Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has stated that the 60th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence offers the nation time for introspection. Atiku, in a message to mark the independence anniversary, added that Nigeria is in dire need of healing to douse the tense atmosphere which is breeding feelings of alienation.
“Our nation is in dire need of healing. We must foster unity and douse the tense atmosphere which is breeding feelings of alienation. We must promote freedom of speech and freedom after the speech,” he said. He warned of separatist agitations in the country, and said Nigeria should learn from history. “We cannot defeat separatist groups by force of arms alone; we can only defeat separatism by making all Nigerians feel like they belong. And this is only possible when we live up to the words of our national motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress,” Atiku advised.
The former vice president, however, called on those who have taken up arms against Nigeria to have a rethink. “Whatever differences they may have with the rest of Nigeria, whether religious, ethnic or political: terror, violence and separatism are not the way.
“There is much wisdom in the saying that to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. We must accept the reality that we are all brothers and sisters sired by our fatherland,” he added. He noted that at independence, Nigeria was lending to other nations, but warned that the nation must not lose her hard-won independence by engaging in needless borrowings that threaten her economic independence.
As part of activities to mark the 60th Independence Anniversary, Atiku called on the federal and state governments to release all political prisoners and detainees and to discontinue the prosecution of such individuals. He added that “if Nelson Mandela could reconcile with those who imprisoned him for 27 years, we can reconcile with those who have disagreed with us.”
Atiku called for investment on the nation’s youths, adding that for Nigeria to work for the millions of its people, and to be reckoned with as a global competitive force in the nearest future, it must come up with a development plan centred on youths.