Fred Ezeh, Abuja, and Gloria Ikegbule
As Nigerians gird their loins for the 59th Independence Day tomorrow, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has asked Nigerians not to lose hope, as a new Nigeria that will benefit everybody will soon emerge, even as he joined Christian faithful at the 2019 Independence Day interdenominational church service in Abuja.
The interdenominational church service at the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja, was also graced by Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, Chiefs of Defence and Naval Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin and Ibot Ekwe Ibas.
Other attendees were the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, representative of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason, Federal Executive Council members, Acting Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, and members of the diplomatic community, among several others.
Osinbajo admitted that there was challenges but insisted that God has been faithful to Nigeria in the past 59 years, in spite of challenges of nation building, and encouraged Nigerians not to despair but love one another and trust God.
He used different Biblical verses and experiences to justify his position on the promises of God for Nigeria.
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle, appealed to Nigerians not to allow enemies of Nigeria to succeed in their plans to plant the seed of hatred and division in Nigeria.
He encouraged Nigerians, irrespective of faith, to champion any cause that would promote and strengthen peace, unity, justice and most importantly, love one another unconditionally.
He said “Obviously, Nigerians are the architect of their own problems. 90 percent of problems being faced in Nigeria is caused by us. People enjoy working against each other.
“We must know that no government agency or individual can succeed without the support of the other. So, we must collectively work for the betterment of Nigeria.”
Former Head of Service, Yakubu Gowon, in his remarks, encouraged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of peace, love, tolerance and avoid anything that would create acrimony and hatred among the people.
He appealed to political office holders to formulate policies and take steps that would herald greater socio-economic and human capital development.
Hunger, poverty bedeviling country – Nnamani
Chairman of the Senate committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa/NEPAD, Chimaroke Nnamani, has tasked leaders to address the problems of poverty, ignorance and disease impeding the development of the country and lead the people to prosperity.
Nnamani noted that almost six decades after Nigeria attained her independence, the country is still faced with the challenges of inequality, unemployment, ethnicity and illiteracy.
The former governor of Enugu state urged leaders at all levels to make deliberate efforts through policies and programmes that would engender development and rescue the people from the debilitating effects of ignorance, squalor, disease and poverty.
He enjoined Nigeria and other sister nations in Africa that attained self rule in the 60s to rise up to the challenge and work hard to save their people from the aprons string of poverty, hunger and disease.
Nnamani pointed out that like most African nations, Nigeria was yet to achieve her potentials for greatness envisaged at independence which she attained through fierce battles, sweat and blood, many decades after.
In spite of the disappointments, he believes that the country can still be out of the woods if the right steps are taken.
He therefore urged Nigerian leaders to put on their thinking caps to address the issues of insecurity threatening the peace and cohesion of the country.
He promised that the Senate would put the issues on its priority list in order to fashion out a blueprint that would lead the people to prosperity.
He urged citizens to complement government programmes and policies to ensure peace and progress.
…We’ve not done well as a nation, says cleric
The General Overseer, All Christians Fellowship Mission (ACFM), Dr. William Okoye, has scored Nigeria and its governance system low as regard things that make nations great.
He attributed the prolonged underdevelopment of Nigeria, politically and otherwise, to poor leadership recruitment process, which, he said, encourage ethnic champions, religious bigots instead of national and selfless leaders.
Delivering his independence day message at the headquarters of the Church in Abuja, on Sunday, Dr. Okoye, said that factors responsible for miseries and emptiness either as individuals, church or nation are not far from distorted sense of value and misplaced priorities.
He recognised the ongoing effort of the church in Nigeria, to champion the cause of rebirth, reformation and reconstruction through a redefinition of morality, code of conduct and discipline.
He suggested that certain changes, particularly the style of political administration that would herald speedy infrastructural and human capital be considered by political leaders as quickly as possible so as to salvage Nigeria from collapse.
“If you run a check on few number of developed nations, you would see that quality and selfless leaders made it possible. Regrettably, Nigeria run short of such leaders and that has been our problem.
“If we can nurture and have leaders who sees Nigeria as their constituency, promote fairness, equity, justice, meritocracy and not mediocrity, nepotism, Nigeria will move forward speedily and join the league of developed nations.”
Senior citizens urge FG to address their challenges
Some senior citizens in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have called on the Federal Government to address challenges facing retired persons by making provision for their deteriorating health, malnutrition, shelter and fear among others.
They made the call in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), yesterday in Abuja, listing some of the challenges as depression, senility, isolation, boredom, non-productivity, financial incapacity and security.
They urged the government to address those challenges in the spirit of independence, adding that addressing them would positively influence their well-being.
They were speaking against the backdrop of Nigeria’s forthcoming 59th independence anniversary on Oct. 1.
Mr Martins Mailafia, a 76-year-old, retired Principal recalled that in the past, the elderly were respected and revered.
“Many preindustrial societies observed gerontocracy, a type of social structure wherein the power was held by a society’s oldest members,” he said.
Mailafia said in some countries today, the elderly still have influence and power and their vast knowledge was respected and utilised.
“Nigeria is 59, the elderly do not have influence to correct and address the situation in the nation that can be respected.
“Politicians have taken over and they now direct the affairs of the nation, which is not too good for the country.
“Reverence for the elderly is still a part of some cultures, but it has changed in Nigeria because of social factors,” he said.
He urged the government not to forget that the elderly can still play a major role in the betterment of the nation.
He added that old age was a stage of development that will continue to be portrayed as a social problem, particularly in our societies, due to the numerous issues associated with ageing.
Mrs Florence Oyekachi, a retired Nurse, said that successive governments have sought to promote the wellbeing of the elderly by partnering with both local and international bodies to implement policies, programmes and measures to ensure the welfare of the elderly.
“But, unfortunately senior ctizens in Nigeria are still struggling to survive. Nigeria is 59 what structure do we have in place for our senior citizens?
“ We worked very hard to get this Nation at 59, we were part of the struggles but, today when I look around nothing has changed much, we keep making so many polices that we do not implement,” he said.
Oyekachi said that the senior citizens were not a burden to the government but an asset to all Nigerians, saying that their wisdom and experience are still needed.
“I am calling for an inclusive senior citizens in Nigeria that is based on a positive attitude towards elderly and recognition for the value of the senior citizens.”
Brig-Gen. Moses Adewoye, a retired Army Officer, said that the government make their budget, building their roads but there was no provision for the senior citizens.
“Did you say Nigeria will be 59 years old? Yet it has no major plans for its senior citizens.
“ I retired 22 years ago as a Brig-Gen. my pension is still the same and nothing has changed, people that are Brig-Gen. today received so much more and they are benefiting from our foundation.
“ There have not been any positive change yet we sing the Labour of our Hero’s Passed shall never be in vein all the time. But politicians do not see it as important to address our little problems,” he said.
Adewoye said that the government was aware of the challenges faced by the senior citizens in the country but were reluctant to address them.
“They think they will remain young forever,” he said.
He added that it was time for the government to help and assist the senior citizens with living facilities and prompt payment of their allowance.
Musician preaches One Nigeria
Rising gospel artiste, Bigger Ibekwe, has released a new single, ‘One Nigeria’ to discourage Nigerians from disintegrating.
He called on citizens to march forward in unity to build a nation devoid of division, discrimination, tribalism or nepotism.
Speaking to journalists during the press conference in Lagos, he emphasised that Nigerians should forgo the clamour for division to stay together and build the Nigeria of their dream.
Those pushing for division, he said, may have experienced injustice at one time or another. He however enjoined all to take a cue from China which has 56 ethnic groups yet went beyond their differences to come together to build a stronger nation.
“This song is a divine project. How I wish everyone will listen to it.