As Nigerians, including public commentators reflect on the country’s journey to nationhood over the past 60 years, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has called on the youths not succumb to the challenges confronting the nation, noting that young Nigerians hold the key to a more united, peaceful and prosperous nation.
Prof. Osinbajo also expressed disagreement on comments reflective of a bleak view of Nigeria’s history, noting that “despite the onerous challenges we face, we have endured as a people and there is still so much that I believe should give us reason to face the future with hope.”
The vice president in a press statement issued by his media aide, Laolu Akande, made the remarks yesterday at the virtual edition of the NASFAT Global Youth Seminar themed: “A Unified, Peaceful and Prosperous Nigeria.”
According to him, “I urge you to guard your hearts and protect your capacity for idealism and creative optimism. These are the tools with which you will build the Nigeria of our dreams. We have a future worth fighting for.
“Your generation has what it takes to move us away from the destructive and unproductive rent-seeking attitudes that engender conflict and on to the terrain of enhanced productivity.
“Your generation has the tools to usher in a new age of abundance and wealth creation that will lift our society beyond the hunger-induced and poverty-inducing squabbles over a national cake that has ceased to exist.
“As Nigeria seeks to find her proper place in the world in the 21st Century, you are our nation’s most important resource. It is because of you that a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria is very possible,” Osinbajo said.
Speaking on overcoming the challenges confronting the nation, the vice president said that the youths’ capacity for innovation would come handy in an era of scarcity and unequal distribution of resources.
“Much of the discontent and tensions that we have are distributional conflicts ignited by the struggle for access to tangible and intangible resources. As resources become scarcer, identity-based claims to a share of the national patrimony become more aggressive and lead increasingly to conflict.
“Under these circumstances, we are liable to see each other as competitors and rivals instead of compatriots and eventually we begin to demonise each other as enemies.
“With a population of about 200 million, and with our country on track to be the third most populous nation on earth in a few decades, the challenge for us is creating opportunity for the huge number of people that increasingly need education, food, healthcare, and employment. This is where your capacity to innovate comes in,” he added.
Recalling efforts made in the past to promote unity among Nigerians and progress across different sectors of the economy, Osinbajo said that Nigerians must not relent in striving for a progressive and united country.
“Inspired by constitutional imperatives, we created institutions such as Federal Government Colleges otherwise known as Unity Schools and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to foster cohesion and solidarity amongst our diverse people. And we instituted the Federal Character principle to govern the democratisation of opportunity, participation, and representation in our public institutions.
“We are therefore alive and here at a time in history when our society must complete the unfinished tasks of resolving issues of structural poverty, entrenched inequality, disparities in access to social and economic opportunities, fractured access to justice, and the diminishing faith in governing institutions – all of which create profound radical discontent with the social order,” the vice president added.
Osinbajo noted that “those of us who desire a united peaceful and prosperous Nigeria must confront the everyday injustices that mock our aspirations and erode our confidence in a shared future.”
His words: “It is important that we do not raise our voices only when we perceive the rights of our own group to have been violated. We must make common cause with other groups when they are injured because our rights are rooted in universal principles that cannot be selectively applied.
“We must also reject the idea that some Nigerians have to lose in order for other Nigerians to win, and that some Nigerians have to be deprived in order for some Nigerians to prosper. We can all win and we can all live in prosperity. Nigeria will work for each of us only when it works for all of us.”
Continuing, the vice president said that, “we must resist the temptation to demonize whole groups by judging them by their most extreme fringes. We must resist the urge to portray communities in caricatures.
“As citizens, there are moral choices upon us. Are we using our influence to promote measured voices of reason or are we amplifying the voices of divisive hate-mongers? The choice before us is clear,” Osinbajo counselled.
The event featured presentations by Islamic scholars including Sheik Nurudeen Lemu, Mufti Ismail, Imam Abdul Azeez Morufu Onike, among others.
We’ll Work For A Better Country – Govs
Meanwhile, state governors have pledged to work for a better Nigeria in their separate messages to mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary yesterday.
Plateau State governor and chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, Simon Lalong, congratulated the people of the state and all Nigerians as the nation marked 60 years of independence as a sovereign nation.
Governor Lalong in a statement issued by his director of press and public affairs, Simon Makut Macham, said that the unity, peace and prosperity of Nigeria remains an objective that requires the contribution of all Nigerians as aptly captured by the theme of the Diamond Jubilee, “Together we shall be.”
He said that although the nation had passed through many challenges over the years, its citizens had equally demonstrated resilience, patriotism, faith and determination to ensure that the country remains together and makes progress
On his part, Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri tasked politicians to advance democracy, peace and prosperity for the development of the country.
Fintiri in a message to mark the event, congratulated Nigerians on the occasion of commemorating the nation’s Independence Day.
“It is with great pleasure that I extend congratulations to Nigerians on the occasion of the nation’s 60th anniversary,” he said.
From Bauchi State, Governor Bala Mohammed, however, expressed frustration over what he called “prevalence of ghost workers in the Government House, Emirate Councils and the state civil service,” which continue to milk the state’s lean resources.
Governor Mohammed, who held a town hall meeting with youths and women groups at the Command Guest House, Bauchi to celebrate Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary, lamented that proxy workers over the years had pocketed the state’s resources which ordinarily would have been applied to employ and empower women and youths in the state.
Also, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, said that the leadership in Nigeria from top to bottom has failed the citizens in all aspects, adding that, “I apologise on behalf of the leaders for failing Nigeria and Nigerians.”
This is even as the chairman of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Augustine Akpen Leva, lamented the introduction of policies by the federal government, which he said were threatening the security and corporate existence of the nation.
Ortom, who spoke during the celebration of Nigeria at 60 in the state, organised by CAN in conjunction with the state government, said that although Nigeria has come a long way, but nothing in the country was working as it should be.
The re-elected governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, also called on the Nigerian youths not to give up on the nation’s quest to attain the dreams of its founding fathers as the country marks its 60th year of Independence
The governor noted that this year’s theme was apt considering the numerous challenges threatening the country’s unity arising from obvious frustrations and anger across the land.
Obaseki, who spoke at the October 1 Independence Day celebration organised in Government House in Benin City, commended President Buhari for making Edo votes to count during the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Similarly, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State advised Nigerians to focus on a new national consensus on collective goals of citizenship, the rule of law and diversity.
In the spirit of the celebration and in exercise of the power vested in him by Section 212 of the constitution, Governor el-Rufai commuted the prison sentences of 34 convicts after accepting the recommendations of the state Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy.
The governor said that 25 convicted prisoners were to be released, while others have had their sentences reduced, ‘’including commuttal of death sentences for some convicted armed robbers to life imprisonment.’’
In the neighbouring Kano State, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje used the occasion to call on Nigerians to eschew violence and work assiduously towards the entrenchment of a viable future for the country and renew their faith in the oneness of Nigeria as one indivisible nation.
The governor called on the people of Kano in particular to renew their faith in Nigeria and aggregate their strength as well as focus attention towards building a stronger and prosperous nation.
He made the call in Kano while delivering a speech at the Independence Day celebration held at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Sabon Gari area of the state capital.
Also, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has enjoined Nigerians to remain focused and united as they “individually and collectively work at various capacities to take the nation to greater heights.”
The governor in a message to Deltans as the nation mark 60th Independence anniversary, noted that though Nigeria was yet to achieve her desired goals in some aspects but had made remarkable progress in the entrenchment of constitutional democracy, particularly in the past 21 years and still counting.
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, conveyed his well wishes to President Buhari and fellow Nigerians as the nation celebrates its 60th independence day.
Zulum, in a statement he personally signed, thanked Nigerians from the North and South who have shown empathy for the people of Borno State in the midst of daunting challenges facing the state occasioned by years of insurgency.
His Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, unveiled his administration’s welfare packages for the people of the state.
The governor reeled out some of the welfare packages put in place for the people in his Independence Day broadcast to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th anniversary of freedom from the British colonial rule.
He said that his administration was committed to delivering strongly his second term campaign promises to Kogi people.
“Our first term in office ended on a high note on 27th January, 2020 when our second term commenced. In-between, we saw an initial misunderstanding of our methodologies, followed by grudging acceptance of our reforms and finally some open admiration for our accomplishments.
“Our pledge is that we will continue to earn your trust by delivering strongly on our second term campaign promises to do more. No opposition, no matter how fierce or unreasonable will derail us from that objective,” Bello said.
Proponents Of Regionalism Are Selfish – Sanusi
In similar development, former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, said that those claiming to represent the interests of the country’s geopolitical zones were only fighting for their pockets.
Sanusi, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), spoke at The Platform, an annual conference organised by Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos on Thursday.
The virtual event hosted by Pastor Poju Oyemade, its convener, was to commemorate the nation’s 60th Independence anniversary.
Nigeria has witnessed a series of ethno-religious crises which have resulted in several ethnic groups calling for a referendum.
When asked about the ways to solve the crises and restore peace, Sanusi said that Nigerians must recognise that irrespective of political office, every citizen must be good representatives of their beliefs, religion and ethnic groups.
He said that those who claim to represent the interest of southerners and northerners due to the political positions they occupy are more concerned about their pockets than happenings in the various areas they represent.
“Ethno-religious crisis is not so much from Nigerians but the Nigerian elite. We have identities in Nigeria but the construction of opposing identities, the political process, is basically the Nigerian elite competing among itself for a share of the national cake,” he said.
“I don’t think that the people who say they are fighting for Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba are really interested. I mean when they get there at the end of the day, it is about them and their families.
“There is nobody out there that is really representing north or south or east. They claim to be if you look out there in the cabinet. In the history of Nigeria, there has never been a government that does not have people from every part of the country,” he said.
Sanusi also commended the federal government for its decision to remove fuel subsidy.
Law Reforms To Reflect Dynamism, Nation’s Status – Malami
The attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has said that the federal government is working round the clock to ensure that Nigerian legal system reflects nation’s existence in view of dynamism and contemporary realities.
This was contained in a statement issued yesterday by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice
According to Gwandu, the AGF noted that Nigeria’s legislative and legal frameworks evolved and was developed from some inherited laws traced to the period of colonialism.
“Generally speaking, we are not only changing/amending the obsolete laws, but coming up with new ones that are dynamic, that can stand the test of time and that factor in dynamics associated with developments in technology and otherwise.
“We will ensure that all laws that deserve to be reviewed are reviewed,” he said.
PDP Faults Buhari’s Justification For Fuel Price Hike
Reacting to President Buhari’s Independence Day broadcast, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday disagreed with the assertions in the President’s speech to the nation.
The PDP in a statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, charged President Buhari to wake up to reality and take demonstrable steps that will address the divisive tendencies and poor economic policies of his administration.
The PDP added that President Buhari’s attempt to justify the increase of fuel price in Nigeria by comparing it to the N168 per litre cost in Saudi Arabia was a morbid joke, noting that the minimum wage in Saudi Arabia is N305,113 (3,000 Saudi Riyals), ten times higher than the paltry N30,000 which is largely unimplemented in Nigeria.
Nigerian Academics Still In Chains – ASUU
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has lamented that the Nigerian academics still remain in chains. The union made the outcry while reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s 60th Independence anniversary speech which has raised questions from stakeholders for failing to mention any issue relating to education sector.
ASUU national president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in a phone interview with LEADERSHIP Friday yesterday, lamented that the federal government had declared war on federal university lecturers by withholding their salaries.
The union has agitated that government refused to pay some of their members for over seven months despite claims by the minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, that lecturers are paid up to date.
NLC Calls For Adjustment
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said that it was time for Nigerian government to critically analyse its journey as an independent country in the last 60 years, and make necessary adjustments going forward
In a statement signed by the president of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in Abuja, he said that Nigeria needs a strong foundation for participatory democracy, free and fair elections, and accountable leadership.
According to him, being together as a nation in the last 60 years amidst the various challenges should reflect stronger values that supercede mere physical co-existence and enforced tolerance of one another.
He said: “If one is able to dispassionately and truthfully examine one’s life, there should be lessons learnt that would inform behavioral adjustments for the rest of one’s life and as a lesson for younger persons and future generations.
This is the point where Nigeria is at sixty. There is no more evading of critical national questions. Now, is the time to face them squarely.
Ohanaeze Youths Seek Redress Of Imbalances
The national president of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), Comrade Igboayaka Igboayaka, has called on President Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, address issues complained about by Nigerians such as societal imbalance, inequality, segregation and lack of cohesion in the country.
According to him, Buhari should pay attention to the inequalities in the country even as he stressed that most Nigerians were uncomfortable with an arrangement where one section of the country occupies every important positions.
Dangote Urges Unlocking Gas Potential
The group executive director, Strategy, Capital Projects & Portfolio Development, Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), Mr Devakumar Edwin, has appealed to the federal government to deploy new strategy to unlock the potential and maximise the use of the available vast natural gas resources to improve the nation’s economy.
Edwin said that there was the need to find ways to exploit and utilise Nigeria’s natural gas resources to impact positively on the nation’s economy.
The GED, who was on a panel at a session of BussinessDay Newspaper’s Energy Series 2020 Virtual Conference with the theme: “Gas Market Development – the Opportunities, Drivers & Challenges,” emphasised the necessity for managers of the nation’s oil and gas sector to adding value to natural gas in order to transform Nigeria from exporter of raw materials to exporter of finished products.
According to him, adding value to natural gas would strengthen the petrochemical industry and thus make it possible for the country to change from exporting raw materials to value-added products supplier.
“In the same vein, it will boost the economy and solve the ‘hydra – headed’ problem of unemployment in Nigeria with its multiplier employment effect,” he stated.
Don’t Kill Nigerians, Kill Corruption, Bakare Tells FG
The Pastor of Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare, has asked the federal government not to kill Nigerians. Speaking on The Platform, a special programme to commemorate Nigeria’s Independence Day anniversary yesterday, the cleric urged the government to rather murder corruption.
“Don’t kill Nigerians, kill corruption because we knew that the subsidy being paid is going into private pockets,” he said.
Bakare recalled that when he joined the likes of Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Femi Falana (SAN) among others to protest during Jonathan’s government in 2012, the protest was not against subsidy.
“I campaigned against the oppression of the poor,” Bakare said, adding that the subsidy by the federal government was not used to advance the cause of the poor.
Reacting to calls for Nigeria to disintegrate, the cleric argued that the country should rather stay united.
Meanwhile, the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has said that Buhari’s Independence speech should go beyond talk to implementation.
Jega, who spoke during Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily wants the federal government to implement policies that will make Nigerians have pride in their country.