Buhari regrets nationwide hardship, warns exponents of restructuring

Buhari regrets nationwide hardship, warns exponents of restructuring

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the unnecessary hardships inflicted on Nigerians during the Christmas and New Year celebrations following acute petrol scarcity across the country.

The president, who stated this in a nationwide broadcast in Abuja on Monday to mark the New Year, attributed the hardships to the activities of a few but heartless individuals working within the nation’s oil and gas sector.

He, however, reiterated the determination of his administration to get to the root of the persistent petrol scarcity, and ensure that whichever groups were behind this manipulated hardship would be prevented from doing so again.

“Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many, this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy.

“Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.

“The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable, given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots.

“I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.

President Buhari added that the activities of such unpatriotic individuals would not divert his administration’s determination to uplift the quality of life of the citizens.

He said: “Our government’s watchword and policy thrust is CHANGE.

“We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.’’

Buhari also replied agitators for restructuring of the country and said Nigeria’s problems have more to do with process than structure.

According to him, he has kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “restructuring”, and opined that no human law or edifice is perfect.

“Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country’s 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 explained.

The president, however, stressed the need for a closer look at the cost of government and for the public services long used to extravagance, waste and corruption to change for the better.

He assured that his administration would continue to be ever receptive to ideas which would improve governance and contribute to the country’s peace and stability.

On the electioneering season approaching, President Buhari said politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics.

He emphasized that such dirty politics should be avoided at all costs if Nigerians must live in harmony.

“In this respect, the rest of Nigeria could learn from the South Western States which have successfully internalised religion, ethnicity and politics.

“Political discourse should be conducted with civility, decorum and in a constitutional manner.

“We all have a collective responsibility to strengthen our democracy and entrench the rule of law.

“We should draw encouragement from the series of by-elections conducted by INEC last year which were generally violence free and their outcomes adjudged to be free and fair.’’

On security, the president reassured the citizens that security of life and property was still top of his administration’s agenda.

He said: “We have since beaten Boko Haram.

“Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America.’’