On his part, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said in a statement yesterday that the country was in dire need of healing.
He also said force alone was not enough to defeat separatist agitations in Nigeria, adding that government should do everything to address issues that gave rise to such agitations.
Appealing to separatist groups to lay down their arms in the interest of the nation, Atiku said taking up arms against the Nigerian state would do more harm than good.
He said: “I call on those who have taken up arms against Nigeria to have a rethink. Whatever differences they may have with the rest of Nigeria, whether religious, ethnic or political terror, violence and separatism are not the way. Let us learn from history.
“In Ireland, Israel, and the Balkans, such groups have seen the wisdom in giving up armed struggle for participation in the political process. There is much wisdom in the saying that to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. We must accept the reality that we are all brothers and sisters sired by our fatherland.
“We cannot defeat separatist groups by force of arms alone; we can only defeat separatism by making all Nigerians feel they belong. This is only possible when we live up to the words of our national motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.
“As a nation, we asserted our independence in our infancy by lending to other nations. We must be careful not to lose the hard-won independence of our heroes’ past. By learning to live within our means, we can put a stop to the needless borrowings that threaten our economic independence.
“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.”
Continuing, the former VP also called for the immediate adoption of a development plan to harness the creative energy of the youths across the country.
He said: “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 youths 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.
“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. Indeed they ‘berekete’ in every facet of our life from the rain forest of the south to the sudan and sahel Savannah of the north and the guinea Savannah of the midlands of the territories we call home.”
Singling out for praise Israel Adesanya, the Nigerian currently doing the nation proud in the UFC, Atiku tasked the leadership of the country to fish out youthful talents across the country and invest in them for the future.
“On Saturday, 26 September, 2020 in far away United States, Israel Adesanya, an illustrious Nigerian, who embodies the indefatigable Nigerian spirit made the nation proud by successfully defending his UFC middleweight title. That victory lifted our spirit, and gave us hope in a season of hopelessness when every index of life and human development in our country is trending abysmally negative.
“Nigerians of all hues are united in the celebration of the victory of Adesanya. It is our victory. No one cares if he is from Abia or Zamfara, Rivers or Osun state. Indeed some are wont to adopt Ibrahim or Omesonma as his name. But what is important is that he is a Nigerian, and his victory our collective victory.”