The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23, 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, on Monday said all is not well with Nigeria.
The former Vice President, in his message on Nigeria’s 59th Independence Anniversary, said the nation’s founding fathers could never have fathomed that 59 years after birthing the largest black nation on earth, Nigerian would be facing a situation where free press is endangered.
He also said they could not have imagined that the nation’s judiciary would be under attack and that the youths and activists, who should ordinarily be the future of Nigeria, would be facing the threat of arrest and intimidation, should they speak out about the state of the nation. He, however, called on Nigerians to work for the progress and development of the country and to insist that no one in the country, no matter how highly placed, shall be bigger than the laws of the land.
Atiku said, “I could call for prayers, as others would indeed call for today. I could also call on Nigerians to show more understanding, as indeed many have said in the past and will undoubtedly say again today. But I am mindful of the fact that the time for rhetoric has long since passed and now is the time for all lovers of Nigeria to take concrete steps to aid Nigeria’s progress, by not just praying and showing understanding, but also to take democratic action to ensure that the ideals of our founding fathers – Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress – are not set aside on the altar of tyranny.
“All is not well when judges are persecuted for enforcing the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens. All is not well when Nigeria is now officially the world headquarters for extreme poverty and out-of-school children, yet the cost of maintaining those in government continues to grow, while the needs of the governed are not being met. And certainly, all is no well when the media cannot freely express itself without the fear that those who wield the big stick would use it on them for saying things as they are.
“So, rather than just call for prayers today, I am calling on all Nigerians to believe in Nigeria’s betterment, to work for Nigeria’s betterment, and to insist that no one in Nigeria, no matter how highly placed, shall be bigger than the laws of our land.” Atiku, however, said it is not all gloom and doom about the nation. He stated that there is still hope for the country. He called for more investment in the education of the girl-child and commended the Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi, for his advocacy for the education of the girl-child and the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, for investing in public education.
He also lauded the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema, for his public spiritedness by airlifting from South Africa to Nigeria, free of charge, Nigerians who were victims of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Atiku stated that the Nigerian dream is revived when Nigerians put the country first. He added that Nigerians by so doing also revive ‘Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress,’ which are the ideals that the founding fathers of Nigeria had in mind when they fought for the independence of the country.
According to him, Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians. He stated that Nigerians should all have a role to play in making the nation great. He said Nigeria should be the beacon of hope, democracy and freedom, to not only the African continent but to the black diaspora, the world over. He explained that to achieve it, all Nigerians have a duty to support and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against all enemies, foreign and domestic. He charged all Nigerians to do so.