Prominent Nigerians, yesterday, bade farewell to 2020 and made positive projections on the New Year, just as they urged the citizenry to remain steadfast on the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan commended Nigerians for their patriotism, courage and resilience, despite the daunting challenges they encountered in 2020. In a goodwill message to Nigerians, Jonathan recognized 2020 as a difficult and turbulent year and commiserated with families who lost loved ones to COVID-19, illnesses and unfortunate circumstances, in the course of the year.
Jonathan also commended the efforts of frontline health workers who, he said, have been working tirelessly to ensure the safety of citizens and the security forces who have remained committed to protecting lives and defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
He, however, urged Nigerians to continue to strive for greater honour and glory for themselves and the nation, stressing that the lessons and experience of the past year should be harnessed towards national rebirth and reconciliation.
“This is the beginning of a new journey, a new chapter, a fresh opportunity to start and recover from the losses of 2020. Last year was a challenging year, characterized by tales of misfortunes, deaths and illnesses. It was a tough moment for many homes and families owing to the unfortunate COVID-19.
The pandemic plagued our world with many consequences, causing hardship and other forms of insecurity. “2020 was a year of many challenges and struggles both as individuals and as a nation. From COVID-19 to #EndSARS protests, we witnessed disruptions in our cultures, economy, livelihoods and life itself. These unfortunate events should propel us to re-examine ourselves, re-evaluate our priorities and commit ourselves to new norms, new cultures and new traditions.
“The recent happenings in our world, specifically in our country Nigeria, should teach us new lessons. Lessons on faith, solidarity, justice, hope and peace. We must aggregate these lessons, challenges, gains as well as losses of this period and harness them towards national reand reconciliation. As a nation, we cannot afford to fail this New Year; ignoring the existing gaps and contradictions that have continued to threaten our peace, unity and progress.
“Going forward, we should retool our disposition to imbibe new ways and embrace new traditions that would correct the faultiness in our nation and promote peace, guarantee security and hope to all our people. We must prioritise such habits that entrench accountability, justice, and peace in our systems,” he said.
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said that despite the prevailing circumstances of economic recession and insecurity, the 9th Senate will remain committed to the delivery of better governance and dividends of democracy to Nigerians in 2021 and beyond.
Lawan said that some critical legislations that the red chamber could not enact in 2020 as a result of the unusual hiccups in the polity, will be the top priority issues in the Legislative Agenda of the National Assembly for 2021. In a goodwill message to Nigerians to commemorate the New Year celebrations, Lawan listed as priorities, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Electoral Act Amendment Bill, preferring solutions to the current wave of insecurity as well as passage of a Supplementary Budget to enable the Federal Government procure COVID-19 vaccines. “Topmost on the priority list are the PIB, which we need to boost activities in our oil and gas sector.
The PIB has defied passage for about two decades, but we are determined this time around to break that jinx and pass the Bill by the end of the first quarter of the New Year. “It is our utmost desire to make the passage of the PIB one of the legacies of the Ninth National Assembly. Equally important is the passage of the Electoral Reform Amendment Bill. This is necessary in order to enhance the democratic process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections in our dear country.
“We are determined to pass the Electoral Reforms Bill before the second quarter of 2021. Also on our priority list in 2021 is the amendment to the 1999 Constitution, which is the grundnorm of our being together as a nation. We have it on our agenda to pull through the process of constitutional amendment in 2021. The process, which started in 2020, requires extensive consultations and the buy in of everybody.
“We will give accelerated consideration to any measures proposed towards the containment of the COVID-19. In this regard, the National Assembly is waiting for the Executive to propose supplementary appropriation for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine. In the meantime, we should continue to adhere strictly to the non-pharmaceutical protocols as prescribed by relevant health authorities.
“The issue of security in the country has always been top on our agenda and it will continue to be of utmost priority in 2021. We hope to sustain our collaboration with the Executive for a lasting solution that will make our country a safer place to live in,” he resaid.
Lawan recalled that the National Assembly had, in the last five years, remained firm on its policy of passing the national budget in the month of December preceding a new fiscal year and have done so for 2021.
“We have also passed a series of enactments proposed by the Executive as Finance Bills to support smooth implementation of the 2021 Budget. We are determined to see Nigeria exit, as quickly as possible in the new year, from the current recession,” he said. In the same vein, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has urged Nigerians to keep hope alive in the New Year despite the challenges of 2020.
In a New Year message, the Speaker said Nigerians should use the experiences of the preceding year, 2020, which he described as very challenging, to work towards a better 2021. The Speaker said he was optimistic that 2021 holds a lot of positives for Nigeria and Nigerians, hence the need for the citizens to remain positive.
Gbajabiamila also called for unity and peaceful coexstence among Nigerians, saying “we have no other country than Nigeria; this is the only country we can call ours.” “It is my hope and prayer that the year 2021 will be better than all the preceding years of our nation’s history.
“In this New Year, let’s remain resolute and determined in our nationhood. Yes, we may be going through challenges as a nation, but with our collective determination, we shall overcome,” Gbajabiamila said. Also, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, urged Nigerians not to despair in spite of the challenges bedevilling the country. Wase advised Nigerians to believe in the prosperity of the country and also pleaded with them to have faith in their leaders and continue to pray for them at all levels for the wisdom to lead right.
“I urge you not to despair, but to remain patriotic as ever and believe that no matter how difficult things may be, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. “The challenges we are experiencing in Nigeria today are just temporarily and with your prayers and cooperation, we shall all smile soon. So, continue to pray for your leaders at every level of government, cooperate with them and contribute in your own little way to make Nigeria a great nation,” he said.