Don’t lose faith in Nigeria, say Yar’Adua, Mark
Yar’Adua looked at the problem of insecurity in the country, particularly the Niger Delta, infrastructure, the finance, especially the banks, inflation, gross domestic product (GDP), foreign reserve, transportation, the amnesty programme ending on Sunday, electricity, and others.
He admitted that the dreams of the nation’s founding fathers have not been completely met but again assured that the vision to join the league of the 20 largest industrialised nations by the year 2020 was still realisable.
He said that the day offers “an opportunity for celebration, reflection, and rededication: Celebration of that historic day when we joined the league of free nations; reflection on how far we still have to go to give full meaning to our freedom, and the commitment we must continue to provide for the actualisation of the nation’s dream of becoming one of the world’s 20 largest economies by the year 2020.”
President Yar’Adua admitted that the “promise of independence is yet to be fully realised. This however does not diminish the value of freedom and the eternal significance of the sacrifice of those who suffered to make us free. Rather than become another day of self- flagellation, today should be a forceful reminder of the promise yet to be fulfilled, of the dream deferred for too long, and of the work that is still outstanding.”
According to him, the “necessary work of repositioning Nigeria has commenced apace, and the over-arching task should be how to remain focused on the twin challenges of enthroning democracy and achieving sustainable development.”
He spoke of the massive work his administration has done in the last two years in “confronting challenges of critical infrastructure, the Niger Delta, food security, security of lives and property, human capital development, land tenure and wealth creation.”
Yar’Adua hinted said that the goal of generating 6,000 megawatts of electricity by December was on course, the amnesty programme for repentant militants in the Niger Delta would end on Sunday and urged those who have not embraced it to do so.
He said that the dredging of the River Niger would start soon, a holistic transportation system was being undertaken and work on ongoing roads across the country would continue.
He praised the recent reform works in the banking sector and said that inflation has been checked.
However, in a goodwill message on the occasion of the nation’s 49th independence anniversary signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Paul Mumeh, Mark noted that renewed faith in the nation would act as a fresh catalyst for future growth, progress and development.
Mark noted: “Over the years, there has been a gradual progressive and incremental loss of faith in Nigeria by her citizens. This has given rise to apathy and at extreme ends, outright hostility to the nation and her citizens.”
This attitude and trend, he observed, must be reversed, noting that abiding faith is a major ingredient of nation-building.
Describing Nigerians as highly resilient and resourceful, the Senate President said that rather than bottle up anger, resentment and frustration against the nation, Nigerians should dig deep to rediscover their hidden core for the nation and harness same into creative energy that would engender growth and development.
He argued that the resilient character of the Nigerian nation, which he said had seen her through several trials and tribulations, including the civil war, inter-religious crises, political and economic upheavals, was required at this critical point in the nation’s quest for development.
According to him: “At 49, no one can argue that Nigeria has realised its full potential. This notwithstanding, we have made remarkable strides, especially in our steady march towards democracy and the rule of law. There are some successes we have to celebrate and consolidate.”
Mark reiterated the desire and determination of the National Assembly to amend aspects of the 1999 Constitution, adding: “The lapses in the ground norm have become obvious. Our gift to Nigerians at this 49th independence anniversary is a firm promise to amend aspects of the constitution that would fast-track our nationhood and make Nigeria a nation of pride for our future generations.”
He assured that “the constitution amendment process would be open and transparent, as all our actions would be guided by the genuine wishes and desires of Nigerians.”
Mark also expressed concern over the lingering face-off between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government and called for amicable resolution.
He urged ASUU to call off the strike and return to the classroom as a gift to the nation for the 49th independence anniversary.
Meanwhile, in its own message, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) called for policies that would be beneficial to a majority of the people.
In a statement made available to journalists yesterday, the Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Emmanuel Eneukwu, regretted that while the country had been blessed with enormous resources, both human and material, such potential had not been put to maximal use by the previous leaderships.
According to him: “Ordinarily, we as citizens of the country should have every reason to be in celebrative mood, at least, for the fact that our dear country has attained this age, just one more year to the golden age of 50. So, for this reason, we must thank the Almighty God for keeping Nigeria united for these 49 years.
“But beyond this, there is really very little to be cheerful about in the country today. What with the mounting unemployment of millions of our youths who are qualified and willing to work?
“Is it the deplorable state of our roads most of which, in the last 11 years, have practically turned into death traps due largely to the lack of maintenance, in spite of the trillions of naira that has been appropriated for this purpose but which ironically has ended up in the private accounts of a few men of means and influence peddlers in our midst?
“Is it the collapsed educational sector in which the university system has remained closed down for over three months while our leaders shamelessly fly into other countries to preside over the inauguration of a new university that we should be cheerful about?
“Or are we to celebrate the embarrassing level of poverty in Nigeria today where majority of our people have no decent shelter over their heads nor can they afford to eat even twice a day?
“Of course, the issue of power supply has become a luxury that discussing it is now a sheer waste of time. But if we must tell the truth, it has become a national shame that 49 years after our flag independence, Nigeria has become the largest market for electric generators which citizens spend over N700 billions of their hard earnings to fuel in a single year.”
He went further: “In all these however, the most embarrassing aspect of our national life in the last 49 years, has been our electoral system, which, since 1999, has continued to diminish the hope of the citizenry in participating in the process of deciding those who govern them.
“Our failed electoral system, in addition to the unenviable record we have as one of the most corrupt nations in the world, has also become a source of concern to important members of the international community, so much that our dear country is treated like political leper among the comity of nations.”
On its own part, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has said that the challenges of credible leadership and good governance have robbed the country of proper development and growth after about two decades of independence.
Besides, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Kaduna, Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, also said that there was nothing Nigerians should be happy about after 49 years of independence, pointing out that “our leaders have to do more for the needed growth in the country.”
The Northern elders prayed in a statement: “May God make it possible for the present generation of Nigerians and their leaders to experience many more decades of such epoch anniversary”.
The national publicity secretary of the forum, Mr. Anthony Sani, in the statement, stated that “from the beginning, the Nigerian independence meant freedom from the shackles of colonialism to do things ourselves in our ways’, noting that “hardly anything seemed amis then”.
“There was giddy optimism in the Nigeria project, during which period the faith in the nation was infinite. Nigerians all laughed it up, toasting one another and basked in the glow of cloudless future because Nigeria felt young with bags of aspirations and hope”.
According to the elders that these hopes “inspired Nigerians to come together – in a united whole – for the express purpose of living up their synergistic potential for common good.”
They however noted that “but, in the past one or two decades, such aspirations and resolve have been bleared by challenges of leadership”, stressing that “as a result, few Nigerians are able to take basic needs for granted.”
“Yet, the situation is not beyond redemption, considering the human and natural resources, and given the political will needed to spur reforms that will make the peoples’ votes count for emergence of leaders, at all levels of governments, who will have abiding faith in the judgement of the people; leaders who will construct a political order”.
Meanwhile, Bishop Idowu-Fearon urged Nigerians to be more dedicated for the building of a vibrant and prosperous Nigerian nation.
By Onajomo Orere (Lagos), Mohammed Abubakar (Abuja) and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)
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