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Nigeria@62: Progressing or Retrogressing?

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As Nigeria celebrates her Independence Day anniversary today, the question on the lips of all and sundry is if the 62-year-old country has lived up to expectations. While several people have argued that the country has bewitched them with the multitudes of developments it recorded from 1960 till date, others have lamented that the ship has been damaged by its continuous sailing towards the storm. The reason for this argument may not be far from the challenges that have faced the country over the years.
The Western African nation was nicknamed the giant of Africa due to its unrivalled nature of placing the continent in global space in all sectors. Nigeria and Nigerians have triumphed in virtually all sectors of the world. Nigeria has produced one of the finest sportsmen, philosophers, scientists, religious leaders, entertainers, academia and whatever good name you may want to add to the list.
However, in recent times, mainly, the Giant of Africa has had her share of insecurity, corruption, currency devaluation and some other vices that may have brought down the giant like the stone from David’s catapult that slew the Biblical Goliath. Days and days after days, there have been reported cases of mass murder, hunger, famine, and flood that have inflicted pain on common Nigerians.
Just yesterday, the Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, during a special Independence Day Anniversary Juma’at prayer and public lecture, themed ‘Shura: The Islamic Foundation of True Democracy’, apologised to Nigerians over the states of the economy, insecurity, and the hardship they (Nigerians) have faced during the tenure of her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mrs Buhari was quoted to have said, “the regime might not have been a perfect one, but I want to seize this opportunity to seek forgiveness from the Ulamas and Nigerians in general. We all need to work together to achieve a better Nigeria.”
In an EXCLUSIVE chat with AN24, some stakeholders uncovered their thoughts on the subject of discussion.
COMRADE MASHOOD ERUBAMI,
President of Nigeria Voters Assembly and Executive Director Centre For Human Rights and Ethics in Development. 
For Erubami, he blamed past administrations for the woes the nation is facing at this time but urged President Buhari to find a lasting solution to Nigeria’s problem.
“The answers to the expected questions of whether the Country is advancing, developing, regressing or declining will be very difficult if one remembers the rot that the APC inherited from the government in 2015 against the very high expectations of the people juxtaposed with the economic downturn that stepped in immediately the APC government took over.
“Casting a spotlight on President Buhari’s government since 2015 to date, the high expectations of Nigerians and our foreign friends are yet to be fully met in any spectacular forms, hence the President needs to take a radical detour into a faster lane to achieve a peacefully, safe, incorruptible economy within a  greater and fully democratised Nigeria,” he advised.
He also urged the government to “restart an inclusive government that cherishes the mobilisation of  the critical sectors and the  masses of Nigerians who will rise in action to hold our elected representatives accountable to begin to perform their constitutional duties incorruptibly  in the areas of representation, over-sighting and law-making.”
CHEKWAS OKORIE,
Founder of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)
For Okorie, the country is not retrogressing but progressing slowly. He argued that Nigeria has, over time, developed and gained new things that were not available in the past. He, however, stated that Nigerians have not had the best of time but added that he was not sure if the Buhari-led administration have enough time left to fix the rot in the country.
He said, “But In terms of the main purpose of the government which is the welfare of the people, well that one has actually declined considerably. Because Nigerians are quite experiencing intense poverty and security is at its lowest head. But other than that, we are having major infrastructural development here and there but now, many areas are being flooded. The harvest for this year would have reduced the food security situation of the country.
“The railway going up and down, which we never thought was possible in Nigeria. Those things are infrastructures that definitely would generate employment and other forms of development. That is why I said we can’t write off the country as retrogressive but we are making progress very slowly.”
Okorie also noted that the problems facing the country go beyond elected leaders but advised that the geopolitical structure of Nigeria be redesigned.
DR KUNLE OLAJIDE,
Secretary, Yoruba Council of Elders
Similarly, Dr. Olajide argued that the country is moving but at a slow pace. He called on the National Assembly to ensure that the nation runs a true federal system against the ongoing system that is incorrectly centralised in Abuja.
“Nigeria is progressing but not at the rate at which it ought to, considering the natural resources in the country.
“The National Assembly must sit down and amend where necessary or introduce new legislations where necessary to ensure that we have a true federal system. Because what we have is a quasi-federal system, it is a unitary system, all the powers are concentrated in Abuja so it cannot work for a heterogeneous country like Nigeria. If we want to ensure that we make progress as we ought to, we must recognise the fact that we have many nations brought together and each has its peculiarity. Once we realise that, we allow each nation to sit and plan their agenda the way and manner they want to achieve their objectives.”
On the role of citizens to ensure that the nation develops, he charged people that have attained voting age to register for their voter’s card and make sure they cast their votes for the best candidates.
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