Nigeria@56: Govs, Others Preach Unity, Predict Brighter Future

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• As Atiku, PDP, NLC urge peace, caution

By Our Correspondents
Despite the gloomy picture of the Nigerian economy which is in recession with its attendant hardship on businesses and the citizenry, governors of various Nigerian states were united in predicting a glorious future as the country marked her 56th independence anniversary yesterday.

Also, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar yesterday urged a speedy return of peace to the troubled North-east region; the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) warned the federal government against taking any rash decisions concerning the governance process, while the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) urged the present administration and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to put their house in order and deliver democratic gains to the people.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode who spoke through his Deputy, Mrs. Oluranti Adebule at the Independence Parade held at the Police College Ground in Ikeja said the fact that the nation has remained united despite visible challenges in the last 56 years of sovereignty was a lot to be thankful for.

He said the never-say-die spirit of resilience, resourcefulness and determination that Nigerians display to succeed in all spheres of human endeavour was well recognised and acknowledged all over the globe, adding that the nation has great potentials to rank among the most prosperous countries in the world. In Kaduna State, Governor Nasir El-Rufai expressed confidence that Nigeria can overcome its present challenges like it had always done in the past. He said, “We mark this day in difficult economic circumstances, but we can overcome these as we did in previous moments of hardship.”

In the same vein, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has said the economic challenges facing the country at the moment would not be permanent as the policies and plans put together by the current administration are targeted at her revival.

The governor gave the assurance in his address at the country’s 56th Independence Anniversary held at the Heroes Square in Owerri, stressing “this is not the period or time to discuss the country’s failures but a time to discuss what must be done to move the nation forward. We are passing through trials at the moment. But let me remind all of us that great nations of the world once passed through this stage before getting to their point of greatness. Nigeria will not be an exemption.”

Speaking at the M.K.O Abiola International Stadium in Abeokuta, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State said Nigerians have weathered a lot of storm and experiences and have come out stronger and will continue to come out strong.

He added: “We will use our diversity which is indeed our strength; it is a testament to our resilience that we are still standing as a nation.”

Advising Nigerians to remain steadfast, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State advised Nigerians not to despair at the gloomy economic situation in the country but to checkmate their desire for consumption of foreign goods in order not to deplete the country’s foreign reserve. He insisted that a stable economy where justice prevails makes governance easy and enables the citizens to co-exist in peace.

Addressing thousands of people at the Confluence Stadium in Lokoja, Kogi State while marking the 56th independence anniversary, Governor Yahaya Bello said despite experiencing turbulence, Nigeria remains indivisible as a result of the resilience of her citizens.

According to him, “These past 56 years have been very challenging, but there have also been years in which the Nigerian spirit has proved indomitable.”

In a broadcast to the people of Enugu State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State said “notwithstanding the current economic challenges facing us as a nation, we have sufficient cause to celebrate”, noting that his administration was committed to delivering on its promises and advancing the frontiers of development in all sectors of the state’s economy.

In an independence celebration message at the Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State expressed fears that the nation is sinking irreversibly down the abyss, stressing that only a united front will salvage the country and set it on the path of growth.

The governor expressed regret that either by commission or omission the federal government has dragged the country into its worst economic crisis where Nigerians find it difficult to feed.

Anambra State Governor, Chef Willie Obiano, on his part, called on Nigerians to think of what they can do for Nigeria, rather than what the country can do for them. Obiano while addressing the people of the state on the occasion of the Independence Day celebration at Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square said heeding that call is the only way to make Nigeria great again.

Meanwhile, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has asserted that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable. He said no amount of sponsored acts of sabotage will lead to the negotiation of the nation’s unity, adding that no nation in the world is perfect.

Speaking at ceremonies to mark the nation’s 56th Independence anniversary at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City yesterday, Oshiomhole said: “I am one of those who believe that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. The unity of Nigeria cannot be re-negotiated. It is not whether it is perfect or not perfect. I know of no nation that is perfect, and our elite must rethink.”
In the same vein, Kano state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has urged citizens to continue to be resilient, despite some remarkable challenges so as to move the country forward.

Ganduje, while delivering the 56th independence anniversary speech at the Sani Abacha Stadium yesterday said Nigeria has greater future by living and working together as a united entity. He said “our ability to be resilient in the face of daunting challenges has kept the nation as one since we got independence since 1960”.

Meanwhile, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar yesterday called on stakeholders to hasten the return of total peace in the North-east. Abubakar, who decried the slow pace of returning complete peace to the North-east, stated that the region has suffered a lot through the activities of insurgents.

Speaking as the Special Guest at the twentieth anniversary celebration of Gombe State and Nigeria’s Independence celebration yesterday, the Turaki Adamawa said more still needs to be done to rehabilitate the displaced persons of the region.

According to him, “the speed is too slow and the impact very minimal”, adding that “for peace to be returned to the region, poverty should be treated as a national emergency.” He called on all stakeholders to join hands in returning all Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) back to their abode, stressing that it is a task that is very possible.

Speaking earlier, the Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo said the dreams of the founding fathers of the State has fully been met following the tremendous physical and socioeconomic transformation of the States which began from the first Military Administrator of the States in 1996, Group Captain Joseph Orji to the current administration in the State.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Right Hon. Yakubu Dogara, commended the peaceful gathering of both the APC as well as the PDP whom he said have exhibited patriotism above party or any other consideration to come together for the best interest of the State.

He commended the people of Gombe for justifying the creation of the State through the many transformations that the State has witnessed and called on them to be vigilant as a way of sustaining what has been achieved in the last twenty years.

Also, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the federal government work hard to rediscover the lofty ideals and visions of the founding fathers of the country.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the party said the cooperation and contributions of all citizens are required at this time to move the nation forward from the present precarious situation.

In a congratulatory message to the Government and people of Nigeria on the attainment of 56 years of nationhood, the party urged all to continue to work for the unity and survival of the country.
“We wish to once again urge the APC administration to close ranks with all major stakeholders in the country with a view to bring to bear, the ideals, vision and mission of those who fought for the Independence of our great nation, Nigeria”, the statement noted.

In the same vein as Nigeria celebrated 56th Independence anniversary, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday warned the federal government against taking hasty and panic decisions with regards to the economic recession bedevilling the country.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba in his independence message said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration must be discreet in taking decisions that will not spell doom for the country in the future.

Wabba urged Nigerians to “take a long and positive view of our country instead of indulging in self-recrimination and bitterness that hurts the majority of us. We could have done better, certainly. We have been betrayed, no doubt. But the time to rebuild is now, for they say, strength comes from rubble. We must never yield to despondency.”