Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, in his last Independence Day nationwide broadcast as President of Nigeria on Saturday morning, ahead of his leaving office on May 29, 2023, expressed concern about the pains Nigerians are going through in the wake of security and economic challenges facing the country.
Likewise, former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida; the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, that of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu and President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan sent messages of hope to Nigerians on this Independence Day.
In the broadcast to mark the 62nd Independence anniversary, Buhari also addressed the seven and a half-month strike action embarked upon by public university lecturers with a plea to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its industrial action.
He further reiterated the commitment of his administration to bequeath a worthy electoral legacy to the nation.
The President declared that he shared the pains Nigerians are going through and assured that their resilience and patience would not be in vain as his government continues to reposition as well as strengthen the security agencies to enable them to deal with all forms of security challenges.
According to him: “At the inception of this administration in 2015, I provided the funding requirements of the security agencies which was also improved in my second tenure in 2019 to enable them to surmount security challenges. We will continue on this path until our efforts yield the desired results”
“As we put in place all measures to ensure that Nigeria takes her place in the Comity of Nations, we recognize the importance of a well-educated populace as a panacea to most of the challenges we face.
“We have, therefore, pursued policies and implemented programmes designed to create a literate and proficient society that ensures that citizens are availed with opportunities for life-long achievements.
“I must confess that I am very pained by the recurring disruption to our tertiary education system and I am using this Independence Day celebration to re-iterate my call on the striking ASUU members to return to the classroom while assuring them that I will deal with their contending issues within the limits of the scarce resources available. This administration has made appreciable progress in redressing these issues that have been lingering for over eleven years.”
He also emphasised that he and his cabinet in the last seven years plus have been able to turn Nigeria around for the better.
He said: “I was called to serve, along with my team, I saw an opportunity to create a better Nigeria which we have done with the support of Nigerians. Almighty God and the good people of Nigeria supported us in laying a solid foundation for the Nigeria of our dreams”.
The President said: “I address you today, with a deep sense of gratitude to God and a high level of appreciation to all Nigerians whose tremendous goodwill gave me the opportunity to provide leadership for our great country at one of the trying times in her history.
“Conscious that today’s address would be my last on an Independence Day as your President; I speak to the millions of Nigerians, who believed in me, propelled and stood by me in my quest to bequeath a country where all citizens have equal opportunities to achieve their lives desires in a peaceful atmosphere.
“I am honoured to say that my story in the annals of Nigeria’s history is no household secret. My various attempts, failures and eventual success in being elected as a Democratic President in 2015 was made possible by the majority of Nigerians.
“When you elected me, I readily acknowledged that the tasks before me were daunting but surmountable because of the growing national consensus that our chosen route to national development was democracy.
“This democracy was to be anchored on a clear understanding, application and the principles of separation of powers supported by a reformed public service that is more effective.
“I then pledged to Improve the Economy, Tackle Corruption and Fight Insecurity and this was further strengthened by my commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years as the central plank of my second term in 2019.
“To the Glory of God and His Grace as well as the commitment and passion displayed by many Nigerian supporters, we have made appreciable progress in these areas but not yet at our destination.”
The President said he was mindful of the task before him and his team, and “we took some time in settling down and we re-positioned the Economy by providing strategic interventions in core areas at both the Federal and Sub-National levels.”
He continued: “One of the areas where we have made significant progress is in the eradication of deeply entrenched corruption that permeates all facets of our national development.
“We strengthened the Institutions for tackling corruption and also cultivated international support, which aided the repatriation of huge sums of money illegally kept outside the country.”
On the challenges facing the country, he said: “Fellow Nigerians, in the past few years we have witnessed and overcome a good number of challenges that would ordinarily have destroyed our Nation. However, the indefatigable spirit of the Nigerian people has ensured that we overcome our challenges.
“It is in this spirit that I call on all of us to individually and collectively bring to the fore in dealing with all our development issues. I was called to serve, along with my team, I saw an opportunity to create a better Nigeria which we have done with the support of Nigerians. Almighty God and the good people of Nigeria supported us in laying a solid foundation for the Nigeria of our dreams.”
IBB: Nigeria will Remain an Indivisible Entity
In his own Independence Day message, Babangida expressed hope of Nigeria remaining an indivisible entity.
Babangida who addressed newsmen in Minna, Niger State, called on all Nigerians to work towards the country’s unity.
The former military president, who applauded the efforts of successive administrations in keeping the country united, added that he wants the country to remain a strong, prosperous, and united country where peace reigns supreme.
Babangida, who also appealed to youths in the country to desist from the temptation of allowing themselves to be used as thugs by politicians, expressed optimism that the current crisis between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would be resolved soon.
He said: “Seven years after the independence, we went through a civil war, and came out of it quite successfully in the sense that the country remains one from 1967 to1970, and since then, all efforts, government both civil and the military, were all engaged in trying to keep the country united ,and so far we are still a united country.”
Babangida therefore charged the younger generation “to imbibe the culture of knowing more about the historical perspectives of Nigeria and the efforts of its founding fathers in bringing the country together.”
He challenged the youths: “You must know what happened, what roles various people played for Nigeria to come together, that is why one of you was talking about history, once you know the history of the country very well and the efforts of our founding fathers, then you have a roadmap that you have to follow.”
The former military President therefore emphasised that his desire is to see Nigeria remain a strong and united country with prosperity and people living in peace with one another.
On the insecurity facing most parts of the country Babangida said the present administration “is willing to bring an end to the insecurity challenges bedeviling parts of the Country” adding that “operations requires both the support of the public and the law enforcement agencies.
“Nigerians must support the law enforcement agencies in fighting insurgency and once this is done the government is willing to fight the insurgency,” said IBB.
Babangida who commended past and present leaders of the country for the tremendous efforts being made to diversify the economy which he claimed has recorded “some good success” added that “we just have no option but to continue diversifying the economy and making it open.”
Atiku: Nigeria Shall Rise again
The Presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku congratulated Nigerians on the celebration of its 62nd Independence Day anniversary assuring that the nation would rise again.
The former vice president in a statement by his media office in Abuja om Friday said that the celebration of Nigeria’s Independence Day is an event that should reawaken Nigeria’s consciousness towards the consolidation of unity amongst the diverse people of the country.
The PDP presidential candidate said that Nigeria had come a long way after our independence 62 years ago, passing through different phases of challenges, noting however, that “the democracy that we have is the requisite antidote to the current challenges that we face.”
The Wazirin Adamawa noted, “Though, Nigeria is beset with challenges that range from inadequacies of our economic plans to cover a large percentage of our people who live below the poverty line; to security skirmishes that daily threaten the safety of lives and property of Nigerians, the root cause of these problem is traceable to the increasing lack of unity amongst us.”
He, however, assured that as one people and under the canopy of one country sharing in one future, “we will surmount our challenges and enthrone the Nigeria of our dreams.”
And as Nigerians go into the general elections next year, Atiku urged all to give the issue of building national unity primary attention.
“Nigerians should elect leaders who are individuals with proven track records of being protagonists of unity and peace.
“I believe that when we fix the issues that continue to compromise our national unity, we would invariably fix issues that upset our peace and security and subsequently create an environment that can encourage economic prosperity”, Atiku said.
The presidential flagbearer of the PDP also called on all friends of Nigeria in the international community to continue to have confidence in the country because, “as a people we never give up.”
He further called on all people of faith across the country not to relent in their prayers to God to keep Nigeria as a country of peace and prosperity for the good of all its people.
Tinubu: We Still Have Work to Do in Perfecting Democracy
The Presidential candidate of the APC, Tinubu urged Nigerians not to forget the struggles of those who fought for independence and urged all to do more to perfect Nigeria’s democracy.
He said: “In this complex time, it is easy to forget the struggles of those who came before us. Those Nigerian founders and nationalists who devoted themselves to making the dream of an independent and proud Nigeria a reality. But we must not forget. We commemorate this day so that our nation shall forever hold in remembrance those who won our nation’s independence.
“There is no way we can repay them for their patriotism except to remember them and strive to match their love of country and their sacrifice for it. Some gave not only their best years but their very lives so that Nigeria can be born. Their labour shall never be in vain!
“Indeed, we have come a long way from 1960 when we gained independence. We have walked far since then. Still, the best of our national journey lies before and not behind us. Since 1999, our country has experienced 23 years of uninterrupted democracy.
“While, we have firmly established democracy as our way of governance, we still have work to do in perfecting our form of governance such that government will always and completely be for, of, by and because of the people. That our people live in the dignity afforded by prosperity, justice, freedom and an unyielding belief in our capacity to overcome any obstacle was what compelled our founders to strive for the independence we now enjoy.
“On this Independence Day, let us commit ourselves to Nigeria’s unity as well as to our collective improvement. In unity, we must see each other as brothers and sisters regardless of our ethnic, religious or regional diversity. In seeking national improvement, we must join hands in growing the economy, creating jobs, feeding the hungry, educating our youth, caring for the sick and protecting our people and their way of life from evil and misguided foes who seek to destroy all that is good.
“Today, let us thank President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration for their patriotic efforts in the service of the nation. We give utmost thanks to the committed service of the brave members of our armed forces, security and law enforcement agencies some of whom have given their very lives in defence of our freedom against terrorism and violent extremism.
“We thank all who have dedicated their lives to public service and to the belief that this nation can be made great. We thank each and every law-abiding citizen of our great nation who dedicate their lives in the hope that Nigeria will better and more united.
“Today, I speak not of politics but patriotism. The time for politics will come soon enough. But the time for and demand of patriotism never fade. May we all seek the best for Nigeria regardless of partisan affiliation and may we never undermine the national purpose in pursuit of narrow gain.
“My running mate, party and I stand committed to a prosperous, violence-free, and democracy-filled Nigeria. I ask you all to do the same. Only by so doing, shall we honour the sacrifices and devotion of our nation’s founders. In this way, we bring a dependable promise of renewed hope to our quest for national greatness.”
Lawan Urges Nigerians to Remain Resolute
The President of the Senate, Lawan urged Nigerians to remain resolute in the defence of national unity and promote fairness, justice and peace.
In his message to Nigerians on the country’s 62nd Independence anniversary, Lawan said the National Assembly would “continue to work for good governance and to strengthen our bond as a nation.
He said: “The Almighty God in His infinite wisdom brought us together in our diversities. He has also preserved our Union despite the challenges that we have encountered in nation-building and socio-economic development since our Independence in 1960.
“I salute fellow Nigerians for the resilience of our faith in our country in the face of those challenges.
“This precious faith in Nigeria and the lessons we continue to learn from our errors and triumphs will help us in building the great and prosperous nation that is our desire and destiny.
“On this day as we remember the labour of our heroes past, I urge us as a people to remain resolute in the defence of our unity, the pursuit of national prosperity and the promotion of fairness, justice and peace for the benefit of all our people.
“We have subscribed to democracy as our preferred form of Government. We should therefore nurture it patiently for the development of our country and the good of the present and future generations of our people.
“As we approach another election cycle, I implore our political actors to carefully weigh their words and actions towards ensuring peaceful electioneering as well as free and fair polls, in line with what is clearly emerging as a legacy of this Administration. We should be issue-based in the campaigns and avoid hate speech and violence.
“We are proud that we in the ninth National Assembly have provided the nation with an electoral law that has tremendously strengthened the electoral process. The law will make our votes count and promote confidence in the credibility of the process and we shall continue to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver credible elections.”
“Our Armed Forces and other security agencies have, in recent times, made encouraging progress in the fight against insecurity in our country. They need the support of us all to sustain the tempo and up the game in their patriotic efforts, until security is restored to all parts of our country.”
Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Laleye Dipo in Minna