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President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday led Nigerians to celebrate June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day, renaming the Abuja National Stadium after the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, to mark the event.
This is just as the President who unveiled a 12 points agenda which he intends to pursue in the next four years, hinted of his plans to assemble a “ strong team of Nigerians “ to assist him implement his transformation agenda
Coming seven years after the first attempt by former President Goodluck Jonathan to rename the University of Lagos uNILAG after Abiola, the renaming is seen as Buhari’s attempt at immortalizing Abiola, after the UNILAG renaming was roundly rejected.
The President while unveiling his 12 points agenda for the next four years, promised to assemble “ a strong team of Nigerians, and allies, to implement our transformative plans and proposals.”
“We will see significant focus, resource and, where necessary reform, in tertiary and technical education to reposition Nigeria’s workforce for the modern technological age.
The President promised to accelerate investments in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare programs, interventions and infrastructure as well as in upgrading of our medical personnel to stem the flight of our best trained people.
On food security, Buhari noted that farmers have made great strides in local production of rice, maize, cassava, poultry, fertilizer, fisheries and sesame, but assured that his administration remain resolute in supporting private sector in emphasizing backward integration and export expansion plans.
One energy, the President said his government is taking steps to harness cleaner and more sustainable sources of electricity, noting that Nigeria export over 2 million tons of cooking gas, while its citizens consume less than half a million tons.
“We will work to address this issue and support rural communities with challenges of safely switching from firewood to cooking gas.
“Dedicated agro-industrial processing zones will be developed on a PPP basis to increase farming yields, agricultural productivity and industrial output.
“Over 2,000 kilometers of ongoing Federal road and bridge projects across the country will be completed to reduce journey times and the cost of doing business. As I mentioned earlier, critical feeder roads will be built to facilitate easier transportation for people and goods from rural areas to major roads.
“We are at advanced stages of securing investments to modernize and expand our transmission and distribution infrastructure, ensuring that electricity is available and affordable for all Nigerians.
“Several rail, seaport and airport projects are at various stages of completion. We will open the arteries of transportation nationwide.
“It is a fact that Nigeria has more gas reserves than it has oil. Over the last four years, we have become a net exporter of urea, which is made from natural gas. We invite investors to develop more natural gas-based petrochemical projects.
He warned that “Government will not tolerate actions by any individual or groups of individuals who seek to attack our way of life or those who seek to corruptly enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. We will crack down on those who incite ordinary innocent people to violence and unrest.
“We will ensure that such actions are met with the strong arm of the law.
The President had hosted some of the leaders to a Democracy Day dinner, last night where he used the opportunity to explain the main reasons behind the declaration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
Buhari said his administration believes in resolving some of the issues around the annulled June 12 1993 presidential elections
“One of the principal issues, politically, was the recognition of that election in 1993 which was won by, now late, Chief MKO Abiola, an important progressive opposition leader. That is why we are celebrating June 12 as our new Democracy Day. So, we are really very happy that you are able to share with us a very special event – the celebration of our new democracy day.”
The Democracy Day Celebration featured parade by the various arms of the Nigeria’s security agencies including the Army, Police, the Air Force and the Nigerian Navy.
The President who arrived the Eagles Square a few minutes after 10 am for the event, is also expected to meet with leaders of the Lake Chad Commission, made up of leaders of Niger, Mali, Chad, Cameroon,on the new strategy to tackle the Boko Haram insurgents as part of the activities lined up for the celebration.
TONY AILEMEN, Abuja