THE 61st independence anniversary of Nigeria calls for sober reflection, going by the myriads of challenges confronting the nation currently.
Instead of celebration, Nigerian leaders need to use the occasion to have deep reflection on the current state of the country and chart a new course that will stem the tide of insecurity, poverty, bad economy, poor health system and other indicators of underdevelopment that have subjected Nigerians to abject poverty.
The above is the aggregate opinion of members of civil society and pressure groups in the State of Osun, who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER yesterday, on the 61th celebration of the nation’s independence.
The groups decried the failure of those at the helm of affairs to tackle critical problems ravaging the country, saying that Nigeria had gone backward.
According to the groups, the economic situation of the country is in comatose with insecurity and poverty becoming the order of the day.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Osun Civil Societies Coalition, Comrade Waheed Lawal, said the mood of the country does not call for any celebration, because of the hardship being faced by Nigerians as a result of poor economy, insecurity, among others.
According to Lawal, Nigerians are frustrated and suffering, noting that the skyrocketed prices of foodstuffs and other commodities have aggravated the anger of the citizens of the country.
He called on the Federal Government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, to be practical in addressing the sufferings of the citizens, saying ‘Nigerians are no longer interested in the speech of the President, but his action.’
Speaking on the anniversary, the Convener, Dialogue 365, Osogbo, Comrade Waheed Saka, called on the government to restrategise and tackle insecurity, economy, poverty and poor education system and other issues ravaging the country.
Saka said: “Nigeria at 61; it is time to address our structure, the time is now to address the nationality question, the time is now to address the pains and pangs of poverty, the time is now!
“Is it a time to celebrate? Hell no, Nigerians are disillusioned, insecurity has never been this bad since our independence, our currency value has never been this worse, economy is in comatose, the most staple food is no longer stable and almost out of reach of the people.
“Let it be said that no matter how fast we run in a wrong direction, it will still lead us to a cul-de-sac, it is time to change the course of our route.
“Nigeria, a nation of over 200million people, must not be at the mercy of inept leadership, this independence day is an opportunity to restrategise by our government on the most important issues ravaging our country; insecurity, economy, poverty, poor education.”
The Coordinator, Democracy Vanguard, Com. Olowu Emmanuel said Nigeria as of today has taken a backward step, saying her leaders have failed in setting it on the path of industrialisation, research and advancement in science and technology.
Olowu said it is worrisome that at 61, Nigeria had not been able to tap into its endowed resources to further advance the country and project it higher among comity of nation.
He said: “To pass a sincere remark on Nigeria at its 61st anniversary, without placing Nigeria advancement beside its abundant mineral resources will further hinder the prospective advancement that Nigeria might probably attain in the future.
“Nigeria has been able to identify over 20 mineral resources across the country, the most valuable among are crude oil, natural gas, coal, tin, gold and columbite. It becomes worrisome that at 61, we have not been able to tap into the minerals to further advance the country and project it higher.
In his own message, the spokesperson for Transparency and Accountability group, Mr. Ayo Oloogun, urged Nigerians to see this year’s anniversary as a reminder of the need to be truly free from all sorts of bondages, including the ones foisted on them by the political class, who daily milks the nation of her commonwealth.
He said the anniversary should be an opportunity to be more determined in taking back the nation from the wolves and predators that at present hold it by the jugular, so that generations coming behind will meet a nation where peace and justice truly reigns.
Oloogun said: “As Nigeria marks another anniversary of her independence, I congratulate all Nigerians for seeing yet another year in our walk to freedom in its true sense and hope that this year’s anniversary will remind us of the need to be truly free from all sorts of bondage, including the ones foisted on us by the political class who daily milks the nation of her commonwealth.
“It is another opportunity for Nigerians to be more determined to take our nation back from the wolves and predators that presently hold it by the jugular, so that we can leave for our generations coming behind, a nation so truly called where peace and justice reigns”.