President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented over what he called “collateral damage” done to Nigeria’s economy by the successive governments.
Buhari who spoke yesterday at the inauguration gala night held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja called on Nigerians to bear with his administration, adding that he and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are earnestly working to reconstruct the country.
The President said the enormous damage inflicted on the country could easily be appreciated by comparing the nation’s infrastructure in 1999 with what currently prevails.
“I ask Nigerians to please bear with us. A lot of damage has been done. You can look at our infrastructure in 1999 and now and you will appreciate this.”
Buhari regretted the high rate of unemployment among youths, who he said represented about 60 per cent of the country’s population.
The President said that the nation is sitting on a keg of gun powder with the prevailing unpleasant situation, adding that his administration would focus on agriculture and mining to engage some of the unemployed youths.
He asked Nigerians to pray for the country more than they are currently doing.
“Nigerians pray a lot; we need to even pray the more for luck so that the expectations our people have, especially the youth, would be met.”
Buhari promised to seek the supports of Europe, America and Nigeria’s neighbours in tackling the unemployment and security problems confronting the country.
The President noted that if Nigeria is enmeshed in crisis, the backlash on neighbouring countries would be monumental, stressing that Nigeria has to be well secured and efficiently managed.
“This was why the legacy parties made the sacrifice of jettisoning their personal ambitions, tried to come together and took the bull by the horn and therefore brought it down and slaughtered it literally.’’
He said the new party in power, All Progressives Congress (APC) had realised its problems and made the sacrifice, even as he added that his administration would articulate the nation’s requirements after studying the handover notes from the past administration and consult the immediate neighbours, Europe and US to help the nation.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described Nigeria and democracy as the winners of the last general elections.
“Democracy is the winner and Nigeria is the winner. I cogratulate all who made the election possible. I also congratulate former President Goodluck Jonathan for deepening democracy.”
Atiku believed that the path of honour Jonathan took would not be forgotten even as he advised the President to recognise the diversity of the country and accommodate all, realising that the nation’s diversity remained its strength.
A National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said that a new era had come for Nigeria, saying that a commitment to build a new Nigeria had been consecrated.
He described President Buhari as principled, passionate and determined to develop the country.
“The challenge is yours. We that are looking up to you will continue to do so with great commitment, perseverance and we have to show that Africa can compete, Nigeria must lead.”