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Tuesday, July 21, 1998 Published at 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK

Quotes from General Abubakar's speech

Here are are excerpts from the address to the nation on 20 July by Nigeria's military leader, General Abdulsalam Abubakar.

We must move forward and lay the foundation for good governance and democracy...

This administration remains as committed as ever to this objective and will remain unwavering in maintaining the momentum towards its realisation.

It is quite clear from the efforts we have made to reach out to the people that Nigerians want nothing less than true democracy and a united and peaceful country.

It is clear that Nigerians want a country where fairness, justice, and equity are not mere slogans but principles put into timely and indiscriminate practice...

Abacha-era political parties dissolved

General Abubakar: "...all the existing five political parties, I hereby dissolve..."
Our most recent attempt at democratisation was marred by manoeuvring and manipulation of political institutions and structures.

In the end, we have only succeeded in creating a defective foundation on which a solid democratic structure can neither be constructed nor sustained....

All the existing five political parties are hereby dissolved and their assets will be taken over by administrators who will be appointed by government...

Fair elections

General Abubakar: "A new independent electoral body will be established"
This administration has decided it will not interfere with party formation and the electoral process. Justice will not only be done, it will be seen to be done.

To this end, the National Electoral Commission, NECON, is hereby dissolved with immediate effect.

A new independent electoral body will be established with the necessary enabling law to replace NECON...

At every stage of the elections, international observers... would be allowed access to observe the election.

Government, on its part, will ensure that the electoral commission is equipped with a new law and necessary funds for effective, independent, free, and fair elections...

Constitution to stay

It must be obvious to all of us that the cancellation of the flawed transition programme, which we inherited, is necessary to ensure that we have a true and lasting democracy as demanded by the majority of our people.

Some Nigerians yearn for a sovereign national conference in the belief that this is the only way to address the issue of governance of the country...

It is our belief that the constitutional conference that took place between 1994 and 1995 has produced a good draft Constitution...

No coalition government

This administration has also given considerable thought to the calls for a Government of National Unity. We note the patriotic motives of this course.

But such an arrangement is full of pitfalls and dangers, which this administration cannot accept...

This administration is resolved to ensure that our people's aspiration for a speedy but sure return to democracy is neither denied nor delayed...

Cancellation of 1993 elections a mistake

General Abubakar: "cancellation of the flawed transition programme which we inherited"
The June 12 [1993] presidential election and the controversial events preceding it were unfortunate in our political history. We cannot pretend that it did not happen...

A call to return to the past is not healthful, and it will be neither just nor fair nor even practical.

Neither the annulment of the last presidential elections, nor toppled elected governments can be brought back...

Call for reconciliation

As a proof of the genuineness of the call for reconciliation on the part of this administration... (the government) shall release all political detainees.

Government had also decided to withdraw all charges against political offenders...

Measures for the economy

We are acutely aware that Nigerians are heavily burdened with serious economic and social problems.

Accordingly, we shall implement short-term microeconomic measures targeted at specific sectors...

This administration recognises the importance of oil exploration and production activities to the future of our country.

Accordingly, we shall meet the funding needs of our joint venture operation to sustain these investments...

Opening to competition

This administration will licence private operators to provide additional competitive impetus to the existing public enterprises...

We recognise the relative success of joint ventures with technical and financial partners in the oil industry.

We shall pursue similar arrangements in other sectors with a view to solving permanently the performance problems of our public utilities...

(The) government will explore the possibility of handing over the management control and disposal of 40% of the ownership of NEPA, NITEL, NAFCON, Federal Super-Phosphates Fertiliser Company, and the refineries to qualified technical financial partners...

Pay review in public sector

Government acknowledges the relative decline in real terms of the salaries and benefits of civil servants, judicial officers, the police, and members of the Armed Forces.

Accordingly, this administration will review the salaries and benefits of the public service of the Federation to address this anomaly...

Support for judiciary

The judiciary will be strengthened in order to enable it discharge its constitutional responsibility of dispensing justice and protecting the lives of individuals without let or hindrance...

Enhancing civil rights

This administration will respect human rights. In particular, freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly, and of association as enshrined in the laws of our country will be protected...

Government will also embark on extensive prison reform...

Fight against corruption

This administration is concerned about the level of corruption in our national life...

We are determined to put in place all necessary measures to breathe into the conduct of government a fresh air of openness and accountability...

Fight against crime

Drugs and the advance fee fraud, among other syndicate crimes, remain an embarrassment to the nation.

We, therefore, commit ourselves to enter into the necessary co-operation with all nations to fight these crimes...

Foreign debt

I have... directed the immediate resolution of the medium term economic programme with the World Bank and IMF...

In the meantime, we will liberalise the debt conversion programme to encourage further foreign investment...

Elections early 1999

General Abubakar: "The election of a civilian president will be held in the first quarter of 1999"
Fellow Nigerians, the extensive democratisation process I have outlined in this address and the ambitious economic programme that this administration has set to achieve require time for successful implementation...

After all necessary consultations, government has decided that the election of a civilian president will be held in the first quarter of 1999. The new elected president will be sworn into office on the 29th of May 1999.

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