Nigeria @ 60: Independence Day Speech A Slap On Nigerians

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s independence anniversary speech as a slap on the sensibilities of Nigerians, particularly his ardent justification of the Fuel pump price increment under his administration.

Reflecting on the state of the nation, sixty years after independence, governors of the main opposition party concluded that in spite of everything, all hope is not lost because Nigeria is still a work in progress and can be repositioned for greatness.

In a statement released on Thursday by the Chairman, PDP Governors forum Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, lamented that the nation appears to be on the backward mode, living on past glory because the great promise and potentials which Nigeria represented since its independence in 1960 have remained largely unfulfilled, “mainly as a result of poor leadership, politics of prebendalism, ethnoreligious dichotomies, unabated corruption in low and high places, lack of patriotism and social distrust amongst many other factors”

Further exposing the problems that bestride the nation at its sixtieth independence, the party submitted that “the Nigerian condition has continued to worsen with the prevalent social dichotomies widening the country`s existing fault-lines; and thereby posing great challenges to the quest for national integration and inter-ethnic unity and social harmony.

“It cannot be a measure of development that there is a mushrooming of ethnic and regional organizations and local militias competing with the State for attention.

“Today, Nigeria has to contend with herders-farmers clashes, banditry, terrorism, cultism, kidnappings for ransom, and agitations for self-determinations and militancy which have tended to drive a wedge in the chords that hold us together as one united people.

“In the last five years, under the APC-controlled administration, Nigeria has continued on the downward slide into extreme decay, with the country displacing India as the poverty capital of the world, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians living on less than $1.9 US Dollars a day (Brooking Institute 2018). We as leaders must strive harder to make sure that poverty is minimised in all parts of the country.

“This is even made worse by the fact that in 2019 Nigeria ranked 93rd out of 117 qualifying countries with a score of 27.9 below Guinea and Mali in the Global Hunger index.

“It is also regrettable to note that the Buhari-led APC administration has plunged Nigeria deeper into the debt trap after the country had exited from its initial debt burden from the London and Paris Clubs under the PDP-led administration.

“It is indeed sad to observe that Nigeria’s external debt hit a 16 year high of $27 billion in December 2019, just higher than the $20.8 billion in external level as at 2005 when Nigeria exited from the club of its foreign creditors. Any loan acquired that is not directly tied to meaningful infrastructure that can help Nigeria progress should not be taken.

“Our country under this same administration has also scored high on the global terrorism index, reaching an all-time high of 9.01% in 2016 and 8.6 in 2018 on the global terrorism index from an all-time low of 6.31% in 2010 to 7.9% in 2012 during the period the PDP was in power. This unfortunate situation has placed our nation in the league of countries deeply wrecked by terrorism such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria etc.

“There is no doubt that the country appears to be more divided today than ever before as result of divisive policies being pursued by the APC-led administration. This has given rise to increasing clamour within the polity for another look on how Nigeria is governed. As leaders, we must rise to the challenge”.

Suggesting a way forward, Tambuwal said “it is time for leadership that will answer the yearnings of the millions of Nigerians who labour every single day for our great country. We must unite and give hope to the aspirations of the next generation. We cannot continue to plead indifference or remain helpless in the face of the challenges confronting us as a people. Nigeria is our common heritage.

“We must not allow the worsening social contradictions to destroy our country. At 60, we have indeed come of age. And we are optimistic that the nation can be rescued from the current slide. Given the evident social discontent within the polity, there is a need for a national conversation on the way forward for our beloved but beleaguered nation.

“In this conversation, modernisation of our economy to meet the challenges of technology, innovation is of crucial importance.

“It is through such a national conversation or dialogue that we can find realistic and acceptable solutions to the problems that have continued to pose a threat to peaceful coexistence and national unity”.

Kola Ologbondiyan the PDP National Publicity Sectary on the other hand described the economic assertions in President Muhammadu Buhari’s independence anniversary speech as a total mockery of the common Nigerians.

He went ahead to condemn President Buhari’s attempt to justify the increase of fuel price in Nigeria by comparing it to the N168 per liter cost in Saudi Arabia is a morbid joke, noting that the minimum wage in Saudi Arabia is N305,113 (3000 Saudi Riyals), ten times higher than the paltry N30,000 which is largely unimplemented in Nigeria.

“Is Mr. President not aware that, on the average, a person working in Saudi Arabia earns around 4,230SAR (N430, 267) to 16,700 SAR (N1,698,693) per month?

“Our party charges Mr. President to always check his books before making such offensive comparisons including the price in Egypt where monthly average earning is around N222, 841 (9,200 EGP) against our N30,000.

“In comparing our costs with other countries such as Ghana, Chad and Niger where purchasing powers of citizens are much higher, did Mr. President reflect on the cost of house rent, education, healthcare and average dependence on fuel for daily survival by ordinary citizens as obtainable in Nigeria?

“If the flawed assertions as evident in Mr. President’s independence day speech are a direct reflection of how policies are formulated in his administration, then one needs not wonder why our economy is in the doldrums”, he said.

The PDP therefore urged Mr. President to reconsider its policies and decisions and also listen to the plight of the people as it will help foster cohesion and productivity in the nation.

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