President Muhammadu Buhari hinted on Thursday that the federal government is working quietly behind the scene to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls.
Boko Haram insurgents had on April 14, 2014 abducted over 219 schoolgirls in Chibok community, Borno State.
In October 2016, the Buhari administration secured the release of 21 of the schoolgirls, while another set of 82 girls were released in May this year.
The president spoke about ongoing efforts to secure the release of the remaining girls during the presentation of a book titled, ‘Making Steady, Sustainable Progress For Nigeria’s Peace and Progress’, compiled by the presidential media team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari listed kidnapping, herdsmen/farmers clashes, armed robberies as security challenges facing the country, even as he assured that his administration will continue to give topmost priority to security.
Accordingly, he restated the determination of his administration to improve security, fight corruption and restructure the economy.
He said, “I would like to assure all Nigerians of my commitment to improve security, fight corruption and restructure the economy. On the current issues of herdsmen/farmers clashes, kidnapping and armed robberies within the confines of our limited resources, we are giving top priority to security.
“During the year, it was my great pleasure to secure the release of 102 Chibok school girls. We are doing our best quietly and effectively as possible to get the rest released. We are working day and night with our international partners to release the remaining girls as soon as possible, including women and children”.
Buhari reiterated that anyone caught stealing public funds will face the full wrath of the law.
According to him, the ongoing fight against corruption has started yielding fruitful results, with Nigeria now becoming a respected nation in the comity of nations.
President Buhari also noted that the nation’s creditworthiness is sound, just as he said the country’s first Euro Bond offer is over-subscribed four times.
His words: “Internationally, Nigeria is now a respected nation. I can’t keep up with invitations to visit other countries much less for other countries’ leaders that want to visit us. A number of world leaders are expressing the desire to visit Nigeria virtually every month.
“Our credit worthiness is sound, our first Eurobond offer was over subscribed four times”.
He thanked Nigerians for their prayers and goodwill during his medical vacation, saying “I can only repay you by resolving to work hard by putting every ounce of my energy to protect your interest.
“We have gone through difficult times due to worldwide economic recession. We are coming out of recession and government efforts are targeted at easing economic hardships with more jobs, social security platforms for vulnerable families”.
On his part, former Lagos State governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, descended verbally on former President Goodluck Jonathan, saying his administration, which had a gold medalist in corruption, earned a red card in governance.
Delivering a keynote address at the presentation of the book, Tinubu said so much money grew feet and ran away faster than Usain Bolt ever could.
He noted: “That which could have been spent on national development was squandered in ways that would cause the devil to blush.
“One minister and her rogues’ gallery picked the pocket of this nation for billions of dollars. While poor at governance, these people could give a master thief lessons in the sleight of hand. In governance, they earned a red card but in the corruption, they won the gold medal.
“It was not that our institutions had become infected by corruption. Corruption had become institutionalized”.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, however, noted that the days when officials of government help themselves with public funds at will were over.
He urged the present administration to put some measures in place, such as improved salary for civil servants, in order to sustain its achievement in that regard.
Tinubu also noted that President Buhari’s administration, unlike the previous governments, was doing something differently to root out the scourge of corruption from the country.
He said, “President Buhari has set an axe to the root of this dangerous tree. I would be lying if I say the war against large-scale corruption has been won. It has not. It will take time and countless swings of the axe to fall such a deeply rooted tree. But try we must. This is what the president is doing.
“Gone are the times when a minister can pilfer billions of dollars as easy as plucking a piece of candy from the table.
We have much to do to combat this disease. Not only must we track down the takers. In the long term, we must review the salaries of public servants and create universal credits for our people to reduce temptation.
“We must also take greater care by placing people of character, competence and goodness into key positions. When they fail, they must be removed without remorse or favour.
“Unlike its predecessor, this government has demonstrated the will to walk this path. While this might not cause much fanfare or celebration, this cleanses the institutions upon which a nation’s wellbeing is founded with a future assured”.
The APC Chieftain described the book compiled by the presidential media team as a good account of the work the Buhari government has accomplished to date.
“This book is needed for it sheds light on what may be obscure to the average person. President Buhari is a man who exercises an economy of speech. He is a man of action not of chatter. He will not spend time blowing his own trumpet because his preference is to move to the next important task”, Tinubu said.
In his remarks, chairman of the All Progressives Congwwress, John Odigie-Oyegun stated that the administration has delivered on its campaign promises.
He said President Buhari has provided exemplary leadership for the country and demonstrated the political will and solid commitment to the task of building a new Nigeria in line with the change agenda promised the electorate.
According to him, this has been exemplified by the administration’s efforts to deliver on election promises, largely hinged on fighting corruption, security and revamping the economy.
He contended that major tests of how well the President has kept these promises of the APC were the governorship elections in Kogi, Edo and Ondo states pointing out that victories in those elections were a resounding vote of confidence in the party and the achievements of the government.
He said, “In the early days of the administration, we all feared that the exchange rate between the Naira and the US Dollars was heading towards the disgraceful. At the time, the experts were calling on the government to allow Naira to find its level; some were saying we should devalue.
“Mr. President stuck to his gun not to devalue the Naira. Today, he has been proved right. Through careful interventions and monetary policies, we have witnessed great stability and the exchange rate that looked a few months ago like it was running away from us has now been brought under control. Again, this is another great achievement.
“A major campaign promise by the president was to fight corruption. Since his election, anti-corruption war remains one of his topmost priorities. Despite spirited efforts to discredit on-going anti-corruption efforts, the war against graft is being won”.
Others who spoke at the event include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal who represented the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the book reviewer, John Momoh.