Various reactions including knocks, applause, hope, cautious optimism and cynicms have tried Nigeria at 61.
For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there is nothing worth celebration as it carpeted the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration as the worst in the country’s history.
Its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, at press briefing, in Abuja, yesterday, claimed the Progressives Congress (APC)-led government has reversed all elements of an independent state.
“It is painful that all the gains made by our nation since independence in 1960 and especially during the 16 years of the PDP in office, including the entrenchment of national unity and cohesiveness, freedom and personal liberty of citizens, rule of law, credible elections, justice, equity, fairness and economic progress; the very elements of an independent state, have all been reversed by the APC and the Buhari Presidency.
“The Buhari Presidency and the APC have on all fronts taken our nation back to the pre-independence days with associated bondage mentality and frustration resulting in many losing faith in the system and leaving our country in droves within the last six years.
“Is it not an irony that our nation is celebrating independence in the face of subverted elections, brazen crackdown on the opposition and dissenting voices as well as other suppressive acts including the muzzling of free speech as witnessed in the ban on Twitter in Nigeria?
“Is it not also an irony that as we celebrate independence, thousands of our compatriots are falling victims to extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention in dehumanizing cells; which underscore the horrible situation under President Buhari and the APC, as even profiled by reputable international organizations including Amnesty International (AI) and US Department of State?”
“How can we celebrate when the APC has plunged our nation into economic slavery with over N33.1 trillion accumulated debt, a 33 percent unemployment rate, collapse of productive sectors and a weakened naira from the N167 to a dollar handed over to President Buhari in 2015 to a dismal N576 to a dollar today?
“…How can we celebrate when President Buhari and the APC have in a space of six years, wreaked our once robust economy and turned Nigeria into the poverty capital of the world, where over 82.9 million Nigerians can no longer afford their daily meals. Indeed, this is not the way to go. The incontrovertible truth is that there is no hope in sight under the APC and that is why there are no drums on the streets to celebrate Nigeria at 61.”
•Nigeria’ll remain united, stronger nation –CAN
Regardless of its challenges, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said Nigeria would remain indivisible and wax stronger.
Its President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, in a message of hope issued to Christians and Nigerians, Ayokunle also declared that “Nigeria shall experience Showers of Blessings.’’
He said his prophesy was backed by the Book of Ezekiel 34:25-30, where Ezekiel prophesied to a people in captivity of the Babylonians that there shall be showers of blessings.
Ayokunle said the situation, humanly speaking, appeared bleak, but knowing that God is not man and with Him, all things are possible, this is the right time to believe that there shall be showers of blessings because some people are praying for this country.
“There shall be showers of blessings because God shall judge the evil doers in the nation. There shall be showers of blessings because God rules in the affairs of humans. There shall be showers of blessings because the thoughts of God towards us are good and not evil.’’
Ayokunle, also Co-Chairman, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, said the showers of blessings shall usher in peace to Nigeria and all agitations would cease.
The CAN president said the Lord would cause wild beasts and criminals operating with various names such as Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, murderous herdsmen, unknown gunmen to cease from Nigeria.
“Violence shall become a thing of the past in Nigeria and all Nigerians shall dwell in safety in the name of Jesus.
“Our economy shall flourish and there shall be prosperity in the nation and Nigerians who had run abroad will return home because Nigeria will be a desired nation by everybody in the name of Jesus,’’ he stressed.
He added that God shall turn Nigeria’s dry land into swamps of food where Nigerians would have plenty to eat and the days of scarcity would be no more in the name of Jesus.
He prayed that at the forthcoming 2023 general elections, no wicked leader shall be voted into power no matter how wealthy and powerful he or she might be in the name of Jesus Christ.
The CAN president commended the military for the current upper hand they were having over insurgents and criminals tagged bandits and wicked herdsmen murdering and sacking communities
•Lawmakers, CLO urge Buhari to tackle insecurity
Some lawmakers in Lagos and Nasarawa states and the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle security challenges facing the country.
The lawmakers also called on the president to address poverty, unemployment and separatist agitations.
While Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, called on Nigerians to pray and support the president and other leaders to succeed in creating more democratic dividends, Chairman, Committee on Information and Strategies, Lagos State House of Assembly, Setonji David, urged the president to tackle poverty, unemployment, inflation and separatists agitations.
Chairman, Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Sanni Okanlawon, also urged Nigerians to unite in the efforts to end insecurity.
“We all have responsibilities to work towards the greatness of this country.’’
The CLO asked the political class and office holders to restore the nation to the ideals of its founding fathers.
Its chairman in Anambra, Vincent Ezekwueme, said in spite of abundant human and natural resources bestowed on Nigeria, majority of its citizenry still live in abject poverty.
“The best and greatest independent gift Nigerians expect from government at all levels includes but not limited to the eradication of poverty, inequality, unemployment, injustices, banditry, terrorism and all forms of insecurity in the land. It is only social justices that precipitate peaceful coexistence, unity, progress and prosperity,” Ekwueme said.
•Lawan, Tinubu urge unity, faith
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, urged Nigerians to unite for the progress of the country and continue to keep faith with their fatherland.
“I find it remarkable that we are living in the longest era of democracy in our history as a nation. That may seem modest as an achievement but it is an additional cause for celebration in the light of our political experience,” he said
According to him, the challenges are numerous but not insurmountable.
“If we face them like our founding fathers faced those of their time, the coming generations will also accord our memories their gratitude.
Lawan encouraged all Nigerians to take advantage of the ongoing process of constitutional review at the National Assembly.
He said the National Assembly was determined to facilitate a meaningful review of the Constitution by the people.
In her reaction, Senator Oluremi Tinubu emphasized that the things that bind the country together are stronger than those which threaten to divide it.
“We must shun all attempts to cause disunity amongst us, and remain unflinching in spite of whatever challenges we may face.”
According to the senator representing Lagos Central, the nation’s founding fathers have fought and played their part.
“Now, the responsibility rests on us, to safeguard, preserve, cherish and build a nation that future generations of Nigerians will be proud of.”
•Kalu advocates sustenance of democratic virtues
Former fovernor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Kalu, applauded Nigerians for their perseverance, patriotism and commitment to nation building.
Describing Nigeria as a blessed country, he called on the political class to embrace democratic virtues at all levels of government, adding that people at the helm of affairs must live up to expectations by providing succour to the people.
The former governor noted that the tribal, cultural and religious diversity of Nigeria should not be a basis for disunity rather an opportunity for growth and progress.
“ I join other Nigerians in celebrating the 61st independence anniversary of Nigeria.
“No doubt, the country is facing some challenges, nevertheless, there are remarkable and historic milestones that have been achieved since independence.
“Nigeria is waxing strong despite unpatriotic and selfish calls for division in some quarters. The country is blessed with its heterogeneous nature.
“The proponents of a divided Nigeria are selfish and unpatriotic. The country remains a united, indivisible and prosperous nation.
“As the country marks it 61st independence anniversary, the government and its citizens, must uphold the tenets of democracy in a bid to build an ideal society anchored on justice, fairness and equity.
While charging politicians not to heat the polity with provocative utterances, he urged Nigerians to be law-abiding, optimistic and peaceful.
•Jonathan charges citizens to be optimistic of the future
Former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, urged Nigerians to be optimistic about the future of the country.
He stressed that the nation holds abundant promises for the citizens, adding that Nigeria has what it takes to overcome its present threats and trials.
He encouraged the nation’s leaders and the citizens to rededicate ourselves to the virtues of equity, justice and tolerance and strive to give their best for the good of the nation.
“We may have hiccups along the way and challenging times that might be stretching our resolve and determination to forge ahead. But we should not relent nor succumb to fear, discouraging trials and threats of today. We will never lose hope in our country and in our indomitable spirit and capacity to overcome difficult times, seize the moment and conquer.
“The journey of nationhood is a marathon, which requires patience, resilience, tolerance and determination. The uncertainties of this time cannot be compared to the limitless promises that this nation holds for us all.
“This time offers us a new opportunity to renew our drive towards attaining greater heights and secure our shared dreams and common vision.
“As we celebrate, let us aggregate the successes, challenges and lessons of the last six decades and apply them towards a more prosperous future for us and upcoming generations.”
•Abdulsalami: Be patriotic, disciplined
Former military head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, said for the country to attain greatness, all citizens must work together and contribute their own quota in ensuring good democratic governance.
He said Nigerians must be carried along through the implementation of people oriented policies and programmes in all parts of the country.
“For Nigeria to attain greatness, we must become a disciplined society, respect and obey the constitution. Every Nigerian is expected to do their best by tolerating one another irrespective of tribe religious, ethnic and political affiliations. Nigerians must desist from sabotage and assist the government in its efforts to improve the well-being of the governed.”
He also called on governments at all levels to discharge their responsibilities by providing infrastructure, adequate power supply and assisting farmers with farm inputs in order to make life easier for the people.
“Nigerians must assist the security personnel with credible information that will enable them to arrest criminal elements living among us so that the security agencies can arrest and deal with them decisively. We must imbibe the culture of providing intelligence information to security personnel deployed across the country in the ongoing fight against banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities,” he said.
•Oyetola lauds Nigeria progress amidst challenges
Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun said Nigeria may not have achieved the desired development height but is progressively moving toward achieving greater heights.
“By any standard, we have moved, we may not have achieved the level that we are thinking of as a nation but I think we are moving.”
The governor said comparing Nigeria with other nations might not necessarily be good enough because one might not know what those nations had.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria could do better given the present level of its development, following efforts put into running the country’s affairs by President Buhari’s administration.
The governor attributed the ability of his administration to pay salaries of civil servants to commitment and setting priorities right. He said there was no magic to it, stressing that it was a question of defining priorities and getting them right.
•Nigeria built on falsehood –Gani Adams
Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams said Nigeria’s federation was built on falsehood, adding that the country has the potentials to be great again if the regions are given the autonomy to develop at their own pace.
He said such would allow the states to build their security architectures to enhance the federal security architecture.
He said Nigeria’s history and efforts of the founding fathers before and shortly after independence in 1960 were watershed, but added that the past and present crop of leaders had drifted along the line by initiating policies capable of destroying the federation.
The Yoruba generalissimo wondered how a nation birthed with lots of hope and aspirations suddenly turned into a shadow of itself.
“Many would, no doubt, describe Nigeria as the giant of Africa but the irony is that Nigeria’s federation was built on falsehood and that has affected the entire system. For instance, the spate of insecurity has reached an alarming state with bandits killing and maiming Nigerians everyday.”