•Queen of England, Israel, Atiku, Abdulsalami, others hail Nigeria
As Nigeria marks its 60th independence anniversary, the Federal Government has ordered all routes leading to the Eagle Square, Abuja, blocked.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, said the blockade was part of measures to enhance security in and around Eagle Square, venue of the Independence Day ceremony, in the heart of Abuja.
He said Shehu Shagari Way, Ahmadu Bello Way, outward and inward-bound Airport Road and adjoining roads would be closed to traffic.
Nigeria got its independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1960.
Contrary to earlier announcement, President Muhammadu Buhari will now address the nation at 7am.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in an updated statement in Abuja last night, said Buhari will then proceed to Eagle Square to be part of the activities lined up to mark the day, which will kick off by 10am.
The parade and presidential broadcast are the climax of the events lined up for the 60th Independence anniversary celebration, which have been in full swing following the launch of the theme and logo by Mr. President.
I-G orders increased surveillance, security deployment
The Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu, has ordered increased surveillance and security deployments across the country.
Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja.
Mba said the order was to forestall any breach of peace and ensure hitch free celebration.
He said the Commissioners of Police (CPs) and their supervisory Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) had been directed to ensure the safety and security of the public space during the celebration.
He said the Strategic Officers would strengthen the visibility policing structure and carry out confidence building patrols.
The FPRO said the patrol would cover residential areas, major highways and Government/Private infrastructure to prevent and arrest any untoward situation.
Meanwhile, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II and the State of Israel have joined the long list of those who have showered praises on country.
The Queen of England’s message, according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, was conveyed by the British High Commission in Nigeria.
The letter addressed to President Buhari read: “It gives me great pleasure to offer my warmest congratulations on the 60th anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence, together with my best wishes for your country’s continued happiness and prosperity.
“The United Kingdom and Nigeria benefit from strong and enduring ties as Commonwealth partners through shared history and most importantly, our people. These are bonds that I hope and believe will flourish long into the future.”
On its part, Israel extolled the bilateral cooperation between the two countries since 1960.
The message is contained in a statement by Mr Shimon Ben-Shoshan, Ambassador of the State of Israel to Nigeria.
Ben-Shoshan, also Permanent Representative of Israel to ECOWAS, commended the diplomatic relations between Israel and Nigeria to have been mutual and prayed for the progress and prosperity of Nigerians at large.
“Unfortunately, this year’s celebration is taking place under the shadow and restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wish to express my sympathy for those who have lost their loved ones and for those who are recovering; may all the people of Nigeria be blessed with health and resilience.
“This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Israel; I am proud to note with satisfaction the strong diplomatic relations and friendship that exist today between our countries.
“I also witnessed growth of the bilateral cooperation over the last 60 years, this was achieved through advancements in areas of common interests such as agriculture, water, education, health, innovation, security, infrastructures and culture.”
Lagos, Cross River cancel public celebration
Lagos Government has opted for a low-key celebration due to the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still with us.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has directed that the planned parade and other activities that involve the gathering of more than 50 people should be cancelled.
He advised Lagosians to celebrate quietly at home and pray for the country. They should also observe the COVID-19 protocols, including wearing of face masks to protect themselves and their loved ones.
The police and other security agencies have been directed to ensure nobody flouts the directives, especially now that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is warning that a second wave of the deadly disease could occur.
Similarly, Cross River Governor, Sir Ben Ayade, has canceled the annual parade and public celebration of Nigeria’s independence anniversary as the country marks sixty years of nationhood.
A statement by Mr Christian Ita said the cancellation was as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to avoid community transmission that is often associated with large gatherings.
While regretting the development, it said the governor was more concerned about protecting the people from the pandemic than holding any public spectacle in celebration of the independence anniversary.
The statement, however, urged Cross Riverians who may want to celebrate the day, to do so in their homes.
Nigeria on life support, says CUPP
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has described Nigeria as a country on life support.
CUPP predicted that Nigeria may collapse soon if urgent steps were not taken to rescue Nigeria from the hands of some “cabals” that have held the country hostage in the past 60 years.
CUPP in an independence message released in Abuja, expressed fear that the dream of Nigeria’s founding fathers of a great, united, prosperous and equitable democratic nation is fast becoming a mirage.
The statement signed by Olusegun Peters, chairman, Contact and Mobilisation Committee and member, Steering Committee, CUPP, challenged all patriotic Nigerians to “fight” for the soul of Nigeria.
“The state of the nation is extremely bad and need collective prayers and efforts of patriotic Nigerians to rescue it from the cabal that has held the populace hostage in the past 60 years of independence, particularly the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government.
“As the torch bearer of Nigeria’s democracy, CUPP is strongly determined to liberate the masses from APC task masters that have impoverished them, and redirect the ship of the Nigeria State to the path of rectitude, development, progress and advancement.”
Don’t lose hope
In spite of the harsh prevailing socio-economic hardship, which it said did not give room for celebration, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Afenifere have asked Nigerians not to lose hope.
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation said Nigeria would move forward to fulfill the dreams of its founding fathers if the citizens would do the right things and the constitution reviewed to reflect the will and wishes of the federating units.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin, stressed the need to separate good governance from politics.
“We need a constitution that can put us together well, take us to the land of opportunities and ensure equality, fairness and justice for every section.
“We need a constitution that can make all federating units proud of the nation. We must go back to true federalism,”he said.
In its reaction, APGA national chairman, Dr. Victor Ike Oye said “traditionally, occasions as this should attract pomp and ceremony, but the circumstances of our current existence makes any celebration unrealistic and uncharitable.
“Our dear nation is in dire straits – grappling with numerous challenges, ranging from dwindling economic fortunes occasioned by fluttering global oil prices to biting inflation, unemployment, insecurity and corruption.
“What hope then does the occasion hold for Nigerians? This is where we need to rekindle hope in Nigeria and not bow to the pressure of life and the devious machinations of some disgruntled persons to put a cog in the wheel of progress. We must think out of the box and continue to work for the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria.”
Opportunity for introspection –Atiku
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said the occasion is an opportunity for introspection.
Atiku, in a statement, entitled “Nigeria’s future depends on our commitment to a common destiny” said the country has missed several opportunities to reset the mindset of the citizens to move forward as prosperous people.
He said though the country may have failed to take advantage of the strength of the Nigerian youths, their triumph teaches us something as a people looking forward to a better future.
He called on those who have taken up arms against the country to have a rethink not minding whatever differences they may have with the rest of the country.
Gen. Abubakar urges politicians to shun politics of bitterness
To achieve a better Nigeria, former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), has urged politicians to play by the rules and shun politics of bitterness. He called on the citizens to be patriotic and disciplined for the country to have meaningful development.
Abubakar told newsmen in Minna during an interactive session that politics devoid of bitterness and rancour would go a long way to promote peace, unity and growth of the country.
He said some politicians were in the habit of inciting the citizens to cause unrest and violence.
“For the sake of ourselves, it is absolutely necessary that we maintain peace, Edo election has come and gone and we have learned some lessons. I believe the peace in Edo will be replicated in Ondo election.’’
Abubakar said peace was needed for the development of any society, adding that no nation could develop without it.
RCCG’s Rose of Sharon Choir
To mark the anniversary, the Redeemed Christian Church of God’s Choir, Rose of Sharon Parish, has unveil her first-ever single track, which eulogises the nation’s greatness.
The choir teamed up with one of Nigeria’s finest, award-winning Timi Dakolo, to create the masterpiece.
Produced by Philip Uzo and spearheaded by RCCG, Rose of Sharon Parish, it has a soulful, faith-based rhythmic sound, set to cause waves not only within Nigeria but across the African music scene and internationally. It has the message of hope.
The song titled “Again” talks about reawakening hopes and dreams again in the present, future and destiny of our beloved Nigeria.
The visuals soon to be shown on live streams and television stations replicate the story of hope and victory as we rise again as one Nigeria.