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VISION 2020 CAN'T SUCCEED WITHOUT ELECTORAL REFORM —JONATHAN

By NBF NEWS
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President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan has said that Nigeria's desire to become one of the 20 leading economies by the year 2020 cannot be attained without a holistic implementation of electoral reforms.

He said in an address read on his behalf by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike, at the opening of the 46 anniversary celebration of the Nigerian Air Force in Kaduna on Tuesday, that the growth and stability of the country was dependent on a well entrenched democratic culture.

The President said that peace, security and stability could only be attained under a democratic govenrnent with a strict adherence to the constitutional rules.

He added that efforts were being made at the highest level to move Nigeria's economy from being dependent on oil and gas to other sources of income.

Jonathan said that the Federal Government was giving attention to agriculture, mineral and human resources in the country.

He said, 'When we articulated Nigeria's Vision 2020 in 2009, we had one goal in mind - it was to make Nigeria one of the top 20 economies of the world by 2020. While I am aware of the few opinions out there as to the attainability or otherwise of the goal, my point this (Tuesday) morning is that without peace security and stability, no nation can be prosperous.

'Peace and stability on the other hand can only be achieved if we make a deliberate effort to put in place reforms that will entrench democracy, good governance and the rule of law.

'We shall also be looking at reforms that will deliver us from over-dependence on oil and gas with a view to leveraging on our barely tapped agricultural, mineral and human resources.'

The President added that government would collaborate with countries whose economies are stronger and other non-state actors by creating an environment for them to invest in Nigeria.

He commended the leadership of the Air Force, specifically the Air Force Institute of Technology, Kaduna, for producing its first unmanned aircraft in the country.

The unmanned aircraft was produced and later test-flown as one of the conditions for the institute to offer Masters degree in collaboration with Cranfield University , London .

Speaking also at the event, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, said that the Air Force had improved under democratic governance in the country.

Petinrin added that democracy and the accompanying budgetary appropriation to the NAF had put it in a vantage position to sign contracts to reclaim some of its grounded aircraft.

He also said that the Air Force, under him, had taken the decision to 'domicile major inspections and maintenance programmes which had resulted in the establishment of operational centres by some aircraft and equipment servicing firms.

The ceremony was attended the Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Jonah Jang; his deputy , Mr. Patrick Yakowa; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau; his counterpart in the Navy, Vice Admiral Ishaya Ibrahim; former defence chiefs, and some members of National Assembly.

Air Chiefs from other African countries, including Senegal , Guinea Bissua, Mali , Sierraleone , Burkina Faso , Ghana , Tanzania , Uganda , and others were also in attendance.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has urged the NAF leadership to upgrade its equipment nationwide.

The Minister of Defence, Mr. Adetokunbo Ademola, who gave the charge, said that it was pertinent for the Air Force to build capacity among its men and officers.

Ademola said that government's expectations from the force was for it to get to the level of having the capacity for fighting, lifting and providing support services whenever needed.

He said, 'The expectations of government from the Air Force are very high. They are very a very strong arm of the Armed Forces. And we expect them to perform. Actually, we expect them to do much more that they are doing.

'But we know the challenges they have. They need to upgrade their equipment; they need to improve their capacity, and