By Ben Agande
Abuja – In a keynote address at the public presentation of a book, Nigerian Century written by Dare Babarinsa at the Shehu Musa Yaradua centre in Abuja, President Buhari said with the abundant human and natural resources in the country, with proper harnessing, the country would attain its greatness.
The president, who was represented by the former governor of Ekiti state and deputy chairman of the All Progressive Congress in the South, Segun Oni noted that only a Nigeria could have given meaning to the “indomitable spirit, boundless energy, collective creativity, cultural diversity and unique sense of enterprise” of Nigerians.
“Yes our land is blessed by Providence with riches in oil and gas, iron ore, gold, limestone and almost all the minerals of this earth. Our soil can grow almost any crop and our vegetation supports animal life as varied as creation can manifest. Our rivers and coast lines are rich with fishes and various kinds of life. Yet, despite these bounties from nature, I have no doubt that the greatest blessings of Nigeria are the people of Nigeria, the wonderful people that gives expression to thegrandeur and majesty of our beloved country” he said.
President Buhari recalled that though Nigeria “was born in adversity, nurtured to adolescence in the turbulence of the colonial period and its majesty was forged in the furnace of hard experience of the post-colonial era” the country has been able to over come its challenges to emerge as the biggest economy in Africa.
“Today, our country has the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. Our dominance is not so much because of our wealth, but because of the tremendous energy and resourcefulness of our people. How many countries of the world can parade the likes of Professor Wole Soyinka, Jay Jay Okocha, King Sunny Ade and Alhaji Aliko Dangote literally under the same roof?” he asked rhetorically.
While paying tribute to the nation’s pre-independence leaders, the president equally hailed former presidents Olusegun , Umaru Yaradua and Goodluck Jonathan for nurturing the country’s democracy for the last sixteen years.
“We are in debt to the Founding Fathers of our Republic, Herbert Macaulay, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and many other heroes of the anti-colonial struggle. They hoisted for us the banner of freedom that we are still enjoying till today. As President, the experience of each of my predecessors as Chief of State have provided a guiding map for us in moments of hard decisions and when we have to embrace the loneliness of power. The twelve men; Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, General J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi, General Yakubu Gowon, General Murtala Muhammed, General Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, General Sani Abacha, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Mallam Umar Musa Yar’Adua and Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; each have had the unique experience of modulating and moderating the sometimes turbulent temper of our great country” he said.
President Buhari said though there are still challenges facing the nation, its leaders are equal to the task and are ready to deal with the challenges frontally.
“In a century, our country has travelled a long distance. Our resilience had been tested by the turbulence of the sixties, the bloodletting of the Civil War era and the inclement uncertainties of military rule. In the past 16 years, we have enjoyed uninterrupted democratic governance under my leadership and those of my three immediate predecessors, Chief Obasanjo, late Mallam Umar Musa and Dr Jonathan.
“We are still facing challenges that are providing new tests for our resilience and capability for growth, prosperity and sustenance in an atmosphere of security and strict adherence to the Constitution and the Rule of Law. I can assure you that our great country and her leaders are equal to the challenges ahead. All the outstanding men and women featured in this historic compendium provide the evidence that our country must embrace her destiny which is greatness” the president said.
In his remarks, former president Olusegun Obasanjo who was represented by Prince Julius Adelusi Adeluyi enjoined all Nigerians to contribute to the greatness of the country.
According to President Obasanjo, “as long as Nigeria has life, we should give it hope. We should all resolve to heal Nigeria” he said.
The chief presenter of the book, former governor of Lagos state and national leader of the All Progressive Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu called on the Nigerian government to discourage the teaching of foreign history in Nigerian schools, nothing that Nigerians children must be taught the history f their nation.
He said the 500-page book, Nigerian Century is a “compendium that we can brandish that Nigeria is bigger than 419 and Boko Haram”.
The book was reviewed by publisher of Ovation, Dele Momodu.