As the country clocks 58 years, last Monday, some stakeholders have called for more political reforms and restructuring to reflect the swelling agitation for a just and equitable polity for Nigerians.
Making their views public ahead the independence celebrations, some of the stakeholders submitted that marking the nation’s 58 years would be futile without addressing key areas that would improve governance and engender development.
Member representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, Hon Awaji-Inombek Abiante stressed the need for an effective leadership recruitment process.
Abiante argued that an effective leadership would bring about the needed vision that would transform the country.
He said: “If we cannot have an honest leadership, then we cannot be celebrating anything”.
The federal lawmaker picked holes in the current electoral process, as it breeds mediocrity and poor leadership, which he noted, has been a major challenge to the country’s development.
He called for a low-key celebration and challenged those in leadership for sober reflection and rededication on how to improve the fortunes of the country.
Also speaking, Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Marshall Uwom argued that the fundamental issues stiffing the country’s growth should be addressed.
In the view of Uwom, some of the issues include constitutional reforms, which he maintained was key to addressing the agitation from the different parts of the country for better polity.
The solution to these myriads of problems, Uwom said, is that “we have to address the fundamental issues… the constitution has to be reviewed, as far as I am concerned that constitution was not written by Nigerians”.
The Rivers State Assembly deputy speaker urged the Federal Government to go back and look into the constitutional amendments made by the National Assembly and approve them.
On the issues affecting of Niger Delta, Uwom stressed that the Ogoni clean-up should be implemented without further delay, as he flayed the Federal Government for using the UNEP Report to play politics in the region.
On his part, Ijaw leader and spokesman of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe said the country’s democracy needs to be upgraded to a level, where the citizens would have a key role to play.
Sara-Igbe noted: “We are still moving towards real democracy even though what we have now is still military democracy.”
The leader further asserted: “There is need for improvement. Our democracy and political system is not yet mature. We should see politics as service. We must not see politics as self-gain and for self-enrichment”.
Chairperson of Radio, Television and Theatre Workers Union (RATTAWU) in Rivers State, Comrade Opi Erekosima while congratulating the country for attaining 58 years, stressed the need for introspection by all citizens.
Erekosima said though the country has fared well in some areas, such as being united despite the myriads of economic and political challenges, she emphasised the need for improving the electoral system.
“We are approaching another triumphant entry, I am talking about the 2019 elections and tempers are rising. Nigeria right now looks like a pot that is boiling and someone needs to open the pot to see what the content is. So, whatever the content is, I want to appeal to everybody to be calm, we need to be patient and hardworking”.
Also speaking, an architect, Com Chinwendu Nwubi, said there was every need for Nigerians to celebrate the Independence owing to the fact that the present administration in the country under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has stabilised the economy through the war against corruption.
Nwubi said many people were now conscious of how to serve in public sector, adding that the on-going war against corruption has engendered the spirit of confidence for people to do business in the country.
According to him, the negative perception people had about the country in the past has changed because our value systems have been re-awakened, people are now thinking in positive direction.
A secondary teacher, Mrs Blessing Emen, said the rate of insecurity in the country has dropped sharply, and commended government at all levels for their bold initiatives to address the challenges of insecurity, which she said, rattled the country in the past.
She said the fight against militancy in the Niger Delta and insurgents in the North was commendable as government has lived up to her responsibility in that direction.
A farmer, Mr Nnadi Amadi, in his own view, said that there was a lot to celebrate, adding that being together for the past 58 years, was not an easy feat to achieve.
He disclosed that the various agricultural and other economic policies introduced recently have impacted positively on the productivity of Nigerian farmers.
According to him, some states in the country like Anambra, Lagos and Cross River states are economically strong, as they export one product or the other.
He urged Nigerians to continue to support the government at all levels in their quest to move the country forward adding that only unity and togetherness can we make more progress.
“No society can develop in an atmosphere of rancor and disunity, Nigeria is great and we can only maintain our greatness through love, unity and support to our leaders,” he said.
A civil servant and activist, ThankGod Dumnamene said: “Looking from the time of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Finance Minister, it would have been possible to predict where the economy of the country is headed. But today, the reverse is the case. Nigeria’s economy is not only stagnated, but declining speedily.
“Also looking at what is playing out politically today, things have changed. In the beginning, election was not a do or die affair, but today, hijacking of ballot boxes, vote-buying, violence, including killings and maiming of voters have become the order of the day. Politics of bitterness and hatred, which have not only succeeded in creating hatred among Nigerians, but have as well, divided the country into various parts.
“Looking back at the fight against corruption by Okonjo-Iweala, you would realise that comparing it to our President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption is the direct opposite. Today, rate of corruption is increasing by the day instead of declining. Buhari’s fight against corruption targets only the opposition; hence I don’t see the fight as genuine, as corrupt actions of his members are not being put into check. This I see as his own way and strategy to get more people defect to the APC as any corrupt politician that wants to avoid EFCC will run into the APC and they are safe. All these spell doom to our beloved country, Nigeria.
“Also in terms of unity, Nigeria is heading towards disintegration because there is no unity any longer. The margin between all the tribes has widened, and this I attribute to politics. All the tribes and zones are now interested in politics and are not ready to hear whatever good another person from another tribe has to offer for peace, development and unity of our country. It will take only the grace of God to unite this country!
“Taking the Osun State election, for instance, election was not conducted in a peaceful manner; rather the APC used state institutions against the will of the people. This is capable of breaching the peace and unity of our nation. In the case of the elections in Rivers State come 2019, we will resist any attempt to rig elections or use state institutions to subvert the will of the people. We will not be afraid of them because if we die in a revolution, it is the price we pay to save our country.”
Commercial Motorist, Etim Akpan said: “If Nigerians want the country to move forward, they should have a rethink in whatever action they take during the forthcoming 2019 elections as voting back President Muhammadu Buhari will not only cripple the economy of the country, but may bring about more untold hardship and sufferings to the people of Nigeria.
As you can see, the cost of fuel has skyrocketed since 2015 from N75.00 per litre to N145.00. Yet, drivers are still very considerate with the ordinary citizens and still carry them at the same fare as it was when the price was N75.00. Only few passengers patronise us now as most people now prefer to trek due to lack of money.”
A politician, Victor Toby said: “Nigeria is rated one of the best countries in the world in terms of infrastructural development and unity, despite all the challenges that confront the country today. It still remains one indivisible entity and now serves as a benchmark as other countries suffering crisis want to know what Nigeria is made of and how it is able to accommodate and sustain its unity.
“Economically, I will say that we are retrogressing instead of progressing. Recently, the world rated Nigeria as one of the poorest countries in the world. When did we get to this point when we have all the resources that other countries depend on to survive? What could be responsible for this poverty rating? And how do we get out of it? I leave these questions in the hands of our present leaders to proffer solutions.
“Politically, Nigerian politicians should be very careful the way they go about the 2019 elections, as any negative action taken will cost everyone a lot. I want to say it here that Nigerians should use their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to vote in the right leaders wisely. We should discourage the idea of selling our PVCs. The PVC is the right of every eligible electorate. If you use it wisely, you will be glad you did.
“Socially, Nigeria is thriving very well in the entertainment industry. I will say this is a plus to our movie industry. But generally, I will say that we are still growing,” he noted.
Kevin Nengia, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana & Amadi Akujobi