President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday called for a return to true Federalism where every component state uses its resources to develop their state.
The President, who was speaking after receiving the Progressive Governors Forum award alongside eight other governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for “standing with the party since 2013,” gave an example of how the South West is United because it had a well-designed development agenda.
The President noted that economic growth and competitiveness of nations depend on the harmonious collaboration of all the tiers of government, particularly in a federal set-up, adding, “It will be belabouring the point to say that true federalism is necessary at this juncture of our political and democratic evolution.”
Buhari, who assured of his administration’s commitments to improving the welfare of the Nigerian people, noted that “At a time when some few privileged individuals and groups have chosen to exploit and manipulate the ethnic and religious fault lines for seeking personal and partisan advantage, we need to build bridges across the different divides and instil faith in the unity and indivisibility of one Nigeria.”
He also appealed to state governments to be a strong pillar of support for anti-corruption agenda, as well as continued support for the programmes of social protection, school feeding programme and other policies geared towards human capital development.
“Going forward, we must all work towards building a socially cohesive society in which the resources of the country work for all.
“We will continue to apply public funds in such a way that no section of the country or segment of the population suffers social exclusion,” he said.
The President while also acknowledging that Nigeria is on a renewed growth trajectory, assured that his administration would do everything within its powers to sustain the current economic recovery efforts.
“We will continue to reinforce our macroeconomic policies to achieve sustainable economic stability and growth,” Buhari promised.
“We will also continue to ensure that growth comes along with more jobs and a fair and just distribution of the national wealth. Your continued cooperation in this regard is very vital.”
Recounting how the APC was formed, Buhari noted that while the “South-East and South-South were facing strong challenges, it was easier to woo the South West because it was more united.”
The President and the other recipients were presented with the awards at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, organisers of the event, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, at the pre-event briefing, noted, “Buhari deserves the award for uniting the party stalwarts.
“We are gathered for the love of our country, for admiration of an exalted captain in the person of President Muhammadu Buhari. We are here gathered for patriotic devotion of leadership we consider visionary for which we are well pleased.”
He described them as the “founding fathers of our great party during the merging period especially, the progressive governors, eight of them remaining.
“For every journey that has a beginning must have an end, the end of one government marks the beginning of another,” Okorocha said.
“I recalled vividly in 2014 when the merger struggle started with all my colleagues here, we were the very first few generals of President Buhari in the merging arrangements.
“When we started many people never gave us a chance and many never believed in President Buhari especially the elites, except for the ordinary people on the streets. It was a tall order, it was a difficult arrangement but we worked for victory not only for him but also for the party and the entire generation.”
Other governors who also received the awards included Kashim Shetima of Borno, Rochas Okorocha of Imo, Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, Ibikunle Amosu of Ogun State, and Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State.
Others are Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State and the outgoing chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari