Nigeria at 60: Knocks, lamentations as nation celebrates

…Atiku, Ohuabunwa rue nation’s plights

…We are still in the wood – IPAC

*Queen of England hopes for more flourishing future

Nigeria returning to its golden era – APC

By Ezeocha Nze (Group Politics Editor), Chesa Chesa, Myke Uzendu (Abuja) and Steve Oko, (Umuahia)

Mixed reactions have trailed the Nigeria’s celebration of its 60th independence anniversary today.

The reactions, which are heavily tilted to lamentations, agony and knocks at government and various administrations that have controlled the levers of power over the years come from major stakeholders in the nation’s polity, as well as the country’s major political actors.

As part of activities commemorating the 60th Independence anniversary of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari would address the nation through a national broadcast at 7am on Thursday, October 1, 2020.

After the live broadcast, the President would move to the Eagle Square for other activities that have been lined up to mark the anniversary.

Our political, economic structures have failed us – Atiku

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has said that the nation’s past leaders have lost several economic and political opportunities to reposition the country into a prosperous nation.

The Waziri Adamawa added that the teeming youths of the country have made the nation proud in different endeavours even as they have been denied quality education and other social supports expected from a country to its productive population.

Atiku made the disclosures in a statement on Wednesday titled: “Nigeria’s future depends on our commitment to a common destiny” in commemoration of the country’s 60th Independence anniversary.

He said that the victory of Nigerian youths in sports have always brought honour to the country and no one cared about the ethnicity of the victors while Nigerian as a nation is united in celebration.

He said, “The structure on which we have hinged our political and economic emancipation has equally failed us. We do not hope to continue doing the same thing with jaded and unworkable system and expect to get a remarkable result.

“We may have missed countless opportunities to reset our mindset moving forward as prosperous people, but this 60th anniversary of the life of our nation offers introspection.

“The youths of Nigeria represent the future wealth of the fatherland and the only way we can tap into them is through quality investments in education and skills acquisition.

“Through the creativity that they inject in their passion, the excellence of the Nigerian youth is a global signature in diverse fields notably in sports, as they can be found in medicine, in education, in business and finance, agriculture, and in our entertainment industry.

“We may have failed to take advantage of the power of the Nigerian youth. But there is something much more significant that their triumphs teach us a people looking forward to a better future. When they win, they celebrate Nigeria. Our youth are ready and eager to conquer the world. What they lack is the leadership to take them through that process.

“For Nigeria to work for the millions of its people, and to be reckoned with as a global competitive force in the nearest future, we must come up with a development plan that will have our youth at the centre of the plan. The times of idle, lame promises are over! We urgently need to build a new Nigeria where every dream would be embraced and the potentialities of our youth could be unleashed without the usual fears that have dragged us”, he said.

Atiku called on those who take up arms against the country as well as separatists groups to have a rethink. He equally advised the leadership that only dialogue, justice and giving all a sense of belonging can end agitations.

“We cannot defeat separatist groups by force of arms alone; we can only defeat separatism by making all Nigerians feel like they belong. And this is only possible when we live up to the words of our national motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress”.

He also called for the release of all those facing politically motivated trials and for the promotion of freedom of speech which democracy symbolizes.

“Our nation is in dire need of healing. We must foster unity and douse the tense atmosphere which is breeding feelings of alienation. We must promote freedom of speech and freedom after the speech.

“As such, in the spirit of our 60th Independence Anniversary, I call on the Federal and state governments, to release all political prisoners and detainees, and discontinue the prosecution of such individuals. If Nelson Mandela could reconcile with those who imprisoned him for twenty seven years, we can reconcile with those who have disagreed with us” he advised.

Nigeria still in the wood – IPAC

Also, the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has regretted that at 60 years, Nigeria has remained in the woods, even as it cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari to take steps to reduce the sufferings of the Nigerian citizens.

IPAC chairman, Leonard Nzenwa, while addressing the media Wednesday on the nation’s 60th Independence anniversary, expressed concerns over the recent increase in fuel pump price and electricity tariff, describing it as ‘double blow of death’ against Nigerians.

Nzenwa, said it is unfortunate that the hike was introduced during the period when Nigerians were still struggling to cope with debilitating impact from COVID 19 and its aftermath.

IPAC expressed its supports to all Democracy-enhancing contributions made by myriads of stakeholders in the past and recently, towards reforming our electoral system and processes.

According to the Council: “We urge Nigerians to use opportunity provided by ongoing constitutional review and amendment exercise to make contribution on electoral reform that will aid in deepening further use of technology, enhance independence of INEC, strengthen political parties and improve voting process.

“IPAC is finalizing to transmit its own memorandum to address broad areas relating to electoral system, electoral process, party management, voter education and general political development of the country.”

On the state of the nation’s security, the Council lamented that it looked as if Nigeria was at full-fledged war with terrorists and bandits.

“Even safety of citizens in some countries at war is guaranteed more than what obtains in the country. The Inter-Party Advisory Council rues the kids-blow-approach adopted to address insecurity in the country. A situation where security operatives overseeing private interest of so-called VIPs are higher in number than those protecting average citizens is worrisome.

“If Boko Haram can on two occasions over the last one week narrowly miss killing a sitting governor in the North East where they continue to kill, maim and destroy homes, and also inflict fear on farmers not to go to their farms, then we have real catastrophe in our hands. This is no more emergency.

“We are a nation at war in the North East, banditry in North West with ritual killings, kidnapping, armed robbery and fraternal cultism tearing down the South.

“We call on Mr. President to urgently eschew this hand-waving approach to deal with insecurity in the country, and decisively decapitate these troublers of our Lives. If heads must roll for the nation to have peace, Mr. President should take this hard decision now and save Nigeria.

“Nigeria is ranked 124 out of 128 countries listed unsafe countries to live in. Sad that many war-torn countries are ahead of Nigeria in this ranking.

IPAC also expressed its deep concern over the state of the Nigerian Economy.

“Combined fiscal and monetary policies alongside other micro and macroeconomic reform effort seem not to be cutting the ice as key economic indicators clearly show that we are still in the woods. Non-oil sector shrank with negative growth in accommodation and food services, construction, transportation, education, real estate and trade among others.

“We seem headed back to recession after struggling to climb out of the last one that almost grounded the country. Our inclement economy has resulted in massive government borrowing which we fear may not be directed squarely on capital projects, even though it states so in papers

“The Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC calls on the government to apply the break in external borrowing and originate viable economic policies and programs that will stimulate the economy, create wealth and employment for millions of unemployed Nigerian youths”, the Council advised.

Nzenwa, who is also the chairman of African Action Congress (AAC) said President Buhari should intervene to lift Nigerians out of the present difficulties.

Restructuring, the only solution to Nigeria’s woes – Ohuabunwa

Meanwhile, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa who represented Abia North senatorial district in the Eight Senate has said that only a genuine restructuring can address the flaws and woes befalling the nation.

The former Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament, who made the submission in his goodwill message on Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary, blamed the woes of the country on faulty constitution.

He expressed doubt if the Nigeria of today was the dream country that the patriots and founding fathers of the country, who he noted fought so hard to liberate the country from colonial rule 60 years ago.

Senator Ohuabunwa, noted that shortly after the independence, various regions in the country were thriving on their own until the military interrupted democracy and eventually forced the 1999 constitution ‘down our throats” upon return to democracy at the fourth republic.

He observed that Nigeria had not made much progress commensurate with her age, a sad development he attributed to bad governance incubated by faulty constitution.

Ohuabunwa who regretted that at 60, Nigeria is still crawling and begging for bread strongly supported the clamour for restructuring to save Nigeria from implosion.

He emphasised that there was urgent need to restructure the country, based on the aspirations of the people to engender healthy competition and robust economic development.

According to him, “it sounds strange that after 60 years of attaining political independence, Nigeria, a population of about 200m people is still running with a constitution written by one man.”

He warned that only by overhauling the 1999 constitution foisted on the country by the military that Nigeria would address the endemic corruption in the country, glaring injustices against certain regions, the various agitations for secession, suspicions and mistrust, and the growing tension in the polity.

Ohuabunwa however, urged Nigerians to still have faith in the country while believing that the leaders would do the needful to put the country back on the path of greatness.

Nigeria future brighter, say Queen of England

Meanwhile, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, has sent a message of felicitation to President Muhammadu Buhari on the occasion of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary, wishing better ties with Nigeria in the future.

Nigeria got her independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1960.

The Queen’s message was conveyed to the President by the British High Commission in Nigeria.

The monarch said: “It gives me great pleasure to offer my warmest congratulations on the 60th anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence, together with my best wishes for your country’s continued happiness and prosperity.

“The United Kingdom and Nigeria benefit from strong and enduring ties as Commonwealth partners through shared history and most importantly, our people.

“These are bonds that I hope and believe will flourish long into the future.”

Nigeria returning to its golden years – APC

Meanwhile the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has insisted that the country is gradually returning its golden age under the Muhammadu Buhari administration

The party in its independent message which was signed by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, noted that “there is no doubt that Nigeria has made great national history and nationalistic history makers from her economic and political evolution in the last 60 years.”

“As a nation, we are better than where we were and with determination, faith and commitment to our fatherland close to where we should be.

“Today, we remember and salute our founding fathers who fought for the independence of our great country and also members of our Armed Forces, many of whom have paid the supreme price to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity and keep our country united.

“As a nation, we are better together than we are apart. Despite our perceived differences, our strength and progress depend on our ability to harness our rich diversity.

The APC noted that in spite of its inherited challenges, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has made commendable strides in so many fronts, citing the administration’s fight against graft as its most significantly achievement

According to the party, “the fight against graft, diversifying and revamping the economy, curbing insurgency and emerging crimes, promoting positive values in our national life, strengthening our democratic institutions and processes and achieving a respectable international standing are the significant areas where this administration has worked much to restore Nigeria to its golden era

“As we celebrate our 60th Independence Anniversary today, the All Progressives Congress wishes to congratulate our indefatigable President Muhammadu Buhari, our past and present leaders at all levels and Nigerians of all shades.

“We call on Nigerians to reflect on this moment of ours. Reflect on where we have left, where we are now and where we ought to be. It is high time we showed love to ourselves and the country at large more than ever before. It is high time we got more security conscious, support the programmes and policies of the current administration for the betterment of all.

“It is the responsibility of all to patriotically contribute to make our nation greater. We need to pray more and love our nation the more and do the right thing at all times.” The party noted

Keep hope alive – Jonathan, PDP tell Nigerians

In the same vein, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have urged Nigerians not to lose hope on the nation, but be purposeful in playing their own roles towards making the country great.

Jonathan stated this in his goodwill message to Nigerians at the 60th Independence Day celebration on Thursday.

He noted that the journey of Nigeria has been that of mixed fortunes, adding that it requires the commitment of all citizens to build a strong and prosperous nation.

He said: “Like many other great nations, our journey has been that of mixed fortunes. Our nation has been through periods of progress and times of setbacks. We have experienced eras of strength, unity and faith as well as seasons of weakness, trials and despair. Despite these challenges, we have remained as one, and nurtured our democracy to 21 unbroken years.

“I therefore urge us to make investments that will shore up the democratic gains and work towards building strong and virile institutions. We need to harness the greatness that lies within our diversity and the strength of our population, to recreate and build the Nigeria we desire. We must de-emphasize our fault lines and concentrate on the silver lining within our lands.

“Every great nation is built on the patriotic sacrifices of its citizens. We should show love, unity and understanding in times of trials and never lose hope in the presence of despair. This is the spirit that is required to build our nation, to enable us live in the land of our collective dreams.”

The former President also paid tribute to those patriots who had paid the supreme price towards advancing the course of the nationhood, stressing that they will continue to be Nigeria’s heroes.

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