The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday justified the recent increase in the price of petrol in the country, saying it made no sense for the commodity to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.
Buhari, who said this in his nationwide broadcast to mark the nation’s 60th independence anniversary, gave an indication of further hikes in the price of petrol and blamed his predecessors between 1999 and 2015 for near destruction of the country.
But opposition People Democratic Party and the PDP governors said Nigeria was not only going backwards, but also more divided under Buhari.
The President, in his speech, defended the recent petrol price hike. He said, “A responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.
“Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point.
“Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre. Niger, also an oil producing country sells one litre at N346.In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre. Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.”
Even with scare resources, I’m doing better than my predecessors, Buhari boasts
He specifically blamed those who were in charge of the country between 1999 and 2015 when he took over, saying they presided over the near destruction of the country.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umar Yar’Adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan were in charge of the country during the period Buhari mentioned.
The President said, “No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security.
“Those in the previous governments from 1999 to 2015, who presided over the near destruction of the country have now the impudence to attempt to criticise our efforts. In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.”
Buhari also admitted that the nation’s economy under his watch was in crisis. He, however, claimed the situation was the same with every economy of the world.
The President also admitted the various security challenges affecting parts of the country.
He said, “Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis.
“We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control.
Lamenting that Nigerians dwelt on divisive issues, Buhari said, “An underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.
“In addition, institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline.”
Edo election, a confirmation of my belief in credible polls –Buhari
The President said the outcome of the recent governorship election in Edo State confirmed his belief in credible polls.
He said, “I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President.
“The recent build-up and eventual outcome of the Edo State election should encourage Nigerians that it is my commitment to bequeath to this country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count.
“The problems with our electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office.
“Democracy, the world over and as I am pursuing in Nigeria, recognises the power of the people. However, if some constituencies choose to bargain off their power, they should be prepared for denial of their rights.”
The President noted that Nigeria grappled with multiple challenges with a population exceeding 200 million occupying the same land mass but 52 percent residing in urban areas.
According to him, 60 years of nationhood provides an opportunity to ask questions on the extent to which Nigerians have sustained the aspirations of the country’s founding fathers.
He said Nigerians needed to begin a sincere process of national healing, saying the 60th independence anniversary presented a genuine opportunity “to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are.”
Emphasising the need for Nigerians to unite, Buhari said, “I am convinced that if we pursue our aspirations together, we will be able to achieve whatever we desire. That informed our adopting the theme together to mark this epochal event.
“Together, we can change our condition for the better and more importantly, together we can do much more for ourselves and for our country.
“ Nigeria is not a country for Mr President, any ruling or the opposition party but a country for all of us and we must play our part, irrespective of challenges we face, to make this country what we desire.”
He said his regime was grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources.
But the PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, in an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday evening, berated Buhari over his comments on Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan.