IBB, Anyaoku, Wayas, Atiku, Onu, Adebanjo, PDP, others speak
By Our reporters
A host of Nigerian leaders, yesterday, looked at the state of the nation, 55 years after independence and returned a grim verdict: the country has under-achieved.
Noting that Nigeria started on a promising note on October 1, 1960 with huge potentials to become a super-power within a short time, they identified where the country went wrong, the challenges and direly-needed changes.
Among those, who spoke to Vanguard, are Second Republic Senate President, Dr. Joseph Wayas; former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida; former Commonwealth Secretary general, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba; elder statesman and Afenifere stalwart, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; former Abia State governor, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed; former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Senators Francis Okpozo, Roland Owie and Francis Alimikhen, among others.
It’s been a story of unfulfilled dreams – Anyaoku
Looking at the problems of the country, Anyaoku said: ‘’For people of my age group, we should mark rather than celebrate this independence anniversary because of nostalgic recollections of the exciting hopes we had for the country at independence on October 1, 1960.
“We believed then, that the human and material resources of the country guaranteed it to become by the turn of the century, a developed leading African country, playing a significant role in the comity of nations. Then, the prevailing societal and national values were generally very worthy, and the incidence of corruption had not reached its present level, which seriously undermines the development and well-being of our nation.”
Nigeria is passing through a challenge – IBB
General Babangida said the nation was passing through a challenge that any government could face and every government would face, adding that it was now left for the government in power and the people to come together and proffer solutions to the problems.
Speaking in an interview in Minna, the former Military President noted that the needed change in the country included economic transformation, security and war against corruption, which, he said, the present administration had itself identified.
We need constitutional, structural change – Adebanjo
“We need a change of the constitution to a really federal constitution because the present constitution is too powerful and it favours a section of the country, particularly the North. It also favours the North by way of the number of local governments and states, which is to the disadvantage of the people in the South, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said.
“All this talk about corruption and mismanagement will be solved if the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference are accepted. If President Buhari is serious about it, implementing the recommendations does not stop him from his anti-corruption crusade. The change of the constitution, particularly the awkwardness of the constitution, should be restructured to give fairness. Until that is done, we are just scratching the surface.’’
There is hope – Atiku, Onu
Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former Abia State governor, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, have expressed optimism that Nigeria would be launched into the comity of developed nations someday.
The leaders, who were both chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, said that Nigeria despite all her challenges had preserved and therefore, deserved commendations.
Speaking, Monday night, at the 2015 Igbo Day celebration gala night of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, chapter, Onu said the country had everything to build a great nation.
He said: “We must continue to work for the greatness of Nigeria. We should always remember that when a people bound together in the pursuit of a common goal, they will overcome. We should be our brother’s keeper for there is always strength in unity. We should look back at yesterday and learn from the lessons of our journey so far and resolve to engage tomorrow for better prospects.”
According to Atiku, “this year’s celebration is significant because it coincides with a rare change of government when an opposition party took over power through a democratic, free and fair election.”
He remarked that “having succeeded in deepening our democracy by making possible a peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another, the task before the people now is to work for national unity and peace in the land to lay the foundation for nation-building.”
We must redeem our fleeing glory – Alimikhena
Also speaking, Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Francis Alimikhena, in a statement by Benjamin Atu, his assistant on Media and Publicity, said there was need for peaceful co-existence and called for prayers, love, and foresight, among others, in order to move the nation forward and redeem the fleeing glory of the Nigeria.
Stressing the need for sacrificial leadership, he said Nigeria would not develop if the spirit of selfishness was not imbibed as part of the nation’s culture.
“We all must serve in the spirit of service. We cannot re-brand Nigeria if we have not purged ourselves of the spirit and ways of our colonial masters where those in leadership see their followers as slaves. As Nigerians, we have individual and collective roles to actualize the Nigeria of our dream.’’
Owie, Sheik Lemu speak
Muslim cleric and former Grand Khadi of Niger State, Sheikh Ahmed Lemu said the problems confronting the country started in 1966.
“Nigeria got it wrong right from January 1, 1966, which was the beginning of the first coup. That was when we derailed as a country and since then, things have never been the same and things have been getting worse.
“No tangible achievements can be linked to past administrations. Poverty has increased, unemployment increased, insecurity increased, especially with the insurgency in parts of the North.”
In like manner, Owie, who thanked God that in spite of the nation’s failures, Nigeria had remained a united country for 55 years, called for a total war against corruption.
PDP, PDPGF call for patriotism, respect for Buhari
Also, the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and governors elected on its platform, urged Nigerians to be patriotic and respect President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement by PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party congratulated Nigerians for keeping faith in the Nigerian project and working together in building a strong nation and one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
“The PDP charges Nigerians to use the occasion of the nation’s 55th Independence anniversary to rekindle the spirit of patriotism, while exhibiting actions that promote democratic ideals and peaceful co-existence at all levels in the country, PDP said.
In a statement by the Coordinator, PDP Governors’ Forum, Earl Osaro Onaiwu, on behalf of the Chairman and governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, said:
“The significance of the day lies in the fact that it binds all Nigerians into one chord not only within the country, but also in the Diaspora. Thus, as we answer Balewa’s call and march towards the world stage, let us also remember that our common interests: in our nation and in our children, outweigh our differences. We are greater than the sum of the fears that have kept us divided in the past as a people.’’
Ambode, Amosun salute Nigerians
In spite of the failures of the past and the challenges of the present, Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said Nigeria still held “promises of becoming the land of our dream, if we are all determined to make it happen.”
Governor Amosun said Nigerians had every reason to celebrate because the country was currently experiencing resounding changes on account of a focused leadership
Also, Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, said patriotism and selfless service were two aspects that could truly reflect the essence of the country’s Independence.
The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, said the period of Independence must not be lost on anyone, urging Nigerians to re-dedicate themselves to the pride and service of the nation as exemplified by her founding fathers.
NLC, TUC seek greater actions on challenges
The two central labour centres in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterpart, sought for greater efforts to address the challenges facing the country.
NLC, in a statement, did an appraisal on the economy, security, corruption, job creation, unpaid salaries to workers, new minimum wage, textile sector among others.
Congress in the statement by its factional president, Ayuba Wabba, also congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari for providing leadership in the fight against corruption, insecurity, high cost of governance, which it said was beginning to yield results.
On its part, TUC, in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Bobboi Kaigama and Musa Lawal respectively, said: “Some basic challenges that we are currently grappling with include: ethnicity and nepotism; unemployment, poverty and hunger; widespread corruption, non-ideology based politics, insecurity, insurgency and kidnapping; mismanaged economy and free-fall of the naira; outrageous taxation and electricity billing systems; casualisation of labour, among others.”