By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Senate President Bukola Saraki, his predecessor, David Mark and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday called for co-operation with the federal government and sober reflection on the part of Nigerians as the nation marks its 56th independence anniversary today.
Saraki in his anniversary message signed by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, commended all Nigerians, especially the nation’s founding fathers, for their contributions which he said averted disaster from the nation at every point its existence was threatened by social, political and economic problems.
While expressing regrets that in her 56 years of existence, Nigeria’s economy still depended on only oil, a situation he said created the present economic problems being experienced by the citizenry, Saraki commended Nigerians for their perseverance, understanding and support in the face of the harsh economic condition.
“As we celebrate independence, we should all vow to work together as we have done in the past to save the nation. As we expect leaders to initiate policies, programmes and projects that will propel the economy to grow rapidly and improve the standard of living of the people, our people should also seek to explore their creative talents to produce goods and services which can compete with the best in the world, thereby enhancing our ability to export massively and earn foreign exchange.
“That is why I continue to say that the responsibility to once again search for credible and lasting solutions to the economic crisis lies with all Nigerians, both at home and in the diaspora. While those of us in leadership must put on our thinking caps to find solution, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the efforts of the economic handlers yield necessary results soon.
“No single individual can solve our present economic predicament. I believe that with our collective efforts and sheer political will, we can push back the high tide of recession now confronting us as nation. Many countries came out of recession stronger because they allow it to challenge their creativity. Let us all support the government with new ideas on how to do things differently that will in no time bring the expected abundance we need as a people. We have the manpower, resources, know-how and determination to change our situation for the better,” Saraki said.
In his message signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu, called for sober reflection and return to the path of true federalism as envisioned by the founding fathers in order to move the nation forward.
He stressed the need for justice, peace, and unity, once more and urged the federal government to mobilise all capable hands to salvage the nation’s ailing economy because there’s hunger in the land.
He said: “This 56th Independence Anniversary calls for sober reflection. No people can make progress, unless they retrace their steps back to where the rain started beating them.
“Nigeria, at formation, had a building plan, which was based on true federalism as covenanted by our founding fathers at various conferences leading up to independence. For as long as we followed that plan, we prospered.
“But, once we discarded the building plan, dissembled the inherited structures and legacies and began to undermine the fabrics of equity, justice, balance, healthy competition, and economic prosperity that was ingrained therein, we charted our route to the current perdition.”
He expressed optimism that Nigeria would bounce back if immediate steps were taken to unite the country, getting the best hands on deck, irrespective of wherever they are found.
“I am afraid, true prosperity may continue to elude us as a nation unless we restore the basis of the union as agreed upon by the founding fathers, also taking into cognisance the experience of the last 56 years. There are no two ways about it, for what a people sow, that is exactly what they will reap”, he stressed.
In his own message signed by his Media Assistant, Paul Mumeh, Mark took stock of Nigeria’s checkered economic and socio-political history since independence and submitted that in spite of the bottlenecks, the nation is destined for greatness.
Mark canvassed the need for policy consistency, saying development in the country had been largely encumbered by inconsistencies in policy formulation and implementation.
He also called for love and unity of purpose among Nigerians irrespective of religious, political and ethnic affiliations, saying that is the only way the nation can realise its full potentials with all the abundant human and natural resources.
Mark recalled the ill-fated 30 months old Nigeria/Biafra fratricidal civil war, the intermittent ethno-religious conflicts, the Boko Haram insurgency as well as the emergence of militant groups and canvassed greater commitment and unity against all forms of violence and criminality in the land.
“If Nigeria has gone through all these travails and remain one indivisible country, there is indeed no challenge we cannot overcome if we jettison our differences and come together as one people with a common destiny and mission,” he said.
He also appealed to those behind the current wave of insurgency and militancy to have a rethink “because there is no other country they can call theirs if they destroy Nigeria,” adding: “Whatever grievances or misgivings, resorting to violence is not an option because we have various organs or channels established to seek redress.
“We have more reasons and gains to live together in peace than otherwise. No nation achieves greatness by incessant violence and infighting. We are not only wasting the lives of our compatriots but also destroying our commonwealth as a nation, because we are deploying our scarce national resources in fighting insurgents and militants instead of on developmental projects.
“Indeed, this is not the way to go. We have had enough of violence and bloodletting. It is time for us all to renew our bond of brotherhood and live harmoniously. We must all accept the challenge to chart a new course and make Nigeria a better place. Happily, democracy, which we all accept as the best form of government, offers opportunities for everyone to realise his or her potential because it is participatory and representative,” Mark added.