By Deji Elumoye
Former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark and the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, have called for a united Nigeria that all citizens will be proud of.
The duo, who made this submission in separate messages on Wednesday to mark 60th independence anniversary of Nigeria, stressed that the political class should strive to ensure the nation remains one irrespective of religious or tribal differences.
Mark, in his message, urged the political class to review critically the underlying concerns of Nigerians believed to be aggravating agitations, ethno-religious conflicts and insecurity in the country.
Such concerns, he said, include restructuring, unemployment, income inequalities, imbalance in the distribution of social amenities, perceived marginalization and inadequate infrastructures among others.
Mark stressed that the road map to Nigeria’s development is to identify and genuinely address those ills militating against it.
“Until the issues agitating Nigerians are addressed in a manner that gives every citizen security and a sense of belonging, the quest for peace, unity and development may just be a mirage,“ he stated.
In spite of the challenges of Nigeria’s diversity, Mark believed that “it is in our collective interests to support and remain steadfast to the cause of a united nation as our strength remains in our diversity”.
He canvassed for a united front between and amongst the people to tackle the challenges of sustained diversity and ethno-religious nation irrespective of creed or tribe, adding that “the task of a greater Nigeria is a collective responsibility”.
Mark therefore urged Nigerians to refrain from any tendency that is capable of pulling the nation apart, stressing: “Whichever way, region, zone, tribe, Christianity or Islam, we all have comparative advantage for staying together.”
On his part, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, said the country has demonstrated unusual resilience in the face of many odds.
Omo-Agege, in his message to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary, called on those agitating for the breakup of the country to join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari to make Nigeria a better place for the current and coming generations.
Although Omo-Agege admitted that the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the economies of the entire world, he was upbeat that Nigeria will overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic.
The lawmaker urged Nigerians to keep praying for the continued peace and unity of the country.
Omo-Agege, who doubles as Chairman, Senate Ad hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, said: “Today, in spite of our past and current challenges, we are alive to witness and celebrate Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary.
“No doubt, those who focus on our half-empty cup see unending challenges while the majority appreciate our modest successes in overcoming the countless obstacles in our journey to nationhood. True, we have great tasks ahead of us in every sector but it is also a fact that where we are today in terms of the number of schools, democratic growth, roads infrastructure, general development and population are incomparable to where we were when we began in 1960.
“Today, due to the patriotic commitment and great sacrifices of our heroes past and patriots still alive, Nigeria has continued to demonstrate unusual resilience in the face of many odds. The Covid-19 pandemic that currently ravages the entire globe has affected many of our people — fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, our friends and colleagues – but we stand together, confident that we shall again, overcome this and other current challenges.
“In no small measure, our teachers whose efforts signpost significant beginnings in millions of lives and our military whose resolute commitment to making supreme sacrifices for the sake of Nigeria, are among those very excellent examples who continue to give us inspiration and hope. It is the aspiration to achieve a better future for coming generations that gave birth to Nigeria’s ruling party, the APC.”
On the ongoing Constitution Review exercise, he assured Nigerians that the Senate would be fair to all, even as he disclosed that the panel has received memoranda from all sections of the country.
“Indeed, part of our collective effort towards evolving democratic growth and national development is reflected in the work of the Senate’s Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution which I chair. The committee has received memoranda from all sections of Nigeria and sustained vigorous interest as well as participation in our plans for a constitutional amendment that will enable us all to further improve our nation’s prospects for peace and progress, unity and development.
“I call on all those calling for the dismemberment of Nigeria to join this government in its effort to make Nigeria a better place for the current and coming generations. At 60, Nigeria – like most nations on earth – has gone through difficulties as it continues to move towards the creation of a prosperous life for all. I firmly believe that we are on course to true greatness. Let us keep hope alive as we renew our collective resolve to ensure that the hopes and labour of our heroes is transformed into a better future for succeeding generations,” Omo-Agege said.