The pan-Igbo socio- cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has declared that at 61, Nigeria has nothing to celebrate. Ohanaeze, who spoke through her national publicity secretary, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said that Nigeria should rather convert the celebration to a moment of deep sobering and reflection on the many socio-political and economic challenges obstructing her development since independence. The Igbo apex group said that it will be antithetical for somebody who is in a sinking ship to be celebrating; this is as it likened Nigeria to a sinking ship that needed urgent salvation.
The organisation therefore reiterated its call for the restructuring of the country as a way of saving it from doom and catastrophe. Ogbonnia said: “For me, people are celebrating independence, we are not supposed to celebrate independence, we should rather observe it so that we will be able to have a deep sense of reflection to think out what is the problem with Nigeria, where did the rain start falling on us, and how can we bring about a better Nigeria. “This is because the tendencies so far are tending towards doom and catastrophe. If things continue like this, we are doomed.
“So, it’s important that every Nigerian understands that if things continue the way they are going, we are all in a sinking ship. “How can somebody be in a ship that is sinking and yet he is celebrating? It’s a contradiction, so there shouldn’t be any celebration rather we observe it. “The founders of this country realised that in every multi-ethnic society that the only way to govern them effectively is through what we call federalism and federalism gives opportunity for every individual to express himself fully.”
ACF: Our situation is not beyond redemption
Immediate past Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr Anthony Sani, has said that no matter the challenges the country is going through, there is a need to celebrate her 61st Independence anniversary. Sani told Saturday Telegraph that, “As far as I am concerned, the anniversary is an occasion to commemorate our independence, take stock of progress against plans, take note of our shortcomings and chart the way forward with courage and in hope.” The ACF chieftain also noted that Nigeria has passed through many challenges like the Civil War, the June 12 debacle and come out stronger, adding that our present situation is not beyond redemption. According to the elder statesman, “We are now experiencing insecurity posed by insurgence, banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping, militant activism, ritual killings and secessionists posed by IPOB and Yoruba nation.
“We are also going through economic problems posed by falls in the price of oil and the prevailing COVID-19 that has exacerbated the challenges of poverty that comes with unemployment and ignorance.” He however, added: “Our situation is never beyond Redemption. That is why the commemoration of the independence at 61th is worth celebrating.” He also explained that “We need to commemorate the day we got the freedom to choose how to govern ourselves by ourselves. “And that has found expression since 1960 up to date through military and democratic regimes effected by some Nigerians ostensibly for Nigeria.
“When you look back at the past sixty one years of self-governance, you would notice we have passed through ebb and flow of life, given the fact that the process of nation building is not more than a mechanism of community living. “We started with three regions, made them four and are now having 36 six states plus Federal Capital Territory. “So, many groups are now governing themselves through the states with little interference from the center.”
PANDEF: It’s sad we’ve not found our bearing
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has said through Ken Robinson that Nigerians need to congratulate themselves that the nation is 61 years old no matter how it is. It is sad that at sixty one, we have not found our feet or our bearing. We are still doing trial and error and in fact getting worse than where we were sixty one years ago, Robinson added. He said: “Sixty one years ago there was excitement when we got independence. But sixty one years after, it is unfortunate that we have a country of hatred, a country of disaffection; a country of discrimination, a country of biases.
“A country of nepotism, a country of hatred, a country that lacks complete unity and that there is a future for this country. I seriously doubt it if we continue in this manner. “So, Nigeria needs to see how we do these things and the first thing is the constitution of this country, which has overly put in some areas to the disadvantage of some areas. “We have operated a system for sixty years and we are seeing that it is not working. So, we need to evaluate ourselves as a people.
“The leaders of Nigeria, from the presidency to the governors, to the local governments, to the traditional rulers, we need to ask ourselves serious questions. “This is the time for sober reflection and to answer the questions as to whether we can continue as one or it is better for us to go our separate ways.”
AFENIFERE: We don’t have anything to celebrate
Leader of the Yoruba socio- political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, and others have said that Nigeria did not have much to celebrate as the nation clocks 61 years as an independent country. Adebanjo said in an interview with Saturday Telegraph that as a nation Nigeria was not where it ought to be due to bad leadership, ethnicity, corruption and nepotism. While accusing the Federal Government of doing everything to separate the country, the elder statesman said that the nation had everything to set it back.
“The government has been aiding and abetting Boko Haram. A committee was set-up to find out those who were behind them and it was discovered that some of them are members of the Senate and those of the federal cabinet. “Commodore Lawunmi said it on Arise Television. I know the efforts we have made for us to move forward. “The position of Afenifere is very clear, we will not get out of the problem until we return to true federalism that our founding fathers agree to.
“Is it the Constitution that the military gave us the will to continue to use under a civilian Government?” he said. Adebanjo stated further that the people in positions of authority in Nigeria today have failed, adding that the current constitution was being forced on Nigerians and that the Federal Government had resisted all attempts being made for its citizens to dialogue. He said: “People are saying let us have dialogue and they said no.
They said open grazing is causing insecurity, yet they said no. “They have refused to restructure the country, how can we move forward. All the ethnic groups said that they wanted a change except the Fulanis.” On his part, Jimi Agbaje said that Nigerians could not be happy with what was happening in the country and that apart from insecurity, the nation’s economy is in a bad shape. In his contribution, Chairman of the Ogun State House of Assembly Service Commission, Hon. Waliu Taiwo said that while the people should thank God that they are alive, the challenges in the country are causes for concern.
Taiwo, who said that there was no problem without a solution, stated that the only thing is the determination to make sure that the problem of insecurity is solved. “It is a serious concern to everybody. We hope steps can be taken to address it. Also, we have to address the economic problems in the country.
“Of course some of them are caused by COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic is a global thing,” he said. Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa said in his comments that unity is very important to the progress of the country as the nation celebrates her independence anniversary.
Archbishop Martins: A bright future lies ahead
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, has assured Nigerians that a bright future still lies ahead provided there is sincerity of purpose and the will to be just and equitable from all and sundry. In his 61st Independence anniversary message to Nigerians signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Martins, while noting that the country was passing through one of the most challenging periods since independence in 1960, urged the various ethnic nationalities not to give up on the unity of the country.
Rather, he said necessary proactive steps should be taken to right the wrongs that have afflicted the country and bring about a nation that all would be proud to associate with. Archbishop Martins accused members of the political class across the various political parties of deliberately and continuously playing the ethnic and religious cards across the various ethnic nationalities in order to further perpetuate unhealthy rivalry in the polity for their selfish parochial interests. He said the solution to most of Nigeria’s problems can be found quickly if the political actors and their associates would set aside their mundane interests and work for the common good and the welfare of all.
He said: “At this time that we celebrate the 61st independence anniversary of our country, we must thank God for the gift of life and for keeping the country together, despite the atrocities being committed by criminals of various descriptions, who through their atrocious acts of blood-letting have led thousands of our fellow citizens to their untimely death and loss of properties.
“It is indeed a miracle of sorts that despite all these anomalies across the land, we are still here to mark this year’s independence. “We pray that this will not be the last and that our country will continue to thrive. “We shall thrive and bounce back again only if we are able to address the fact that we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder.”
Midwest People Movement: Nigeria has failed in almost all ramifications
The President General of Midwest Peoples Movement, Dr. Pedro Agbonifo-Obaseki, has said that the Nigeria nation has failed in almost all ramifications and that its failure is basically failure of leadership and the failure of the unworkable structure of Nigeria. He said: “We of the Midwest People Movement have been unequivocal about the nature of the Nigeria federal state and the constitution that needs to be totally rejected. “It can’t be reviewed because you can only review that which was only based on some foundation. “But the Nigeria constitution is premised on a lie and until that lie is repudiated there will be no moving forward. “Anybody who thinks that the Nigerian constitution is not a problem is just playing Ostrich.
“Until the nation sits where its fathers and leaders re-negotiate a paradigm of the union, Nigeria is just going to continue to go down the drain of precipice. “So, we believe that Nigeria can work but only when the structure is totally dismantled and restructured along best global practice of a federation.”
Middle Belt Forum: We’ve regressed, as life is more difficult for Nigerians
Nigeria at 61, is one that one would look at in terms of one, we have grown by one year whether we like it or not, we have added a year to nationhood, says Dr. Bitrus Pogu of the National President of Middle Belt Forum. He said: “In terms of achievements, I think this government has retarded us because you see both negative or positive and we have had negative growth economically to the extent that the government that came in when Dollar, in 2015 was exchanged for about N198, today one Dollar is over N570 that is to say there’s a devaluation of over nearly 200 per cent an unfortunate situation.
“There is nothing that these six years has not doubled or tripled in cost, so life is more difficult for Nigerians. “The promises this government made to Nigerians when it came to power, nearly all have not been kept. “They say petrol will sell for X,Y,Z and this or that will happen like this … in fact, everything is going in the negative. “At the economic front, we have performed woefully; at the security front it is even worse. There is no day that will pass that you will not hear that people have been killed it kidnaped somewhere and before, it was localized to the North East, now it’s all over the country. “Life has been reduced to something similar to the medieval period when people just go round killing and take over land without recourse to law and order. “You look at the general wellbeing of Nigerians and our nationhood, that one has also been destroyed. “Nigerians don’t trust each other anymore. The South feels so marginalised to the extent that today, we have secessionists’ agitations all across the country. “There are some who are nursing it quietly, there are some that have come overtly like Oduduwa, the IPOB and others, we never had these problems in the South before but now it is glaring and it is gathering momentum.”
Akeredolu: It’s time to renegotiate, restructure Nigeria
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, has stated that all must be done to make Nigeria work for posterity, stressing that it is time to renegotiate, restructure and reinvent the country for the good of all. According to Akeredolu, there must be urgent restructuring of the country to reflect the diversity and address the various misunderstandings and high rate of criminality in the polity. He stated this on Friday in a statewide broadcast in commemoration of the country’s 61st Independence Day celebration.
The governor, who said the current system adopted in the county does not encourage ingenuity, noted that it is time for all patriots to unite and speak with one voice. He maintained that the current system in the country does not take into account the diverse status of the people, adding that the country faces serious challenges bordering on redefinition. Akeredolu said: “It has become imperative that the current structure be tinkered with in a fundamental way. It is no longer sustainable.”
While noting that the country must not shy away from the reality of her diversity, the governor said the unique diversity which should ordinarily be a source of strength is gradually becoming the country’s albatross. “Our country is blessed abundantly. There is hardly any part of this vastly endowed space that should not be self-sustaining. “This land should not be a place where hunger, poverty and a general sense of lack predominate.”
Wike: Now is time to rescue Nigeria
Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has described Nigeria, as a nation that has performed abysmally in the last 61 years, noting however, that it is time to quickly muster measures to rescue it from the wrong direction it is headed. Wike, who spoke at the March Pass and Parade event to mark the country’s 61st Independence at Sharks Football Stadium, Port Harcourt, recalled that the path to independence was charted by patriotic, knowledgeable and compassionate leaders whose vision was to build a united, peaceful and prosperous black nation.
He said that if subsequent leaders had continued on that path, the nation would have actualised the dream of making Nigeria lead Africa to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the civilised world within the shortest possible period He remarked that the nation’s democracy is weakened with constant violation of the constitution, and other institutions, just as he accused the National Assembly of abandoning its check and balance roles over the executive, while the judiciary has lost its courage, integrity, and commitment to justice. Wike said: “At independence, we were at par and even better in resource endowments and potential for development with our contemporaries like Malaysia, Singapore and several other countries.
“At independence and even now we are a nation blessed with very hardworking and resourceful people. “Our youths are some of the smartest people in the world, doing great exploits, flying our flag and making us proud across the world in music, dance, acting, culture, arts, sports, academics and our unique expressions and community ways of life. “But at 61, it does not seem to me that there is anything worthy of our celebration except, perhaps, the fact that we have remained independent and managed to struggle with our existence for all these years.”
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