By Our Reporters
As Nigeria marks its 63rd independence anniversary today amid economic hardship and security challenges, Nigerians have been encouraged to remain steadfast and keep hope in the country alive.
Former presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, his deputy, Benjamin Kalu, state governors and other prominent leaders, in their goodwill messages, noted that despite the current economic challenges in the country, Nigeria has recorded major milestones in its journey to greatness.
Recall the Federal Government last Monday, said no world leader was invited for this year’s ceremony.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume, who stated this during a press conference in Abuja, said the decision was taken in line with the present economic realities.
The theme of this year’s anniversary is: “Nigeria @ 63, Renewed Hope for Unity & Prosperity.”
Congratulating Nigerians, Buhari said: “For 63 years, Nigeria continues to inspire the rest of the continent with the creativity and diversity of its citizens and now, a long span of democratic rule. I am very optimistic that democracy will continue to gain strength, year after year in our nation.”
Time for reflection
On his part, Jonathan commended Nigerians for their steadfastness and loyalty to the country, in the face of the modest successes recorded and the developmental challenges the nation has faced since independence.
He encouraged Nigerians not to despair but to remain committed to the task of charting a more progressive path for a greater tomorrow, noting that the anniversary offers citizens and leaders the opportunity to reflect on Nigeria’s journey of nationhood.
Nigeria at crossroads
Also, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2023 general election, Atiku Abubakar, said Nigeria is at a crossroads.
According to him, the nation which was yet to attain its full potential has so much to be grateful for, especially for the industry of its youths in various fields of human endeavour whose achievements have led to the hoisting of the national flag across the globe.
Atiku’s counterpart in the Labour Party, Peter Obi, enjoined Nigerians not to despair over the agonizing situation in the country 63 years after independence but remain resolute and hopeful that a new Nigeria is still possible.
Obi said: “Even amidst grave uncertainties and apparent hardship Nigerians are experiencing due to persistent leadership failure after 63 years of our nationhood”, the situation might be critical, but certainly not hopeless.”
Nigeria will be great again
Similarly, Speaker Abbas assured that Nigeria despite numerous challenges would be great again, especially with its abundant human and natural resources.
He decried the brain drain being suffered by the country and urged young Nigerians to be more patriotic, using their talents and skills to develop their country.
The speaker also appealed the organised labour to shelve the planned indefinite nationwide strike on Tuesday as embarking on industrial action at this time would only aggravate the situation at hand.
Also, Deputy Speaker Kalu, said that though the trajectory has not been all rosy, Nigeria still has a cause to be called a great country.
Extolling the efforts of President Tinubu at repositioning the country in line with his Renewed Hope agenda, the Kalu said the nation can only get better as the FG is working assiduously to turn around the fortunes of the country.
Kalu said that the House of Representatives in its legislative interventions will continue to prioritize people-oriented motions and legislations to improve the lives of the citizenry as envisaged by the founding fathers of the country.
In his message, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, urged Nigerians to unite with renewed determination, hope and commitment to move the country forward against all odds. He said President Tinubu and all the 36 state governors are committed to addressing different challenges currently experienced across the country.
The governor also implored Nigerians to continue to live with one another in love, unity and peace, irrespective of their religious or ethnic differences.
Don’t give up
Furthermore, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State implored Nigerians not to give up despite the country’s current dire circumstances.
Oborevwori urged the people to support governments at all levels in their quest to salvage the nation and its economy.
Pray and work
In the same vein, the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, commended the resilience and indefatigable spirit of Nigerians, who in the face of the current economic realities of the country, have continued to stay alive as they struggle to earn a living daily.
The governor urged Nigerians to continue to pray and work in unity to overcome the country’s present economic challenges.
Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, asked Nigerians to dream and work for a better Nigeria.
He called on the people to look at the prospects of the country, the possibilities and opportunities rather than the challenges, saying it was time to put the country first.
Makinde maintained that though the country’s journey has been tumultuous and challenging, Nigerians still have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past years.
In addition, former Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, called on Nigerians to work assiduously for the strengthening of institutions of governance to make democracy more responsive to the yearnings of the people.
Omo-Agege however, urged the federal, state and local governments to work together to ensure that all democratic institutions fulfil their constitutional tasks and responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has congratulated Nigerians for surviving the eight years and four months of “dreadful administrations” of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and called for a national reawakening.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said, “The PDP notes with pain that the APC has reversed all the gains made by our founding fathers as well as the immeasurable achievements recorded by the PDP in its 16 years in government; a period widely acknowledged as Nigeria’s Golden Years.”
Furthermore, the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje, told Nigerians to not despair despite the teething challenges of the current administration, assuring that Tinubu would remain true to his ‘renewed hope’ promises.
Ganduje disclosed that measures are already in place to reposition the country for maximum growth and development and called on Nigerians to sustain the culture of peaceful coexistence.
While sending felicitations, the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Comrade Julius Abure, blamed what he described as “Nigeria’s stunted growth” on institutional conspiracy and corruption in high places.
He lamented that the plethora of challenges Nigeria has battled and is still battling with are mostly man-made and self-inflicted.
He, however, expressed confidence that a “New Nigeria is still possible if the leaders should put the nation first rather than self.”
Nothing to celebrate
Moreover, the Prelate of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. Ekpenyong Akpanika, said Nigeria’s future remains bleak 63 years after gaining political independence.
He said Nigeria does not yet have anything to celebrate except that the country has continued to exist as a political entity, regretting that the current economic turmoil occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy, has dashed the high hope of a better country before the 2023 general elections.
Not in vain
In his felicitation, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Solomon Arase, called on Nigerians to have faith in the greatness of the Nigerian nation insisting that all hopes are not lost.
Arase said Nigerians should spare a minute to salute and celebrate “the freedom our heroes fought for and cherish our diversity.”
He noted that Nigeria must rise again and that “the labour of our heroes past will never be in vain.”
The National President, Christian Council of Nigeria, CCN, and Anglican Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. David Onuoha, called on Nigerians to seek God’s forgiveness.
His words: “As Nigeria clocks 63, we rejoice that despite all difficulties and trials associated with nation-building, our country has remained afloat.
“While we congratulate all at this great attainment, we believe that we should take some time out to seek the face of God for the forgiveness of sins committed, opportunities wasted, hopes betrayed, vision detailed, justice denied, innocent lives wasted, wealth squandered and the unbridled selfishness that defines most of our intentions and actions today.”