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Nigeria @ 49: Fashola seeks national rebirth

… wants improvement on founding fathers legacies

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowopejo

As Lagos State joined the rest of the states in marking the 49th, National Independence Day of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Governor Babatunde Fashola has called on Nigerians home and abroad on the need for rededication towards achieving the rebirth of hope for Nigeria for her to take her rightful place in the comity of nations.

According to Fashola, who spoke through his deputy, Mrs Adebisi Sosan: “The occasion offers us all an opportunity once more to reflect on our evolution as a nation with goals and aspirations within a rapidly evolving world economic order. It offers us an opportunity to reflect on where we set out to be as a nation on October 1, 1960 when we attained Independence, here we are now and where we ought to be and should be.

In doing this, a review of the vision of the founding fathers of this country like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto to name but a few, still provide for us an effective take-off point.”

In his address after the march past by various groups, organisations, school children, Fashola said: ”Today, if we seek to know where we set out to be on the day we accepted freedom from colonial rule, we only need to fall back to the visions of these noble Nigerians who stood on the threshold of history and propounded a vision of liberation from poverty, from hunger and from man’s inhumanity to man.

“The Great Zik of Africa promoted education in the Eastern Region when he was Premier and also when he became the first President of Independent Nigeria. He, along with his colleagues, had a vision to liberate this country from the shackles of poverty, illiteracy, hunger and man’s inhumanity to man.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo also had a similar vision and he was certainly very pragmatic about such vision. His achievements as the Governor of Western Region of Nigeria stand today as a legacy yet to be surpassed by any government or individual in government.

Members of Girls Guide at  National Day Parade to Commemorate the 49th National Independence day of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was held in Lagos.
Members of Girls Guide at National Day Parade to Commemorate the 49th National Independence day of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was held in Lagos.

A man who built the 25-storey Cocoa House, when the tallest building in Nigeria at that time was a three-storey building, a man who established the Western Nigeria Television Service (WNTV), when many people in the region at that time did not even have a transistor radio, must certainly be a man of lofty ideas.

“It is also significant to note that most of the challenges that we labour today to find solution, even in the midst of global economic recession, have been dealt with decades ago by Chief Obafemi Awolowo – issues like the role of Government as regards taxation and budget implementation.

But perhaps, his greatest legacy today remains his introduction of free education in the Western Region. It remains today a legacy of a man who saw tomorrow and successfully implemented a project to liberate the youth, especially the indigent from illiteracy and ignorance.

Lagos State Deputy Governor Mrs. Sarah Sosan reading the governor's address during the ceremony.
Lagos State Deputy Governor Mrs. Sarah Sosan reading the governor's address during the ceremony.

“Of no less significance are the achievements of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. Aside from his legacy of promoting education in the Northern Region, he practically fought to liberate that Region from the shackles of poverty, ignorance and deprivation. Most prominent Nigerians, especially of Northern origin, have every reason to be grateful to him for their position in life today. But above all these, our founding fathers believed in true Federalism as a tool to achieving their vision.

He queried that as the nation celebrate the 49th anniversary, how much of those legacies and the vision of the founding fathers are being promoted.

He continued: “How much of the vision still guide our steps in governance? As a matter of fact, where are we today in the scale of global development as envisioned by our founding fathers? How much of our economy is dependent on Agriculture or the processing of Agricultural produce? What is happening to our Education System? Are the youths being given opportunities as the future leaders of our country? How much of our differences are we exploiting as our strength? These are some of the questions that should agitate our minds today and give us food for thought even as we project our minds to the future.

“Today, let us all pause and give a thought to where we ought and should be in the scheme of world affairs. From their vision, our founding fathers, without doubt, wanted Nigeria to grow to become a nation to reckon with in the scheme of world affairs. Nigeria is the sixth largest oil producing nation in the world today and also one of the world’s most populous black nations.”

He contended that with fact that the nation’s founding fathers achieved so much even with much less resources than we are blessed with today.”

Policemen at the parade.
Policemen at the parade.

He noted that the nation’s greatest asset, unfortunately, has become our undoing. oil, which has uplifted nations around the world and which has become the benchmarking factor for devolution of power in the world today but instead has become a scourge to Nigeria.

He lamented that internally, almost all the systems have broken down or are in danger of doing so. Education, health, infrastructure, power, have all suffered most devastatingly.

He used to the occasion to play tribute to late human right fighter, Chief Gani Fawehimi, a man he said started a crusade for Justice and respect for human rights.

“However, those things for which he fought and died should represent for our nation, the Minimum Development Goals and a light onto our path in our quest for good governance. As I said in my Tribute to him on Thursday, September 10, 2009 at the Police College Ground, Ikeja, Gani Fawehinmi’s death can only rightly become a rallying point for a rededication to the development of our Nation.

“So, as we count down to the next 365 days and 8, 760 hours to the 50th Anniversary of our dear nation, we should do honour to the memory of the late patriot, Gani Fawehinmi and everything he stood for by doing our best.”

He stressed that the nation needed to give the country a big rebirth of hope. With our 49thAnniversary, the time has come to reinvest in Health, Education and, most importantly, the greatest asset which we have as a nation – the people – towards achieving the rebirth of hope for our nation to take her rightful place as the giant of the African Continent. We must not let Gani’s struggles end here. It must be the rallying point for all men of goodwill, young and old,

“Fellow Nigerians, it remains for me to remind you that the prosperity of this nation is our collective responsibility. We must, therefore rededicate ourselves to eradicating social vices that tend to diminish us and put a clog in the wheel of progress and development of our dear country.

In spite of her very many challenges, Nigeria remains our country and our greatest asset. Seeking an alternative at 49 years of age will be tantamount to learning to use the left hand at old age. It is, therefore, our collective responsibility to agree that we want to make Nigeria truly great. Let us take that decision today.

“We charge all Nigerians to use the occasion of the country’s 48th Independence anniversary as a rallying point to renew faith ,hope and confidence in the country’s capacity for greatness.”


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