President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday assured Nigerians that despite the prevailing harsh economic realities, he would secure the country, rebuild the economy which has been on a downward slide in recent months and make Nigeria stronger than it has ever been.
President Buhari made the promise while presenting the 2016 budget before a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja.
He also told Nigerians that his administration is fully aware of the current hardships they are passing through as a result of economic challenges, however, he expressed optimism that the 2016 budget, the first by his administration, when passed, would stimulate the economy.
In his speech, President Buhari said: “I know the state of our economy is a source of concern for many. This has been further worsened by the unbridled corruption and security challenges we have faced in the last few years.
“From those who have lost their jobs, to those young people who have never had a job, to the people in the North East whose families and businesses were destroyed by insurgents, this has been a difficult period in our nation’s history, lessons that we must not forget or ignore, as we plan for the future.
“Fellow Nigerians, the confidence of many might be shaken. However, I stand before you today promising that we will secure our country, rebuild our economy, and make the Federal Republic of Nigeria stronger than it has ever been”.
Mr. Buhari further noted that the answers to Nigeria’s problems are not far-fetched, saying: “They exist on our farmlands; our corporations; in the universities in the hearts and minds of our entrepreneurs; through the gallantry of our Armed Forces; and the resolute spirit of Nigerians, especially the youth, who have refused to give up despite all the obstacles confronting them.
“This Budget proposal, the first by our Government, seeks to stimulate the economy, making it more competitive by focusing on infrastructural development; delivering inclusive growth; and prioritizing the welfare of Nigerians.
“We believe that this budget, while helping industry, commerce and investment to pick up, will as a matter of urgency, address the immediate problems of youth unemployment and the terrible living conditions of the extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
“In the medium to longer term, we remain committed to economic diversification through import substitution and export promotion. This will build resilience in our economy.
“It will guarantee that the problems we have today, will not confront our children and their children. This shall be our legacy for generations to come.
“We have, and will continue to implement strategies that will maintain macroeconomic stability and manage the oil price shocks we are experiencing.
“On the economy, we injected new leadership at the helm of our revenue generating agencies including the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). We implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which, so far, has provided greater visibility of Government revenues and cash flows.
“We intervened to support States to navigate their fiscal challenges by restructuring their commercial bank loans and by providing facilities to enable them to pay salary arrears.
“We have demonstrated a strong will to fight corruption. I am sure you will agree that the sheer scale of corruption and impunity of the past explains in part, the economic challenges we now face.
“On these initiatives, and the many more to come, we shall not be deterred. We will pursue the recovery of everything that belongs to the people of Nigeria. No matter where it is hidden. No matter how long it will take”.
According to the 2016 budget proposal tabled before the joint session of the National Assembly by the president, oil-related revenues are expected to contribute N820 billion.