As Nigeria celebrated its 57th independence anniversary, yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the National Assembly under the leadership of Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki for fostering cordial relationship with the executive.
Speaking in Abuja on Sunday, Buhari reasserted his stance that the National Assembly is the proper and legal forum to address ongoing call to restructure the country.
He faulted the national conference organised by former president, Goodluck Jonathan and others, saying national debates should be handled by the federal legislature and not some lopsided, undemocratic body with pre-determined set of objectives.
The president who stated these in a 7am live broadcast to mark the nation’s independence celebration however regretted that some groups were hiding behind the restructuring debate.
“In the last two years, Nigeria has recorded appreciable gains in political freedom. A political party at the centre losing elections of state Governor, National Assembly seat and even state Assemblies to the opposition parties is new to Nigeria,” he noted.
Speaking further, he said, “They (National Assembly) should, in addition, ensure swift passage of enabling corruption laws. But fighting corruption is a bottom to top operation.
“I call on all Nigerians to combat corruption at every turn. By not asking for and refusing to accept a bribe, by reporting unethical practices or by blowing a whistle, together we can beat corruption. The government for its part will work for accountability at all levels – federal, state and local governments. Change will then be real.”
Buhari, also took a swipe at South-East leaders for not calling the agitators for secession in their domain to order.
“As a young Army office, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict.
“I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through. Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly.
“At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the National Assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for national debate, not some lopsided, undemocratic body with pre-determined objectives,” he said, adding that the FG is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta.
On security, Buhari urged Nigerians to be grateful to the military for rolling back the frontiers of terror unleashed by the Boko Haram even as he assured that those in captivity
of the terrorists group especially the remaining Chibok girls will be rescued soon.
“Government will continue to support the Armed Forces and other security agencies to fight not only terrorism but kidnapping, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers violence and to ensure peace, stability and security in our country.
“As we enter the second half of our term of office, we intend to accelerate progress and intensify our resolve to fix the country’s challenges and problems,” the President said.
In a related development, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki has congratulated Nigerians on the 57th anniversary of the country’s independence and for sustaining her status as a united and progressive country.
In a goodwill message to mark this year’s Independence Anniversary, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, Saraki also urged Nigerians irrespective of creed and tribe to continue to work for the peace, unity and stability of the country.
He also urged leaders – political, traditional, religious and business – to close ranks in order to initiate and implement ideas and strategies that would further develop the country and increase the standard of living of the citizenry.
Also, the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed called on Nigerians to work for and believe in Nigeria’s unity and peaceful coexistence as means for attaining growth and sustainable development.
In his anniversary message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba, the governor said all hands should be on deck to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort towards ensuring security for all and effectively tackle corruption.
According to him, “we should use the political independence to reflect on the prospect and progress as a nation-state in a hurry to develop its people, infrastructures and indigenous technology for the betterment of the government and people of Nigeria.”