Abuja, Nigeria : Nigeria celebrated its 58th independence anniversary at the Eagle Square, near the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday October 1.
The event attended by President Muhammadu Buhari featured inspection of guards by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, as well as march past by both the Military and Para-Military, including the Nigeria Police Force, members of the Nigerian Legion and serving members of the National Youth Service Corps NYSC.
Similarly, there was a parade of Military equipment on low loaders as well as Police dogs and outriders display.
Fighters of the Nigerian Airforce also had an aerial show of their fighter jets and helicopters decorated in the country’s green and white colours but what really caught the eye of the crowd was the emission of green and white smoke by the fighter jets, depicting Nigeria’s national colours.
There was also the firing of volleys and 21 gun salute in honour of the country’s fallen heroes.
Present at the occasion was Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Presidents, Generals Yakubu Gowon and Abdulsalam Abubakar (Rtd.)
Some members of the federal cabinet and legislature also graced the occasion.
However, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and the Speaker, House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara were conspicuously absent.
The last time Nigeria had such an elaborate national day celebration was on 1st October, 2010.
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to work tirelessly to sustain a peaceful, united and secured Nigeria.
He made the pledge in his broadcast to the nation, as the country marks her 58th independence anniversary.
He said: “As we celebrate the 58th Anniversary of our independence, we know we are on the right path. Although we have our differences, they count for far less than the values, virtues and common aspirations that unite us as a nation. We have so much for which we should be grateful, and in which we should rightly take pride. Our journey is not finished but we have come a long way.
I want to assure you that as President, I will continue to work tirelessly to promote, protect and preserve what really matters: a united, peaceful, prosperous and secure Nigeria, where all, irrespective of background, can aspire to succeed.”
The Nigerian leader called on citizens to have a sober reflection of what the country has passed through in its 58 years of existence, urging them to focus more on what binds the country together.
“Today is a day of celebration and solemn reflection. It is the anniversary of the day Nigerians realised one of the most cherished of human desires – the desire for freedom. We, therefore, give thanks to and remember our founding fathers that laboured so hard and sacrificed so much to build and bequeath to us this wonderful nation. It is our duty to consolidate this great legacy.
On this first October date and on the eve of the start of the general election cycle, we should do well to reflect on what binds us together and the great strength our diversity bestows on us. Ours is an ambitious nation, and, as citizens we have every right to look forward to the future with confidence and optimism which are well founded, considering where we find ourselves today,” President Buhari advised.
Ahead of the 2019 general election, just few months away, President Buhari, who pledged that the country will conduct a free and fair election, noted that the country has learnt a lot of lessons that will help sustain democracy in the country.
“I have committed myself many times to ensure that elections are fully participatory, free and fair and that the Independent National Electoral Commission will be exactly independent and properly staffed and resourced. The ballot box is how we make our choice for the governments that rule in our name. Developing a thriving democracy is not an easy task. There can be no quick fixes or short cuts. These are the most important lessons that we have learnt in our 58 years as an independent nation,” he said.
He pledged to do more for the loyal troops, to enable them completely bring insurgency to an end, as well as enhance their welfare and that of their families.
“I want at this point to pay tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces, the Police and other security and law enforcement agencies, who have been working under the most difficult conditions to keep the country safe. In the process, many have made the supreme sacrifice. As their Commander -In- Chief, I assure these our gallant men and women that I will continue to empower them by deepening their professionalism and providing all the necessary force multipliers and enablers required for them to prevail on the field. I am looking into all reported cases of inadequacies in relation to their entitlements, their welfare and those of their families.”
Commenting on other security challenges confronting the country, the Nigerian leader said all hands are on deck to find a lasting solution to the farmers-herdsmen clashes as well as clean up the polluted areas of the Niger-Delta region.
“Efforts are on course in the Niger Delta to clean up polluted lands, restore hopes of the youths in the region and re-establish livelihoods, and strengthen their capacity to guarantee for themselves and for our country a brighter future.
“The age-long conflict between herders and farmers that were being exploited by those seeking to plant the seeds of discord and disunity amongst our people is being addressed decisively. We will sustain and continue to support the commendable efforts by all including civil society organisations, local and states governments and our traditional and religious leaders in finding durable solution to this problem. This being a transhumance issue, we are working with countries in our region that are also facing similar difficulties to complement our common efforts. In this context I must warn that the perpetrators of murder and general mayhem in the name of defending or protecting herders or farmers will face the full wrath of the law. Meanwhile, we urge all peace loving Nigerians to reject any simplistic portrayal, at home or abroad, of this conflict as either religious or ethnic based.
“We are one of the countries in the world most affected by environmental degradation, as a consequence of climate change. We are signatories to almost all conventions and agreements aimed at slowing down the effect of climate change and mitigating its now evident consequences,” he said.
Giving a scorecard of his administration, President Buhari said the economy is thriving well and the right atmosphere had since been created for investors to do business with Nigeria.
“There is now an enabling environment for local and foreign investment in Nigeria. We are building a rules-based system – a level playing field that is free from fixers and intermediaries. This is the cornerstone to help genuine investors and honest consumers, and the platform that will allow for the real reforms that we intend to deliver over the coming years.
We are gradually strengthening the economy with a stable Naira and falling inflation rate. We are building an economy that is moving away from over reliance on oil. Consequently we have witnessed massive return to farms and seen bumper harvest, despite recurrent floods across the country,” he said.
Furthermore, he said the fight against corruption is yielding the desired results and development is taking shape in all parts of the country.
“We are making progress in the fight against corruption and recovery of stolen public funds and assets despite vicious and stiff resistance. The shameful past practice, of the brazen theft of billions of Naira is no more. Shady oil deals and public contracts that were never delivered have become things of the past.
Consequently, and this is very evident across the country, we have done more with less in infrastructural developments. Roads, railways, major bridges, schools, energy and power, air and sea ports, welfare of serving and retired personnel both civilian and military including payment of legacy debt such as pension arrears, have been attended to. These positive developments are the result of our collective pursuit of a common vision through hard work and dedication, after the missed opportunities and disappointments that followed the return to democracy in 1999.” the President stated.
He praised the youth for the vital role they played and are still playing in nation building, adding that the future of the country lies in them thus governments introduction of the social investment programmes to empower them.
“Even today, our youths play a central role in Nigeria’s continuing progress and developments in all fields of our national endeavour –technology, agriculture, mining, engineering and especially the creative arts. Together we are building a more diverse, inclusive and self-reliant economy.
“In the past three years we have introduced many policies and programmes targeted at youth development and youth empowerment. We support the ‘not too young to run’ legislation aimed at giving the youths greater say in our national politics and governance. The school feeding program in primary schools is aimed at encouraging enrolment and attendance. We are building on what we have already introduced to support schools and universities to which funds have recently been released for upgrade of facilities, training programs for our entrepreneurs, and rehabilitation schemes for victims of terrorism and human trafficking,” he said.