By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — AS Nigeria marks 2017 Democracy Day today, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, identified current economic challenge as the greatest threat to the nation’s democracy and called for concerted and united efforts of all Nigerians to move it out of the woods.
Saraki, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, to commemorate 2017 Democracy Day celebration, also thanked Nigerians for their perseverance, patience, understanding and resilience in the face of the current economic challenges, even he assured that better days were near.
He said there was the need for a solid economy that would ensure that the citizens enjoyed high standard of living and that there was even development across the country.
He urged Nigerians to support the policies of government aimed at involving the private sector in key sectors of the economy, focussing on locally manufactured goods, encouraging small and medium scale entrepreneurs, developing alternative sources of foreign exchange other than oil, directing attention to commercial agriculture and mining of mineral resources, eliminating smuggling and other activities which could sabotage the economy.
Saraki said if the people could rally behind government policies to develop the economy and create a vibrant private sector, “many of the problems which bedevil the nation’s politics will be eliminated and our democracy will grow from strength to strength.”
He also canvassed that Nigerians should consciously nurture the various institutions, which made the country a democracy worth its name, adding that it was by building the institutions and respecting the values they represented that the nation could guarantee stability, development and consistency.
Saraki, who commended the policies and programmes of the present administration, aimed at repositioning the country, called for more support for President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve his lofty economic plan.
“I want to congratulate all Nigerians for the successes we have recorded so far in our democratic journey. We cannot afford to remove our legs from the gas pedal. Government definitely is determined to make life more abundant for our people.
“All Nigerians deserve commendation; we have done well so far. We must strive more to make democracy a way of life.
‘’The successes recorded so far demonstrate the unwavering commitment of Nigerians to sustain and grow our democracy.
“Let us celebrate with hope that the present economic challenges will soon give way to a prosperous country that we can all be proud of. Our democratic institutions need to be strengthened to perform their duties in the service of all Nigerians, irrespective of the government in power,’’ he said.
The Senate President said that the present administration was endowed with the necessary political will to initiate changes that would lead to the overall development of the country, with the support of all.