By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration’s attention is increasingly being focused on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material being propagated on social media.
The Nigerian leader made this known when he addressed the nation via a broadcast to mark Nigeria’s 59th Independence Anniversary in Abuja on Tuesday.
The president enjoined all citizens to always exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing their grievances and frustrations.
“Whilst we uphold the Constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.
“In this regard, I reiterate my call for all to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing their grievances and frustrations.
“Whilst the ongoing national discourse on various political and religious issues is healthy and welcome, we must not forget the lessons of our past – lessons that are most relevant on a day such as this.
According to him, the path of hatred and distrust only leads to hostility and destruction.
He believed that the vast majority of Nigerians would rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, “as we continue to uphold and cherish our unity.’’
On security, Buhari said that good governance and economic development could not be sustained without an enabling environment of peace and security.
“In the last four years, we have combated the terrorist scourge of Boko Haram.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to our gallant men and women in arms, through whose efforts we have been able to achieve the present results.
“We are also grateful to our neighbours and allies – within the region and across the world – who have supported us on this front.”
He reassured that the capacity of the armed forces to defend the Nation’s territorial integrity would continue to be enhanced by the acquisition of military hardware as well as continued improvements in the working conditions of the security personnel.
On the 59th Independence Anniversary, Buhari stated that 1st October each year is an opportunity for citizens to reflect and thank God for his endless blessings on Nigeria.
He said: “It is also a time for us, collectively, to: remember the sacrifices made by our Founders and great leaders past; by soldiers, by distinguished public servants; by traditional leaders, by our workers; sacrifices on which Nigeria has been built over the 59 years since Independence in 1960.
“Rededicate ourselves to attaining the goals which we have set for ourselves: a united, prosperous and purposeful nation in the face of 21st century opportunities and challenges.”
The president noted with delight that in the past four years, the majority of Nigerians had committed to “Change for the Better”.
“Indeed, this Administration was re-elected by Nigerians on a mandate to deliver positive and enduring Change – through maintaining our National Security; restoring sustainable and inclusive Economic Growth and Development; and fighting Corruption against all internal and external threats.
“This Change can only be delivered if we are united in purpose, as individuals and as a nation.”
He, therefore, urged all Nigerians to remain committed to “achieving this positive and enduring Change.
“As I stated four years ago, “Change does not just happen… We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust… simply put, to bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.”