While we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee Anniversary of our country as a sovereign nation, the occasion is also auspicious for a sober reflection on the progress that we have made, the challenges that we face and the future that we desire as a nation.
It is in this sense that I consider the theme for the 60th Independence anniversary, “Together”, as apt.
Indeed, patriotic Nigerians have ample reasons to celebrate the fact that in spite of the clear challenges that the differences in our tongues, modes of worship and other elements of our diversity pose to nationhood, we have remained Together.
Our national journey may have been tortuous, our progress slow and unsteady, and primordial fears and sentiments may occasionally cast dark clouds over our unity and threaten our resolve to stick together, but if we look at great nations throughout history, we would realise that all such experiences are common features of nation-building.
Some of us may not see the wood for the trees due to some unmet expectations. But a broad perspective of issues will strengthen rather than weaken our aspiration of building a great Nigeria.
Our commitment to the cause of building a nation in which none is oppressed and of which all is proud must therefore remain unshakable.
This cause fired the zeal of our founding fathers and inspired them to make the great sacrifices that they made to bequeath to us our independence.
This cause must remain a proud heritage for the current generation of Nigerians and a baton to pass to future generations.
We should not allow unnecessary magnification of our teething problems by some people to shake our faith in the great destiny of our country.
As has been said, democracy is a journey rather than a destination. National development too is always a work in progress that requires the patient and unconditional commitment of all patriots.
We value our democracy and the rights it confers on us as citizens of a democratic nation. However, the expression of these rights need not be a clog in the wheel of our national unity, peace and development.
Our democracy is a vehicle for the pursuit of our individual and collective aspirations. We all have roles to play to keep the vehicle roadworthy and fit for purpose.
On our part as the Legislature, we will continue to provide true representation to the Nigerian people and to strive to make their government work for them. In this regard, the ninth National Assembly is committed to having another look at our constitution, the grundnorm for our co-existence as a nation, with a view to making it a document of the Nigerian people.
Fellow Nigerians should take advantage of this opportunity by taking active part in the constitutional review process. The overall objective of the periodic ammendment of our laws is to make them keep pace with the changes that each epoch requires, strengthen the bond that keeps us together and to cement peace and progress in our beloved country.
I wish to salute the resilience of the Nigerian workers in the face of the challenges we face as a nation. Organised labour in particular deserves special commendation for the patriotism they exhibited in the management of the recent disagreement over certain policy decisions arising from the reform programme of the government. Such understanding between the government and the people is always required to move the nation forward.
Finally, as we celebrate our Independence Anniversary, permit me to remind us of the need for us all to continue to be conscious that the Coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and our health workers at the frontline are working very hard to flatten the curve of the spread of the disease, so we as members of the public must not drop the ball by letting down our guards. Let us abide by the public health safety protocols to avert a second wave of the pandemic.
I wish you all Happy Celebrations!