1. A week ago, I had cause to
address Nigerians on the security challenges we are
facing in parts of the country, which necessitated the
declaration of a state of emergency in 15 Local Government Areas in four states of the Federation.
That course of action attracted widespread support
and a demonstration of understanding. With that
declaration, government had again signaled its
intention to combat terrorism with renewed vigour
and to assure every Nigerian of safety.
2. The support that we have received in the fight
against terrorism from concerned Nigerians at home
and abroad has been remarkable. We believe that it is
with such continued support that progress can be
made on national issues. Let me express my heartfelt
appreciation to everyone who has expressed a commitment to support us as we strive to improve on
the country’s security situation, and build a stronger
foundation for the future. The recent mindless acts of
violence in Gombe, Potiskum, Jimeta-Yola and Mubi
are unfortunate. I urge all Nigerians to eschew
bitterness and acrimony and live together in harmony and peace. Wherever there is any threat to
public peace, our security agencies will enforce the
law, without fear or favour.
3. This evening, I address you, again, with much
concern over an issue that borders on the national
economy, the oil industry and national progress. As
part of our efforts to transform the economy and
guarantee prosperity for all Nigerians, Government, a
few days ago, announced further deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. The immediate effect
of this has been the removal of the subsidy on petrol.
4. Since the announcement, there have been mixed
reactions to the policy. Let me seize this opportunity
to assure all Nigerians that I feel the pain that you all
feel. I personally feel pained to see the sharp increase
in transport fares and the prices of goods and
services. I share the anguish of all persons who had travelled out of their stations, who had to pay more
on the return leg of their journeys.
5. If I were not here to lead the process of national
renewal, if I were in your shoes at this moment, I
probably would have reacted in the same manner as
some of our compatriots, or hold the same critical
views about government. But I need to use this
opportunity as your President to address Nigerians on the realities on the ground, and why we chose to
act as we did. I know that these are not easy times.
But tough choices have to be made to safe guard the
economy and our collective survival as a nation.
6. My fellow Nigerians, the truth is that we are all
faced with two basic choices with regard to the
management of the downstream petroleum sector:
either we deregulate and survive economically, or we
continue with a subsidy regime that will continue to
undermine our economy and potential for growth, and face serious consequences.
7. As you all know, the subject of deregulation is not
new, we have been grappling with it for more than
two decades. Previous administrations tinkered with
the pump price of petroleum products, and were
unable to effect complete deregulation of the
downstream sector. This approach has not worked. If it did, we would not be here talking about
deregulation today. I understand fully well that
deregulation is not a magic formula that will address
every economic challenge, but it provides a good
entry point for transforming the economy, and for
ensuring transparency and competitiveness in the oil industry, which is the mainstay of our economy.
8. As a President, elected and supported by ordinary
Nigerians, and the vast majority of our people, I have
a duty to bring up policies and programmes that will
grow the economy and bring about greater benefits
for the people. Let me assure you that as your
President, I have no intention to inflict pain on Nigerians.
9. The deregulation of the petroleum sector is a
necessary step that we had to take. Should we
continue to do things the same way, and face more
serious economic challenges? Or deregulate, endure
the initial discomfort and reap better benefits later? I
want to assure every Nigerian that whatever pain you may feel at the moment, will be temporary.
10. The interest of the ordinary people of this country
will always remain topmost in my priorities as a
leader. I remain passionately committed to achieving
significant and enduring improvements in our
economy that will lead to sustained improvement in
the lives of our people.
11. I am determined to leave behind a better Nigeria,
which we all can be proud of. To do so, I must make
sure that we have the resources and the means to
grow our economy to be resilient, and to sustain
improved livelihood for our people. We must act in
the public interest, no matter how tough, for the pains of today cannot be compared to the benefits of
tomorrow. On assumption of office as President, I
swore to an oath to always act in the best interest of
the people. I remain faithful to that undertaking.
12. To save Nigeria, we must all be prepared to make
sacrifices. On the part of Government, we are taking
several measures aimed at cutting the size and cost of
governance, including on-going and continuous
effort to reduce the size of our recurrent expenditure
and increase capital spending. In this regard, I have directed that overseas travels by all political office
holders, including the President, should be reduced
to the barest minimum. The size of delegations on
foreign trips will also be drastically reduced; only
trips that are absolutely necessary will be approved.
13. For the year 2012, the basic salaries of all political
office holders in the Executive arm of government
will be reduced by 25%. Government is also currently
reviewing the number of committees, commissions
and parastatals with overlapping responsibilities. The
Report on this will be submitted shortly and the recommendations will be promptly implemented. In
the meantime, all Ministries, Departments and
Agencies must reduce their overhead expenses.
14. We are all greatly concerned about the issue of
corruption. The deregulation policy is the strongest
measure to tackle this challenge in the downstream
sector. In addition, government is taking other steps
to further sanitize the oil industry.
15. To ensure that the funds from petroleum subsidy
removal are spent prudently on projects that will
build a greater Nigeria, I have established a
committee to oversee the implementation of the
Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment
Programme. I sincerely believe that the reinvestment of the petroleum subsidy funds, to ensure
improvement in national infrastructure, power
supply, transportation, irrigation and agriculture,
education, healthcare, and other social services, is in
the best interest of our people.
16. Fellow Nigerians, I know that the removal of the
petroleum subsidy imposes an initial burden on our
people, especially the rising cost of transportation.
Government will be vigilant and act decisively to curb
the excesses of those that want to exploit the current
situation for selfish gains. I plead for the understanding of all Nigerians. I appeal to our youth
not to allow mischief-makers to exploit present
circumstances to mislead or incite them to disturb
17. To address the immediate challenges that have
been identified, I have directed all Ministries,
Departments and Agencies of government to embark
immediately on all projects, which have been
designed to cushion the impact of the subsidy
removal in the short, medium and long-term, as outlined in the Subsidy Reinvestment and
Empowerment Programme Document.
18. Tomorrow, 8th January, I will formally launch a
robust mass transit intervention programme to bring
down the cost of transportation across the country.
The programme will be implemented in partnership
with state and local governments, labour unions,
transport owners, and banking institutions, and supported with the provision of funding at zero
interest rate as well as import duty waiver on all
needed parts for locally-made mass transit vehicles,
which will create additional jobs in the economy.
19. We will keep these incentives in place for as long
as it takes. I want to assure you that Government will
not rest until we bring down the cost of
transportation for our people. Let me thank the
transporters’ associations that have agreed to reduce
transport fares. I have directed the Minister of Labour and Productivity to work with these associations to
come up with a sustainable plan to guarantee this
within the shortest possible time.
20. In addition, I have ordered the mobilization of
contractors for the full rehabilitation of the Port
Harcourt –Maiduguri Railway Line and the completion
of the Lagos-Kano Railway Line. I have also directed
the immediate commencement of a Public Works
programme that will engage the services of about 10, 000 youths in every state of the Federation and the
Federal Capital Territory. This will create an additional
370, 000 jobs.
21. Government has taken these decisions in the best
interest of our economy, so that we not only have
benefits today, but to ensure that we bequeath even
greater benefits to our children and grandchildren.
22. Let me assure Nigerians that every possible effort
will be made to ensure that we march forward, with a
collective resolve to build a Nigeria that can generate
greater economic growth, create and sustain new
jobs, and secure the future of our children.
23. This Administration will aggressively implement
its programme to reposition and strengthen our
economy, while paying adequate attention to the
immediate needs of our citizens.
24. I assure you all that we will work towards
achieving full domestic refining of petroleum
products with the attendant benefits.
25. As I ask for the full understanding of all
Nigerians, I also promise that I will keep my word.
26. Thank you. May God bless you; and may God
bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
Federal Republic of Nigeria
January 7, 2012
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