Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has decried what he described as an attack on the judiciary and absence of press freedom in the country.
In a statement on Monday, he said Nigeria’s founding fathers could never have fathomed that the nation would face such situation 59 years after gaining independence.
Atiku believes there must be press freedom and the judiciary must be independent while youths and activists who should ordinarily be the future of Nigeria should not be intimidated when they speak out about the state of the nation.
“All is not well when judges are persecuted for enforcing the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens,” he said in his Independence Day message.
He added, “All is not well when Nigeria is now officially the world headquarters for extreme poverty and out of school children, yet the cost of maintaining those in government continues to grow, while the needs of the governed are not being met.
“And certainly, all is not well when the media cannot freely express itself without the fear that those who wield the big stick would use it on them for saying things as they are.”
Time To Take Concrete Steps
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) explained that he could go with the flow and say all was well with the country or called for prayers like other leaders.
He stated that he could also call on Nigerians to show more understanding, but was mindful of the fact that “the time for rhetoric has long since passed.”
Atiku said, “Now is the time for all lovers of Nigeria to take concrete steps to aid Nigeria’s progress by not just praying and showing understanding, but also to take democratic action to ensure that the ideals of our founding fathers – Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress – are not set aside on the altar of tyranny.”
Rather than just call for prayers, he asked Nigerians to believe in and work for the nation’s betterment.
He also urged them to always insist that no one in the country, no matter how highly placed must be bigger than the laws of the land.
The former vice president, however, noted that there was much hope after listening to a recent remark by the Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II.
According to him, the traditional ruler spoke about why more attention must be paid to the issue of girl-child education.
“It is an age-long truism that women are the teachers of a nation. I make bold to say that the greatness of our country, Nigeria has much to do with how well we educate how children, especially the girl-child,” said the PDP presidential candidate.
He commended Zamfara State Governor, Mr Bello Matawalle, for leading the way by massively investing in public education.
Atiku also commended the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, and the airline for their role in the repatriation of hundreds of Nigerians who were victims of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
He, therefore, stressed the need to put Nigeria first, saying it would help to revive the nation’s dream, as well as the ideals that its founding fathers had in mind when they came together for the country’s independence from the British colony.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us and we all have a role to play in making our nation great. Nigeria should be the beacon of hope, democracy, and freedom, to not only the African continent but to the black diaspora the world over.
“And to ensure that this becomes the case, we all have a duty to support and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” the former vice president said.