The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar says all is not well with Nigeria as he decried what he described as an attack on the judiciary and absence of press freedom and activists in the country.
Atiku, in his message on Nigeria’s 59th Independence Anniversary, said Nigeria belongs to all and Nigerians have a role to play in order to defend the nation’s constitution from tyranny and make the country great.
He also said they could not have imagined that at 59, the nation’s judiciary would be under attack and that the youths and activists, who should ordinarily be the future of Nigeria, would be facing the threat of arrest and intimidation, should they speak out about the state of the nation.
The former president called on Nigerians to work for the progress and development of the country and to insist that no one in the country, no matter how highly placed, shall be bigger than the laws of the land.
Read his full Independence message below:
“On October 1, 1960, our nation’s Founding Fathers could never have fathomed that 59 years after birthing the largest black nation on earth, we would be facing a situation where we do not have a free press, our judiciary being under attack, and our youths and activists, who should ordinarily be the future of Nigeria, would be facing the very real threat of arrest and intimidation should they speak out about the state of the nation.
“I could call for prayers, as others would indeed call for today … but I am mindful of the fact that the time for rhetoric has long since passed and 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.
“All is not well when judges are persecuted for enforcing the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens.
“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.”
Atiku, however, urged citizens to work for Nigeria’s betterment, and “to insist that no one in Nigeria, no matter how highly placed, shall be bigger than the laws of our land.”
He said 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. And this we must do, so help us God,” he added.