Independence Day: Buhari, Jonathan, US, others mark anniversary
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Govs seek unity, CAN hopeful of better Nigeria
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was on Saturday joined by some past leaders to mark Nigeria’s 62nd Independence Day anniversary.
At a parade at the Eagle Square in Abuja, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former President Goodluck Jonathan; former Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, joined the President to celebrate the anniversary.
Among other activities at the ceremony were parades and march-past by personnel of the Army, Navy Airforce, the police and cadets of the Zaria-based Nigerian Military School, amongst others. Paramilitary agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, Immigration, Federal Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and National Youth Service Corps also participated in the march-past. Others were the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigeria Legion.
The ceremony also featured cultural display by various troupes, silent drill and the flypasts by the Nigerian Air Force with some of the Super-Tucano jets. The President thereafter signed the anniversary register and observed the national salute marked by the firing of the 21 artillery volleys.
Sunday PUNCH observed a heavy security presence, with some VIPs denied access to the VIP entrance.
The President had in his morning broadcast listed his regime’s achievements, saying he shared the pains Nigerians were going through. “I assure you that your resilience and patience would not be in vain as this administration continues to reposition as well as strengthen the security agencies to enable them to deal with all forms of security challenges,” he added.
Other dignitaries at the event included the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan; members of cabinet, lawmakers, Service Chiefs, heads of security and intelligence agencies and members of the diplomatic corps.
Meanwhile, the United States has joined Nigerians to celebrate the independence anniversary.
In a statement on Saturday, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said partnership between both countries was built on shared values of democracy, diversity and a spirit of entrepreneurship. He noted that the US was committed to supporting Nigeria’s efforts to counter terrorism and insecurity, as well as have free and fair elections.
Akeredolu frees inmates
As part of activities to mark the anniversary, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Saturday freed 16 inmates at the National Correctional Centre in Ondo.
This was contained in a statement signed by the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, who is also the Chairman of the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, Mr Charles Titiloye. The statement was made available to Sunday PUNCH by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr Richard Olabode.
The statement noted that the action of the governor was in accordance with the powers conferred on the governor by paragraphs (a)(c) and (d) of Subsection (1) of Section 212, of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (as amended).
Uzodimma seeks unity
Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has said that despite the challenges confronting the nation, Nigeria is better as a united nation. He expressed optimism that the nation would overcome its current challenges.
Uzodimma in his address to the people of the state stated, “In spite of all the shortcomings, the way forward is not to dwell on our failures. Instead, we should make conscious effort to celebrate and be proud of our successes and they are by no means few. Thereafter, we should use them as a foothold to march on with greater confidence into the future.
Meanwhile, Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State says his administration will defend its actions and policies anytime it is called upon to do so.
Delivering his independence address to commemorate the 62nd anniversary celebration of Nigeria’s Independence at the Ribadu Square, Yola, the governor vowed to give a good account of his actions and policies over the last three years.
‘Don’t lose hope’
In a related development, the Christian Association of Nigeria on Saturday called on the citizens not to lose hope in Nigeria but should do their best to ensure that justice and peace reigned in the country.
The organisation, however said that although Nigerians were still grappling with issues of common concern, the country would be a better place.
The President of CAN, His Eminence, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, expressed the optimism in his goodwill message to Nigerians in commemoration of the 62nd Independence Day celebration, titled, ‘A united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria is possible.’
He therefore charged Nigerians to act in faith towards God and fellow citizens, and be confident that the nation would overcome its current challenges.
Okoh said, “On behalf of myself and the Christian Association of Nigeria, I congratulate all Nigerians on this occasion of the 62nd Independence Day Anniversary of our dear country.
“As we commemorate the day Britain handed over the political leadership and governance of this nation to us, let us maintain with great enthusiasm the expectations that Nigeria would become a great nation that would be the pride of Africa and indeed black man.
“We must acknowledge that God Almighty has made it possible for us to take full charge of the abundance of natural and human resources that He freely gave to us.
“I urge you to take the unpleasant experiences that have plagued our nation in the past as necessary lessons of life that will make us a stronger, better and resilient nation on earth.
“In the face of the hardships in our country, let us continue to exercise patience through perseverance as we bring all our challenges to God, trusting that He will reveal His righteousness and grant us justice in our times of distress.
“In the same vein, let us be guided by the Holy Book in all situations as we continue to speak up and stand up against injustice and work for peace in a constructive way.
“As we march gallantly towards the next general elections, let us bear in mind that we have a stake in this country and so refrain from engaging in acts that will destroy the fortunes and the prospects of this nation.
“Rather than take up arms to kill each other and terrify innocent Nigerians, adults in this nation should take up their voters’ cards and go to the polls. We must resist any threat (strong or subtle) in whichever form to stop us from going out to vote on the day of elections.
“We must also shun vote-buying by being conscious of the truth that politicians who present some inducement to voters, especially on the polling day are not really interested in the welfare of the people.”