Nigeria Is 49: Yar'Adua admits promise of independence not yet realised

President Umaru Yar’Adua has asked Nigerians to see today’s 49th Independence anniversary as a reminder of dreams that are yet to be fulfilled.
“Today should be a forceful reminder of the promise yet to be fulfilled, of the dream deferred for too long, and of the work that is still outstanding.”
However, the task of regenerating the country, he said, has statrted. “I will submit that the necessary work of repositioning Nigeria has commenced apace, and the overarching task should be how to remain focused on the twin challenges of enthroning democracy and achieving sustainable development.”
On the state of the banking industry, the president said the recent reforms embarked upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria are part of the holistic measures aimed ultimately at ensuring requisite macroeconomic stability. “The goal is to have banks and financial institutions that can be effective partners with Government in delivering economic growth. By enforcing full disclosure, entrenching sound corporate governance and risk management principles, Nigeria would be on the way to entrenching a financial system that inspires the confidence of the international community”, Yar’Adua.
Senate President David Mark yesterday asked Nigerians to have faith in the Nigerian nation. In his message to Nigeria’s 49th independence anniversary, Mark said having faith in the country as a nation will act as a fresh catalyst for future growth, progress and development.
He said “over the years, there has been a gradual progressive and incremental loss of faith in Nigeria by her citizens. This has given rise to apathy and at extreme ends, outright hostility to the nation and her citizens”.
Mark noted that this type of attitude and trend would have to be reversed by Nigerians as abiding faith is a major ingredient of nation building.
Describing Nigerians as highly resilient and resourceful people, Mark advised that rather than bottle up anger, resentment and frustrations against the nation, Nigerians should dig deep to rediscover their hidden core for the nation and harness same into creative energy.
The national secretary of the Afenifere Renewal Group, Yinka Odumakin, urged Nigerians to seize the independence celebrations to ask for true federalism.
“We need to use the occasion of the 49th Anniversary to rally the constituent units of Nigeria to ask for a paradigm shift that would usher in true federalism,’’ Odumakin said.
He identified true federalism as a panacea for development and national rebirth.
“Any path taken for 49 years and leads farther from the desired destination should be reviewed if such an individual or community is not prepared to end in perdition.
“We have abandoned the route that any multi-ethnic country like Nigeria should take by adopting over-centralisation in a supposed Federal Republic,’’ Odumakin said.
He urged the various ethnic groups in Nigeria to support the call for true federalism so that the nation could have a fresh start.
Pat Utomi, in his message, spoke of challenges in education, economy and the Niger Delta question.
On the economy, he said that “as challenging as the situations in many sectors in Nigeria are, we find in the economy the more distressing condition where poverty persists and economic performance is recursive. We urge the Presidency to empanel a high-powered economic team and have people of uncommon abilities who will work together in the cabinet to pursue the agenda of rapid economic growth within the context of price stability and improved macro-economic fundamentals in general.”
He called for caution in the handling of the amnesty deal with Niger Delta militants so as not to fritter the opportunity. “The less we speak about the ultimate solution and military conquest, the more intellect and reason would have achieved the goal that would be pleasing to all stakeholders in a win-win solution,” Utomi said.
In his message, Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, present threats to the rule of law and universal franchise, should be promptly and decisively addressed to keep the ship of state firmly on course. Referring to the controversy that has characetrised the run up to the February 6, 2010 governorship election in his state, the governor said “preparations toward the conduct of the February 6, 2010 governorship election in Anambra State have evoked fresh concern over delay in implementation of the Uwais panel recommendations on electoral reform.
“It is a matter of regret that INEC, far from learning the lessons of the flawed 2003 and 2007 elections, has chosen to defy the courts on the authentic leadership of the All Progressives Grand Alliance.
He said Nigerian leaders owe it as a duty to inspire confidence in the electoral system among the masses. “We need to replace politics of arbitrariness with politics of due process. Nigerian elections should be peaceful, free, fair and transparent to attain international standards. Nigeria is a leader in Africa and should set the pace for others to follow,” Obi said.
The first lady, Turai Yar’Adua, has advised Nigerian children to shun bad habits and avoid associating with bad friends.
Yar’Adua who spoke at the 2009 Independence Day Children’s Party held at the State House, Abuja, said that what Nigeria needed was responsible and disciplined children, who would lead the country in future.
She said that Nigerian leaders had over the years laid a good foundation for future generations to build on.
The first lady said that the present administration was determined to harness the available resources to improve on the growth and development of Nigeria to achieve the desired greatness.
She said that government was committed to the promotion of the rights of the child and that there were efforts to pursue programmes and projects that would improve maternal and child health in the country.
Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia, has urged Nigerians to fight for a new order that would guarantee a better life for the nation.
“it is time compatriots took their destinies in their hands,’’ Kalu said in a statement.
The statement, which was signed by Kalu’s special assistant on media, Emeka Obasi, urged good leadership nationwide.
“At 49, this is not the Nigeria of our dream; we need a change; we need men who can make things happen.
“And for once, Nigerians should be prepared to monitor their votes” he said.
Kalu described Nigeria as a land of “milk and honey’’ that had been milked dry by bad leadership.
“Nigeria had the best of opportunities to make a bold statement in socio-economic development between 1999 and now.
“We can still get there if the people are determined to install good leadership,’’ he said.
A Kano based public commentator, Sani Yau Babura, described the nation as a toddler within the comity of nations despite her age.
Babura, a former chairman of Kano State branch of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), said the country has so far failed to justify its creation as country.
“In my view, Nigeria is still a toddler at 49, as it has failed on all fronts to justify the essence of the independence granted her by the British colonialists.”