In his last Independence Day speech, President Muhammadu Buhari gave himself a pass mark in his seven years in office so far.
This is just as the president said he is pained by the 7 months old strike by the Academic Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU).
In his Independence Day broadcast this morning to mark Nigeria’s 62nd Independence, President Buhari listed the successes recorded by his administration in tackling insecurity and economy.
Buhari also thanked Nigerians who believed in him, propelled and stood by him in his quest to bequeath a country where all citizens have equal opportunities to achieve their lives desires in a peaceful atmosphere.
According to him, “when you elected me, I readily acknowledged that the tasks before me were daunting but surmountable because of the growing national consensus that our chosen route to national development was democracy.
“This democracy was to be anchored on a clear understanding, application and the principles of separation of powers supported by a reformed public service that is more effective.
“I then pledged to Improve the Economy, Tackle Corruption and Fight Insecurity and this was further strengthened by my commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years as the central plank of my second term in 2019.
“To the Glory of God and His Grace as well as the commitment and passion displayed by many Nigerian supporters, we have made appreciable progress in these areas but not yet at our destination.
“Mindful of the task before us, we took some time in settling down and we re-positioned the Economy by providing strategic interventions in core areas at both the Federal and Sub-National levels.
“One of the areas where we have made significant progress is in the eradication of deeply entrenched corruption that permeates all facets of our national development.
“We strengthened the Institutions for tackling corruption and also cultivated international support, which aided the repatriation of huge sums of money illegally kept outside the country.
“The increasing number of prosecutions and convictions, with associated refunds of large sums of money is still ongoing. Furthermore, we would continue to block opportunities that encourage corrupt practices.
President Buhari also called on lecturers to return to the classroom while assuring them to deal with their contending issues within the limits of the scarce resources available.
He said “I must confess that I am very pained by the recurring disruption to our tertiary education system.
“I am using this Independence Day celebration to re-iterate my call for the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to return to the classroom while assuring them to deal with their contending issues within the limits of the scarce resources available.
“This administration has made appreciable progress in redressing these issues that have been lingering for over eleven years.
“The Federal Government will continue to mobilize resources both internationally and nationally towards funding education to ensure that our citizens are well educated and skilled in various vocations in view of the fact that education is a leading determinant of economic growth and employment generation.
Buhari further stated that no matter what gains the country makes, without a good governance system anchored on electing credible leaders on the basis of free, fair, credible and transparent elections, our efforts would not be enough.
He explained, “It is for this reason that I have resolved to bequeath a sustainable democratic culture which will remain lasting. The signing of the Electoral Act 2021 as amended with landmark provisions further assures us of a more transparent and inclusive Electoral Process.
“Having witnessed at close quarters, the pains, anguish and disappointment of being a victim of an unfair electoral process, the pursuit of an electoral system and processes that guarantee election of leaders by citizens remains the guiding light as I prepare to wind down our administration.
“You would all agree that the recent elections in the past two years in some states (notably Anambra, Ekiti and Osun) and a few federal constituencies have shown a high degree of credibility, transparency and freedom of choice with the people’s votes actually counting. This I promise would be improved upon as we move towards the 2023 General Elections.
As Nigerians begin the transition process to another democratically elected government, President Buhari implored all aspirants to conduct issues-based campaigns devoid of hate speeches as well as other negative and divisive tendencies.
“I also want to express my wish that we see more female and youth participation in the forth-coming electoral cycle. I am sure that our teeming and energetic youths now realise that violence generally mar elections and so should desist from being used by politicians for this purpose,” he said.
Buhari said that in the past few years the country has witnessed and overcome a good number of challenges that would ordinarily have destroyed our Nation.
He, however, said the indefatigable spirit of the Nigerian people has ensured that we overcome our challenges.
“It is in this spirit that I call on all of us to individually and collectively bring to the fore in dealing with all our development issues.
“I was called to serve, along with my team, I saw an opportunity to create a better Nigeria which we have done with the support of Nigerians. Almighty God and the good people of Nigeria supported us in laying a solid foundation for the Nigeria of our dreams,” he added .
IBB, Governors, Atiku, Tinubu, Others Count Gains
As Nigeria marks its 62nd independence anniversary today, political leaders in the country have maintained the country has achieved some remarkable milestones, the economic and security challenges notwithstanding.
This is even as former Nigerian leaders, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), called on Nigerians to reflect on the sacrifices of the nation’s founding fathers to work for peace and unity of the country as they celebrate this year’s independence anniversary.
Babangida specifically urged younger Nigerians to look for knowledge about the country for a well-informed perspective on the past to be able to appreciate the roles played by the founding fathers of the nation.
“Younger generation must read more about the country to find out what happened in the past and how we came about as a country, what happened, what roles various people played and came together. That is where one of you was talking about history. Once you know the history of the country very well and the efforts of our founding fathers, then you have a roadmap you have to follow,” he said.
He said notwithstanding the challenges, Nigeria remains one united country, urging the people to be optimistic and confident, even as he prayed for a more prosperous country.
Also speaking on the country’s independence, Abdulsalami Abubakar said; “I want to wish Nigerians happy 62nd anniversary and I pray that we have peaceful campaigns in the election, it would help the nation that the contestants if they feel the election is free fair would accept the result and concede defeat. I wish us peace, may God continue to bless Nigeria, protect us and help us in nation building.”
Niger State governor and chairman of North Central States Governors Forum (NCSGF), Abubakar Sani Bello, called on Nigerians to continue to support the present administration in bringing positive change for the collective good of the people.
The governor, who said the government’s resolve for a peaceful and united Nigeria is unwavering, appealed to Nigerians to maintain a positive outlook and encourage the present leadership in the country to bring about the much-needed transformation and development.
Bello said with the kick-off of the electioneering campaigns ahead of the 2023 general election, Nigerians must remain focused and patriotic in contributing to the sustenance of the country’s democracy.
He expressed optimism that at 62 and despite the glaring challenges, Nigeria still maintains the unending potential to become a great nation and that with the collective determination of the people, Nigeria would surely become a prosperous country.
Also, Gombe State governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, said in spite of all the challenges confronting Nigeria, there is so much to celebrate, including the fact that Nigerians are still together as an entity and are hopeful that the lofty height of greatness is still within the country’s reach to accomplish”.
In a message to mark the 62nd Independence of Nigeria and the 26th anniversary of the creation of Gombe State, Governor Inuwa urged the citizenry not to despair, but to keep hope alive in the quest to build a prosperous state and nation “as envisioned by our founding fathers”.
In the message released by director-general, Press Affairs, Government House Gombe, Ismaila Uba Misilli, the governor said though Nigeria is passing through tough times occasioned by insecurity, the socio-economic effect of the war in Ukraine among others, the challenges confronting the nation are not insurmountable.
He urged the people of Gombe and Nigerians in general to rekindle their hopes and renew their commitment and love for the country.
While calling on the people to see the greatness and prospects of Gombe state and the country as a motivating factor, the governor urged said, “As the country celebrates its 62nd independence anniversary, all hands must be on deck to foster unity, peace, security and understanding regardless of our differences.
“In spite of all the challenges facing the country right now, there is so much to celebrate, particularly the fact that we are still together as an entity and hopeful that the lofty height of greatness we covet is still within our reach to accomplish”.
Underscoring the importance attached to the twin celebration, Governor Inuwa said, “For us in Gombe State, it is a double celebration: we are marking the 62nd independence as a nation and the 26th year anniversary of the creation of our drear state”.
He reassured that under his leadership, Gombe state will continue to wax stronger in all facets of human endeavours, vowing to keep initiating people-oriented policies and programmes that will better the lots of the people and the state.
On their part, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; his All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party counterparts, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Peter Obi, said with a common dream, Nigeria’s challenges will be surmounted.
He stated this while congratulating Nigerians on the celebration of its 62nd Independence Day anniversary assuring that the nation will rise again.
The former vice president in a statement by his media office in Abuja said the celebration of Nigeria’s Independence Day is an event that should reawaken our consciousness towards the consolidation of unity amongst the diverse people of the country.
The PDP presidential candidate said Nigeria had come a long way after independence 62 years ago passing through different phases of challenges, noting however, that “the democracy that we have is the requisite antidote to the current challenges that we face.”
The Wazirin Adamawa noted: “Though Nigeria is beset with challenges that range from inadequacies of our economic plans to cover a large percentage of our people who live below the poverty line; to security skirmishes that daily threaten the safety of lives and property of Nigerians, the root cause of these problem is traceable to the increasing lack of unity amongst us.”
He, however, assured: “One people and under the canopy of one country sharing in one future, we will surmount our challenges and enthrone the Nigeria of our dreams. And as we go into the general elections next year, Atiku Abubakar urged all Nigerians to give the issue of building national unity primary attention.”
On his part, Tinubu said the path Nigerians have walked has not always been an easy or smooth one, adding however that even though it is a road hewn by their own hands, ingenuity and aspirations, they have been able to brave the storm.
Downplaying political events in the country, he said he would not speak about politics but patriotism, adding that the time for politics will come soon enough.
He thanked President Buhari for their patriotic efforts in the service of the nation.
He urged Nigerians to commit themselves to Nigeria’s unity as well as their collective improvement.
“In unity, we must see each other as brothers and sisters regardless of our ethnic, religious or regional diversity. In seeking national improvement, we must join hands in growing the economy, creating jobs, feeding the hungry, educating our youth, caring for the sick and protecting our people and their way of life from evil and misguided foes who seek to destroy all that is good,” he noted.
Stressing the significance of the independence anniversary, the APC standard bearer said, “In this complex time, it is easy to forget the struggles of those who came before us – those Nigerian founders and nationalists who devoted themselves to making the dream of an independent and proud Nigeria a reality.
“But we must not forget. We commemorate this day so that our nation shall forever hold in remembrance those who won our nation’s independence. There is no way we can repay them for their patriotism except to remember them and strive to match their love of country and their sacrifice for it. Some gave not only their best years but their very lives so that Nigeria can be born. Their labour shall never be in vain!
“Indeed, we have come a long way from 1960 when we gained independence. We have walked far since then. Still, the best of our national journey lies before and not behind us. Since 1999, our country has experienced 23 years of uninterrupted democracy.”
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party said many Nigerians are already tired and frustrated with the leadership failure that has continued to burden the country for many years.
According to him, the coming election presents a ray of hope to the people for a New Nigeria, if things are done correctly.
In his Independence Day Message to Nigerians, Obi expressed regret that at 62, Nigeria has nothing to celebrate, adding that rather, it continues to struggle under the weight of corruption, bad governance, insecurity, worsening economy, abuse of office and all manner of ills.
He lamented that each new day in Nigeria, instead of heralding progress and development, the people, already weakened by poverty and hardship, are further burdened by new forms of societal malady.
“After 62 years of independence, we are still experiencing constant collapse of our national grid, as many as seven times in a single year; our universities have been shut for eight months; our inflation rate is at an all-time high, as more than half of the population are battling extreme poverty; insecurity and violence are occurring at an alarming rate; oil theft is carried on with impunity and in all fronts – the nation bleeds,” Obi said.
He noted that any further slip into retrogression would make the nation uninhabitable for the people, even as he said many Nigerians are looking forward to the 2023 elections because it presents them an opportunity to put an end to the leadership failures of the past and usher in a new and productive Nigeria.
Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachukwu, said the 62nd anniversary calls for the remembrance of the fallen heroes and those who are in the field defending the nation.
Kachikwu who said he will never gather a paid crowd said, “For over a decade our nation has been at war and more often than not we forget the heroic sacrifices made daily by our men and women in uniform.
“They wage war so that we may have peace. Our troops have defended other nations, maintained the peace in far flung lands and today have the task of defending our land.
“The second group are the Nigerian masses who are suffering in silence. They stay silent so that we may have peace. They suffer untold hardships as our economy gets worse, as job opportunities disappear, as our security situation worsens and as food prices escalate.”
Also, former president of the Senate, David Mark, urged Nigerians to leverage on the 2023 general elections to elect credible leaders that would get the country out of the woods.
Mark in a goodwill message to Nigerians to commemorate the 62 years of independence noted the myriads of socio-economic and political challenges facing the nation but expressed optimism that “the problems are surmountable if we work together”.
For him, the 2023 elections presents another opportunity to take stock of the journey so far with a view to righting the wrongs of the past through the ballot boxes”.
He urged all Nigerians of voting age to participate in the electoral process believing that with the improved electioneering arrangement, votes will count and results reflect the wishes of the people.
Former governor of Enugu State and Senator representing Enugu East in the Senate, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani, said inclusiveness, Justice, equity and fairness are the needed ingredients for peace, unity and progress of Nigeria.
Nnamani, in a goodwill message to Nigerians to mark the nation’s 62nd Independence anniversary, urged leaders at all levels to make the citizens the centre of all their programmes and policies.
He said peace and unity is the product of justice, fairness and equity.
As campaigns for the 2023 general elections gathers momentum, he urged public office seekers to put the unity and peace of Nigeria above personal ambitions.
Former Senate president, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said the future looks very bright for the country despite the present situation.
Saraki in a statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, called on Nigerians to use the anniversary to reflect on the past achievements of the country, particularly the contributions of the founding fathers towards achieving independence and building a united country.
He added that like a part of the national anthem stated, the present generation of Nigeria should ensure that the labour of the past heroes is not in vain as everybody should work to realise the lofty heights the founding fathers envisaged for the country.
“Nigeria remains a country which possesses all the necessary factors for achieving greatness. What is important is for the present generation, both the leaders and the followers, to work for the unity of the country and place the country first before their interests.
“We have all we need for our country to be a global leader and to adequately provide for the welfare of the citizenry. However, we need everybody to be determined to work towards the realization of the nation’s manifest destiny as envisaged by our founding fathers and even the rest of the world,” he stated.
The PDP congratulated Nigerians, urging them not to lose hope in the country as the misrule of the vicious, corrupt and anti-people All Progressives Congress (APC) would soon come to an end.
The party however regretted that Nigerians are celebrating yet another independence anniversary under palpable bondage and harrowing stranglehold of the suppressive, coldhearted, insensitive and inhumane APC which relishes in inflicting pain and anguish on the citizens.
It said, “In the last seven years the APC has foisted and supervised a reign of terror and subjected Nigerians to the worst form of suppression that have turned a once cheerful and prosperous nation into the poverty capital and the third worst governed country of the world.
“In the last seven years, the APC has balkanized and dislocated the unity of our country, promoted mutual distrust among the once happy and harmonious people; created a mass of internally displaced persons; the worst since the Civil War in our country.
“Since 2015, when the corrupt and treasury-looting APC, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) fraudulently crept into our nation’s political landscape, Nigerians have witnessed life-discounting experiences with hyper-inflation, escalated unemployment, collapse of the nation’s currency and economic meltdown arising from poor and uncoordinated fiscal and economic policies of the APC administration.”
IGP Deploys Officers, Assures Of Security
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, has directed the deployment of adequate personnel to provide protection for citizens, critical national infrastructures and ensure the success of all activities lined up for the country’s 62nd independence anniversary scheduled for today.
Force PRO, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the deployment is to prevent any untoward situation throughout the period of the celebration and beyond all over the country.
He said the IGP also directed strategic police managers comprising assistant inspectors general of police and commissioners of police in all the zonal and state commands and the FCT to ensure high visibility and confidence boosting patrols around the venues of the celebrations, residential areas and other public places to prevent infiltration by hostile elements and ensure a peaceful celebration.
Baba enjoined citizens to cooperate unflinchingly with officers of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, for improved security management at various public gatherings during the Independence celebration.
He urged all citizens to imbibe the spirit of tolerance amongst each other which is vital in a multi-cultural society like Nigeria.