Being the text of a lecture, delivered by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike to participants of the Executive Intelligence Course Fourteen (EIMC14), National Institute for Security Studies on Tuesday September 28, 2021 in Abuja.
Let me begin by thanking the Commandant of the National Institute for Security Studies for inviting me to this august gathering and the honour to share some of my thoughts on the subject matter with the participants of the Executive Intelligence Course 14. I wish to also appreciate all the participants who have come from within Nigeria and the West African region to participate in this discussion.,
I was asked to speak on the topic “Governance, Security and Sustainable Development in Africa: Nexus, Challenges and Prospects – the experience of Rivers State.”
While this is an important theme that speaks to the contemporary and contending issues of governance, security and sustainable development in Africa, I wonder why Rivers State, a sub-national unit, should be the metaphor for addressing these fundamental issues concerning Africa.
Well, the Commandant has his reasons, which I do not intend to question. For me, a very senior military officer has commanded me, a bloody civilian, to speak and I am here in obedience to his ‘command.’ And so let me again thank the Commander for this rare privilege of speaking before top security and intelligence officers drawn from the West African sub-region.
Now, to the business of the day.
With over 1.3 billion people, Africa is the second most populous continent in the world with youths constituting over half of this population. The continent is blessed with enormous mineral deposits, large arable land and favourable climatic conditions. Indeed, Africa is a continent with great and profound socio-economic opportunities.
However, despite being great in human and natural resources, Africa is yet to achieve its overarching socio-economic objectives of meaningful development and ensuring decent living conditions for the vast majority of its population.
Poor governance, economic dependency, rapid population growth coupled with climate change and uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources continue to degrade the continent’s environment such that floods, epidemic diseases, deforestation, desertification and pollution have become common spectacles across the continent.
Almost all African countries are characterized by a combination of weak and ineffective economic and political structures, unimpressive economic growth, and lack of development. Poverty is on the increase with Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa notoriously hosting the world’s poorest people who are living daily below the poverty line of USD 1.20.
Unemployment, especially among the youth, remains troubling while per capital income, life expectancy, access to healthcare, education, water, housing and social security is abysmally low. No African State was able to meet the Millennium Development Goals, while the Sustainable Development Goals may equally continue to be shifting targets.
- Lately, the continent is increasing enmeshed in the insecurity and instability, including the resurgence of coups in the West-African sub-region, protracted intra-state armed conflicts and terrorism, with adverse consequences to the continent’s livelihoods and sustainable development.
The reasons for Africa’s miserable living conditions and the solutions thereof have continued to elicit lively debates from both political, academic and learned circles. However, among several factors, there is consensus around the preconditional role effective governance and human security can play in advancing sustainable development in Africa.
Therefore, taking Rivers State as a metaphor, this paper interrogates the concepts of governance and security as core aspirational values for driving the achievement of sustainable development for Africa.
The paper is structured sections. Part one is the introduction, while part two considers the theoretical concept of sustainable development. The third segment looks at the relationship between governance and sustainable development. Similarly, part four considers the relationship between security and sustainable development, while the fifth section deliberates on the challenges of sustainable development in Africa. Part six discusses the prospects for sustainable development for Africa. Part seven then discusses the experience of Rivers State in driving sustainable development at the subnational level. The paper ends in parts eight with some conclusive remarks and recommendations.
- The concept of sustainable development.
Generally, the concept of development was taken as the process of improving the quality of human lives through the provision of basic necessities such as food, shelter, water and sanitation, job opportunities, healthcare, education and social security.
However, the link between development and the environment led to the idea of sustainable development, as an alternative development strategy for improving the living conditions of human population without degrading the environment.
The World Commission on Environment and Development, which first enunciated this concept, defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising future generations to meet their own needs.”
In Africa, the African Union adopted the “Agenda 2063 – the Africa we want,” which together with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, brought to the fore the three dimensions of sustainable development, that is: economic growth, ensuring social inclusion and achieving environmental sustainability, as the policy goals for achieving better living conditions for present and future generations.
Both agendas call for action through change and transformation to end poverty, combat inequality and social exclusion, promote human rights and dignity, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy security, peace and prosperity while tackling environmental degradation, natural resources depletion and institutional weaknesses that undermine the achievement of these social goals.
Conceptually therefore, sustainable development places emphasis on qualitative improvement in the living conditions of people and the need for development efforts to be galvanized towards this course.
Over the years global, regional and national efforts have concentrated in mobilizing for the realization of sustainable development with varying degrees of success and achievements.
However, across Africa, the development path has largely been more of disappointments and shifting targets as the majority of the continent’s population is still unable to enjoy sustainable access to improved and equitable economic, social, cultural and political conditions.
- Governance and sustainable development.
The concept of governance is inclined to different but related definitions. To some scholars, governance is the effective exercise of political and administrative authority and control for the purpose of advancing human progress and wellbeing. To some others, governance includes not only the government but also the private sector and civil society.
The Commission on Global Governance defines governance as “the sum of the many ways individuals and institutions, public and private manage their common affairs.”
The World Bank considers governance as the exercise of authority or power in order to manage a country’s economic, political and administrative affairs or the manner power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.
The United Nations Development Program (1997) also evaluates governance as “the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interest, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences.”
From a practical point of view, governance is the ability to exercise authority, political or otherwise, within a defined social jurisdiction to manage public resources to advance public interest and meet public needs.
This being so, governance is about management and performance; the ability to make and implement decisions and policies to advance social progress and because the expected outcome of governance is to improve human conditions, governance is often seen as the foundation of development.
However, governance by itself does not guarantee human progress. What does is good governance, which among other things, reflects participation, inclusiveness, responsiveness, effectiveness, accountability, equity, rule of law and respect for human rights.
Since sustainable development is about improving the material wellbeing of all citizens without compromising the material interest of future generations, it constitutes fundamental goals and aspirations, the realization of which is practically dependent on the effectiveness and commitment of the institutional and structural frameworks of good governance and social partnerships.
Furthermore, governance relates to the process of interaction, decision-making, resource mobilization and the implementation of policies to achieve social and economic goals and therefore in control of the entire process for driving sustainable development, including harnessing and investing available resources to sustainably achieve economic growth and deliver basic physical and social infrastructures, including healthcare, education and jobs to advance the wellbeing of citizens in an equitable, fair, inclusive and just manner.
Therefore, the nexus between governance and sustainable development lies in the fact that good governance is the foundation, without which human progress, be it economic, social and ecological cannot take place. Besides generating the stable environment, good governance also controls the entire process that leads to the realization of sustainable development.
- Security and sustainable development.
Security is generally understood as freedom from danger or threats to an individual, society or a country. Therefore, an individual is secure if he is protected from any physical harm to his person or property. Similarly, a society or country is secure if it has the ability to ward off external aggression or it can prevent citizens and their property from all forms of security threats, including crime and violence.
Naturally, the State or government bears both legal and moral responsibility to guarantee and ensure the right of people to a secure existence is guaranteed and enjoyed by the citizens to the fullest.
However, security concerns have since shifted from the preservation of national and internal security, to encompass human security, which ties the security of the State to its capacity to meet the livelihood needs of the people.
Decades ago, the UNDP had correctly observed that:
“the concept of security has for too long been interpreted narrowly: as security of territory from external aggression…For most people, a feeling of insecurity arises more from worries about daily life than from the dread of a cataclysmic world event. Will they and their families have enough to eat? Will they lose their jobs? Will their streets and neighbourhoods be safe from crime? Will they be tortured by a repressive state?”
The purpose of human security is to protect the vital core of human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment; which means, protecting fundamental freedoms that are essential to human existence and creating the political, social, environmental, economic, military and cultural systems that together give people the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity.
Thus, for Maman, “security means much more than the absence of war;” or the “presence of military force;” it includes and extends to other vital ingredients, such as, access to education, healthcare, human rights, the right to healthy environment and the ban against needless arms proliferation.
According to the UNDP, human security borders on seven elements: economic security, health security, food security, environmental security, personal security, community security and political security.
While poverty, unemployment and lack of access to social safety-nets are some of the common threats to economic security; inadequate supply of water and sanitation, the prevalence of diseases, pandemics, physical and emotional violence, inadequate access to child and maternal healthcare, bad roads and broken transportation systems are all known threats to health security.
Also, lack of adequate or high cost of food, insufficient nutrition and failed agricultural policies are considered as potential threats to food security; while lack of protection against war or threats of war, violence, crime, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, rape, drugs, child and gender abuses constitute threats to personal security.
Air, land and water pollution and lack of access to sanitation are some veritable threats to environmental security; while the breakdown of social systems constitutes threats to community security; just as lack of respect for human rights, the rule of law and human dignity and lack of credible electoral systems are threats to political security.
Like governance, security and sustainable development also link together in a mutually interdependent and reinforcing relationship. While there can be no security without sustainable development; the latter is meaningful or acceptable only when it results in human security.
It therefore means that human security is both an existential precondition and dynamic process for sustainable development.
As an existential precondition, it advances the inherent interest of peoples and society to be free from pervasive threats to their rights and freedoms, safety and improvements in their standards of living. In this context, security actually equates sustainable development.
As a dynamic process, human security implies the measures and policies necessary to realize a wholesome state of existence that is characterised by freedom from pervasive threats to the rights, safety and livelihood of people.
This being so, the provision of security is as well a precondition for the creation of the peaceful and stable environment for governance to function and implement the necessary policies for advancing sustainable development.
Indeed, there can hardly be security amidst starvation, peace building without poverty alleviation and no true freedom and development can be achieved on the foundations of injustice.
What this means is that security in its extended connotation is an inherent part of sustainable development and the extent to which governance and policy-makers are able to tackle the economic, environmental and social threats to human security also determine the level of development a country could achieve and sustain as sustainable development cannot be achieved in atmosphere of economic chaos, social conflict or social disorder.
- Challenges to sustainable development in Africa.
(i) The crisis of good governance.
Africa’s young and fast-growing population requires jobs, infrastructure and services to prosper, which only a purposeful government can provide.
We all know that security, stability and progress demand responsive governance. Progressive economic growth, gainful employment and prosperity rely on appropriate enabling fiscal measures and friendly business environment, which only effective governance can guarantee.
Environmental sustainability and eradication of poverty cannot be achieved by wishful thinking; only a determined and committed government with the right policy measures and effective resource mobilization can.
Also, productive and progressive investments in social and economic infrastructure such as railways, roads, sea and air ports, education, healthcare, and social security are made and driven only by sound and sustainable government policies and reasonable financial commitments. Furthermore, a sense of social justice, equity and inclusiveness is fundamental to achieving peace, security and sustainable development, which only good governance can guarantee.
Thus, among other structural and institutional variables, nothing can be more relevant to the progress of society than the practice of good governance led by visionary, effective and transformational leadership as essential preconditions for effective democracy, the rule of law, sustainable development and enhancing the living conditions of ordinary people.
Unfortunately, poor governance and bad leadership models continue to characterize Africa’s political, economic, security, and social landscape. As a commentator ones argued, Africa’s problem is that it has never known good governance.
While this may be an extreme view, the fact is that most African countries are less than impressive in the implementation of the sustainable development goals and lack of good governance remains the primary reason for the crisis of development across the continent.
African States cannot continue to rely on over centralized and personalized forms of government lacking in true democracy, responsiveness, accountability, the rule of law and judicial independence, equity, social justice, and inclusivity and expect to achieve sustainable development.
What’s more, centralized governance structures and weak or political compromised institutions have proven to be inefficient, corrupt, predatory and ineffective in the formulation and implementation of sustainable development policies, just as the associated leadership failures and institutional weaknesses continue to undermine, stifle and prevent good governance, economic growth and sustainable development from taking roots in Africa.
In Nigeria for instance, centralization of power and lack of fiscal decentralization has resulted in poorly functional sub-national states and local government areas, which are largely detracted by resource-dependency, chronic budget shortfalls and intuitional limitations to deliver on their responsibilities for economic growth and provision of infrastructure, education, healthcare, employment generation and food security and improve the wellbeing of the citizens.
I cannot agree more that Africa’s progress towards sustainable development is limited by the continent’s failures to get it right with challenges of governance. Africa must therefore first get its governance system right to make serious headway in the realization of the sustainable development goals.
(ii) Lack of appreciable economic growth.
Allied to good governance constraint is the limited economic growth with which to drive development. Apart from being the world slowest growing region, Sub-Sharan Africa also risks falling further behind the rest of the world with very slow economic recovery occasioned by the lack of access to covid-19 pandemic vaccines.
Although the African Development Bank has posted a somewhat positive 3.4% real gross domestic product growth for Africa in 2021, the International Monetary Fund saw this figure as grossly insignificant to the continent’s growth and development needs.
Also, Nigeria unexpectedly posted an impressive 5% GDP for second quarter 2021, but like other extractive-resource dependent countries, the sudden and impressive increase in GDP is statically suspicious as against the less than 1% performance of the first quarter.
At any rate, the much-celebrated GDP growth rate translates to little real economic values and anything to applaud given the prevailing high inflation, prohibitive cost of stable food items, ever increasing debt profile, the free fall of the naira, rising unemployment, embarrassing mass poverty and the federal government’s apparent lack of capacity to mobilize reasonable domestic revenues to fund development.
What this tells us is that despite the optimism about an Arica’s possible economic rebound post Covid-19, the continent would continue to need hundreds of billions of United States Dollars in external funding, including loans to support its future growth and development needs for the next five years.
And as we all know, reliance on external loans and development financing erodes independence on resource application and when this is coupled with corruption and other leakages, including illicit transborder funds transfers, the result is the continuing limited ability of African countries to mobilize adequate domestic savings to prioritize the necessary economic investments for achieving improved GDP growth, socio-economic progress and development goals in a sustained manner.
(iii) The huge gap in infrastructure.
The I wish to also mention severe infrastructural deficit as one of the serious challenges to sustainable development across Africa.
It is undeniable that improved infrastructure would facilitate increased national, regional and international trade, reduce the cost of doing business and enhance Africa’s competitiveness in the global economy, which in return would enhance the continent’s economic transformation through industrialisation, increased economic growth, employment generation and sustainable development.
However, despite some noticeable improvements in the last decade, Africa’s deficit in key infrastructure, including energy, road, rail and air transportation as well as water, is still huge.
From the statistics, the road network access in Africa is only about 34%, while over 600 million representing less than 40% of the population has access to electricity.
Similarly, internet penetration is as low as 6%; access to water and sanitation is also abysmally also low while only 5% of agriculture is under irrigation.
Indeed, a recent World Bank study found that sub-Saharan Africa suffers two percentage points reduction in national economic growth and cuts in business productivity by as much as 40% due to inadequate infrastructure.
The reason for this deficit is partly due to consistent under-investments in the provision of development infrastructure coupled with environmental and other social and governance challenges. It is estimated that about US$93-billion is needed annually over the next decade to overhaul sub-Saharan African infrastructure, out of which $60-billion should go for new infrastructure while $30-billion for the maintenance of existing infrastructure.
(iv) The challenge of insecurity.
Every citizen has a right to a secure existence through the protection of lives and property and all States have a constitutional or legal obligation to guarantee and protect the right to security. Physical insecurity therefore occurs when people become easily vulnerability to bodily harm, loss of life, property or livelihood as a result of the failure of the State to provide adequate security for its citizens.
Several countries in Africa, including Nigeria, continues to experience severe security challenges from multiple and diverse sources. For years, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, herders – farmers clashes, cross-border arms, human and drug trafficking and the drastic effects of climate change, including deforestation, desertification, flooding, pollution, food shortages and high population growth have continued to fuel internecine conflicts and causing untold human sufferings, including despair, destitution, poverty, diseases, internal displacements, and refugee crisis with sub-regional impact.
States in conflicts and security crisis will necessarily transfer more resources toward military and combat purposes rather than providing for the welfare needs of citizens.
This is the lived and protracted experience of Nigeria and other countries in Africa as people cannot go out and about with their daily business and social lives without any fear of harm to their lives and property with considerable consequences and drawbacks to sustainable development.
The World Bank estimates that civil conflicts costs developing countries a reduction in GDP growth rate while countries in protracted crisis could fall over 20 percentage points behind in overcoming poverty.
While the challenge of insecurity is huge, efforts at combatting same across Africa has largely been ineffective.
If weak or ineffective political institutions are seen as incapable of managing social tensions successfully; then it is a lot more difficulty for an over-centralized and often politicised security and policing systems to deliver effective physical security in mutually suspicious multi-ethnic societies as we have in Africa.
Therefore, while good governance holds the key to effective security, there is also the need to address the pressing issues of physical insecurity through policy and legal measures that provide democratic oversight control and accountability at all levels of government in or to create and sustain the necessary peaceful and secured environment for sustainable development to take place across Africa.
- Prospects of sustainable development in Africa.
The entire gamut of human progress, including economic growth, physical and social infrastructure, employment generation, improvements in livelihoods, security, poverty reduction and sustainable development is largely dependent on the available of natural resources and social capital. The developed nations all progressed to where they are using the factors of production as the foundation and drivers of income, wealth and development.
Fortunately for us, Africa has been projected as one of the most promising continents with a huge potential for growth and development. Two factors; the availability of natural resources and human capital readily account for this profuse optimism about Africa’s future economic greatness and egalitarian rebirth.
Arguably, Africa’s natural resource endowments in gold, diamond, uranium, oil and gas forests, fisheries, biodiversity, and wildlife and with over 60% of the world’s uncultivated land are huge, extensive and intensive.
Natural resource extraction and export presently accounts for over 30% of Africa’s GDP and in spite of vigorous drive for alternative sources of energy, Arica will continue to profit from increasing global demand for natural resources, including oil, natural gas, and solid minerals.
Furthermore, agriculture is not only the mainstay of Africa’s economic development, accounting for over 65% of labour employment; the appetite for Africa’s agricultural produce across the world remains huge and unmet.
Accordingly, investing in Africa’s vast stretches of unused arable land alone is more than sufficient to stimulate economic growth and guarantee food security not only for itself but also for the rest of the world.
Although these resources are not evenly located across countries, what is factual is that every country in the continent has more than enough natural resources to effectively harnesses and sustainably drive its development.
The other positive factor for Africa’s sustainable development lies in its human capital. Africa’s population is young, active and growing faster than any other continent. And with over 15% of the world’s population, Africa is a large trading market which the world cannot ignore.
The missing link is the capacity to transform Africa’s growth potential to reality through appropriate microeconomic policies that could lead to responsive and effective, technologically driven and value-added investments in natural resources extraction, agriculture and infrastructure.
- Governance, security and sustainable development: The Rivers State experience.
As a sub-national government, the Rivers State Government is under constitutional obligation to deliver public goods and advance the security and wellbeing of the people and ensure sustainable development in Rivers State.
When we came in, we inherited a State that was financially depleted and very closed to bankruptcy as evident in the government’s inability to pay workers’ salaries or fund development projects. It is on record that workers, including pensioners, were owed salaries ranging from three to eight months while contractors all abandoned projects sites due to lack of payments.
We also inherited a State that was devoid of effective governance. Both the State House of Assembly and the Legislature were shut and kept under lock and key for nearly two years without regards for the consequences on the rule of law, peace and security and the growth of the State’s economy.
We further inherited a State with low economic growth, steeped in severe insecurity and lacking in development infrastructure at both urban and rural areas. Several of our schools and hospitals were in sorry states of disrepair with limited levels of functionality and poor delivery of services.
Six years into governance, we can boldly say that we are delivering not just on our promise to build a new Rivers State but also on the thematic issues of good governance, security and sustainable development to the best of our capacity and commitment and as expected by the citizens who gave us their mandate.
From the very beginning, we were clear and focused on our mission to commit to good governance, fix our economy, and mobilize available resources to overcome our developmental challenges, tackle poverty and human security through the provision of basic physical and social infrastructure and build a State that cares and works for all who live in it.
Our priorities were well-defined and people-centred. Our approach was comprehensive, systematic, and transformative as discussed below:
(i) Strengthening democratic governance.
For us, the starting point was to restore good governance to the State. Consequently, our very first actions in office were to restore the judicial and legislative arms of government to independence and effectiveness. We immediately re-opened the courts and inaugurated the State House of Assembly to restore the rule of law, participatory and inclusive governance in the State.
We did not only restore the functionality of the judicial and legislative arms of government; we also ensured their independence and autonomy to freely manage their affairs, execute their projects and discharge their responsibilities without interference from the executive arm. We were perhaps the first State to ensure the practical independence of the judiciary at the subnational level under the present democratic dispensation.
We also intervened in providing the necessary conducive environment for both arms to operate in dignity with modern and comfortable courts to improve access to justice in the State. We also attended to the wellbeing of judicial officers by providing them with official vehicles and life-long accommodation as a matter of legal right.
We also extended our intervention to the State’s federal courts. Apart from building, renovating and furnishing new ultra-modern courthouses for the Port Harcourt Divisions of the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal, we have also provided first-class accommodation at the Old Government Reservation Area of the State for all federal judges serving in Rivers State.
Arguably, no government in history has invested as much as our government to rebuild, strengthen and reposition the institutions of governance without which the rule of law, access to justice, protection of human rights and effective governance and delivery of sustainable development cannot be achieved.
(ii) Creating the enabling environment for economic growth.
For us, there is no better way to stimulate economic growth than creating a positive environment for investments in our State. We also embarked on some pragmatic economic policy reforms that again opened-up the State for trade and investment.
We reduced our debt burdens, introduced a transparent and payer-friendly tax system, strengthened legal right to property, including the prompt issuance of certificates of occupancy.
We also ensured the massive provision of socio-economic infrastructures, including roads and markets to stimulate commination, trade and exchange of goods and services in the State.
As a result of our efforts four economy continues to enjoy stronger growth, attracting new investments while the small and medium-sized businesses are on the upsurge creating employment for our people, reducing poverty and generating revenue for the government with which government is funding physical and human capital development to advance sustainable development.
Indeed, while most other States are struggling with poor economic returns, the economy of Rivers State under our watch is on the upswing, posting consistent growth, attracting local and foreign direct investments, and over 50% additions to internally generated revenue and thereby increasing our capacity to mobilize more domestic revenues to fund the delivery of socio-economic goods and services to the citizens.
(iii) Prioritizing physical infrastructure.
For us, infrastructure is the oxygen of economic growth and human progress without which no society can develop and improve the living standards of citizens.
As a developing State, Rivers State needs roads to interconnect the towns and villages, promote trades, facilitate movement of goods and services, and spread economic opportunities to all and improve the living conditions and wellbeing of the people.
We therefore prioritized the provision of road infrastructure by focusing on five priority areas:
· clear all the roads and streets of potholes;
· complete abandoned road projects inherited from previous administrations;
· build new trunk roads across the State;
· carry out urban renewal projects and restore the road infrastructure in Government Reservation Areas and other urban neighbourhoods;
· build flyovers to resolve perennial traffic jams in capital territory; and
· provide paved internal and interconnect roads for rural communities.
Accordingly, we have consistently utilized over 65% of our annual capital budget to fund the provision of road infrastructure and successfully delivered well over 800 kilometres of tarmac roads across the State in the last six years of our administration.
We have not only rid the state of potholes; we have also upgraded, constructed and reconstructed several dual carriage ways spread across nine local government areas of the State.
It is also instructive that we have delivered road projects to some of the most remote parts of the State, including the coastal towns of Opobo which has existed without road connective to other parts of the State for well over a century.
We have also transformed a number of our rural communities with internal and interconnecting roads. Out of 10 flyovers under construction by Julius Berger Nigeria Limited, to ease traffic congestion, accelerate movements and improve property values, three have since been commissioned, three others will be commissioned early next month while the others would be completed in the first quarter of 2022.
We gave maximum attention to the provision of adequate infrastructure because our vision of growth depends on the ability to leverage our competitive workforce, our regional position and the national economy to deliver shared and sustained growth and prosperity for citizens.
(iv) Greater emphasis on social capital development.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “we cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”
We believe this statement is true at all times and for our State and country. Our State, our country and the world over are full of life changing prospects and opportunities.
As a government we believe in the transformational power of education and our commitment is to provide and prepare our youth with the knowledge, skills and values that they need to be imaginative, creative, productive, provide leadership, globally competitive and be self-reliant, which is necessary for sustainable development.
Over the last six years, we have invested enormous time, effort and resources to respond to the challenges access to quality education as part of our development and transformation vision targeted at making Rivers State not only the most educationally advanced State in Nigeria but also globally competitive. Accordingly, we have:
· ensured consistent increase in the education budget from 5% to 17% in 2021;
· accessed and deployed Federal Government’s matching grants to rehabilitate, rebuild, furnish and equip over 300 basic education schools across the State;
· cleared all salary arears and ensure regular payment of teachers’ salaries and pensions;
· ensured the training of basic education teachers and administrators;
· introduced school administration funds for secondary schools;
· built over 1200 new classrooms and provided over 14,000 classroom desks;
· ensured payment of WAEC, NECO and JAMB examination fees for all public secondary school students;
· reconstructed and equipped over 40 senior secondary schools;
· established three new campuses for the Rivers State University at Emohua, Ahoada East and Etche Local Government Areas of the State with 16.5-billion-naira take-off grant;
· built new faculty buildings for the faculties of Law, Management Sciences, Science and Technical Education, Environmental Sciences and College of Health Sciences at the Rivers State University;
· established the College of Health Sciences, which recently received accreditation to train medical doctors and other health professions;
· embarked on the construction of new faculty and departmental buildings for the faculty of basic clinical sciences and the department of Pathology of the College of Health Sciences; and
· built the Real Madrid Academy, Port Harcourt to provide skilful football training and basic education to the young ones who are interested professional football career.
Evidently, there is now universal access to basic education in Rivers State with enrolment and transition rates of over 95% from primary to secondary schools, while the number of out-of-school children has reduced drastically, just as the quality of education has also improved significantly.
Similarly, we have significantly improved the quantity and quality of infrastructure in all the State’s tertiary institutions such that they are now providing admissions to many more students than before now with full accreditation for virtually all academic programmes.
Our target is to ensure universal access and empower Rivers State citizens with the education, skills and competences that they need to be productive creators of labour, wealth and contributors to development.
(v) Prioritization of access to quality healthcare.
One of the important measures of effective governance is the quality of healthcare services being enjoyed citizens.
While not a fundamental right, our constitution clearly emphasizes the responsibility of government to ensure that everyone has access to the highest attainable standard of health care.
Access means universal availability of healthcare infrastructures and services even to those who live in the remotest parts of society, affordable even to low income or those who don’t earn anything at all and qualitative, including access to emergency diagnosis and treatment.
Over the years, successive governments have striven to provide healthcare services for the people. We therefore have a healthcare system that attends to the healthcare needs of citizens at different levels: primary, secondary or tertiary. Indeed, my predecessor focused on primary healthcare and strove to provide related infrastructures all over the place.
However, much as we have made some progress as a State in the provision of healthcare, we all know that serious gaps still existed at all levels in the delivery system, including the lack of tertiary or specialist healthcare facilities, which we have substantially tackled in the last six years.
We have also prioritized and invested time, effort and resources to:
· progressively increased the healthcare budget from 4% in 2015 to 13% in 2021;
· improved budgetary allocation revived and strengthened access to primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare across the State;
· rehabilitated, built and equipped a number of existing and new primary and secondary healthcare facilities to provide expand access to primary and secondary healthcare for residents and visitors;
· completed and commissioned the 120-bed Mother and Child specialist hospital to be run under a private public partnership arrangement to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of services;
· funding the completion of the five zonal referral hospitals located in Ahoada, Bori, Degema, Okehi and Omoku towns to provide secondary and specialised diagnosis, treatment and care to rural dwellers;
· established a Medical College and a Teaching Hospital for the Rivers State University to serve as a first-class facility for the teaching and training of medical personnel, conduct of advanced medical research and innovation and the provision of high-level diagnosis and treatment for citizens.
· Reconstructed and upgraded the College of Nursing and Midwifery to a degree awarding institution affiliated to the Rivers State University Medical College;
· embarked on the reconstruction and equipment of the Professor Kelson Harrison Specialist Hospital and the Dental Maxilo Facia Centre;
· constructing the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases Diagnostic and Treatment Centre at a cost for 25.9 billion naira to provide advanced diagnostic, treatment and care for cancer and cardiovascular diseases in the State; and
· established the Contributory Health Insurance Scheme with and Law to provide universal health coverage and make healthcare delivery accessible and affordable for all our citizens.
For us, as a government, we are determined to ensuring that all persons who reside in Rivers State have access to affordable, qualitative and essential health services that they need for their good health and wellbeing.
This is a covenant we have with our people and there is no excuses for us not to achieve this goal given it’s connection to human security and achievement to the sustainable development goals in our State.
(vi) Provision of security.
Under Nigeria’s constitutional framework, control and management of the entire security sector, including internal security policing, falls within the exclusive responsibility of the Federal Government.
Although elected Governors are tagged the chief security officers of their States, the lack of constitutional nor legal oversight powers over the control and management of sub-national security commands, especially the police, continue to impede effective coordination and implementation of State security policies and strategies.
Nevertheless, we recognize that keeping Rivers State and residents safe and secure, irrespective of the challenges, is a task we must accomplish for the good of our state and our country, irrespective of the structural challenges posed by the federal security architecture.
Accordingly, we have done and continues to implement strategic measures to advance the protection of lives and property in Rivers State. Such measures include, providing adequate logistics support, including the procurement of operational vehicles, gunboats, communication gadgets and administrative funding for all the security agencies in the State, including the armed forces.
We have since established a home-grown neighbourhood security corps to complement the regular security operations in the State in intelligence gathering and enforcement of criminal laws in the State.
We also established two special conventional security outfits, code-named ‘Operation Sting’ and C4i, dedicated to the fighting of kidnapping, armed robbery, cult violence, and terrorism.
In addition, we are addressing the issues of human security, including access to education, healthcare, job creation, economic empowerment and poverty reduction through various direct and indirect policy measures, including the provision of basic infrastructure across the State.
There is no doubt that the complementary efforts of our government has made Rivers State one of the most peaceful and secure States in the country, attractive reasonable investments, stimulating economic growth and enabling sustainable development across the State.
- Conclusion and Recommendation
Goal 1 of the Agenda 2063 dreams of Africa to be “a prosperous continent with the means and resources to drive its own development with sustainable and long-term stewardship of its resources.”
We have shown from the discourse that Africa has both the framework and the resources that is needed to transform the goals and aspirations of sustainable development into reality; to drive and achieve universal peace, security and prosperity for its people. The people of Africa are industrious and resilient enough to exploit Africa’s abundant opportunities for development.
By all accounts, African leaders are struggling to make the required positive change in the lives of their people and in many countries, these efforts are bearing some positive fruits in resolving the age-long challenges of underdevelopment, poor economic growth, lack of infrastructure, poverty, insecurity and climate change.
However, among other challenges, lack of effective governance and human have continued to diminish the efforts of Africa at achieving developments that are economically inclusive, ethically sound and socially equitable.
The failure to achieve human security is an albatross that engenders disillusionment and costly civil conflicts that threatens not just the wellbeing of citizens but also the very existence of States from within.
Africa must therefore summon the political will to address the fundamental issues of good governance and human security, which are the basic pre-conditions for accelerating the realization of sustainable development across the continent.
To this end, I am persuaded to suggest that Africa must address the factors limiting human security and sustainable development by:
· strengthening its governance systems to enable visionary political leadership, true democracy and effective and inclusive governance based on the rule of law, judicial independence and respect for human rights, human dignity and social justice.
· ensuring that the electoral process must be transparent, fair and credible at levels of the democratic process guarantee the emergence and institutionalization of credible political leadership and governance.
· building strong, independent, efficient and effective public institutions to advance and implement and enforcement of public policies on peace-building, security, socio-economic inclusions, and equitable governance;
· creating a positive environment for investments and economic growth through sound fiscal and macro-economic policies; integration into the international economy, attracting foreign direct investments in export business activities; stable legal environment; stable energy supply and investing in quality infrastructure to support economic growth.
· Scale-up investments in agriculture and food security and small and medium-size businesses to create employments and prioritize human and social development, including healthcare, education;
· ensuring social justice with viable policy initiatives to close the wealth gap, eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and exclusion through equitable and inclusive distribution of the nation’s wealth and holistically and pragmatically address all security threats to human lives, property and livelihoods; and finally,
· relying more of using political rather than forceful responses to the resolution of civil conflicts and legitimate agitations for social, economic and political justice.
Thank you for your attention.
17 Oil Wells: We Hope Uzodinma’ll Accept S’Court Judgment In Good Faith -Wike
My dear people of Rivers State, today, 6th May 2022, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has delivered its judgment on the subsisting boundary dispute between Imo State and Rivers State over the ownership of some oil wells at the Akiri and Mbede oil fields.
Let us recall that following the disputed claims to the location and ownership of some oil wells at the Akiri and Mbede oilfields between Imo and Rivers States in 1999, the Governors, Their Excellencies, Achike Udenwa and Dr. Peter Odili respectively, worked out a political settlement and mutually settled for a 50:50 percent beneficial sharing of the derivation proceeds accruing from these wells pending the proper demarcation of the boundaries between the two States by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).
While the dispute lingered, nothing was done by the NBC to demarcate the boundaries of the two States and establish the proper location and title to the disputed oil wells.
However, instead of instigating the NBC to do the right thing, Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, shortly after assuming office, repudiated the subsisting 50:50 percent sharing formula and made provocative claims to the exclusive ownership of the entire Akiri and Mbede oil wells.
In order to actualise this spurious claims, he stealthily wrote a letter dated 9th August, 2019 to President Muhammadu Buhari and requested for the refund of the sum of N15, 000,000.00 (fifteen billion naira) from Rivers State to Imo State as backlog of accrued proceeds from the 13% derivation revenue of the said oil wells.
Acting on Governor Ihedioha’s letter, Mr. President warranted a letter to be written to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) through his late Chief of State, Mr. Abba Kyari, to alter the status quo in favour of Imo State without reference to the subsisting dispute and agreement between the two States.
Surprised by the surreptitious plots and collusive actions of the Government of Imo State and the NBC to overreach the legal interest of Rivers State in the disputed oil wells, the Rivers State Government opted to approach the Court for a just and lasting resolution.
Accordingly, we first applied to the Federal High Court, Abuja and among other reliefs, successfully challenged the powers and authority of Mr. President to give directives to the RMFAC and or interfere in any manner whatsoever with the distribution of public revenues from the distributable pool account, including the Federation Account.
Not satisfied with the positive ruling of the Federal High Court, the Imo State Government appealed to the Court of Appeal and lost. We then proceeded against the Government of Imo State at the Supreme Court in a fresh suit for a final and conclusive determination of the boundary dispute between our two States.
In approaching the Supreme Court in this matter, we believed that the dispute between the two States and the contentious issues are such that the Court can judicially, justly and expeditiously determine with the available facts and supporting evidence, including valid administrative maps, subsisting judgments, and other relevant documents.
And so, the Supreme Court has finally and conclusively resolved the dispute and granted full and exclusive ownership of all the disputed oil wells in Akiri and Mbede oilfields, to Rivers State much to everyone’s relief.
Although Governor Hope Uzodinma was not the mastermind of the impulsive trajectory that compelled us to seek the intervention and protection of the Courts, he nevertheless participated fully in the litigation process to the end without engaging the Rivers State Government for a possible political solution.
However, his reactions to the judgments of the lower courts on this matter were clearly uncalled for.
Indeed, itwas rather unfortunate that for someone who became Governor through the instrumentality of the judiciary could turnaround to castigate the very institution that made him ruler over the good, peaceful and progressive people of Imo State.
Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, we hope Governor Hope Uzodinma will accept the outcome in good faith, refrain from his usual diatribes against the judiciary and explore possible pathways to accommodation and compromise from the Rivers State Government.
This, we may readily oblige, despite the betrayals and back-stabbing by Emeka Ihedioha, who in spite of the extensive support and goodwill he received from the Government and people of Rivers State to become Governor, led the onslaught and created a wedge between two brotherly States that have been living at peace and in friendship with each other.
We also deplore the collusive actions of the NBC, which unfortunately, has become notorious as one of the most corrupt national agency, which has functioned more in causing confusion than resolving boundary disputes.
It bears repeating that the quest to defend our ownership rights through the courts over the Akiri and Mbede oil wells was not intended to claim victory over Imo or any other State.
We are therefore open to further discussions with the Government of Imo State on the best way forward without prejudice to the outcome of today’s judgment.
We appreciate the lawyers that prosecuted and secured this landmark success for Rivers State, and for their efforts, it is my pleasure to announce the conferment of State Honours on every one of them as the Distinguished Service Star of Rivers State (DSSRS).
Finally, I wish to reiterate our resolve to continue to fight for, advance and protect the best interest of Rivers State at all times and under any circumstances up to the end of our Government, and we hope our successor would likewise continue in this courageous spirit and determination to make the desired positive difference for our State and our people.
Thank you and may God bless you all!
‘We Are Working To Leave Rivers Better Than We Met It’
My dear people of Rivers State
As the clock ticks down and as we look forward to
ushering-in the New Year 2022, this is the time to give thanks to the Almighty God for his blessings and the opportunity to look into the future with greater hope and optimism.
On behalf of my wife and the government, let me thank all Rivers State citizens in particular, and Nigerians in general, for your continued love and support to our administration throughout the year 2021.
Indeed, we cannot thank you enough for the trust, the solidarity, the cooperation and above all, your prayers for the success of our government and the peace and progress of our state.
We also thank the police, the Department of State Security, the armed forces and the para military services for working round the clock to make and keep our dear state peaceful, safe and secure, not only in this festive season but throughout the outgoing year.
Indeed, there is no denying the fact that crime and criminality have been at very low rates in Rivers State and citizens felt safer and more secure in 2021 than the previous years.
With the cooperation of the security agencies, we identified and destroyed most of the shanties that hitherto served as safe havens and hideouts for criminals, who have now been dislodged and dislocated from the state having lost the space and capacity from which they could operate with ease.
To consolidate on the gains of the dislodgement and dislocation exercises, and make the state even safer and more secure, we have decided to demolish all shanties and makeshift structures in identified crime hotspots in Port Harcourt Township and the Illaobuchi areas of Diobu from the second week of January, 2022.
Those rebuilding the shanties we had demolished at Eleme or attempting to resume illegal trading activities at the closed Oginigba slaughter have one week to vacate or be arrested and charged to court.
Additionally, we have discovered that most vacant plots or uncompleted buildings in the Old and New Government Reservation Areas (GRAs) and some other parts of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas have been hijacked and are now inhabited by criminal elements who are daily constituting menace to public safety.
We have therefore decided to end this danger by taking over all such abandoned plots and uncompleted buildings and re-allocate them to citizens who are ready to develop and put them into effective occupancy.
In a similar vein, we have revoked the certificates of occupancy of several undeveloped plots of land in old GRA, Port Harcourt, for breaching the covenants attached thereto, which we would also re-allocate to interested members of the public for immediate development as part of the ongoing efforts to restore the entire old GRA to its pristine state of development, beauty and serenity.
We will also not spare those contributing to the perennial flooding challenge in parts of Port Harcourt city and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area by blocking natural water and drainage channels with illegal landfilling, reclamation of wetlands or the construction of concrete structures.
Consequently, we shall recover and restore all landfilled or reclaimed wetlands and demolish all structures erected on natural water channels spanning from the Eastern Bypass area up to Abana and Eleme streets in Old GRA, Port Harcourt. Only those with genuine government permits and allocation papers will be duly compensated.
Again, it is important to appreciate what we have done to successfully transform our capital city, Port Harcourt, to one of the most beautiful cities in Nigeria with well-paved streets, pedestrian walkways, dual carriage roads and flyovers.
However, the beauty of the city is being defaced by illegal and indiscriminate trading on our streets, under flyovers and other unauthorised open spaces as well as the challenges with the current largely inefficient refuse disposal system.
I wish to, therefore, remind citizens that the ban on street trading and commuting on motor cycles in Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor local government areas is still in force.
Consequently, I hereby direct the Task Force on Illegal Street Trading to arrest and prosecute all those: (i) shuttling with their motorcycles and or hawking foreign exchange along Birabi Street, Hotel Presidential, GRA Junction by Zenith Bank up to Tombia Street; and (ii) trading on, under and around the Rumuola Junction and flyover; Rumuogba Junction and flyover; as well as Rumuokoro Junction and flyover.
Security personnel abetting illegal street trading by collecting bribes and offering protection to street vendors are advised to desist forthwith or they would equally be made to face the wrath of the law.
Furthermore, we have decided to end the menace of cart-pushers who have become notorious for indiscriminate scavenging and littering of wastes on street corners and the medians of major roads and highways across the state.
These cart pushers and their unknown collaborators are also responsible for the recurring stealing of manhole covers, an act which endangers peoples’ lives and public safety on our roads.
Consequently, the state government has placed an immediate ban on the activities of cart pushers and directs law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone who attempts to violate this ban.
In addition, a task force would be put in place to enforce this ban while we plead with the courts, in the interest of public safety and security, to impose the severest of punishment under the law on any convicted manhole vandal.
The indiscriminate and prolonged parking of trailers and other articulated vehicles along our streets is another environmental menace we must tackle to bring sanity to our cities and living environment.
Consequently, I hereby direct the chairmen of Port Harcourt City, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor, and Oyigbo local government councils to within three weeks from today impound and or remove any trailer, trucks or articulated vehicle packed on the streets beyond 48 hours in their respective administrative jurisdictions.
As we all know, achieving effective environmental sanitation in cities and urban centres is a global challenge, and ours is not an exception.
However, we are determined to improve on our refuse disposal system by reviewing, overhauling and strengthening the legal, institutional and economic framework for a more effective delivery of sanitation services to residents.
I urge that you bear with us for a while and things will certainly change for the better in our refuse disposal system.
As an initial step towards achieving this objective, we have placed an immediate ban on the disposal of refuse on the streets or open spaces in both the old and new GRAs of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas.
Every household in both old and new GRAs must therefore procure and keep approved refuse disposal bins in the front of their houses to facilitate the door-to-door collection of the wastes they generate by designated contractors.
We will not hesitate to revoke the certificate of occupancy of any house in these areas without a refuse disposal bin or whose occupants are caught disposing refuse on the streets or open spaces.
We have also banned the posting of advert materials of any kind, including posters, fliers, pictures, artworks, placards or inscriptions on or under our flyovers, bridges, concrete walls and the safety barricades along the roads.
We will establish environmental marshals to enforce compliance with our sanitation laws, including this ban, by arresting and prosecuting both the person who places the advert and the person and institution on whose behalf it is placed.
Fellow citizens, we also have reason to be concerned about the operations and socially harmful activities of nightclubs within residential areas of our state.
Apart from the noise and traffic nuisances suffered by innocent residents, no responsible government should continue to tolerate the open display and solicitation of sexual services, drug abuse and public intoxication that takes place along the streets and public areas abutting some of these nightclubs, lounges and bars by the youths, some, as young as under 14 years.
Consequently, the state government has placed an immediate ban on all nightclub activities, including night-time trading and street prostitution along SaniAbacha Road and surrounding streets to stop the harmful effect of these depraved activities on the moral development of our children and society at large.
Let me also reiterate that we are as overly concerned as the public over the black soot environmental disaster that has continued to envelope Port Harcourt and upsetting residents for quite some time.
As a state government, we have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to this problem and requested for its intervention to stop the activities of illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners, which have been identified as the main sources of the soot pandemic.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government has remained inexplicably silent over our request and even complicit to a large extent with the security agencies actively aiding, encouraging and protecting the artisanal refiners to continue with their harmful activities unabated.
We have equally appealed without success to our people engaging in this illegal business to consider its negative effects on our economy, environment, public safety and public health and disengage from it.
We will continue to engage and plead with the Federal Government to intervene and save our people from this serious environmental and health emergency.
However, since the federal security agencies have largely refused to stop the illegal crude oil refining activities in the state, we have no option than to take necessary measures to tackle this particular and direct challenge to our collective health and survival by ourselves.
Consequently, I have directed the chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites along Creek Road and adjourning areas of the city and shut them down with immediate effect.
Furthermore, all local government chairmen are directed to work with community leaders to locate and identify those behind all illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities and report to my office for further action.
Once again, we express our sympathies to the victims of the recent fire incidences in the state, especially those who lost loved ones and valuable property.
As a government we will continue to do our best to strengthen the State Fire Service to effectively intervene to mitigate the damage during fire incidents.
However, members of the public also have the responsibility to do the right thing to prevent or avoid some of these fire incidents from happening and those who deliberately bury fuel and gas tanks in residential areas are certainly not doing the right thing, and should therefore relocate their precarious businesses to more convenient and less risky places.
We wish to also express our concern over the poor compliance with the existing COVID-19 protocols by citizens and the effect on the transmission of the disease in the state.
Believe it or not, COVID-19 is a reality that has already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and disrupted economic activities across the world.
Here in Rivers State the transmission of the virus continues to surge daily and we all need to act together to stop the diseases from further ravaging our state.
We, therefore, appeal to all residents to make themselves available for testing and vaccination whether it is for your first, second or booster jab in addition to observing the existing preventive protocols, including social distancing and wearing of face masks to reduce the level of transmission.
Let me also remind all government recognized traditional rulers that they are, at all times, subject to the authority and directives of the state government and not to other allegiances, culture or otherwise.
Therefore, the consistent absence of some first class traditional rulers, especially the Amanyanabo of Okrika, the Amanyanabo of Ogu, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari and the GbenemeneNyo-Khana from participating in state functions is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
Should they, therefore, continue to absent themselves from state functions or in the regular meetings and activities of the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, we would have no option than to direct their immediate replacement.
Finally, as the New Year 2022 inevitably beckons, we wish to assure you that we will continue to do our best to meet the aspirations of our citizens for a more peaceful, safe and secure society throughout the Year 2022.
We will continue to pursue our objectives for a stronger and more sustainable economy centred on fiscal discipline, revenue growth, job creation, and improved standard of living for all residents.
We will continue to accelerate our development with the sustainable delivery of quality roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other socio-economic infrastructure and complete all ongoing development projects across the state.
I wish to, once again, thank our leaders, traditional rulers, elder statesmen, party chieftains, our women, our youths and the press for the warmth and support we have received throughout 2021.
We wish to specially thank our religious leaders for their prayers for peace and progress as well as for their continuous support to our government in the primary task of building the Rivers State of our collective dream.
We remain grateful to God for the unprecedented peace, security and transformational strides the state is enjoying under our administration.
But we must also be vigilant because our enemies, especially, members of the opposition, are not happy with the prevailing peace, security and the unprecedented achievements we have recorded; and are therefore determined to cause crisis and disturb our peace and joy if they have the opportunity.
Let us therefore prayerfully continue to place our dear state and everyone in the safe and protective hands of God Almighty through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I wish each and every one a happy and prosperous New Year!
May God continue to bless our dear Rivers State.
2022: FG’ll Leverage ICT Platforms To Create Jobs-Buhari
We remain grateful to the Almighty God for yet an
other year attained as a country, united by a common destiny and resolute in our determination to overcome the several challenges along the path to build the great and prosperous nation of our dream.
I salute the courage and resilience of all Nigerians, which was evident in 2021 as this nation, like other countries of the world, faced significant challenges that occurred as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to restore the global economy and social order.
The persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country may have threatened to unravel the incremental gains achieved in the real sectors of the economy and in the administration’s overall objective to position the nation on the irreversible trajectory of sustainable growth and progress, but I assure you that we will remain resolute in our commitments and shall continue to press ahead with our programmes and plans.
The path to nationhood is often fraught with unpredictable difficulties and challenges, and most tried and tested nations have often prevailed through dogged determination, resilience, concerted commitment to unity, and the conviction that the whole of the nation, standing together against all odds, is by far greater and would ultimately be more prosperous and viable than the sum of its distinguishable parts.
There is no doubt that the issue of Security remains at the front burner of priority areas that this administration has given utmost attention to. As a follow up to our promise to re-energize and reorganize the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police, it is on record that this Administration has invested heavily in re-equipping our military in line with upgrading the platforms and firepower required to tackle the current challenges being faced in the country.
The net results of these efforts have been the number of insurgents and bandits who have willingly surrendered to our Security Forces and continue to do so through various channels and the Safe Corridor created for that purpose.
Government, however, realises that victory on the battlefield is just one aspect of sustainable victory. We know that to fully win this war, we must also win the peace and real security lies in winning the hearts and minds of the affected citizens. To this end, working with our international partners and neighbouring countries, we would be deploying multi-faceted solutions that will be targeted at addressing human security at the grassroots, before it leads to insecurity.
Once again I would like to take a moment to remember and honour the gallant military, police officers, and other security agents who have lost their lives in the cause of protecting the territorial integrity of this nation against both internal and external aggressors, assuring their families that their sacrifices would not be in vain.
We equally remember and commiserate with Nigerians who have lost loved ones as a result of insecurity in different parts of the country. Every life matters and every single death caused by any form of insecurity is a matter of personal concern to me both as a citizen and as the President of this great country.
We remain fully committed to upholding the constitutional provisions that protect all Nigerians from any form of internal and external aggression.
On the economy, we have shown a high level of resilience to record some significant achievements despite the turbulence that has characterised our economy and indeed the global economy. The lessons we have learned and keep learning from COVID-19 have encouraged us to intensify efforts to mitigate its socio-economic effects on our nation.
The major wins we have recorded can be clearly seen in Nigeria’s most recent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The 4.03% growth recorded in the third quarter of 2021 is indicative of the recovery being recorded in our economy and the confidence that is being shown through the policies that our administration has put in place after the outbreak of the pandemic.
We may also recall that this recent growth is closely followed by the 5.1% (year-on-year) growth in real terms recorded by Nigeria in Quarter 2 of 2021. This growth was one of the best recorded by any nation across Sub-Saharan Africa. The 5.1% growth at that time was and remains the highest growth recorded by the Nigerian economy since 2014.
Despite the challenges we have faced as a nation, the good news is that we have so far recorded four consecutive quarters of growth after the negative growth rates recorded in Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 of 2020 due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 16, 2021, I signed the landmark Petroleum Industry Act into law. The signing of this legacy legislation is a watershed moment in the history of our nation, considering the massive positive impact the new Act would have on the economy. I would like to sincerely commend the 9th Assembly for the grit they demonstrated, succeeding where others have failed, and the cooperation that led to the completion of this process after almost two decades.
Just like I stated during the investment trips and fora that I have attended recently, the legislation is expected to serve as a liberalising force in the energy industry, and we are optimistic that this law will provide the much-needed legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the development of the energy sector, the host communities, and Nigeria as a Nation. Our objective to increase liquefied natural gas exports and expand our domestic market is still very much at the forefront of some of the policies we would be pushing in the New Year.
In year 2022 and going forward, our administration would intentionally leverage ICT platforms to create jobs, while ensuring that the diversification of our economy creates more support to other emerging sectors. I am proud to announce that several foreign investors are taking advantage of our ranking as one of the leading start-up ecosystems in Africa to invest in our digital economy.
We have given the utmost priority to fighting corruption and other related offenses which have been a bane to the growth and prosperity of our dear nation. We have made major strides and breakthroughs through the innovative use of technology and forensics in the investigative and prosecutorial procedures with commendable results to show that the anti-corruption drive of our administration is succeeding.
In the meantime, the accomplishments that have been recorded so far can be traced to the dedication of the nation’s anti-corruption agencies who have received the necessary support needed to effectively prosecute their duties.
Despite our challenges in 2021, it was also a year in which the administration executed successfully, key projects, programmes, and initiatives to fulfil the promises made under the Security, Economy Anti-corruption (SEA) agenda.
As we welcome 2022, let us, with hope; envision a year of continued progress against our combined challenges arising from security and socio-economic issues.
As it is said, the past is but a story told, the future will still be written in gold. Let us be united in our fight to keep our Nation united against all odds and with gratitude, celebrate life in this new epoch.
I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.
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