By Bukola Olamona, Kayode Olabanji, Saheed Ibrahim
As Nigeria celebrates her 60th independence anniversary tomorrow, an elderstateman, Chief Olu Falae has warned that only a return to true federalism will save Nigeria from disintegration.
He also posited that except the country is rid of systemic corruption, the nation is going nowhere.
Falae and other leaders, who spoke with The Hope in separate interviews, insisted that corruption, insecurity and self centeredness also remained existential threats to Nigeria’s development.
However, they were of the opinion that the nation has made tremendous progress in some sectors such as Infrastructure, education, telecommunications, agriculture, health and some others, though there were room for improvement.
The former Secretary to Government of the Federation, noted that Nigeria at 60 is still in chaos and confusion.
He said: “Nigeria must return to true federalism and agree among themselves. The military took over in 1966 and threw away the constitution.
According to him, “until we return true federalism through a consensus that all of us will agree to, Nigeria can never settle.”
Falae, who was a former Minister of Finance also called for the implementation of the 2014 CONFAB.
His words: “At the constitutional conference of 2014, we passed over 620 resolutions by consensus. That is the new consensus to replace the one we negotiated in London in 1958.
“Until there is a consensus, there is no hope. Take the resolutions of the conference and use it as a basis for a new constitution. That is the way forward. Any other thing is a waste of time,” Chief Falae affirmed.
The Leader, Pan Yoruba Socio-Cultural Group, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti opined thus, “the leaders have lost focus. It seems they don’t know what they want and they are not determined to build a good nation. Everybody is running after his or her own ambition and selfish interest.”
Pa Fasoranti however called for self examination, selflessness, commitment on the part of the leaders to build the Nigeria of everyone’s dream.
“The leaders should get together, come up with ideas and then make sure that Nigeria does not lose out. There is corruption all over the place. Leaders should tackle it. I know it is going to be difficult because everybody likes money but if the leaders can be dedicated and committed and make themselves good example to the followers, Nigeria would get out of the woods.
The Afenifere leader also recommended that leaders caught engaging in corrupt practices should be duly dealt with.
“People making away with millions of naira on daily basis. Look at what happened recently at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), it made us sick. When I watched the drama on the television, one of their bosses fainted at one point when the revelations were becoming to much. Corruption is the nation’s bane,” he stated.
A former Senator in the Second Republic, Senator Atijosan Onukun said Nigeria still crawls after 60 years of independence
The 95-year-old Senator said: “We have little to celebrate. Things are getting worse daily, our leaders are getting things wrong and I am not sure if they are ready to make it right. They are only fighting for their pockets, to acquire wealth which they will leave behind when they die.”
He recommended that the only way forward for the country is for the leaders to listen to what the masses are saying.
The Chief Imam of Akure, Sheik Abdulakeem Akorede called for prayers for the country, adding that some powerful people were behind the nation’s woes.
“Nigeria now lacks amidst abundance and opposition parties only criticise but do not support the incumbent leader. They only see what is bad because he is not a member of their political party”, he said.
In his assessment, the Anglican Bishop of Ondo Diocese, Bishop Jude Arogundade said, “Nigeria at 60 is a country struggling to progress and has missed so many opportunities.
“Nigeria is not one country yet. It is a country with all forms of crises and divisions. Although we have come this far but we have missed so many opportunities to become strong and formidable country”.
He suggested that the only way forward for the nation to grow was to bring every part of the nation together as one and the principles of fair play, love, dignity and good governance must be put in the centre of the nation’s affairs.