and campaign promises of the Party to distil the position of the APC as regards what the Nigerian federalism is and should be. The recommendations of the committee will be reviewed by the party organs and a framework for the implementation of the accepted report will be presented to government.
Your Lordships, the state of the nation is strong. The difficult conditions in which the APC administration took over have been stabilised and the country is headed in the right direction. The weak economy is being diversified through aggressive focus on agriculture, development of solid minerals, the creative industry and other viable sectors. Today, President Buhari administration is transforming the nation’s economy from being oil-dependent and consumer-based to a multi-sector and production-based economy. The economy is currently being directed on the part of inclusive growth in which the weaker elements of the society are not left behind but supported through social safety nets. The political space is liberal and individuals and groups are able to freely express opinion without repression. National peace and security challenges are being tackled assiduously and the future of the country is bright.
As a governing Party, the vision for our country is clear and it is to steer it to peace, progress and the restoration of hope for a better tomorrow for all our people. The APC is committed to working hard to achieve this vision by building and consolidating on the successes so far achieved while striving for accelerated growth and development.
We call on your Lordships to continue your prayers for our country and the good health of President Muhammadu Buhari.
I thank you for listening and wish you a very successful conference and deliberation.
John E.K. Odigie-Oyegun, CON
All Progressives Congress (APC)