President Muhammadu Buhari has warned those who kill in the name of protecting or defending herdsmen that they will face the full wrath of law.
In a broadcast to mark the 58th Independence Anniversary of the country, he observed on Monday morning that the farmers/herdsmen crises had been exploited by those who seek to sow disunity among the people.
The president revealed that given the nature of the problem, Nigeria is working with other countries to deal with it.
He said: “The age-long conflict between herders and farmers that was being exploited by those seeking to plant the seeds of discord and disunity amongst our people, is being addressed decisively. We will sustain and continue to support the commendable efforts by all including civil society organisations, local and states governments and our traditional and religious leaders in finding durable solution to this problem.
“This being a transhumance issue, we are working with countries in our region that are also facing similar difficulties to complement our common efforts.
“In this context I must warn that the perpetrators of murder and general mayhem in the name of defending or protecting herders or farmers will face the full wrath of the law.
“Meanwhile, we urge all peace loving Nigerians to reject any simplistic portrayal, at home or abroad, of this conflict as either religious or ethnic based.
“We are one of the countries in the world most affected by environmental degradation, as a consequence of climate change. We are signatories to almost all conventions and agreements aimed at slowing down the effect of climate change and mitigating its now evident consequences.
“The consequences on lives and livelihoods of the shrinking of the Lake Chad and the pollution caused by oil exploitation activities alone make it mandatory on us to be at the forefront of the struggle for a safer and more sustainable environment. We will continue to mobilise international support for our efforts in this regard.”
On the issue of corruption, the president assured that the brazen stealing of billions of naira has ceased, saying that his administration has made progress in the fight against corruption.
His words: “We are making progress in the fight against corruption and recovery of stolen public funds and assets despite vicious and stiff resistance. The shameful past practice, of the brazen theft of billions of Naira is no more.
“Shady oil deals and public contracts that were never delivered have become things of the past.
“Consequently, and this is very evident across the country, we have done more with less in infrastructural developments. Roads, railways, major bridges, schools, energy and power, air and sea ports, welfare of serving and retired personnel both civilian and military including payment of legacy debt such as pension arrears, have been attended to.
“There is now an enabling environment for local and foreign investment in Nigeria. We are building a rules-based system – a level playing field that is free from fixers and intermediaries. This is the cornerstone to help genuine investors and honest consumers, and the platform that will allow for the real reforms that we intend to deliver over the coming years.
“We are gradually strengthening the economy with a stable Naira and falling inflation rate. We are building an economy that is moving away from over reliance on oil. Consequently we have witnessed massive return to farms and seen bumper harvest, despite recurrent floods across the country.
“These positive developments are the result of our collective pursuit of a common vision through hard work and dedication, after the missed opportunities and disappointments that followed the return to democracy in 1999.
The president regretted the abuse of social media by youths in the country, stressing the need to control its excesses.
He stated: “Now, we have in our hands technology that is a powerful tool that we can and should use for knowledge and understanding. As with other countries, we must also learn how to manage those tendencies that, instead, look to abuse new technologies to provoke passions and stir tensions.
“Never before have we faced such a challenge. We must all rise to the responsibility of shutting out those disruptive and corrosive forces that hide in today’s world of social media. We need critical minds and independent thinking, to question and question until we are satisfied we have the facts. Otherwise, all the progress we have made as a democracy since 1999 is at stake.”
He declared his commitment to participatory elections in the country, noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be truly independent.
According to him, “I have committed myself many times to ensure that elections are fully participatory, free and fair and that the Independent National Electoral Commission will be exactly independent and properly staffed and resourced.
“The ballot box is how we make our choice for the governments that rule in our name.”
While noting that the war on terror in the North East has succeeded, he assured servicemen and women that there welfare will be taken care of.
He also spoke on effort to diversify the economy, saying that it is being moved away from reliance on oil to increased manufacturing capacity, solid minerals.
President Buhari added: “As we celebrate the 58th Anniversary of our independence, we know we are on the right path. Although we have our differences, they count for far less than the values, virtues and common aspirations that unite us as a nation.
“We have so much for which we should be grateful, and in which we should rightly take pride. Our journey is not finished but we have come a long way.
“I want to assure you that as President, I will continue to work tirelessly to promote, protect and preserve what really matters: a united, peaceful, prosperous and secure Nigeria, where all, irrespective of background, can aspire to succeed.”