President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday reflected on the state of the nation and said that he was convinced that if Nigerians pursued their aspirations together they would be able to achieve whatever they desired.
In his independence day broadcast on Thursday, Buhari said, “Together we can change our condition for the better and more importantly, together we can do much more for ourselves and for our country”, adding this informed the adoption of the theme ‘together’ to mark this epochal event.
He said “To achieve this, we must focus our minds, together as a people, on ways of resolving the identified critical challenges that underlie our present state.”
These critical challenges, he said include evolving and sustaining a democratic culture that leaves power in the hands of the people; supporting the enthronement of the rule of law, demanding accountability of elected representatives and contributing to good governance; and Increasing commitment to peaceful co-existence in a peaceful, secure and united Nigeria.
Others include harnessing and optimizing the nation’s tremendous human and natural resources to attain the goal of being in the top 20 economies of the world and in the process; lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years; strengthening institutions to make them stronger in protecting National Interests; and imbibing tolerance in diversity.
He lamented that an underlying cause of most of the problems Nigeria faced as a nation is the consistent harping on artificially contrived fault-lines that had been harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.
Reflecting on the journey of the nation, Buhari said the founders’ “optimism was anchored on the peaceful planning, full and open consultation and harmonious cooperation with the different groups which culminated in Nigeria emerging as a country without bitterness and bloodshed.”
The President said: “Our founding fathers understood the imperative of structuring a National identity using the power of the state and worked towards unification of Nigerians in a politically stable and viable entity.
“That philosophy guided the foundation that was laid for our young nation of 45 million people with an urban population of approximately 7million occupying an area of 910,768 square kilometers. These demographics led to development challenges for which major efforts were made to overcome.
“Today, we grapple with multiple challenges with a population exceeding 200million occupying the same land mass but 52% residing in urban areas.
“Sixty years of nationhood provides an opportunity to ask ourselves questions on the extent to which we have sustained the aspirations of our founding fathers. Where did we do the right things? Are we on course? If not where did we stray and how can we remedy and retrace our steps?”
Noting that upon attaining independence, Nigeria’s growth trajectory was anchored on policies and programmes that positively impacted on all sectors of the economy, he this journey was cut short by the 30-months of civil war.
He said Nigeria came out of the civil war with a focus on reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation that enabled the country to put in place world class development structures and a strengthened public service that well served the government.
This positive trajectory, he added, continued with a return to democratic government which was truncated by another round of military rule, which lasted for a cumulative 29 of of the 60 years existence as a nation.
Buhari said, “Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control.”
The President said Nigerians needed to begin a sincere process of national healing, noting that its 60th anniversary presents “a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are.”
Speaking further, he said: “The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration.
“To start this healing process, we are already blessed with the most important asset any nation requires for such – OUR PEOPLE – and this has manifested globally in the exploits of Nigerians in many fields.
“It has been demonstrated time and time again that Nigerians in the diaspora frequently excel in science, technology, medicine, sports, arts and many other fields.
“Similarly, the creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Nigerian at home have resulted in globally recognized endeavours.”