Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Shagari's Assesses Government Performance And Declares "We Passed The Test"

Shehu Shagari

The 23rd independence anniversary of Nigeria also marked the inauguration of President Shehu Shagari for a second four-year term.

We reproduce here excerpts of a speech the President made to mark the occasion.
During the last four years our experiment with the democratic process has been an unqualified success. Our country has enjoyed peace in her pursuit of the policy of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, especially in food production. To this end, we have constituted a green revolution programme, and I know that we are on the right course.

We have started to achieve our target. We are providing houses for the people. Our efforts to develop the new federal capital have progressed steadily. In the education sector, we have pursued the policy of qualitative functional education. We have therefore increased the number of federal universities from 13 to 21, the latest being the National Open University.

To provide a sound basis for our technical development, we have created seven universities of technology. We have completed one steel plant, three rolling mills and at the Ajaokuta complex, whose first phase has already been commissioned, work is continuing on the remaining phases. We have been able to record these achievements, despite the agonizing and harsh economic circumstances during our first term of office as a result of a severe global economic recession, was due to your cooperation and understanding.

We have just emerged from protracted general elections which have put to the test both our new democratic institutions and our will as a nation to support them in circumstances of severe economic condition.

We have passed the test and our electorate has come of age in the sense that it has laid to rest many of the false assumptions about the nature of political loyalties in this country which is supposed to militate against the emergency of a national consensus in our political life.

I must congratulate the electorate for exercising its constitutional obligation in a mature manner. I wish also to place on record my gratitude and that of the entire nation to the Federal Electoral Commission, the law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary for a job well done. These institutions have, in spite of the many difficulties they faced in the performance of their duties, done everything in their power to ensure the success of our new democratic experiment.


Although there are brighter prospects in the economic sphere, the situation is still far from normal. The world is still in the throes of the most severe economic recession since the second world war. The Nigerian economy could not be immune to this very adverse effect of this global economic recession. Indeed, our oil export earnings, which reached a peak of 22,400 million dollars in 1980, declined to an estimated 9,600 million in 1983. Moreover, the exportable surplus of oil production is being gradually reduced by the growing domestic consumption of refined petroleum products. With the fall in oil revenues, the country is now faced with a growing shortage of foreign exchange. At the same time, our manufacturing sector, which is unhappily import orientated, continues to weaken.

In the light of this unfortunate economic situation, we intend to re appraise and reorder our priorities. The Federal Government's annual expenditure will therefore be rationalized to reflect the reordering of the investment priorities with emphasis on consolidating viable ongoing projects in agriculture and industry and the provision of infrastructural facilities.

Government will encourage the private sector to establish service industries. To revive and stabilize the economy on a long-term basis, it is imperative that the country now begins the structural rearrangement process required for renewed economic buoyancy.

I wish to appeal to all the governors in the 19 states to ensure proper discipline and prudence in their general management of public funds. This is because no matter how well we establish planning discipline on the federal level, imprudent and un-coordinated budgeting at the state level will have an almost equally negative effect on the national economy.

In light of the present economic situation, I have also decided to restructure and rationalize the machinery of government to facilitate improved performance. To reduce cost and make for greater efficiency through better coordination, the number of Federal Ministries and departments will be reduced. Henceforth, renewed emphasis will be placed on a prudent management of men and material.

I wish therefore to stress that under the new dispensation, all Government functionaries, especially Ministers, special advisers, and top Government officials, will be expected to demonstrate not only competence, resourcefulness, and dedication, but also an exemplary standard of probity and integrity. In the spirit of the ongoing ethical revolution, proven cases of abuse of office and corruption will attract immediate sanction.


Indiscipline and inefficiency will similarly be punished, while a system of rewarding competence and efficiency, will be evolved. In answer to the demands of the times, only competent and trustworthy men and women able and willing to deliver will be put at the helm of affairs.

In addition to the reduction in the number of Ministries and political appointees, I am convinced that we have now got to make changes to the type of civil service which we require under the presidential system of government which we now operate. Our civil service, which is a product of the parliamentary era, has adapted itself reasonably well to the demands of the new system. I would therefore like to commend the civil service for the support it has given to the outgoing administration. I trust I can count on its continued support during my second term of office.

However, like any other organization, the civil service is not perfect. It has therefore become necessary to re-examine it in terms of texture and organization in order to make it more efficient and responsive to the requirements of the new presidential administration.

I wish to extend my hearty congratulations to all those who have been elected into the various elective offices in our Constitution. I offer them my hand and fellowship. I ask them to join me in this task of making Nigeria great. To their other opponents as well as mine, I congratulate them on putting up a good fight. I ask them not to allow their spirit to be dampened by defeat but to cooperate with us and give the best of their services to our fatherland.

I wish to appeal to all Nigerians to go about their legitimate business peacefully. I must warn, however, that lawlessness will not be condoned.

See also: But Discipline Top Men

talking drums 1983-10-10 we have passed the test - Shagari