In the national broadcast, which was relayed on national television and radio networks to herald the New Year, the president also assured Nigerians that political campaigns and the 2015 general election would not distract his administration from its ongoing effort to significantly improve their living conditions.
President Goodluck Jonathan vows to shield the poor and low-medium income earners from the full brunt of measures included in the 2015 budget.
This, he said, was to ensure the stability of the national economy in the face of the current downturn in the prices of crude oil.
“By the Special Grace of God, the Federal Government, under my leadership, has continued in the past four years to lead our country forward, even under the most trying circumstances. The progress we have made in priority areas bears us testimony.
“Our national economy maintained a steady growth rate of close to seven per cent in the past four years and millions of fresh employment opportunities were created for our people as a direct consequence.
“Being very conscious of the inherent perils of our over-reliance on income from crude oil exports for national development, we have focused on accelerating the diversification of our economy.
“The non-oil sector, which has grown by an average of 8 per cent in the last few years, is now a major driver of growth in our economy.
“The 2015 national budget, which is now before the National Assembly, is targeted at deepening our efforts at becoming a non-oil economy.
“The budget also includes measures to ensure that the downturn in the price of oil does not affect our development plans and our national economy too adversely. We are adjusting our financial processes to safeguard our economy. We are also taking steps to ensure that the poor and the low and medium income earners do not bear the brunt,” he said.
He assured that the administration would continue to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy that attracted significant Foreign Direct Investment and promoted policies that ensure economic stability.
“We will ensure stability in the value of the Naira by striving to take away speculative behaviours that cause market exchange pressures.
“We will continue to build and maintain a healthy external reserves position and strengthen fiscal buffers. We will ensure the Naira remains strong and gives foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need, to guide future investment decisions.
“We will continue to improve our payment systems and strengthen risk-based supervision mechanism for Nigerian banks to ensure overall health and stability of the banking system,” President Jonathan said.
The president reassured Nigerians and the global community of his resolute commitment to free, fair, credible and acceptable elections.
He also warned that that firm and decisive action would be taken against any individuals or groups who attempted to disrupt the public peace before, during or after the 2015 elections.
“The elections are very important to us as a country. Their successful conclusion will further strengthen our democratic institutions and place our beloved country even more firmly in the comity of truly democratic nations.
“I reassure all Nigerians and the international community of our firm commitment to free, fair and credible elections. My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote remains unwavering,” he said.
Speaking to politicians, Jonathan said “none of our political ambitions is worth the blood of any of our countrymen, women and children. The improvement of their lives and living conditions ought to be our primary motive and the driving force of our quest for political power and leadership positions.
“Let us not promote sectionalism, disunity, intolerance, hate, falsehood or the malicious abuse of political opponents. Whatever we feel or seek, we must have a nation and a people before we can dream of political ambitions. Let us put the nation and the people first.”
While wishing Nigerians a happy and prosperous 2015, the president urged them to enter the New Year with renewed hope, patriotism and zeal to serve their fatherland.
“As I have always maintained, none of the challenges before us is insurmountable. We must come together as a people and work with single-minded unity of purpose to overcome them,” he said