News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Obama to Americans: Sustain legacy

U.S. President Barack Obama: New Year message

By Tiamiyu Arobani/New York

Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama has called for the sustenance of the legacies of his eight-year presidency as he hands over to President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017.

Obama, in a New Year message to Americans, said America has made significant progress over the past eight years as against the gloom that pervaded the country when he took office in 2009.

“Happy New Year, everybody. At a time when we turn the page on one year and look ahead to the future, I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for everything you’ve done to make America stronger these past eight years.

“Just eight years ago, as I prepared to take office, our economy teetered on the brink of depression.

“Nearly 800,000 Americans were losing their jobs each month. In some communities, nearly one in five folks were out of work. Almost 180,000 troops were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden was still at large.

“And on challenges from health care to climate change, we’d been kicking the can down the road for way too long.”

According to him, eight years later, Americans are telling a better and different story.

“We’ve turned recession into recovery. Our businesses have created 15.6 million new jobs since early 2010 – and we’ve put more people back to work than all other major advanced economies combined.

“A resurgent auto industry has added nearly 700,000 jobs, and is producing more cars than ever. Poverty is falling. Incomes are rising.

“In fact, last year, folks’ typical household income rose by 2,800 dollars, that’s the single biggest increase on record, and folks at the bottom and middle saw bigger gains than those at the top.

“Twenty million more Americans know the financial security of health insurance. Our kids’ high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. We’ve brought 165,000 troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and took out Osama bin Laden.

“Through diplomacy, we shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our kids.

“Almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago. And marriage equality is finally a reality from coast to coast.

“We’ve made extraordinary progress as a country these past eight years.  And here’s the thing: none of it was inevitable.  It was the result of tough choices we made, and the result of your hard work and resilience.”

The outgoing President, however, reminded the citizens that to keep America moving forward is a task that “falls to all of us”.

“Sustaining and building on all we’ve achieved – from helping more young people afford a higher education, to ending discrimination based on preexisting conditions, to tightening rules on Wall Street, to protecting this planet for our kids – that’s going to take all of us working together.

“Because that’s always been our story – the story of ordinary people coming together in the hard, slow, sometimes frustrating, but always vital work of self-government,” the two-term President said.

Obama, who was inaugurated as the 44th U.S. President on Jan. 20, 2009, the only Black man in the history of U.S. to be elected president, and won re-election for the second and last term, described his two-term presidency as a “privilege”.

“It’s been the privilege of my life to serve as your President.

“And as I prepare to take on the even more important role of citizen, know that I will be there with you every step of the way to ensure that this country forever strives to live up to the incredible promise of our founding.

“That all of us are created equal, and all of us deserve every chance to live out our dreams.

“And from the Obama family to yours – have a happy and blessed 2017,” the former Illinois senator, who still receives uncommon high popularity ratings among Americans, concluded. (NAN)