By Our Correspondents
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, yesterday declared that these are extraordinary times for Nigeria, which is made worse by the failure to successfully redefine and restructure the country towards a progressive path since independence.
As part of the 57th Independence celebration, Wike also paid fines for 19 convicts to regain their freedom, commuted 32 death sentences to life imprisonment, approved unconditional release of 32 convicts from prison and granted free pardon to three convicts.
In an Independence day address at the Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt, the governor said Nigerians must unite behind the national flag, set aside the narrative of division, violence and hate, and replace them with the narrative of peace and unity .
According to him, â€œAfter nearly 18 unbroken years of democracy and despite positive assertions to the contrary, our democracy keeps floundering under the watch of the federal government just as the vast majority of Nigerians are alienated from the state and estranged from the development process and denied the dividends of democracy.
Work for a United Country with Equal Opportunities, El-Rufai Urges Nigerians
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has urged Nigerians to work towards building a strong and united country with equal opportunities for all citizens.
In a broadcast yesterday to mark Nigeriaâ€™sÂ 57th Independence anniversary, the governor called on Nigerians to shun selfish politicians and elites who are exploitingÂ divisive tendencies for their personal gains.
According to him, â€œRather than enable few of our selfish political elite in their pastime of seeking personal advantage through exploiting ethnic, regional and religious fault lines, let us build a strong constituency that demands and works for equality of opportunity for all.â€
The governor said Independence anniversary was not only a moment for Nigerians â€œto give thanks to the Almighty God that has preserved us amid all the storms and stresses, but it is also a time to reflect on how we, as citizens and leaders, can contribute to strengthening our country, uphold peace and harmony and embrace the common humanity that shines so brilliantly through our diversity.â€
Obiano Commutes Death Sentences of Eight Prisoners to Life Imprisonment
The Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, yesterday commuted the jail sentences of eight prisoners who were on death row to life imprisonment to mark the Independence celebration.
The governor disclosed this during a church service at Saint Matthew Catholic Church, Akpu in Orumba North Local Government Area of the state.Â He said the gesture was in the exercise of his powers on prerogative of mercyÂ onÂ the occasions to celebrate Nigeriaâ€™s Independence anniversary.Â Obiano said some of the prisoners had spent 18 years in prisons, adding that 12 others had their sentences reduced to various jail terms, while some were granted absolute pardon.
He said he considered the health and mental conditions of the prisoners in the circumstance. Also, the Catholic Bishop of Awka diocese,Â Anambra State, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, in his 57th Independence anniversary message, said matters of inequalities and marginalisation of some areas in the country should be addressed to assuage various agitations in the country.
Ikpeazu: Unfulfilled National Aspirations Fuel Agitations
Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, yesterday took a hard look at the pace of development of Nigeria after 57 years of independence, saying the spate of agitations in the countr was a product of unfulfilled expectations. He expressed this view at an interdenominational church service held at St Stephen Anglican Cathedral in Umuahia to mark the countryâ€™s independence anniversary, noting that Nigeria has been left far behind by its contemporaries in the journey of development.
The governor regretted that Nigeria was marking its 57th anniversary with â€œdespondency written on the faces of many Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion and geographical location.â€
He noted that despite the myriads of challenges confronting the nation, he was convinced that Godâ€™s purpose for Nigeria would be actualised and the most populous black nation would take its rightful place among the comity of nations.
Udom Emmanuel Expresses Renewed Faith in Nigeriaâ€™s Unity
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has said his state was not among those campaigning for the segregation of the country instead of seeking the unity of the country.
The governor who made the declaration yesterday at the Uyo township stadium after inspecting guard of honour to mark the 57th Independence anniversary of Nigeria, maintained that the state believes and would continue to work towards corporate existence of Nigeria.
â€œNigeria will remain one indivisible country, where equity, justice and fairness shall prevail,â€ he declared, adding: â€œWe have come too far to entertain options other than to strengthen our bonds of unity and equality.
â€œHere in Akwa Ibom State, our faith in the National Project remains sacrosanct.â€
Ortom Hails Nigeriaâ€™s Progress
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has restated the commitment of the government and people of the state to the unity of Nigeria.Â Ortom said he believes that the challenges facing the country are surmountable if Nigerians could join hands with the government and avoid actions and speeches that fan embers of hatred and disintegration.
He reassured the Benue people particularly that his administration would not relent in its resolve to guarantee the safety of lives and property while providing good governance for all.
The governor made the statement while congratulating President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigeria Independence Day celebration.
He said with the president administration efforts in taking the country out of economic recession and the successes recorded in the area of security, he is optimistic that the country will attain greater heights in the present administration.
AhmedÂ Calls for Unity
As Nigerians marks her Independence anniversary, Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has called on Nigerians to work for and believe in Nigeriaâ€™s unity and peaceful coexistence as means to attain growth and sustainable development.
Ahmed who congratulated Nigerians on the 57th anniversary of Nigeriaâ€™s independence, said with the current efforts of the federal government at economic recovery, the country is poised for greatness.
In his anniversary message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba, the governor said all hands should be on deck to support President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s effort towards ensuring security for all and effectively tackle corruption. Â â€œWe should use the political independence to reflect on the prospect and progress as a nation-state in a hurry to develop its people, infrastructures and indigenous technology for the betterment of the government and people of Nigeria,â€ Ahmed said.
Amosun Preaches Unity, Harmony, Peaceful Coexistence
As Nigerians celebrated the countryâ€™s 57th Independence Day anniversary yesterday, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has called on the citizens to embrace and promote unity, harmony and peaceful coexistence.
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun yesterday also called on leaders in the country not to forget the roles played by great Nigerians like late Obafemi Awolowo, late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Mallam Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Herbert Macaulay, Anthony Enahoro, among others as the country marked its 57th independence celebration. The governor also highlighted the need for socio-economic development, respect for the rule of law and eradication of corruption for Nigerian development.Â In his address during the celebration held at the MKO Abiola International Stadium in Abeokuta, the governor, stressed that the significance of the National Day celebration is to take a lesson from the sacrifices the past heroes and also ensure that nothing divides the people. He urged Nigerians to begin to see strength in their unity and diversity.
57, A Significant Milestone in Nationâ€™s Cycle, Says Bauchi Governor
Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, has said that 57 years is a significant milestone in a countryâ€™s life cycle.
He said keeping Nigeria as one country since independence is a great achievement despite the challenges it had faced in the past and the ones it is facing at present.
Abubakar made the remark yesterday in a speech to mark the countryâ€™s 57th Independence anniversary.
According to him, â€œWithin the last 57 years, this country has had its ups and downs. Such is however to be expected in any country that is struggling to attain a nationhood. Some of our greatest achievements are our ability to keep the country as one indivisible entity and the entrenchment of democratic rule.â€
Umahi, Egwu Preach against Violent Agitations
Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, has cautioned against violent agitations by youths in the country, advocating for peace and united Nigeria where fairness, justice, love of one another would be supreme.Â Speaking during the Independence anniversary in Abakaliki, Umahi disclosed that he would soon approach the state House of Assembly to propose a bill for an Act prohibiting hate speeches in the state.
However, the celebration which was well attended almost witnessed casualties as the crowd scampered to move out of the stadium through a narrow space created as police blocked the entrance.
Also, the first executive Governor of the state and senator representing Ebonyi North zone, Sam Egwu, warned the youths against the agitations and violence for the creation of Republic of Biafra.
Obaseki Approves Release of 70 Prisoners
As part of activities to mark Nigeriaâ€™s 57th Independence anniversary, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, yesterday approved the release of 70 inmates from various prisons across the state.
The 70 inmates to be released have been in prison for a considerable time, some of them not less than two years without trial.
Obaseki said this was a step towards improving the justice delivery system in the state as well as reducing the number of awaiting-trial inmates by 50 per cent, which is part of the federal governmentâ€™s policy on decongesting prisons.Â He, however, stated that the inmates would be sternly cautioned to stay away from crime before they are let go.
Ambode: We Have More to Gain Together Than Divided
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday emphasised the need for Nigeria to remain united, saying there was more to gain in being together as one country than dissolving as different independent entities.Â Speaking at a special thanksgiving service to commemorate Nigeriaâ€™s 57th Independence Anniversary at the Lagos House Chapel in Alausa, Ikeja, Ambode said it was important for Nigerians to realise the fact that the countryâ€™s diversity is a strength which makes the country a truly special place.
He said a moment of reflection and retrospection would reveal the need for Nigerians to be thankful to God for His grace, blessings and mercy over the country.