Nigeria News

Nigeria: Let’s rise above ethnic, religious divide,

Jonathan pleads with Nigerians

IT was not the best of Independence celebrations, but last Saturday’s marking of another anniversary of the country’s nationhood was not without its own hues. Nigerians are getting increasingly uncomfortable with their governments; the Federal, states and the local governments. Worse still, they felt that the country smells five decades behind in terms of development at all levels; infrastructural, economy and human resources. Any meaningful government they reasoned must fast track development but the past administrations both military and civilian seem to be foot-dragging or at loss as to the right initiatives and policies to implement. The prevalent feeling is that the present government of President Goodluck Jonathan may not prove different.

However, amidst the wave of terrorism which has swept through some Northern States, leaving in its wake scores of death among the residents, President Goodluck Johnathan has made subtle but passionate demands from the citizenry.

“The time has come to rise above ethnic and religious divisions. The time has come to unite against violence in all its ramifications.  The time has come to secure our peace and unite against suffering and deprivation,” he said in Abuja, at the week-end.

A Muslim sect, popularly known as “Boko Haram,” has laid claims to series of violence unleashed on parts of the North as well as bombing and terrorist attacks in Abuja, Kaduna, Bauchi and Maiduguri, among other cities.

The most pathetic was the bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja, in which 21 people died with 73 others injured.

In his special message to mark Nigeria’s Independence Anniversary celebration, which was relayed, simultaneously on Radio and Television, across the country, the President, in an emotional  manner assure Nigerians of his resolve, “to lead our nation into a safer, more peaceful and prosperous future for our children.”

Obviously alluding to the criminal acts being perpetuated by the notorious gang, the President expressed optimism that “ the current incidents of violence and terror in parts of the country will surely be overcome.”

Similarly, he said, “we will secure the safety of our citizens, for not only when we do this, will we be able to build the needed peace and tranquility in all parts of the country.”

He disclosed that his administration “has put in place a new and reinvigorated national security strategy to combat the threat to our safety.”

But, he quickly cautioned that, “no matter what we did, the peace and security of our nation rest also on our collective efforts as citizens in our various communities.”

Towards this end, he said, “all leaders and citizens in every community must, therefore, make peace the number one priority of their daily routine.

This, he said, was because without peace, no community can realize its objectives or achieve a happy and productive life for its members.”

Postulating into the future for the country, Jonathan said, “I see a new Nigeria rising.  A Nigeria that is economically strong.  A Nigeria that takes its rightful place of leadership in the world.  A Nigerian that uses its diversity to reinforce its strength.”

The President said he had since assuming office continued to focus his attention on the nation’s economy.

In this regard, he said, “I have taken several measures to address structural weaknesses, which stand between us and economic growth as well as prosperity for all.”

For instance, he said, “we are growing our economy to generate emp[loyment opportunities for our teeming youths and enhanced prosperity.”

This apart, he said, “our economy will grow faster and our hard working small businesses will thrive when we finally fix the power challenges we face.”

In a manner of finality, the President said, “we are fast-tracking reforms to improve the generation and distribution of electricity in the country.”

The President also spoke of his plans to put in place implementable programmes to transform our Nation from an importer of petroleum products, to the regional hub for exportation of value-added petroleum and petrochemical products.

As a result, he said, “we are revamping existing refineries and building three new ones.

“We are effectively supporting the private-sector led construction of world scale petrochemical and fertilizer plants. This will for the first time in our history, result in effective monetization of our abundant natural gas resources while at the same time, creating over a million jobs.

In stressing that Nigeria is blessed with a huge potential, Jonathan said, “we have the requisite market volume. We have a youthful, energetic, and hardworking population.

The structural and managerial bottlenecks, that have obstructed our economic growth, are being addressed, to unleash the energy and potentials of this nation.”

Jonathan went memory lane saying, “we remember with pride, the nationalism and patriotism that inspired our founding fathers and the Nigerian people. They set aside their differences, to secure the unity and independence of our great country.”

In using it as a yardstick for the envisaged new Nigeria, he said, “that is the Nigerian spirit! For the Nigerian spirit cannot be broken. We are a resilient nation, determined to chart a course, through the turbulent waters of nation building. The Nigerian spirit is vibrant today in the world.

“Our citizens at home and abroad, are making their mark in all fields of human endeavour. These hard-working and committed Nigerians, remain a source of pride to us and a beacon of what is achievable, if we remain focused and determined.”

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