I’ll cage recession next year – Buhari

As2016_12_22_81722 the economic re­cession bites harder, a worried President Muhammadu Buhari has told Nigerians that he will cage the scourge of the eco­nomic blight in 2017.

Buhari expressed this op­timistic position yesterday, in Abuja, when he declared open an induction course organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Nigerian career ambassadors-desig­nate who were recently given clean bill of health by the Senate.

According to Buhari, “We are optimistic that the exter­nal factors that partly con­tributed to push our econo­my into recession will ebb in 2017. Until then, I regret that the resources avail­able to fund our mis­sions abroad will not be as robust as we would like.

“We are working hard to turn around our national econo­my by effectively reforming our mac­roeconomic envi­ronment through measures, some of which were out­lined in my budget speech to the Na­tional Assembly last week.”

In further elabo­ration, Buhari stated the subsisting economic cir­cumstances have led to a re­structuring of Nigerian mis­sions abroad. He reminded the ambassadors-designate that , “as we are all making great sacrifices at home, we also expect you to similarly make judicious use of the re­sources put at the disposal of your missions. As Heads of missions, you will be held ac­countable for the utilisation of all resources under your control. These are lean times, and all of us are expected to do more with less.”

He charged the ambassa­dors-designate to change the narrative of Nigeria outside the country by playing up the positive values and outstand­ing contributions of Nigeri­ans in the global arena.

His words: “I want to em­phasise your duty to change the narrative of Nigeria as seen by the outside world. For far too long, we have allowed Nigeria to be defined by oth­ers, always emphasizing our negatives. To the average for­eigner, Nigeria evokes 419, terrorism, militancy, com­munal and religious clashes, insecurity, corruption and all our other faults.

“You have the duty to cor­rect this narrative by taking the initiative to define and portray our country for what it truly is. We are a nation of 180 mil­lion vibrant, enterprising, hardworking, hospitable and peaceful people. We are a remarkable nation that has succeeded in harnessing our multiple diversities as strengths such that we are the leading country on the con­tinent. Therefore, you will need to mobilise, sensitise and motivate all your staff so that together you engage with your host governments, the private sector and other segments of the society to explain that Nigeria is much more than the negative image portrayed to them.”

He further tasked them to leverage on the achieve­ments of Nigeri­ans within the country and in diaspora: “Think of people like Nobel Lau­reate, Wole Soyinka, Chinedu Echeruo who founded Hotspot appli­cation which he sold to Apple for over a billion Dollars; think of Bayo Ogunlesi, who runs over a billion Dollar Infra­structure Fund and is now Adviser to US President-elect; and Jelani Aliyu, an accomplished car designer at General Motors. Indeed, these and other hardworking Nigerian professionals in the diaspora have never forgot­ten their roots and have been making significant contribu­tions to their communities back home, and even to our economy through their huge remittances.”

According to him, they should sustain the work ethic characterized by the love of country, professional­ism, excellence, integrity and honour associated with the “Nigerian diplomatic tradi­tion established in 1957 by the pioneers of the Nigerian Foreign Service, sometimes referred to as the “Twelve Apostles” and also “bequeath same to succeeding genera­tions.”

The president further charged the ambassadors-designate to stress Nigeria’s commitment to international peace and security through contributions “to nearly ev­ery UN peacekeeping ini­tiative since 1960 when we achieved our independence. In addition, we are the stabi­lizers and shock absorbers of West Africa having helped to contain po­tentially de-stabiliz­ing developments in the sub-region.”

He tasked them to always be mindful of the national pri­orities that “re­volve around the economy, security, anti-corruption, good governance, agricultural trans­formation and in­frastructural develop­ment, including rail, roads and power” and use their roles “as Principal Represen­tatives to build meaningful partnerships to attract for­eign investments, new skills and technologies.”

Further according to him, “As Nigerian ambassadors, you must set the standard of putting Nigeria first in all your actions. You must show leadership, fairness and jus­tice to all. Discipline, probity, accountability and zero toler­ance for corruption must be your watchwords. You are expected to project the best image and traditions of our country in your conduct and all you do.”

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