Knocks, hope, optimism as Nigeria clocks 57
• Ortom, Okowa, Dickson Say Challenges Surmountable
• Our Differences, Challenges Should Not Divide Us – Ajimobi
• No Reason To Celebrate, Buhari Has Failed – Junaid Muhammad
• Military, Civil War Cause Of Nigeria’s Stagnation-Arewa
• Fayose Warns Against Intimidation, Oppression
A flurry of mixed messages, yesterday, made the rounds as the country celebrates its 57th independence anniversary today. And as expected, while some said celebrations were in order, in view of achievements recorded, others were acerbic, hinging on the litany of opportunities the country has squandered over the years.
Though many stakeholders still see a lot of hope and optimism on the horizon, the cry for restructuring from across different parts of the country is becoming deafening as well.
That, perhaps, explains why former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, is lending his voice to the restructuring of the country.
In a statement to celebrate the country’s independence, Anyaoku said: “We should of course celebrate our 57 years of existence as a sovereign country but at the same time must resolve to deal effectively with the challenges, some of which are existential, facing the country.”
The statement added: “The undeniable reality of the current state of affairs in Nigeria is that the country since the civil war has never been as divided as it is now in the face of armed insurgency in the North East, a threat of secession by some elements in the South East, rampaging Fulani herdsmen wreaking havoc in parts of the country, militancy in the Niger Delta, an economy just recovering from recession and incalculable damage being done to the country’s development by massive corruption. To effectively tackle these challenges and put our diverse country on the road to political stability and its deserved development, we must move from our present nominal to a true federalism, in other words, we must restructure the country’s present governance architecture.”
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in his message, admitted that in 57 years, the country “has faced many challenges, but we have overcome many
of those challenges and made progress in multiple spheres of human endeavour.”
While commending the country’s decision to stick together as one entity, Abubakar said, “On October 1, 1960 when we gained independence, there were many nations in existence alongside Nigeria in the comity of nations. A number of those nations have ceased to exist as a single entity, but 57 years after the fact, we are still one and waxing stronger. That is a cause to celebrate.”
He added that a lot of work “still has to be done to overcome the many challenges we still face as a nation, including terrorism, the national question, sluggish economic growth, youth unemployment and a huge out of school population amongst our youths.
“However these challenges are not insurmountable. Thankfully, the prevailing sentiment is that we as Nigerians would rather remain together even as we
make positive efforts to build a more perfect union along the lines of the vision of our founding fathers.
Without mincing words, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has attributed the country’s poor economic and political growth since independence to the military intervention in governance, and the civil war, despite the solid political foundation laid by the leadership of the First Republic in the country.
According to ACF, the socio-cultural organisation of the North, “the journey over the years- considering our diversity and complexity-has been full of challenges in the areas of national security, peaceful coexistence, political and economic development.”
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Alhaji Muhammadu Ibrahim Biu, ACF declared: “Although Nigeria as a nation at 57 is yet to realise its full potential and deliver on the expectations of its citizens, we cannot ignore the fact that, despite the upheavals due to shortcomings, we have been able to sustain the unity and stability of the country.
“We have also recorded and witnessed some progress in many areas that include education, infrastructural development, economy and relative political stability. Our 18 years of un-interrupted presidential system of democracy has placed Nigeria as one of the developing economies with high potential for greatness, if properly managed.
“We should not allow the temporary challenges to redefine our collective destiny or set our national agenda. We salute the governments and people of Nigeria for their determination, perseverance, patience and hope in our nation, and urge most especially our leaders-both elected and appointed- at all levels to re-examine their social contract with the electorates and do the needful.
But for Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Muhammad, with poor standard of living and the level of backwardness in the country, Nigeria has no reason to celebrate its 57th independence anniversary.
Muhammad in an interview with The Guardian, blamed the political elite for their inability to learn from past mistakes, stressing that the standard of living of ordinary Nigerians since 1963 has remained the same.
While saying that “a country is as good as the leadship it get,” the former lawmaker pointed out that the Buhari led administration has failed Nigerians, who earlier invested their trust in him, over his inability to fulfill all his campaign promises.
“Nigeria’s leadership today under Buhari is nothing to write home about. It is clear that the government is corrupt and incompetent. Despite all the noise they make about fighting corruption, the reality is that those, who are in government now are behaving as if they came through a revolving door.
They believe they have the divine right to be corrupt, and when evidence of corruption is brought against a selected people, who are close to him (Buhari) nothing happens.
“We are celebrating independence of been a country for 57 years, but clearly Nigerians expectations have been dashed,” he concluded.
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, is charging Nigerians to work against violence and all threats to the corporate existence of the country, insisting that the country will surmount present challenges.
While saying it is a day to “celebrate our glorious state and great nation; and to pay tribute to our countrymen and women who sacrificed so that we can celebrate this day,” Okowa added, “we should never forget the sacrifices of our heroes past.
“It is important we remain strong, exercise patience and be of good faith at this critical period of economic challenges.”
Governor Samuel Ortom, also in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said he believes that the challenges facing the country are surmountable if Nigerians join hands with government and avoid actions and speeches that fan the embers of hatred and disintegration.
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, has admonished Nigerians to rekindle hope in a greater Nigeria, and not despair despite present challenges. Like his counterparts, he believes that challenges confronting the country are surmountable.
He said he remains very confident that if everyone works together as a people, Nigeria will rise again, adding, “if Nigeria rises again, Africa will, as well, rise again.’’
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has reiterated his call for dialogue as a means of resolving all developmental, economic and political challenges facing the country.
Wike in his Independent Day Message, further called for better security and justice for all federating units in order to give all Nigerians a sense of belonging and de-escalate tension across the land.
Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Governor of Oyo State is appealing to Nigerians not to allow their differences and the challenges confronting the various ethnic nationalities to divide them as members of a united country.
In his goodwill message issued in Ibadan, yesterday, by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Yomi Layinka, Ajimobi said while admitting that many things were wrong with the current federal arrangement, a development that has put some parts of the country at a serious disadvantage, he maintained that things could be sorted out in a one and indivisible country.
He said: “It is quite unfortunate that at 57, Nigerians are more divided along ethnic and religious lines than we used to be at independence in 1960. The drum of separation is being beaten now more than ever before.
Ethnic groups with separatist agenda are springing up on daily basis, while erstwhile brothers and compatriots are taking up arms against one another, with others shouting `To thy tent, O Israel.’
Senator representing Lagos East, Gbenga Ashafa, on his part, wants Nigerians to rally round governments at all levels in an effort to move the country forward.
In his message Ashafa said Nigeria is at a point where we all should eschew individual difference, political parties’ sentiment and ethnic affiliations, come together to build a virile nation that would cater for the needs of us all.
Ekiti State Governor, Chief Ayodele Fayose, has said Nigeria could grow faster and advance better if those in positions of authority would stop using their positions to intimidate and oppress others.
In his message to mark the nation’s 57th Independence Anniversary, made available in Ado-Ekiti, yesterday, the governor noted that fairness and equity in the treatment of all sectors, groups and classes were important to taking the nation to a higher level.
Fayose stated that a situation where some people were hounded needlessly for voicing their dissent to some policies, or for having different political beliefs was not in the best interest of the country.
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