‘Independence and liberty keep the soul alive.’

If it were up to me, my tag for this 57th Independence Day celebration would be, ‘Love: the medicine for a strong and United Nigeria’.

It is to God’s glory that we gained Political independence from the Imperial hands of the British Colonial masters. But taking the control of our political space in 1960 also meant a resumption of duty in the succeeding task of promoting National Integration. For long, we have consistently looked at Nigeria’s issue of unity from the political angle and have addressed it with numerous applicable political measures; but have also missed out on exploring one vital aspect that relates to our general humanity.

Experiences in life have taught me that love is all it takes for humanity to bond. Without love, we can’t talk about unity and progress.

We can still rewrite our constitution; but this time, not with fingers and inks. We can go on to seal every page with the symbol of love.

Think about such patriotism; so strong and rooted in love. Imagine a federal character principle established on love as its foundation; I bet, the language and religious lines would have faded away. Can anyone doubt the fact that boundaries fade away when love takes over? I think it’s a universal truth. So, what stops us from adopting love as part of our political culture? Nothing!

It is time to act it and live it, we can’t keep hearing it in our churches, mosques and other worship places and still keep our hearts tightly knotted. We can’t be united if we don’t appreciate and respect our differences. But if we can unite in our hearts through love, then the actualization of the long desired National integration shall be guaranteed.

Great Citizens of the greeny land, I urge you today to love Nigeria and to love one another.

I wish Nigeria great fortunes and I wish every individual citizen the blessings of God.
Happy Independence Day.

From your friend and brother,


1st October 2017


All is now set for the much anticipated Soteria Prayer and Worship Breakfast Service, which is another great opportunity for us to come into God’s presence.

The prayer time, ‘Soteria’ (which also means Salvation), has been put together by, an interdenominational team, prayerfully selected to help facilitate the programme and remind us of God’s grace in our lives, as well as strengthen and uphold our Christian heritage, by coming together, as we enjoy God’s presence and respond to His leading, during the spirit filled service.

The Soteria Prayer and Worship Breakfast Service, which is STRICTLY ON INVITATION, is scheduled to hold on Saturday 30th September, 2017, at the Atlantic Hall, Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by 8:30am prompt, with the doors opening at 7am.

However, a LIVE STREAM of the event will be provided for viewers at home to follow the Service, on Facebook and Youtube respectively, at the following links:



God Bless you.

Dumo Lulu-Briggs


Nigerians have been advised to embrace ways and acts of rendering quality service to their communities, in order to add greater value to the lives of their people and empower coming generations to be properly equipped to face the emerging developmental challenges of the future.

This admonition was given by distinguished Rivers state legal luminary and front-line chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the state, Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu-Briggs, as he paid his last respects to the departed late Chief Anson A-U Bibu Nke-ee, Father of Hon. Friday Nubari Nkee (a.k.a Fenco International), of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

It was indeed a day of solidarity and deep expression of love as Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, in the company of his close associates, travelled all the way to the peace loving and agrarian town of Okwale in Khana LGA of Rivers State, to fraternize with the bereaved Nke-ee family on Saturday 16 September, 2017.


Delivering a brief eulogy at the occasion, Chief Lulu-Briggs described the late Pa Nke-ee as a father figure and role model who impacted his community and the lives of his people positively throughout his long and worthy existence.

“We are here to pay our last respect to late chief Anson A-U Bibu Nke-ee. He is the father of my good  friend, Numbari who we address popularly as “Fenco International” and he has done tremendously for his community”

Speaking further Chief Lulu-Briggs observed that though the late Pa Nke-ee had no formal education, his visionary disposition and love for his community motivated him to embrace education as a priority not just for his family but indeed for his community.

“Chief Nke-ee had no formal education but he made sure that all his children, not just his children, but those of even other members of the community went to school.

“He understood the importance of education and did so much for his community. As a man who clocked 96 years of age in a world of so much uncertainty, I have no doubt in me that Chief Anson Nke-ee lived a good life. I urge Nigerians to emulate the exemplary life of Chief Anson Nke-ee and render such quality and humanitarian service to their comminities” he enthused.

Describing the funeral event as one that aroused mixed feelings of sadness and joy, Barr. Lulu-Briggs noted however, that the departure of Pa. Nke-ee to eternity, has created a vacuum that will always be felt by his entire family and he will always be missed.

“Today you could see in the rains, how people troopped out to honour a man who had given so much to his community. We had to defy the rains, not just because his son has done well both as a former commissioner, but now as a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, and we are proud of him, but most importantly, that Pa Nke-ee had done tremendously well for his people and community and lived till he was 96.

“God honoured  him with long life. God blessed him with fantastic children and a great family and you can see that the entire community is happy. That is the reason we joined them today as they are paying their last respect to a man who had given them so much in life. It is on this note that we decided to come and comfort our brother, Hon. Friday Nubari Nke-ee and his family. That’s why we are here today,” Chief Lulu-Briggs eulogized.

He then thanked the people for the wonderful reception accorded him and his entourage to the event, and prayed for God to turn the family’s grief to joy and bless them abundantly.

Departing from the solemn event in Khana LGA, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and his entourage arrived Port Harcourt and  proceeded to the joyful celebration with the family of former member of the Federal House of Representatives and now Executive Director Marine and Operations, Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, Dr. Sokonte Davies, on the occasion of their daughter, Lady Odima-a Winston Dagogo’s marital journey with Mr. Obinna Kanu, which was concluded on Saturday 16 September, after a colourful Traditional marriage last week, which was also graced by the presence of Barr. Dumo Lulu-Briggs.

A well respected personality in the social circuit, Chief Lulu-Briggs attended the wedding reception where he felicitated with Dr. Sokonte Davies and while  expressing his delight over the successful nuptial ceremony, shared in the joy of the family, even as he wished the newly wedded couple a marital union full of bliss and God’s blessings.

Chief (Barr. ) Dumo Lulu-Briggs was accompanied to both functions by eminent and distinguished sons and daughters of Rivers state.


At the Port Harcourt Digital Skills Training program organized by Dumo Lulu-Briggs Youth Foundation (DYF23) in conjunction with Google


Hurrying from the land of Queen Elizabeth (the United Kingdom) to honor the young Riverians who converged at The Arena in Port Harcourt on the last day of the digital skills acquisition program, his bird touched down at a Lagos Airport, then at the Port Harcourt International Airport, and quickly after the night’s rest, he broke into a sprint at the given chance to coalesce with the young people at the Digital Training ground.

He didn’t prepare any speech; there was no need and time for that. He is already well educated and equipped on the matter; Industrial advancement is his trade and passion, plus, he has the oratorical advantage, and so he took the rostrum right away and said thus:

“My name is Dumo Lulu Briggs. I feel excited today, and my excitement is that Rivers state is getting prepared to take the lead in this country.

I was praying that our youths will be interested in learning because the impression everywhere all over the country is that our youths are more interested in guns and not in education. Now, your example yesterday and today has just proven them wrong. What it clearly means is that we have not bothered to invest enough in our young. We have not bothered to give them direction, and there is no greater responsibility that we have, whether you are government, whether you are in business, if you are an elite, you have no greater responsibility than to educate the next generation. And then we know that our economy is also oil dependent, but you can see that as though there’s a conspiracy; all over the world, there’s an effort to reduce dependence on oil. Very soon, even the cars that you drive will be electric. So, it tells you that technology is the way to go. ICT, Information Communication Technology is the oil of the 21st century.

I am glad that you are getting actively engaged because today, you can use it in all spheres; you can use it to socialize, use it to communicate; I mean as you do on the social media groups etc.

Most of us think that we can use ICT to just engage with our friends; just gist, (how are you? Good morning, how was your night). The world over is using ICT to make money, ICT is a business. And that is why we deemed it fit to partner with Google to come and explain to our young how to make the most of the next economy. You are going to be very active players, we expect a revolution in Rivers state, we expect to be number one, and I am glad that we are so actively engaged. We have to use education for everything; it has to be the corner stone of any development plan. And there is no better group to equip with that plan than the young people that I see here. I see all of these faces and I can tell you that Google is also very proud of you; this is the largest crowd at any Google event. The world over, this is the largest crowd at any Google event, so, it tells me that we are prepared to take positive advantage of any opportunity given to us. We are a resource people, we are highly intelligent, we just need to be motivated, and I personally will continue to invest in the youths of Rivers state.

I’ve had to set up a foundation to see how we can help our young more through mentorship. We don’t have to throw money at situations. We have to teach our people how to fish rather than give them fish and I know that all of you are eager to take on every opportunity that would come your way. I am also prepared. We are going to have another event much larger than this; I didn’t anticipate that we were going to have a crowd like this. Now that I know that there is that zeal; that desire by all of us to learn, we are going to organize very shortly, perhaps in the next two-three months, we are going to have another event like this, much bigger. And we are going to also try to see how you will not just come and learn; if there’s any other form of assistance we can give to take you slightly from point A to point B, we shall make all of those provisions.

My interest is you, I had to cut short a program I was having in the UK, because I didn’t think that I would have done you well if I didn’t try to come and encourage you and see the faces of young people that is the hope of this state; the hope of this nation. So I had to cut short my engagement and I arrived Lagos last night and I took the flight to be here today.

I thank you for allowing me to engage with you; it’s actually my honor, it’s a privilege that I will not take for granted, and I am going to very quickly drop the microphone so that you can continue to learn. The essence of this gathering is for you to be equipped with the tools that you need to succeed in this very highly competitive 21st century. My coming to speak to you is just to encourage you but I tell you that in the next two three months we shall have a bigger event, more enlightening, richer than this and I assure you that you will go back with something slightly in addition to what you’ve had between yesterday and today.

I thank you so much and I thank Google.

There are two important moments in the life of every human being: the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born. I discovered that I was born to serve people and we don’t have to wait to be elected into any position to do that service. So, be assured that this engagements shall continue until we get to a point where we know that yes Rivers State is born again in terms of education. We have lost our status in the Nigerian Economy; we have to recover that, we have to be the California of America, if we cannot, because Lagos is so far ahead of us right now; we have to at least be the Texas of Nigeria. So, we are starting a revolution to educate our people and that revolution begins with you. Thank you.”

It is unquestionable that words spoken from the heart and not from papers, bear the mark of originality and passion. May God strengthen DLB and bless Rivers people.




A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu-Briggs, has felicitated with Muslims in Rivers State and Nigeria on the occasion of the 2017 Eid-il-Kabir celebrations.

Chief Lulu-Briggs in a statement released by his Media Team, on Friday September 1, in Port Harcourt, enjoined all Muslim faithfuls in Rivers State and Nigerians in general to always display the spiritual tenets of the Eid, which are love, peace and justice in their daily living and contribute to the development of the state and nation.

“I felicitate with all Nigerians, especially our Muslim brothers and sisters on the auspicious occasion of this year’s Eid-il-Kabir celebrations.

“As we celebrate Eid-il-Kabir, which signifies obedience and sacrifice in commemoration of Ibrahim’s (Abraham) obedience to a command from God, it is my hope and prayer that we imbibe the spiritual lessons and the Holy Prophet’s teachings of piety, love, justice, fairness, equity, peaceful co-existence with others, as well as display tolerance, honesty and dedication to duty.

“On behalf of my family, I extend our warmest wishes to Muslims celebrating Eid-il-Kabir in Rivers State, Nigeria and around the world.

“Let us also remind ourselves in this joyful period, of the importance of respecting the faiths and beliefs of all. I therefore wish to enjoin all Muslim faithful and Nigerians in general to use the occasion of the celebration for sober reflection and pray for peace, unity and progress of the nation. Our strength as a nation is in our unity and I want to appeal to all Nigerians to always put the interest of the country above all other considerations in all we do. We have no other country so lets join hands to make Nigeria work for us and our future generation.

“May the lessons and blessings of the this holy period positively influence our attitudes towards our fellow countrymen and women, irrespective of religion or place of origin and promote greater commitment to the peace, unity and stability of the nation.

“It is my hope that this holidays will bring joy to all of your homes, both here in Rivers State, Nigeria and around the world,” he felicitated.

DLB Media Team


As the realities of the failures and inability of the current administration to deliver on promised dividends of democracy, many Rivers people are already clamouring for the APC and Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs (DLB) to emerge and change the status quo.

A political group, Concern Rumuekini Foundation Forum (CRFF) made this assertion when it paid a solidarity visit to Chief Lulu-Briggs at his office in Port Harcourt.

Concern Rumuekini Foundation Forum (CRFF) Excos with members of the Liberation Movement

Leader of the group boasted of twelve thousand voting strength in Ward 15 of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr. Nwoha Boniface Obinuchi said the visit became necessary as the people have lost confidence in the current government’s ability to rescue them from insecurity with killings, beheadings and kidnappings becoming recurring events in recent times.

Mr. Nwoha Boniface Obinuchi (M), Leader of the Young Aspiring Leaders Network (YALN)

The group said it sought to find out DLB’s stance, whether he will consider be contesting the 2019 election and appealed on behalf of Rumuekini people that he makes himself available for the number one position in the state as they believe he has the will and capacity to redeem Rivers State from the dwindling fortunes occasioned by misgovernance.

Concern Rumuekini Foundation Forum (CRFF) Excos with members of the Liberation Movement

Similarly, another group, the Young Aspiring Leaders Network (YALN) with membership of different political parties from the 23 Local Government Areas of the state has equally entreated the frontline Rivers politician to vie for the governorship of the state under the APC come 2019 as Rivers youths were looking up to him to make the difference.

Young Aspiring Leaders Network (YALN) Excos with members of the Liberation Movement

YALN is a youth pressure group that is clamouring for Rivers youths to be meaningfully engaged politically as against the cheerleaders and errand boys role they currently play during elections.

Leader of the group, Comrade Promise Ukachukwu said they have been monitoring DLB’s antecedence and his huge investments in youths through the DYF (Dumo Lulu-Briggs Youth Foundation).

Comrade Promise Ukachukwu (M), leader of Young Aspiring Leaders Network (YALN)


Comrade Ukachukwu said the group is convinced DLB is the only one amongst other frontline Rivers politicians that truly understands the importance of youth development and therefore appealed to him to consider taking up the challenge to run for the governorship of Rivers State.

Young Aspiring Leaders Network (YALN) Excos with members of the Liberation Movement

They also formally invited him to address Rivers youths during their youth confab holding on the 14th of September, 2017 at the NUJ secretariat in Port Harcourt.

Amieye Farouk (AKA Baba T), addressing the groups

Receiving both groups separately on behalf of DLB who was out of town, Hon. Okem Okocha the DG. of the Liberation Movement and Amieye Farouk (AKA Baba T) promised to convey their message to the business mogul and urged the youths to maintain their non violent disposition to cause the change they are aspiring for.

Hon. Okem Okocha, DG. of the Liberation Movement

Hon. Okocha thanked them for the visits and urged them to go back and mobilise their members to register with the APC in their wards and also make sure they get their PVCs ready if they seriously desire a change in the leadership of the state.


The All Progressives Congress in Akuku-Toru LGA, on Saturday 29th July, 2017, conducted the APC STATE-WIDE CONGRESS, meant to elect delegates for the party’s forth-coming National delegates Convention.

The Congress which witnessed the presence of party chieftains, Party faithfuls, INEC observers led by Ajiwa Adeye, DSS, Police and Independent observers was peaceful, hitch-free, and successfully conducted. The Media was also handy to cover the event which lasted amidst a heavy downpour.

The Congress, held at the AKULGA multi-purpose hall, saw the emergence of Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Madam Ngoba Karibi Whyte and Chief Dabo Dappa as the elected delegates.

Speaking on behalf of the elected delegates, Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs thanked everyone for their support in making the congress run smoothly and above all the trust reposed on them the elected delegates to represent the LGA at the National Convention; promising that they (the elected delegates) will serve to the best of their abilities. Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs reiterated the fact that as party members, their first responsibility is building the party at the State level under the leadership of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. According to him the new narrative for him is “one God, one party, one State, one leadership and all round victories.”

The exercise, conducted by the APC Delegate Convention Committee was led by Peterside Godwin as Chairman Returning Officer, Allwell Brown Ibifama as Secretary, and Joyce Ali as member; while Hon. Dabiri Tubotamuno, a member of the statutory delegates anchored the congress. Other statutory delegates also present at the congress include Hon. Nicholas Ikiriko (secretary), Hon. Fredericks Alalibo (member).

Congratulations to the newly elected State-wide APC Delegates.




The best foundation any one can lay for the future is one erected on the platform of good education. This was the eloquent statement made by Platform Petroleum on Wednesday June 28, 2017 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Side view of the building

The occasion was the commissioning of a brand new, purpose-built Geosciences Department building donated by Platform Petroleum and built in honour of its pioneer Managing Director, Austin Avuru.

It was a momentous and joyous occasion that had the academic community of dons and students commending the oil company for providing a much improved teaching and learning environment for both the lecturers and students of the Department of Geology.

Cutting of the tape by the Honourable Minister, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu

It was equally auspicious on account of the fact that the facility was not only built and named in honour of an alumnus, it was also commissioned by another illustrious alumnus, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.

Speaking at the commissioning an obviously elated Austin Avuru said “look behind me and you will see my old department where I graduated from 37 years ago. It almost lost its academic accreditation, so when Platform Petroleum asked what they could do in my honour I did not hesitate. It came as a huge relief to the department.”

L-R: Orjiako, Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu-Briggs; Vice Chancellor, Austin Avuru; Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; HRM Dr. Edmund Daukoru and Engr. Osarienwen Owieadolor

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Benjamin Chukwuma Ozumba, acknowledged that Platform Petroleum has indeed “provided a solution to the dearth of staff offices, classrooms, laboratories and workshop in our Department of Geology and established a platform for making the Department a global Centre of excellence in the study of Geosciences.”

Austin Avuru(R) with dignitaries at the event

In his own comments, Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Chairman of Platform Petroleum said the company took up the challenge because of their belief in qualitative education.

Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Chairman Board of Directors, Platform Petroleum Limited

According to him “the more equipped our children are the more inspired they would be to move the country to greater heights.”

Dr Ibe Kachikwu commended Platform Petroleum for the gesture while calling on other corporate citizens and alumni of Nigerian institutions to emulated Platform.

L-R: Dr. Nwapa; Prof Kalu Mosto; Austin Avuru; Nathaniel Ibini; Austin Abaneme; Moshe Amaechi


“The building is not significant only in terms of the mortar and bricks. It is significant in terms of what message it is sending. The message is that graduates of Nigerian Universities who study in the best schools and the best environments can produce the best results.”

L-R: Engr Osariewen Owieadolor; Chief (Barr.) Dumo Lulu-Briggs; & Austin Avuru

The new building is larger and more conducive than the old departmental building and according to the Acting Group Managing Director of Platform, Moshe Amaechi, the idea is to “increase the quality of learning in the university and enhance the quality of education for the staff and students of the Department of Geology.”

Conference Hall

And as if echoing that sentiment, a student said “we are very, very happy about the building because it is going to create a lot of things we didn’t have before.”

Engr. Longfellow Atakele; Engr. Osariewen Owieadolor; Akindele Ono; HRM Dr. Edmund Daukoru; Senator Bassey Henshaw; Anne Ene-Ita

Platform Petroleum Group of Companies is an indigenous exploration and production oil and gas producing companies in Nigeria, who are committed to giving back to the society through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.

Lecture room



Press Release


A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs has congratulated Senator Magnus Abe and other APC members on their victories at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja. The other members are Dr. Barry Mpigi, Hon. Maurice Pronem, Hon. Josiah Olu, Hon. Innocent Barikor, Hon. Friday Nkeeh, Mr Chidi Wihioka and Azubuike Wanjoku.

In a congratulatory message issued in Port Harcourt, Chief (Barr.) Dumo-Lulu Briggs said the tribunal’s ruling was an affirmation of the mandate freely given to these worthy representatives by the good people of Rivers State.

“I received with delight, news of the judgement of the Election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja which upheld the elections of chieftains of our great party in the December 10th Rerun legislative polls in our state.

“This significant judgement is an affirmation of the mandate freely given to these APC chieftains by their constituents” he said.

“I wish to felicitate with a lawmaker per excellence, the very articulate Distinguished Senator Magnus Abe, and my brothers, Dr. Barry Mpigi, Hon. Maurice Pronem, Hon. Josiah Olu, Hon. Innocent Barikor, Hon. Friday Nkeeh, Mr Chidi Wihioka and Azubuike Wanjoku as their prayers were granted by the elections petitions tribunal sitting in Abuja.

“The judgement no doubt is a clear indication of their overwhelming victories at the December 10th polls. I therefore commend the judiciary for renewing the faith of Nigerians in the tenets of rule of law and justice,” he added.

Chief Lulu-Briggs stressed that the victory of the APC chieftains is a confirmation of the love and trust Rivers people have for the APC and the ability of the party to win every free and fair election in the State.


Happy Democracy Day Nigeria

Dear Nigerians, I bring you good wishes from President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who as we all know is away from the country on medical vacation.

Today marks the second anniversary of our assumption of office. We must thank the Almighty God not only for preserving our lives to celebrate this second anniversary, but for giving us hope, strength and confidence as we faced the challenges of the past two years.

Our administration outlined three specific areas for our immediate intervention on assumption of office: these were Security, Corruption and the Economy.

In the Northeast of our country, the terrorist group Boko Haram openly challenged the sovereignty and continued existence of the state, killing, maiming,and abducting, causing the displacement of the largest number of our citizens in recent history. Beyond the North East they extended their mindless killings, as far away as Abuja, Kano And Kaduna.

But with new leadership and renewed confidence our gallant military immediately began to put Boko Haram on the back foot. We have restored broken-down relations with our neighbours, Chad, Cameroon and Niger – allies without whom the war against terror would have been extremely difficult to win. We have re-organized and equipped our Armed Forces, and inspired them to heroic feats; we have also revitalized the regional Multinational Joint Task Force, by providing the required funding and leadership.

The positive results are clear for all to see. In the last two years close to one million displaced persons have returned home. 106 of our daughters from Chibok have regained their freedom, after more than two years in captivity, in addition to the thousands of other captives who have since tasted freedom.

Schools, hospitals and businesses are springing back to life across the Northeast, especially in Borno State, the epicentre of the crisis. Farmers are returning to the farms from which they fled in the wake of Boko Haram. Finally, our people are getting a chance to begin the urgent task of rebuilding their lives.

Across the country, in the Niger Delta, and in parts of the North Central region, we are engaging with local communities, to understand their grievances, and to create solutions that respond to these grievances adequately and enduringly.

President Buhari’s New Vision for the Niger Delta is a comprehensive peace, security and development plan that will ensure that the people benefit fully from the wealth of the region, and we have seen to it that it is the product of deep and extensive consultations, and that it has now moved from idea to execution. Included in that New Vision is the long-overdue environmental clean-up of the Niger Delta beginning with Ogoni-land, which we launched last year.

More recent threats to security such as the herdsmen clashes with farmers in many parts of the country sometimes leading to fatalities and loss of livelihoods and property have also preoccupied our security structures. We are working with State governments, and tasking our security agencies with designing effective strategies and interventions that will bring this menace to an end. We are determined to ensure that anyone who uses violence, or carries arms without legal authority is apprehended and sanctioned.

In the fight against corruption, we have focused on bringing persons accused of corruption to justice. We believe that the looting of public resources that took place in the past few years has to be accounted for. Funds appropriated to build roads, railway lines, and power plants, and to equip the military, that had been stolen or diverted into private pockets, must be retrieved and the culprits brought to justice. Many have said that the process is slow, and that is true, corruption has fought back with tremendous resources and our system of administration of justice has been quite slow. But the good news for justice is that our law does not recognize a time bar for the prosecution of corruption and other crimes, and we will not relent in our efforts to apprehend and bring corruption suspects to justice. We are also re-equipping our prosecution teams, and part of the expected judicial reforms is to dedicate some specific courts to the trial of corruption cases.

We are also institutionalizing safeguards and deterrents. We have expanded the coverage of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). We have introduced more efficient accounting and budgeting systems across the Federal Government. We have also launched an extremely successful Whistleblower Policy.

The Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance has succeeded in plugging leakages amounting to billions of naira, over the last two years. We have ended expensive and much-abused fertilizer and petrol subsidy regimes.

We have taken very seriously our promise to save and invest for the future, even against the backdrop of our revenue challenges, and we have in the last two years added US$500m to our Sovereign Wealth Fund and US$87m to the Excess Crude Account. This is the very opposite of the situation before now, when rising oil prices failed to translate to rising levels of savings and investment.

Admittedly, the economy has proven to be the biggest challenge of all. Let me first express just how concerned we have been, since this administration took office, about the impact of the economic difficulties on our citizens.

Through no fault of theirs, some companies shut down their operations, others downsized; people lost jobs, had to endure rising food prices. In some States civil servants worked months on end without the guarantee of a salary, even as rents and school fees and other expenses continued to show up like clockwork.

We have been extremely mindful of the many sacrifices that you have had to make over the last few years. And for this reason this administration’s work on the economic front has been targeted at a combination of short-term interventions to cushion the pain, as well as medium to long term efforts aimed at rebuilding an economy that is no longer helplessly dependent on the price of crude oil.

Those short-term interventions include putting together a series of bailout packages for our State Governments, to enable them bridge their salary shortfalls – an issue the President has consistently expressed his concerns about. We also began the hard work of laying out a framework for our Social Intervention Programme, the most ambitious in the history of the country.

One of the first tasks of the Cabinet and the Economic Management Team was to put together a Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget, targeting initiatives that would create speedy yet lasting impact on the lives of Nigerians.
Indeed, much of 2016 was spent clearing the mess we inherited and putting the building blocks together for the future of our dreams; laying a solid foundation for the kind of future that you deserve as citizens of Nigeria.

In his Budget Presentation Speech to the National Assembly last December, President Buhari outlined our Economic Agenda in detail, and assured that 2017 -would be the year in which you would begin to see tangible benefits of all the planning and preparation work. It is my pleasure to note that in the five months since he delivered that speech, we have seen tremendous progress, as promised.

Take the example of our Social Investment Programme, which kicked off at the end of 2016. Its Home Grown School Feeding component is now feeding more than 1 million primary school children across seven states and would be feeding three million by the end of the year. N-Power, another component has engaged 200,000 unemployed graduates – none of whom needed any ‘connections’ to be selected. Beneficiaries are already telling the stories of how these initiatives have given them a fresh start in their lives.

Micro credit to a million artisans, traders and market men and women has begun. While conditional cash transfers to eventually reach a million of the poorest and most vulnerable households has also begun.

Road and power projects are ongoing in every part of the country. In rail, we are making progress with our plans to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to upgrade the existing 3,500km narrow-gauge network. We have also in 2017 flagged-off construction work on the Lagos-Ibadan leg of our standard-gauge network, and are close to completing the first phase of Abuja’s Mass Transit Rail System.

In that Budget speech in December, the President announced the take-off of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative. Today, five months on, that Initiative – the product of an unprecedented bilateral cooperation with the Government of Morocco – has resulted in the revitalisation of 11 blending plants across the country, the creation of 50,000 direct and indirect jobs so far, and in the production of 300,000 metric tonnes of NPK fertilizer, which is being sold to farmers at prices significantly lower than what they paid last year. By the end of 2017, that Fertilizer Initiative would have led to foreign exchange savings of US$200 million; and subsidy savings of 60 billion naira.

The Initiative is building on the solid gains of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, launched in 2015 to support our rice and wheat farmers, as part of our move towards guaranteeing food security for Nigeria.

All of this is evidence that we are taking very seriously our ambition of agricultural self-sufficiency. I am delighted to note that since 2015 our imports of rice have dropped by 90 percent, while domestic production has almost tripled. Our goal is to produce enough rice to meet local demand by 2019.

In April, the President launched our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which built on the foundations laid by the Strategic implementation Plan of 2016. The plan has set forth a clear vision for the economic development of Nigeria. I will come back to this point presently.

Another highlight of the President’s Budget Speech was our work around the Ease of Doing Business reforms. As promised we have since followed up with implementation and execution. I am pleased to note that we are now seeing verifiable progress across several areas, ranging from new Visa on Arrival scheme, to reforms at our ports and regulatory agencies.

The President also promised that 2017 would see the rollout of Executive Orders to facilitate government approvals, support procurement of locally made goods, and improve fiscal responsibility. We have kept that promise. This month we issued three Executive Orders to make it easier for citizens to get the permits and licenses they require for their businesses, to mandate Government agencies to spend more of their budgets on locally produced goods, and to promote budget transparency and efficiency. The overarching idea is to make Government Agencies and Government budgets work more efficiently for the people.

The impact of our Ease of Doing Business work is gradually being felt by businesses small and large; its successful take-off has allowed us to follow up with the MSME Clinics -our Small Business support programme, which has taken us so far to Aba, Sokoto, Jos, Katsina, and we expect to be in all other states in due course.

Let me note, at this point, that several of our Initiatives are targeted at our young people, who make up most of our population. From N-Power, to the Technology Hubs being developed nationwide, to innovation competitions such as the Aso Villa Demo Day, and our various MSME support schemes, we will do everything to nurture the immense innovative and entrepreneurial potential of our young people. We are a nation of young people, and we will ensure that our policies and programmes reflect this.

One of the highlights of our Power Sector Recovery Programme, which we launched in March, is a N701 billion Naira Payment Assurance Scheme that will resolve the financing bottlenecks that have until now constrained the operations of our gas suppliers and generation companies. Let me assure that you will soon begin to see the positive impact of these steps.

Our Solid Minerals Development Fund has also now taken off, in line with our commitment to developing the sector. Because of our unerring focus on Solid Minerals development over the last two years, the sector has, alongside Agriculture, seen impressive levels of growth – in spite of the recession.
On the whole, just as the President promised in the Budget Speech, these early months of 2017 have seen the flowering of the early fruit of all the hard work of our first eighteen months.

We opened the year with an overwhelmingly successful Eurobond Offer – evidence of continuing investor interest in Nigeria. We have also launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, to build on the gains of last year’s Strategic Implementation Plan. And the implementation of our 2017 Budget, which will soon be signed into law, will bring added impetus to our ongoing economic recovery. In the 2016 Budget we spent 1.2 Trillion Naira on infrastructure projects, another milestone in the history of this country. Our 2017 Budget will double that investment.

That budget also provides for substantial investment to implement the rollout of Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs), as well as our Social Housing Programme. The Industrial Parks and Economic Zones will fulfill our ambition of making Nigeria a manufacturing hub, while the Family Home Fund of our Social Housing Programme will provide inexpensive mortgages for low-income individuals and families across the country.

These plans offer yet more evidence that we are ramping up the pace of work; the work of fulfilling all that we promised. In the next two years we will build on the successes of the last two. We have demonstrated a willingness to learn from our mistakes and to improve on our successes. The critical points that we must address fully in the next two years are : Agriculture and food security, Energy, (power and Petroleum,) Industrialization and Transport infrastructure. Every step of the way we will be working with the private sector, giving them the necessary incentives and creating an environment to invest and do business.

Our vision is for a country that grows what it eats and produces what it consumes. It is for a country that no longer has to import petroleum products, and develops a lucrative petrochemical industry. Very importantly it is for a country whose fortunes are no longer tied to the price of a barrel of crude, but instead to the boundless talent and energy of its people, young and old, male and female as they invest in diverse areas of the economy.

And that vision is also for a country where the wealth of the many will no longer be stolen by or reserved for a few; and where the impunity of corruption – whether in the public or private sectors – will no longer be standard operating practice; a land rid of bandits and terrorists.

As citizens you all deserve a country that works, not merely for the rich or connected, but for everyone. And our promise to you is that we will, with your support and cooperation, take every step needed to create that country of our dreams.

We also know that this journey will of necessity take time. But we will not succumb to the temptation to take short-cuts that ultimately complicate the journey. We did not find ourselves in crises overnight, and we simply do not expect overnight solutions to our challenges.

The most important thing is that we are on the right path, and we will not deviate from it, even in the face of strong temptation to choose temporary gain over long-term benefit. As the President has summed it up: “The old Nigeria is slowly but surely disappearing, and a new era is rising.”

And so we commemorate this second anniversary of our administration with confidence and optimism. I firmly believe that we have put the most difficult phase behind us; and we are witnesses to the ever-increasing intensity of the light at the end of the tunnel. We ask for your continued cooperation and support, to enable us realise all our best intentions and ambitions for Nigeria. On our part We will continue to carry you along on this journey, speak to you, explain the challenges, and share our Vision.

And while we all daily pre-occupy ourselves with pursuing the Nigerian Dream – which is the desire to better our lives and circumstances vigorously and honestly – it is inevitable that grievances and frustrations will arise from time to time.

This is normal. What is not normal, or acceptable, is employing these frustrations as justification for indulging in discrimination or hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, or for seeking to undermine by violent or other illegal means the very existence of the sovereign entity that has brought us all together as brothers and sisters and citizens.

Nigeria belongs to all of us. No one person or group of persons is more important or more entitled than the other in this space that we all call home.

And we have a responsibility to live in peace and harmony with one another, to seek peaceful and constitutional means of expressing our wishes and desires, and to resist all who might seek to sow confusion and hatred for their own selfish interests.

Before I end this speech, let me ask for your continued prayers for the restoration to full health and strength and the safe return of our President.

I congratulate all of you on today’s commemoration of this important day in the democratic calendar our country. Nigeria is on a journey of greatness, and together we shall arrive at the destination of our dreams.

May God bless you all, and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.