Independence Anniversary: ‘This Is Not Nigeria Of Our Dream’

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Calls For Referendum—Activist

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 As politicians, national leaders and those with access to the corridors of power continue to clink glasses in celebration of the country’s 61st independence anniversary, some other Nigerians, especially those who witnessed the change of independence baton in 1960 say this is not the country they dreamt of. Report by ROLAND OGBONNAYA, KAZEEM AWOJOODU, RAJI ADEBAYO, (IBADAN)

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the week as part of activities marking the nation’s 61stindependence anniversary with the theme, “Together, Come Let Us build,” said though the country currently faced security, economic, religious, and ethnic challenges, the collective vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria remained undefeated.

The vice president spoke ahead of the country’s independence anniversary on Friday, October 1. However, many Nigerians including the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike have disputed his position, stating that Nigeria, especially, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has nothing to celebrate at 61. Just as other politicians try to remain positive about the country’s journey so far, many others who spoke to Saturday INDEPENDENT during the week said that this is not the Nigeria they dreamt of. They called for prayers for Nigeria and urged the citizens to continue to play their part in the unity and development of the country.

Nigeria has ceased to be in existence since 1967; the country called Nigeria is a fraud. Our stand is that there should be a transition committee that will convey a referendum where every ethnic group will be represented

Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi, the Nigerian who designed the country’s green-white-green flag regretted the current state of things in the country, stating that, “this is not a Nigeria of my dream. My dream was to have a Nigeria where everything will be working out well and perfect for Nigerians, I dreamt of Nigeria that everyone would be going around freely irrespective of where they find themselves.

“I dreamt of Nigeria where everyone will get what he deserves with ease, I dreamt of Nigeria where every youth will get a job with merit without knowing someone at all. I dreamt of Nigeria with a peaceful society, I want a situation where people will live with one another irrespective of their culture, ethnic or political inclinations. This is not a Nigeria of my dream, it is quite unfortunate things turned out to be like this,” Pa Akinkunmi said.

In his message to the Nigerians, especially the youths, Pa Akinkunmi said, “our youths should find alternative means of getting themselves a better job. Our youths should think outside the box, they should not wait for white-collar jobs; they should make good use of any opportunity around them to better their lives. Nigerians should be prayerful and optimistic that the country will be great again. Akinkunmi said

Another Elder Statesman, Tanko Yakasai on his part blamed the military for the constant intervention on the body politics of the country as a major factor that stalled its progress.

Yakasai who spoke with Saturday INDEPENDENT in Kano explained that, “we started on a sound footing in 1960, but the military intervention that resulted in counter-coup, and the attendant civil war eroded our march toward nationhood. “

The former Presidential Aide to late President Shehu Shagari said, “We started very well as a nation, but the persistent military intervention destroyed our journey towards nationhood which to a very large extent is a manifestation of our socio-political problems till date.” He however tasked the media to keep the unfortunate incident in the purview of the public to enable citizens to appreciate the past to trigger attitudinal change.

Speaking on the 61st Independence anniversary of the country, Chairman of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS), Professor Banji Akintoye said the entity called Nigeria is a fraud; hence he called for a referendum where each ethnic group decides its position on Nigeria. He noted that Nigeria as one indivisible entity has expired since 1967, stressing that if the country continues to operate the 1999 constitution; poverty would continue to ravage the country.

Akintoye who is also the convener of Ilana Omo Oodua, speaking through his Director of Public Communications, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye described the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as a fraud against the people of the South and Middle-Belt, saying, “It was enacted without the consent of the people. He pointed out that the same set of people have been ruling the country since 1967, noting that except former President Jonathan got power by providence.

According to him, “Nigeria has ceased to be in existence since 1967, the country called Nigeria is a fraud. Our stand is that there should be a transition committee that will convey a referendum where every ethnic group will be represented. They will decide on the sovereignty of the country, if they still want to stay together, they will decide and the type of government they want. And if not, they should be allowed to go freely. When the United Kingdom left the European Union heaven did not fall.

“It is disheartening that Nigeria is exhibiting a recycling set of leadership, from Gowon, Murtala/Obasanjo/Yar Adua, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida back to Obasanjo, Yar Adua junior and now again Buhari. It is only Jonathan that is not part of the recycling and got there because of the death of Yar’Adua junior.

“There is the need to abolish the 1999 Constitution and decide through a referendum, which is the solution, people are the government and power belongs to the people. The people make the constitution. The sovereignty belongs to the people. Our own strength lies in the hands of the people. Let us come to a roundtable and decide our future by ourselves”.

A communication expert and Public Affairs Analyst Hon Austin Nnodim however cautioned Nigerians canvassing for the restoration of the British parliamentary system of government to discard the agitation, arguing that the system is unreliable and shrouded with colonial mentality and diplomacy.

Speaking exclusively to our correspondent in Owerri, Nnodim who is the Chairman/CEO of Ezelukwu Ventures Nigeria Limited regretted that the vision of the nation’s founding fathers had been rubbished and stultified as a result of legions of self-inflicted blunders by successive administrations and which had constituted a cog in the wheel of progress. He listed such odds to include disunity, tribalism, religious bigotry, nepotism, and favouritism. “All these,” he said “are shrouded in our existence as a nation”.

The social crusader who is also the CEO of Stino Environmental and Technical Services warned that true unity in the country would never remain elusive with the continued domination of any particular religion to others, just it would equally remain a mirage with the domination of any particular ethnic group or nationality to the others or by the superiority assumedly by the armed forces to other paramilitary organisations.

“The military and other para-military organisations lack cohesion to work and to train together” while calling for equity, justice, and fairness in the distribution and management of the nation’s resources including appointments into sensitive key positions. Nnodim said that the country should retain the current American Presidential system of government but should only slash its cost implications.

“At 61, we have not got it right as a nation as a result of disunity. The dream of our founding fathers is yet to be realised because of such debilitation factors as tribalism, religious bigotry, nepotism, and favouritism. He said that the superiority of the Armed forces to other para-military organisations is one of the causes inhibiting the nation’s march to greatness.

“Again part of our problems is that one ethnic group believes that they should be on top permanently, dictating how to run the country and that some other ethnic nationality cannot be trusted by other ethnic nationality for fear of domination,” Nnodim emphasised.

As part of the activities marking the celebration during the week, the Federal Government reiterated the determination of the current administration under President Muhammadu Buhari to bequeath to the country a long-lasting legacy of improved infrastructural facilities and a better economy. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this in Abuja, where he announced the lineup of activities for the 61st Independence anniversary celebration.

“The Independence Day for us is a joyous occasion, it is an occasion for Nigerians to appreciate the efforts of our forebears at gaining independence from the colonial masters and to appreciate the varied contributions of successive administrations at building our nation-state, just as we are witnessing the avowed determination of President Muhammadu Buhari to bequeath to the nation a long-lasting legacy of improved infrastructural facilities and a better economy,” he stressed.

 

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