President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said Sunday that the triumphs of Nigeria in the last 63 years have defined it as a nation.
The president said this in his maiden nationwide broadcast to commemorate the nation’s 63rd independence anniversary in Abuja.
“On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers. Without them, there would be no modern Nigeria. From the fading embers of colonialism, their activism, dedication and leadership gave life to the belief in Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation.
“Let us, at this very moment, affirm that as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings. No one is greater or lesser than the other.
“The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us. The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.
“Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character.
“We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal. We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.
“Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also serial challenge. Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands and here we shall remain,” he said.
President Tinubu further said the country has passed a significant milestone in its nationhood journey in the last 63 years.ù&^
According to him, the country’s seamless democratic transitions since 1999, remained a testament to the nation’s commitment to the rule of law and democracy.
He said by democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains its guiding light.
The cash transfer
The President also spoke on the federal government’s cash transfer programme, saying theupdated social safety net project would cover an additional 15 million Nigerians.
“Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.
“My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services,” he said.
On the country’s monetary policy regime, he said: “Henceforth monetary policy shall be to the benefit of all, not to the exclusive province of the powerful and the wealthy.”
“I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted.
“Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.
“Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.
“To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises,” he said.
In his reactions, Executive Director Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi urged Nigerians to give the ruling elite an Independence Day gift in the form of massive protests to tell their own story as citizens enduring the pains and agonies of bad governance at all levels.
Zikirullahi said the ordinary Nigerian paid and continues to pay the supreme sacrifice of death and suffering caused by the nation’s dysfunctional and utterly rudderless leadership since the advent of the current democratic regime in 1999.continues
He said while many have argued that a strike is not necessary at this time, “the reality is that the current regime to suffocate the people of this country with a barrage of unending harsh policies.”
Zikirullahi also said: “The unwavering and abiding faith of the ordinary Nigerian is demonstrated by the fact that despite the numerous adversities and hardships that have dominated its path and life, the belief in the unity and manifest destiny of the country is still apparent in the interactions of millions of Nigerians of various ethnic nationalities.”
“CHRICED notes the fun fare with which those in government circles are celebrating. The fundamental question, however, is whether the long-suffering and traumatized citizens of our country are celebrating?
“Amidst the excruciating poverty in the land, the economic challenges and the wave of insecurity across the country, there are not many reasons to celebrate, beyond the platitudes and slogans being bandied by those benefiting from the unfortunate prostrate position of Nigeria, economically and politically.
“Since the return to civil rule in 1999, more public resources have been spent on celebrating serial underachievement and failures. CHRICED urges Nigerians who are affected by the misrule in the country to prepare for the struggles ahead.
“Once such opportunity present itself when the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) along with affiliates across Nigeria embark on an indefinite strike on Tuesday, October 3, 2023,” he said.
A public affairs analyst, Mr Jide Ojo, said the president’s Independence day speech is lacking in specifics.
He said Tinubu spoke about effort to bring down the price of transportation through the use of compressed natural gas-powered buses.
Ojo said it would have been interesting to know when the first batch would arrive and commence operations.
“He also talked about additional 15 million people being put on the social register as beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer. How many beneficiaries are we now going to have? How much will each person receive and for how long?
“The president also said “For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month. What grade levels of public servants will benefit from this wage award?
“Also, will negotiation on the new minimum wage with labour unions and organised private sector have been concluded in six months? This is the second time he is talking of Infrastructure Support Funds to the states.
“How much will each state get and when will the disbursement start? When will the shortlisted beneficiaries of the investment funding he promised for the big enterprises as well as micro, small and medium enterprises start getting the loan facilities?
“These are some of the posers the president’s speech has raised. I do hope his ministers will be able to fill up these yawning gaps in his broadcast in the coming days.
“To my own mind, the broadcast is more of an update on his national address of July 31, 2023 when he rolled out the various economic relief packages to cushion the negative impacts of the removal of subsidy on petrol,” said the analyst.
He urged him to meet with the labour unions to avert the impending indefinite strike scheduled to commence Tuesday.
MBF faults speech
In another reaction, National President Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said the N25, 000 salary increase to lower level workers as akin to abandoning 99 percent of Nigerians.
“He said he has increased salaries of certain workers by N25, 000. Civil servants don’t constitute up to one percent of the population of the country. What does that mean to the remaining 99 percent of Nigerians languishing because of this situation,” Pogu said Sunday while speaking to Blueprint.
“They promised to fix our refineries, where are we today? They promised heavens and earth and today Nigerians are practically going through the worse experience you can think of,” he added
“I didn’t care to listen to the first October speech. You know why We have had several October 1st celebrations and every year lots of things are said we keep going backwards or stagnating.
“Before now, someone asked, ‘how do you see this celebration?’ I said what is it? We have retrogressed in so many ways. After we gained independence and Gowon came in after the coup that removed Ironsi, we went to civil war and after the war one important statement was made by Gowon – no victor, no vanquished.
“But till today, some groups in Nigeria feel they are superior to others. Rather than move the country forward, they are busy pulling the country down. Today for no reason, we have insurgency in this country.
“Why would the Fulani militia be attacking people? Why would Boko Haram be there in Borno and the North-east attacking innocent Nigerians? And then we had 8 years of Buhari instead of moving forward we retrogressed,” the MBF leader added.