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Nigeria at 62: Leaders pray for peace, unity, progress

By Odita Sunday, Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja), Gbenga Salau (Lagos), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Osiberoha Osibe (Awka), Rotimi Agboluaje and Moyosore Salami (Ibadan), Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi (Jos), Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri) and Odun Edward (Ilorin)
02 October 2022   |   4:40 am
Amid pomp, Nigerians trooped out enmasse across the country yesterday to celebrate the nation’s 62nd independence anniversary, with leaders on various fronts praying for national rebirth and expressing hope for a greater nation.

Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila (left); President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President Muhammadu Buhari; his wife, Aisha; former President Goodluck Jonathan; Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magaji (rtd.); Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya; Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao; Director General, Department of State Security (DSS), Yusuf Bichi; Director General, NIA, Ahmed Rufai; and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha with students of the Nigerian Army School, Zaria, during the 62nd Independence Anniversary at the Eagle Square in Abuja… yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

• Urge Reflection, Rededication To Nation-building
• Despite Independence, Nation Challenged By Terrorism, Poverty, Moral Decline — Sanwo-Olu
• Abiodun, Lalong, Makinde, Uzodimma Urge Unity To Address Challenges, Collectively Develop
• With Corruption, Insecurity, Worsening Economy, There’s Nothing To Celebrate — Obi
• Olubadan, Oluwo Task Leaders On Reshaping Affairs

Amid pomp, Nigerians trooped out enmasse across the country yesterday to celebrate the nation’s 62nd independence anniversary, with leaders on various fronts praying for national rebirth and expressing hope for a greater nation.

At the Eagles Square in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Service Chiefs, members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and members of the Diplomatic Corp attended a special National parade amid tight security to mark the occasion. 

At exactly 10.12am, the special guest of honour and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigeria Armed Forces, President Buhari rode into the Eagle Square followed by a rendition of the Nation Anthem and the National Salute. Decked in a cream-coloured attire and a brown cap to match, the president, riding in his special parade vehicle, inspected the Guard followed by the Military/Police March Past.  

The event, witnessed cultural and air displays by the Nigerian Armed Forces led by Guards Brigade Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police and other security agencies with various military aircrafts, including the recently acquired Super Tucano, amid cheers and excitement from Nigerians at the venue.  

The Independence Anniversary celebration was kickstarted with Juma’at prayers at the National Mosque and an inter-denominational church service held at the National Christian Centre to pray for peace and continuous progress of the country.

Governors across the states of the federation also marked the occasion with various programmes, with dignitaries from all walks of life and, in some cases, residents in attendance.  

In Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, expressed concerned that though Nigeria got freedom from its colonial masters about 62 years ago, the country was yet seeking freedom from terrorism, poverty, the disastrous impact of climate change, and from moral decline.

At the independence anniversary held at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, and attended by all members of the State Executive Council, personnel in the military and paramilitary formations in Lagos, members of diplomatic community, traditional rulers, and youth groups, the governor noted that more than ever before, the country owes it a duty to the younger generations to collectively develop lasting solution to the challenges.

Sanwo-Olu said the occasion offered citizens another opportunity to show deep reflection on Nigeria’s journey to nationhood, urging them to rededicate themselves to the task of nation-building.

The governor acknowledged the nation had confronted several challenges, which slowed down its journey to fully attain dreams of its founding fathers. He, however, expressed the belief that records of steady progress in diverse areas were signs of hope for better future.

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, in his 62nd Independence Celebration message at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta, stressed the need for Nigerians to unite to overcome the numerous challenges besetting the nation.

He said Nigerians must embrace oneness against any issue that could stand as impediment to national progress. “God has blessed our nation. We should come together to harness the natural gifts bestowed on us for the development of our nation and increased prosperity of our people. Yes, the different units or sections of the federation can develop at their respective paces.

“The different development of the various units should be lessons for others. In the words of our old national anthem, “though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand.” If we come together, we will overcome all the challenges facing our nation.

Abiodun urged nationals to learn from the experiences of the former Soviet Union countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and others that were very influential together in the world, but, whose fate had changed following their disintegration.

In the same vein, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State urged Nigerians to collectively raise the bar of development in every aspect in order for Nigeria to evolve into a nation that can be referred to as a giant of Africa.

The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Barrister Adebayo Lawal, made the call at the Adamasingba Stadium in Ibadan to commemorate the 62nd Independence Day celebration.

According to him, in 62 years of nationhood, the country has had the misfortune of a chequered past that portrays it as a nation plagued by ongoing struggles, a split home with a cacophony of tongues, and an assembly that continues to struggle with stunted progress.

He said: “Observers out there have said that we are a nation blessed by God with all the resources needed to excel. While many have situated our predicaments on the failure of leadership, some others have said that we have bad followers.

“However, beyond the endless search for culprits for the myriads of problems we are grappling, should be the need to rise above the tides of discord, degradation, decline, and underdevelopment, which would see us blossom into that country that can truly be called giant of Africa. We must collectively raise the bar of development in every area of our lives.”

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong expressed optimism that Nigeria will achieve greatness despite its current challenges. Speaking at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium yesterday, Lalong said a very prosperous Nigeria is possible if all citizens put aside their personal interests and work for the common good in a united manner.

The Governor said high level insecurity, unpaid salaries, criminal attacks and other challenges would be degraded if the citizens were united.

He challenged those in power to always put the interest of the citizens first and shun any action that will dwindle hope, faith and patriotism among the followers, as it can lead to despondency and add to the problems militating against nation building.

While congratulating President Muhammadu Buhari and all Nigerians on the commemoration of another independence anniversary, Lalong prayed that the forthcoming democratic transition would go smoothly and consolidate the nation’s achievements in civilian rule.
On his part, Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, urged Nigerians to use the period for reflection and soul searching.

“It is an opportunity for all of us – both leaders and followers – to do a soul search on the roles we have played individually and collectively to bring Nigeria to where she stands today. We should all ask ourselves this pertinent question: Are we doing our bit to ensure that we fulfill the dreams of our forbears and meet our expectations as a nation?”

In spite of all the shortcomings, however, Uzodimma said the way forward is not to dwell on our failures but to make conscious effort to celebrate the nation’s successes and use them as footholds to march on with greater confidence into the future.

Uzodimma appealed to Nigerians to accommodate one another, noting: “If we can shun avarice, greed and ethnic irredentism, we will be helping in no small measure in building that nation that guarantees equal opportunities for all.”

On the another hand, the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has said there was nothing to celebrate on the occasion of the nation’s 62nd independence anniversary, due to what he described as leadership failure that has rendered over 50 percent of Nigerians poor.

Obi, in his Independence Day Message to Nigerians, lamented that country has witnessed continued struggle burdened by corruption, bad governance, insecurity, worsening economy, abuse of office and all manner of ills.

He said any further slip into retrogression would make the nation uninhabitable for the people, noting that many Nigerians are looking forward to the 2023 election because it presents them an opportunity to put an end to the leadership failures of the past and usher in a new and productive Nigeria.

Also, the former Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, Victor Umeh and the Anambra State Chairman of the LP, Ugochukwu Emeh knocked the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), observing that its eight-year rule has put Nigeria in bad shape socially, politically and economically.

Umeh and Emeh who spoke at a Stakeholders Meeting of the candidates contesting on the platform of LP in the District with the 326 Ward Executives at the weekend, said the rising popularity and acceptability of the joint ticket of LP’s candidates, Obi and his running mate, Baba Ahmed Datti are knowledgeable and competent to provide inventive leadership.

FORMER Senate President, Bukola Saraki, while felicitating with supporters in Ilorin, said unless Nigerian leaders embraced the ideals of the founding fathers of the nation, the country might continue to wallow in poverty amid sufficient human and economic resources.

Saraki said: “I congratulate Nigerians across the nation and the world as we celebrate the 62nd anniversary of our nation’s independence. As we celebrate how far we have come, we must remain optimistic about our collective future despite the present situation.

“Another independence anniversary coming a few months before the general elections presents us with the opportunity to reflect on the state of the nation and where we want the country to be. We should therefore be thoughtful and patriotic in our decisions at the polls.”

The Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Lekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, also urged countrymen to retrace their steps from the seemingly unproductive paths that had over the years stagnated the country’s growth and development.

In a congratulatory message by his Personal Assistant (Media), Oladele Ogunsola, the monarch, who lamented that the hopes and aspirations of young Nigerians at independence were a far cry from what are presently manifesting, said the leaders owe it a duty to redirect and reshape the affairs of the country towards rekindling those hopes and aspirations.

For the Paramount Ruler of Iwoland, HIM Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi, he blamed Nigeria’s woos on politicians and leaders who have managed the affairs of the country, noting the giant of Africa should be a developed nation by now.

He stated that Nigeria started on a very good note in the hands of British officials, and asked nature to reward the country’s leaders since independence according to what they have done for Nigeria and Nigerians.

A statement by Oluwo through his press secretary, Alli Ibraheem reads in part: “Nothing to be happy about in 62 years of Nigeria’s independence. Many of our leaders were selfish, incompetent and not God fearing. May nature reward them accordingly for what they have done for Nigeria.”

He however expressed hope in the nation’s future, tasking Nigerians to “start electing and appointing credible individuals into position of authority and always request for stewardship. We have the power to reject any elected or appointed leader whose governance is a curse to us.”

The Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation (SABMF) counseled Nigerians to remain resolute and focused in choosing leaders that will promote the unity of the country and be committed to the socio-economic programmes that will improve the living standards of Nigerians in 2023.

The Director General and Chief Executive Officer, SABMF, Gambo Umar, in a statement issued to mark the 62nd Independence of Nigeria yesterday, urged patriotic citizens to go beyond religious, tribal and sentimental reasons, in voting for the leadership that will move the nation forward.

According to Umar, “We seize this opportunity to encourage all patriotic Nigerians to vote for credible leaders beyond any religious, tribal or zonal sentiments in the forthcoming general election,” saying that “we must remain resolute and focused in choosing leaders whose attention and commitment are tailored towards programmes that will improve the living standards of the common Nigerians.”