President Muhammadu Buhari says most instances of inter-communal and inter-religious strife and violence were and are still being sponsored or incited by ethnic, political or religious leaders.
The President, who stated this in his Democracy Day address on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the leaders were hoping to benefit by “exploiting our divisions and fault lines, thereby weakening our country”.
He noted that in spite of activities of the saboteurs, his government had remained focused on fulfilling the campaign promises in the areas of security, economy and fighting corruption.
“When I took the oath of office on May 29, 2015, insecurity reigned.
“Apart from occupying 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the Northeast, Boko Haram can at will attack any city including the Federal Capital Territory can threaten any institution including bombing the United Nations building and Police Headquarters in Abuja.
“Admittedly, some of the challenges still remain in kidnappings and banditry in some rural areas. `
“The great difference between 2015 and today is that we are meeting these challenges with much greater support to the security forces in terms of money, equipment, and improved local intelligence.
“We are meeting these challenges with superior strategy, firepower and resolve,’’ he said.
The president reiterated the greatness of Nigeria in the comity of nations and the need for every citizen to work towards reclaiming the glory.
“Our country Nigeria is a great country. According to the United Nations estimates, our population will rise to 411 million by 2050, making us the third most populous nation on earth behind only China and India.
“We have water, arable land, forests, oil and gas and vast quantities of solid minerals. We are blessed with an equable climate.
“However, the bulk of our real wealth lies in agriculture, livestock, forestry, and mining. We possess all the ingredients of a major economic power on the world stage.
“What we require is the will to get our acts together. And our strength is in our people – our youth, our culture, our resilience, our ability to succeed despite the odds.
“A huge responsibility, therefore, rests on this and succeeding Administrations to develop, harness and fulfil our enormous potentials into a force to be reckoned with globally,” the president said.
On the nation’s military strength, the president said Nigeria had contributed to UN peace-keeping responsibilities all over the world.
He said that Nigeria helped to stabilize Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast; and recently prevented The Gambia from degenerating into anarchy.
“Without Nigerian influence and resources, the liberation of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and ultimately South Africa would have come at a greater cost.
“This fact has been attested to by none other than the late Nelson Mandela himself.
“Elsewhere, Nigeria is the Big Brother to our neighbours. We are the shock-absorber of the West African sub-region, the bulwark of ECOWAS and Lake Chad Basin Commission.
“We can, therefore, be proud to be Nigerians. We must continue to be Good Neighbours and Good Global Citizens,’’ he said.