1. I am indeed delighted to be here at this dinner organised by the Abuja Private Sector Forum to give me another opportunity to interact with the private sector and garner support for our electioneering campaign. This gesture demonstrates the patriotic zeal of the Forum to the unity and progress of our dear country. Coming less than one week to the General Election of March 28th 2015, this forum will certainly go a long way to sensitise and mobilise our people to constructively apply themselves to actualise the much-desired change in our country on that date.
2. I am glad to state that desire for change in Nigeria today is not just an All Progressives Congress (APC) party affair but has turned into a national movement underpinned by a National Agenda of arresting the drift and promoting the unity and development of our country. This desire for change has been embraced by all and sundry from all over the country.
3. I am sure you are all concerned about the general deterioration in all sectors of the Nigerian society, in particular the business environment which has been negatively affected by mismanagement, profligacy, bad governance, corruption and above all pervasive insecurity in our land and therefore has not been able to advance the course of doing business in our country.
4. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, if by the grace of God I am elected President, in the next Saturday’s Election, the security and stability of our nation, which have been threatened in recent times, more than at any time since the Civil War, shall be properly addressed as a number one priority by enhancing the capacity of security agencies to safeguard lives and property. We shall decisively bring the Boko Haram insurgency to an end and promote lasting peace and stability in all the nooks and crannies of our nation. We would ensure that the victims of the insurgency are adequately rehabilitated and supported to restore their means of livelihood. All Nigerians shall be free to live and work in every part of the country. We shall make accountability and transparency the hallmarks of our administration by ensuring that resources are well utilized through plugging all loopholes and eliminating wastages and corruption in governance. Anti corruption agencies shall be strengthened and given free hand to operate in discharging their statutory mandate.
5. We would strengthen and make government institutions more independent to provide the necessary regulatory framework for conducive business environment. We would provide level playing field and will not allow politics to creep into and constrain the business climate. We would embark on multiple tracks reform in the oil & gas sector especially the government institutions like the NNPC to block revenue transmission leakages and make them more efficient and accountable.
6. The manifesto of our great Party, the APC, which took six months of surveys and painstaking analyses of the Nigerian condition to develop, has come out with a comprehensive Economic Development Plan geared towards promoting agriculture, power supply, infrastructural development, industrialization and job creation, amongst others. We shall promote sound macro-economic policy environment, run an efficient and transparent Government, restore and strengthen financial confidence by putting in place a more robust monitoring, supervision and regulation of all financial institutions.
7. We shall embark on a National Infrastructural Development Programme that will promote road, air and water transportation in the country to make Nigeria a hub of the West African Sub Region. Roads and rail construction will unlock a value chain of opportunities for construction companies, builders, engineers, architects, quarry operators, cement and iron rod production and supply. We shall undertake a review of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework with a view to strengthening its legal, regulatory and operational systems. We shall provide incentives to accelerate public and private sector investments in the green field ports development and inland waterways. Our maritime environment shall be secured and protected from piracy and armed robbery at sea.
8. We would undertake a more comprehensive power reform that would address the gaps in power industry. Also, we would explore and develop alternative sources of energy that are efficient, affordable and environmentally sustainable. These would boost power supply, create jobs and reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria.
9. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the current dwindling oil prices have brought our economic and social predicament into sharp focus. We must stop paying lip service to agriculture by taking practical and concrete steps to restore it to its glorious position as the mainstay of our economy providing employment, food for our teeming population as well as leading foreign exchange earner.
10. Our Agricultural policy shall provide farmers a dignified living through improved inputs, extension services, access to credits and price support mechanisms. We would re-vitalize the agricultural sector and make it the engine of growth, and source of job and wealth creation. Some of our policy thrust would include Agricultural Enterprises Value Chain and Cluster Development for commodities, and institutional framework and support for agribusiness investment. In this regard, the Abuja Commodity Exchange shall be reinvigorated and supported. We will rehabilitate and invest in agric. Infrastructure such as access roads and dams & irrigation. We will also invest in Research & development and promote farmers capacity for more efficient agric. production. We will restore and institutionalize extension services system.
11. Arising from the above, we shall adopt a robust industrialization policy and provide conducive environment for a private sector led industrial base for the economy. We would create industrial Hubs and Clusters with appropriate infrastructure and tax incentives to support industries and businesses. We will promote relevant education in technical and vocational training to create the necessary skills required for industrial development. Property rights will be guaranteed, while sanctity of contracts would be protected.
12. We shall take a look at the Land Use Act of 1978 with a view to making land more accessible for residential, commercial and developmental purposes. We shall provide incentives in the housing sector to bridge the housing deficit in the country in order to make houses cheaper and affordable to our average income earners, especially in our major urban centres such as Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna, Ibadan and Kano.
13. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, when I addressed the Lagos private sector on 2nd February 2015, I did promise that if elected, I would maintain periodic and regular meetings with stakeholders to obtain well informed advice for Government to formulate policies and strategies that would uplift this country from the economic doldrums and advance their interest for the overall progress and development of our country. I am therefore happy to state that the private sector will be one of the stakeholders to be consulted on issues from time to time. As we approach 28th March 2015, we urge you and other Nigerians to intensify efforts to vote as well as mobilise voters to ensure my successful election. I would want to reiterate my pledge that I will lead with integrity, honour and sincere commitment to the good cause of Nigerians.
14. I would like to finally express my profound appreciation to the organizers of this event for their altruistic support and all those who participated in this dinner as well as many others who contributed in one way or the other to our campaign efforts. May God crown our efforts with victory in the Polls, ameen.
Thank You and God Bless
General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR