Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State says Nigeria has started to reclaim her lost glory in the comity of nations since President Muhammadu Buhari took the reins of governance.
In his 55th Independence Anniversary message, the governor said in spite of the turmoil of the past, Nigeria is stronger today than it was 55 years ago when it gained independence
He said the nation had made costly mistakes in the past and lessons have been learnt from those mistakes, urging Nigerians to renew their faith in the nation as better days are ahead.
Speaking at ceremonies to mark the nation’s 55th Independence Anniversary at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Thursday, Oshiomhole said: “As a leading country not only in Africa but in the black world, I think today is a very unique day in the life of our nation. At 55, I believe, we have every reason to celebrate this occasion. Our great country has gone through and has experienced ups and down over the past 55 years. Some of us were barely old enough 55 years ago to witness the celebration of our independence on October 1, 1960.
“Since then, we have experienced civil war, we have enjoyed oil boom, we have witnessed oil crises, we have witnessed military coups and counter coups, we have had government elected and overthrown, and over the past 17 years, Nigeria has returned happily to democratic rule in which our people now determine who governs our country at various level .
“In all of this, we remind you that our country is stronger today than it was 55 years ago. Regardless of what some commentators might say, I believe that our country is more united today than it was 55 years ago. To speak of unity is not to suggest than diversity is not there. In 2011, in demonstration of our unity and in celebration of our diversity, Nigerians across all primordial sentiments elected a president that presided for 4 years. Earlier this year, Nigerians across all divides: North, South, East and West, Christians and Muslims also exercised our rights and democratically elected the current president.
“I believe, for all of us, who had the opportunity to review both the electronic and print media, local and international, many had predicted that we will not survive as a nation in 2015. In fact, many predicted that that election will mark the end of Nigeria as a country. In the process, some questioned the wisdom of amalgamation between Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria.
“As you can see, the unity of our country is not at the mercy of detractors. When you look at what we have gone through as one Nigeria, and that we are here today as one united Nigeria celebrating our independence, I believe that we are on the right path.
“Our responsibilities as leaders of today, is to lay the foundation on which these children, who are the leaders of tomorrow will build. There is no nation without its own fair share of challenges. There is no nation that is perfect, and of course, Nigeria has its own fair share of challenges whether in the area of insecurity, issues of violent crime, unemployment, and indeed, our own fair share of poverty.
“I feel what matters is the capacity of our leaders and the resolve and determination of our people to find solution to all of the problems that we can see and we can feel. I am happy that at this point in time, Nigerians have elected a president that commands respect not only at home but one that is highly respected abroad. We now have a president we can proudly say, ‘that is my president’.
“Our president has rightly identified that we need to stand in unison to confront corruption and any of those vices that explains the gap between the promise and reality. He has rightly inspired all of us not to continue to wallow in self pity, to dismiss our country as hopeless. He insists that Nigeria will fulfill its promise to its people. The task of rebuilding Nigeria belongs to Nigerians.
“Today, we celebrate 55 not because we have overcome hunger, not because we can’t see those who desire jobs but can’t find them, not because we are happy with the level of poverty and insecurity, but because we are confident that having learnt from our mistakes of the past, we now have a national leadership that is ready to inspire and provide real leadership for us to begin to address these problems.
“I ask us to support the president, have faith in our country and together, we will build Nigeria to a level and put in place the right socio-economic policy framework that will ensure that the wealth of our nation is reflected in the quality of life of our people.
“I want to assure the Edo child that this government recognises that our future security demands that we make the right level of investment in education.”
The ceremony featured match pass by security agencies, public and private schools, market women, Nigerian Labour Congress and voluntary organisations.
The high point of the ceremony was the presentation of prizes to winners of the match pass. In the Senior Secondary School category, Covenant Christian Academy, Benin won the 1st position while University Preparatory Secondary School came 2nd and St Maria Gorreti was 3rd.
In the Junior Secondary School category, Emotan Junior Secondary School took the 1st position, Asoro Junior Secondary School came 2nd while New Era College came 3rd.
In the Primary School session, Nigerian Prison Primary School came 1st, Iyi-Eweka Primary School came 2nd while Imaguero Primary School came 3rd.