Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday ruminated on Nigeria’s current economic situation, admitting that the country is facing “turbulent times”.
The president stated this at a meeting with the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari re-emphasized the imperative of support of traditional rulers in the administration’s determination to address the challenges facing the country, including demands made by youths during the recent EndSARS protests.
The president drew attention of the delegation to challenges of COVID-19 pandemic which have impacted negatively on Nigeria.
“We find ourselves in very turbulent times, with a global health pandemic that has been incredibly challenging. Economies have been crippled as the response to the pandemic has forced businesses to shut down or devise new means of transacting. For a country like ours, with a large informal economy, our citizens have been particularly hit,” he said.
Buhari noted, however, that his administration has “designed various schemes and taken many measures to soften the impact, despite our own revenue struggles as government”, while recognizing that “more needs to be done to cater to our fellow citizens, not just those in the urban areas but also those in rural areas”.
The president also revealed that he is fully aware that the country’s strong farming belts have been impacted by floods, saying his government is working on how to bring relief to the farmers.
“While we have seen record levels of farm outputs and increased level of fertilizer utilization, government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its agencies is working on how to help bring these farmers some relief,” he said.
He admitted that the country’s growing youth population is facing enormous challenges, but said “there is no hiding place regarding how we should address insecurity concerns, youth unemployment, job creation, boosting industrialization and preparing for a transition into a digital economy”.
He reiterated that his government “heard the loud cries of our youth and children, and we are attending to their concerns”.
“To succeed in all of this, we would require your support and voice to help amplify the message. Your proximity to the people places you in a unique position to communicate and ensure that our response is targeted and impactful,” he said.
Describing their “role as guardians of our traditional values and culture” as most critical, the president urged the traditional rulers not to compromise their neutrality “because this is what significantly confers on you, your moral authority and legitimacy”.
He said his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, would lead senior government officials to various parts of the country “and directly engage with you as part of this process”.
“He will be reporting back to me on your various perspectives. I want to once again thank you for the role you all have played to calm down our youth with wisdom and authority. By instilling hope and keeping the peace, you have rendered the country great service,” Buhari said.
While warning that “we cannot allow anybody or group to threaten the peace or sabotage these efforts”, the president restated that “strong, transparent efforts are underway to address those rogue elements of the Nigerian Police Force”.
Simultaneously, the Nigerian Police Force will also undergo much-needed reform that covers welfare, working conditions, and code of conduct that will usher in a more professional workforce, he said.
Recognizing the primary and important role of the monarchs in helping maintain peace and security in the country, the president expressed delight at their visit “given all that has happened recently in our country”.
While receiving the recommendations of the traditional rulers, he promised to study them and take appropriate action.
Remarks were made by the Sultan of Sokoto and the Ooni of Ife, His Royal Majesty Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, while two foremost traditional rulers representing each geo-political zone also attended the meeting.