Meanwhile, in the historic city, New York, Nigerians and friends of Nigeria from around the world are gearing up to celebrate the anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence.
The celebration is scheduled from Oct.3 to 5 with activities ranging from party for young Nigerians and their friends, to a cultural night where the youth would demonstrate appreciation of their Nigerian heritage.
Also there would be an Independence Day Parade/Carnival and Festival.
People from all walks of life are expected at the celebration to showcase the glory of Nigeria.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Nigeria, Time for change’’.
Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration in New York started in 1991.
The celebration is usually the largest of its kind by any African nation in the U.S. (NAN)
As Nigeria turns 53 as an independent nation today, prominent Nigerians have been appraising various sectors of the country. To some, there is hope for a better Nigeria; others believe that the nation has not fared any better since independence.
The expressions of hope and despair centred on the nation’s worsening state in terms of the economy, corruption, education, security and more.
The 53rd independence anniversary of Nigeria inadvertently resonated the festering crisis within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the breakaway faction of the party, “new” PDP, expressed optimism that the nation would be better on its watch, just as First Republic minister Aja Nwachukwu regretted that the current state of affairs in Nigeria did not reflect the expectations of the nation’s founding fathers.
But Senate president David Mark, his deputy Ike Ekweremadu, the Northern States’ Governors’ Forum, governors Ibikunle Amosun and Rauf Aregbesola of Ogun and Osun states respectively as well as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives Emeka Ihedioha all noted that Nigeria can overcome the present challenges and become greater.
We have made appreciable progress – Mark
President of the Senate Mark remarked that Nigeria has made appreciable progress worth commending, the challenges notwithstanding.
Senator Mark in a goodwill message to Nigerians to mark the 53rd independence anniversary said “although we are yet to get to the level of our dreams, nobody can deny the fact that we have recorded some landmark achievements since the colonial masters left our shores”.
In a press statement issued by his chief press secretary, Paul Mumeh, Mark said: “Besides the infrastructural developments across the country , we now have skilled and qualified manpower in virtually all fields of human endeavour. “
Senator Mark implored Nigerians to renew hope and faith in the capacity and capabilities of our people to rise to a level when citizens could enjoy an internationally acceptable standard of living.
He called for support and cooperation of all Nigerians in the task of nation-building, saying, “all of us may not be good doctors, good lawyers, good writers or good engineers but we can all contribute our quota where we have comparative advantages to make our country a better place”.
Mark was supported by his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who called on Nigerians to continue to pray for the nation as it remained on course to greatness, despite present challenges.
Ekweremadu condemned in strong terms the massacre of hapless students of the College of Agriculture, Gujba, Yobe State, over the weekend by suspected terrorists, describing it as heartless and barbaric.
He said: “We have no doubt faced challenges living up to the promises we held at independence; we have had missed opportunities, but we are also overcoming our challenges.
“I call on all Nigerians to join the present crusade to reinvent and transform Nigeria and, in this wise, I urge hope, courage, perseverance, prayers, reconciliation, peaceful-coexistence, and patriotic fervour to build the Nigeria of our dreams as no one else would do that for us.”
Tambuwal cautions politicians
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, yesterday appealed to the political elite to moderate their utterances and be mindful of their responsibility to the country. According to him, since the 2015 poll is fast approaching, all leaders must lay emphasis on executing the mandates given to them by Nigerians, not heating up the polity by engaging in unnecessary politicking when it is not yet time for such endeavours. He said though Nigeria is passing through tough times, the challenges confronting the nation are not insurmountable.
He said as the country celebrates it’s 53rd independence anniversary, all hands must be on deck to foster unity, peace and reconciliation.
In a statement by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said all Nigerians must work tirelessly to promote the tenets of democracy, good governance and responsible citizenry.
Nigeria can overcome its challenges – Ihedioha
Deputy speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Emeka Ihedioha expressed optimism about Nigeria’s future yesterday, in a message to mark the 53rd independence anniversary of Nigeria.
According to him, countries of the world have their challenges but the determination and resilience of nationals always make the difference. The task of building a great nation, he said, lies with both the leadership and followership of the country. He affirmed that Nigeria’s future remains bright in spite of the challenges of national development.
He said: “Let us not despair in the face of daunting challenges even if, at 53, we ought to have surpassed certain minimum expectations. Nigeria remains ours to build and we must continue to maintain hope and optimism.”
Nigeria will overcome challenges – Northern Govs
The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) has also urged Nigerians to exercise patience with its leaders in their bid to transform the country.
In a statement in Minna by the chairman of the Forum and governor of Niger State, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, assured the citizens that the nation will overcome the myriad of challenges currently confronting it.
The independence anniversary message signed by Governor Aliyu’s chief press secretary Danladi Ndayabo said the country may not have fared well in all the critical sectors of the economy but has nevertheless, made remarkable strides, especially in its steady march to freedom and respect for the rule of law.
According to the Forum, “we are confident that the nation will emerge from this trying time stronger, more united and more prosperous”.
The Forum urged Nigerians to live above sectional tendencies which could only compromise the growth of the nation.
The statement enjoined citizens to imbibe the spirit of selflessness which the nation’s founding fathers preached and practised.
“Nigeria will only attain lofty height if citizens are prepared to makes sacrifices,” the statement added, urging Nigerians to drop the dangerous mindsets, prejudices and biases that have held the nation down for a long time.
CAN rejoices with Nigerians
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has extended goodwill to Nigerians on the celebration of the country’s 53rd independence anniversary.
In a statement signed by Mr Kenny Ashaka, special assistant on media and public affairs to the CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor stated that, as leader of the African continent, Nigeria deserved more than she has attained so far in the past 53 years.
According to Oritsejafor, although Nigeria is yet to achieve the desired standard of conduct and performance envisaged by her founding fathers, there is a strong hope that development would come as soon as all the challenges inhibiting Nigeria’s progress are surmounted.
“We must keep hope alive. We are still together and would be together. There has been modest improvement and development. It could be better. But the atmosphere is not encouraging enough to hold those administering the country accountable, talking about the security challenges. We must all return to the path of sanity to be able to develop.”
National conference now – Danmusa
Deputy Senate president in the defunct Second Republic Mamman Abubakar Danmusa has insisted that Nigeria has derailed from the vision of its founding fathers, even as he made a case for the convoking of a sovereign national conference.
Danmusa said there had been a radical departure from the virtues of the First Republic leaders, noting that “the situation really calls for concern and we need serious prayers ahead of 2015”.
He noted that Nigeria had one of the best educational systems in the First Republic and was at the verge of being a great nation before the military interruption and subsequent rot in the system changed the whole scenario.
Danmusa insisted that there was the need to convoke a sovereign national conference “to enable us decide whether we are going to stay together”, noting, “I am happy that young people from the north are calling for sovereign national conference; let us have it”.
Okonjo-Iweala should resign – CNPP
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has called on the minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to, as a matter of urgency, resign for allegedly deceiving President Jonathan into believing that corruption was not the greatest of the cancers afflicting the country.
CNPP said it was outraged when President Jonathan in “the media chat last night told the world how Dr Okonjo-Iweala brandished a World Bank Report which placed corruption in the 3rd or 4th position to access to fund and infrastructure as the key factors undermining our development”.
In statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Osita Okechukwu, CNPP averred that it was its considered view that infrastructure deficit and poor access to fund were by-products of the monumental corruption going on in the country.
“We challenge Dr Okonjo-Iweala to publish the said World Bank Report and resign; for we now know how inchoate and anti-people economic policy dished out by the two-time minister of finance led to the failure and poor performance of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo regime and currently President Jonathan.
Nigeria will still be great – Aregbesola
But Governor Aregbesola had a word of optimism for Nigerians: the nation would still be great.
In a statement personally signed by him, Aregbesola congratulated Nigerians on the 53rd anniversary of the nation’s independence but cautioned that Nigerians should reflect on the state of the nation.
“The Nigerian project is a bold experiment in nation-building. It is an experiment that has proved to be a challenging undertaking. But, for me, building Nigeria is an experiment that is well worth the attempt.
At independence, on this day in 1960, Nigeria was a country full of high hopes, and good prospects, with its diverse peoples filled with aspirations. But somewhere along the line, we got it fundamentally wrong, with the consequences that, today, 53 years on, we are still struggling to get the basics right. The country is faced with tough difficulties and mortal dangers on multiple fronts.
”These are undeniably serious setbacks to our development march, but they do not amount to any permanent incapacity for us not to move forward. Indeed, setbacks are necessary but temporary impediments along the path to progress,” he said.
Chime calls for renewed patriotism and brotherhood
Enugu State governor Sullivan Chime has called on Nigerians to use the occasion of the nation’s 53rd independence anniversary to embrace a new spirit of patriotism, sacrifice and commitment that would strengthen the unity and socio-economic and political wellbeing of the country.
Chime made the call in an anniversary message signed by his chief press secretary, Chukwudi Achife.
He stated that contemporary events and circumstances in the country were enough to compel all Nigerians to pursue ideals and visions that could only foster greater national integration and advancement.
The nature of the challenges facing the nation today, more especially those concerning insecurity and frequent natural and unnatural tragedies, he noted, was enough to foist on all Nigerians a new sense of solidarity and comradeship that would enable them pool their resources together and pull the nation out of its current challenges.
Amaechi calls for unity, true democracy
Rivers State governor and chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has called for national cohesion and true democracy as the country marks its 53rd Independence Day anniversary.
Amaechi, in a statement by his chief press secretary, Mr David Iyofor, noted that democracy can only thrive when the people live in peace and unity and leaders show true leadership and statesmanship in line with democratic tenets.
The governor said: “No democracy can grow in the face of unending conflicts and in the midst of impunity. Nigeria is one country in spite of our varying cultures, religion and ethnic nationalities; and we can only succeed as a nation if we stand united.”
Suswam urges Nigerians to be united
Benue State governor Dr Gabriel Suswam yesterday urged the people of the country not to be deterred by the current challenges faced by the nation, saying they should remain united and peaceful to enhance rapid development.
According to Suswam, this year’s independence anniversary marks the celebration of the socio-economic and political milestones which the country has attained since independence in 1960 and its current transformation under the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Suswam who stated this in a statement signed by the special adviser on media and public affairs, Dr Cletus Akwaya, said, “I urge all Nigerians to neither despair nor be deterred by the current challenges of nationhood but look to the future with hope for a united, peaceful and egalitarian society. These challenges are a passing phase which any nation must face at some point in their history.
“As the country marches into the future with confidence, i assure President Jonathan and, indeed, all Nigerians, of the commitment of the people of Benue State to the transformation agenda of the federal government, unity, peace and progress of our nation.”
Baraje on independence
The chairman of the “new” PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, in his independence anniversary message to Nigerians, said the stance of members of his group on the crisis rocking the PDP is in the interest of the Nigerian masses .
He assured Nigerians that promoters of the new PDP would not rest on their oars until all the wrongs and the lopsidedness in the polity were corrected.
Baraje said that Nigeria as a nation belongs to all Nigerians and not just a few people or a clique.
He restated that the focus of the new PDP is to create a platform for equity, fairness and justice.
He stressed the need for the federal government to always abide by the constitutional requirement in all its activities and decisions as it affects the individual and corporate interest of Nigerians.
The chairman reiterated the commitment of his group to ensuring that Nigeria continues to remain an indivisible entity and “a nation where no one is oppressed and a community where all men can live together in peace and unity”.
We can make Nigeria great – Amosun
Ogun State governor IbikunleAmosun has congratulated the citizens of Nigeria on the celebration of the nation’s 53rd Independence anniversary.
He called on citizens to keep hope alive and live in peace with one another so that the country could overcome its challenges.
In a statement signed by his senior special assistant on media, Mrs Funmi Wakama, Senator Amosun said “the nation has reasons to appreciate God in spite of the current challenges”. He noted that all the developed countries of the world had surmounted one difficulty or the other in the course of their journey to nationhood.
“With single-minded commitment, hard work and sincerity of purpose, we can make our country great,” the governor said. Amosun wished all Nigerians a happy celebration.
Leadership should repent – Fasoranti, Falae
The leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, and the former secretary to the government of the federation, Chief Olu Falae, were of the opinion that if nothing was done urgently, things might get out of hand in the country.
The Afenifere leader said the state of the nation at the moment doesn’t make anyone happy. “Security is so porous to the extent that armed men would enter into schools and kill students while sleeping. It is as bad as that. “
Fasoranti stated that, with the present scenario, “the state of the nation looks terrible, depressing and makes one very anxious that nobody is safe in a country we call ours.., the economy of the country is also not particularly good as people cry every day because there is no money to spend, there is inflation, school children who finished their courses are still roaming about due to high rate of unemployment and there is no discipline at all anywhere in the nation”.
According to him; “fraud and indiscipline have permeated the system from the top to the lowest level. How do you justify the continued stay of a member of the House of Representatives accused of fraud in the National Assembly?”
Falae, who is also a chieftain of Afenifere, accused most politicians occupying positions of authority in the country of paying lip service to the issue of the country’s development.
He said the country could not be said to be better off 53 years after independence because her contemporaries are now far ahead.
He blamed unpatriotic elements in the nation who incidentally found their ways into positions of power as the architects of the country’s misfortune.
Falae called on the leaders of the country to purge themselves and confront the monsters of insecurity, corruption, inflation, unemployment, epileptic power supply, infrastructural decay and other social vices that are starring the nation in the face, saying “it is only then we can really celebrate as a nation”.
Boko Haram, a threat to Nigeria unity – Oyegun
For his part, former governor of Edo State Chief John Odigie Oyegun said: “I have no reservation because I will prefer to be a citizen of Nigeria than to be a citizen of any enemy state. But, of course, this is something that is unconditional; it shouldn’t be at all cost and that is why the federation must be reengineered to give what would otherwise turn out to be a mistake. This is what is threatening the nation today: if the Boko Haram truly represents the views of certain parts of the north, if they don’t want to go to school so be it… those who do not want to go to school let them stay at home.”
He noted that the prayers of those he described as “messengers of doom” will not be heard at all, pointing out that “whatever differences we have, we can resolve. God that made Nigeria one didn’t make a mistake because Nigeria represents the most populous and richest black nation on the face of the earth and that has a purpose.”
Nigeria’s economy has nose-dived – Tsav
A former Lagos State commissioner of police, Alhaji AbubakarTsav, has said that the economy of the nation has declined and there is high level of political instability even as the country has turned 53.
Tsav who stated this yesterday in an interview with LEADERSHIP accused the federal government of inducing theft of crude oil and organized corruption in the country which, he noted, has crippled the economy.
“There is nothing to celebrate except to thank God for keeping us alive. On the national level, the spate of insecurity and resultant bloodbath is a cause for great concern. Our economy has nose-dived due to government-induced theft of crude oil, regained corruption and inability of President Jonathan to provide good leadership.
“Our education system has collapsed with ASUU strike and, if the country disintegrates, PDP should be held responsible and the party should also be held responsible for lack of internal democracy.” Tsav said.
Nigeria has done quite fair at 53 except for corruption – Lema Jibril
Former presidential aspirant under the defunct National Republican Convention Alhaji (Dr) Lema Jibril has said Nigeria at 53 has performed at average except in the area of corruption which he said is a major problem that requires proactive approach to solve it.
According to the elder statesman, “My assessment of Nigeria at 53 is that it is quite fair except that people have very negative thoughts; they have forgotten what Nigeria was like 53 years ago, but those who were there 53 years ago are very positive using all indices of growth – educationally, industrially, politically, socially. No matter the way you put it, Nigeria has gone a long way. It may not be as good as people think; they tend to compare us with countries like South Africa whose economy is owned 95 per cent by white people and run by white people. Nigerian economy is solely indigenous. Nigeria is not doing so badly but I agree it can be a lot much better, but the major hiccup is the degree of corruption.”