Nigeria at 59: Osinbajo, Gowon, State govs express hope, Olufemi Atoyebi, Sunday Aborisade, Adelani Adepegba, Osinbajo, Samuel Awoyinfa, Tunji Bosun, Peter Dada, Akure, Sola Shittu, Tony Okafor, Olalekan Adetayo, Tunde Oyekola and Ademola Babalola The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Sunday expressed optimism that despite the challenges facing the nation, a new Nigeria was about to be born.Osinbajo spoke at the Independence Day interdenominational church service at the National Christian Centre in Abuja. At the event were the Chairman of the anniversary organising committee, Boss Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; security chiefs; President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Supo Ayokunle, and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who represented the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan. The Vice President said, “God has promised through the mouth of His trusted prophet that He is giving us a new Nigeria. May I announce to you today that God is ready to take us to the promised land. We must remember that the Almighty God is the builder of the nation. God controls the destiny of nations and its people. “God has also promised us a new Nigeria, a peaceful Nigeria, a prosperous Nigeria, a Nigeria where justice, equity and fairness shall prevail, a united Nigeria, where the different tribes and tongues are not the reason for separation, but joyful textures of our togetherness. God is ready to fulfill his promise. “Some are saying it is impossible, Nigeria cannot change, the ethnic and religious divisions are too deep, corruption cannot end, politicians are too selfish, too mischievous. Yet like Caleb and Joshua, if we declare that these problems are merely bread for us, a new Nigeria is here.” Also at the event, a former head of state, Gen Yakubu Gowon (retd), called on Nigerians to salvage the nation from woes. He said, “In the midst of the various inflicted challenges in Nigeria today, we can come together in the unity of faith to salvage the nation from its woes. I believe Nigeria is specially favoured by God and I am confident that God who preserved it in the past will do it again if only we can continue to fervently pray and do what is right and good before Him and fellowmen and women.” TUC scores Nigeria low But in its comment, the Trade Union Congress on Sunday said the position of Nigeria among the comity of nations of the world was a testimony of its failure to develop at a steady pace after 59 years of attaining independence. Its President, Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, TUC said military incursion into politics, corruption, ethnicity, religious crisis were major reasons inhibiting the nation’s growth. The statement read, “The military incursion into politics, corruption, ethnicity, religious crisis, etc have worked against our national development. It is even more worrisome and unfortunate that at this time and age the crack is widening by the day. “We must interrogate the reason why countries we were at par with have left us far behind. China, India, Indonesia, etc were our contemporaries but they are now in the first league while we are dragging economic space with some countries in Africa. “Although revenue from tax has improved significantly but unfortunately, instead of widening the tax net, the impoverished public is overtaxed, leading to despondency and despair.” TUC also berated the Federal Government for failing to pay the new Minimum Wage of N30,000 as earlier agreed. “We find it disturbing that months after the National Minimum Wage committee set up by the Federal Government to work on the new wage had submitted their report, government is still not committed to paying the new wage. “We are beginning to think that signing it in the first place was because of the 2019 General Elections. To talk about setting up another committee over the same issue makes us feel we have been swindled. We have learnt our lessons. The argument on the part of government has always been that there is no money to pay minimum wage whereas lawmakers have budgeted N5.6bn to purchase automobile that are not produced in Nigeria. Our belief is that government can actually pay if only the cost of governance will be reduced,” it said. Economic imbalance worries LCCI On the economic front, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is paradoxical that 59 years after independence, the oil sector still accounts for over 50 per cent of the nation’s revenue and over 80 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings. This was contained in the independence message signed by the Director-General of the LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent. The statement read, “Over the last 59 years, the Nigerian economy has transformed from a basically agrarian economy to an economy driven largely by resources from the oil and gas sector. “The 2019 first quarter Gross Domestic Product data shows that the non-oil sector accounts for 90.9 per cent of the GDP while the oil sector accounts for 9.1 per cent. “The paradox is that the oil sector accounts for over 50 per cent of the nation’s revenue and over 80 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings. This reflects the mounting imbalance in the structure of the economy since independence. It also underscores the growing decline in the non-oil sector productivity over the past 59 years.” Obaseki calls for investment in youths Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has asked political leaders to invest in the younger generation to enable them compete with their peers in a world driven by technology. Obaseki said this during the Sunday Service at the Firm Foundation Church International in Benin City, Edo State capital on Sunday. He said, “As Nigeria turns 59, we must invest in the younger generation. The country must ensure that youths are empowered and prepared for the future. We need to give them quality education, build the necessary infrastructure for them to operate and reposition them for the technology-driven world ahead.” Earlier, Lead Pastor, Firm Foundation International, Pastor Kay Benson-Akhigbe in her sermon, titled ‘What time is it,’ said she had seen a better Edo State under Governor Godwin Obaseki. Obiano seeks prayers for leaders In Anambra, the state Governor, Willie Obiano, called on Nigerians to pray for their leaders and pay taxes for the development of the country. Obiano stated this during a church service at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka. He said, “I urge all to pray for the leaders to succeed, as well as do your own bit, which include prompt payment of taxes for the betterment of the state and country.” In his homily, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, said Christians by their faith had the calling of changing society for the better. He added, “The Federal Government has not taken any drastic action to curb the menace of the Fulani Herdsmen attacks. “It appears the Federal Government values cows more than human beings, and as such has failed in addressing the many attacks and killings of innocent persons by suspected Fulani Herdsmen.” Nigeria groping, says pol science prof Contrary to the claim in some quarters that Nigeria was making progress, a professor of Political Science at the Lagos State University, Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, has said the country is groping politically. Odion-Akhaine said this in an interview with our correspondent on Sunday. In his assessment, the university teacher said Nigeria was grappling with what he called foundational problem. He said, “Politically, the country is groping. 59 years on, we have not been able to get right what scholars have called the rightfulness of the unit. “The Nigerian state has a foundational problem. The people don’t see themselves as Nigerians, except in ethno identity forms. “The state question as distinct from the form of government must be resolved if the country must progress. “ Kwara gov makes case for the poor In his message to mark the anniversary, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State called on leaders to focus on the poor. The governor made the call at a service to mark the anniversary of held at Saint John African Church, Maraba, Ilorin, Kwara State Represented by the state Deputy Governor, Mr Kayode Alabi, the governor said leadership was about helping and giving to the people. The Bishop of the Kwara Diocese of African Church, Rt Reverend Felix Ogunmodede, challenged the Federal Government to address various rots in the country, particularly corruption and illegal acquisition of wealth by politicians and civil servants. The Chairman of the state Christian Association of Nigeria, Prof. Timothy Opoola, prayed that the Lord would deliver the nation from its challenges. Ex-Villa chaplain blames woes on ethnic, religious bigots A former Presidential Villa Chaplain and General Overseer, All Christians Fellowship Mission, Abuja, Rev. William Okoye, has attributed the nation’s under-development to bad leadership, distorted values, ethnicity and religious bigotry and the absence of meritocracy in national affairs. Speaking to journalists in Abuja on Sunday, Okoye said, “Our nation Nigeria, though very richly endowed by God, was crippled from the beginning by our deception, falsehood, selfishness and greed. We don’t have national leaders; Most of our leaders are ethnic champions and religious bigots. “One of our greatest undoing as a people is our distorted sense of value and Nigeria’s worsening image around the world.” Respect nation’s laws, Esele tells Buhari Still on the heel of Nigeria’s 59 Independence anniversary, a former president of the Trade Union Congress, Mr Peter Esele, has urged President Muhammad Buhari to respect the nation’s law and keep to agreements. Speaking with journalists in Benin on Sunday, Esele said Buhari must see himself as President of Nigeria and not a state. “The President of this country must see himself as the president of Nigeria and not a state, and must be able to separate the state from the president as the state must be supreme at all times,” he said. He also stressed the need for leaders of the country to tackle the challenges facing the Nigeria and lamented government’s inability to pay the national minimum wage. Nnamani tells leaders to tackle poverty In his message on Sunday, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa/NEPAD, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, asked Nigerian leaders to tackle poverty, ignorance and disease. He said the vices were impeding the development of the country. Nnamani noted that almost six decades after Nigeria attained her independence, the country was still faced with the challenges of inequality, unemployment, ethnicity and illiteracy. The former governor of Enugu State urged leaders at all levels to make deliberate efforts through policies and programmes to engender development. He also appealed to leaders to rescue the people from ignorance, squalor, disease and poverty. Nigeria can’t disintegrate –Akeredolu In Ondo, the state Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, had declared that the country was still faring well in spite of its various challenges. The governor said many countries had disintegrated with half of the challenges being faced by Nigeria but the country was still together, moving on. Akeredolu stated this on Sunday, at a church service to mark Nigeria’s 59th anniversary held at The Redeemed Christian Church of God at Oke-Ijebu Akure, the state capital Represented by his deputy, Mr Agboola Ajayi, the governor said, “In spite of all the challenges we have faced as a people, it has pleased God to allow us to remain as one indivisible entity. As we all know, some countries whose challenges were not as daunting as ours have disintegrated.” Be patriotic, Makinde tells Nigerians Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, has called on Nigerians to rise as compatriots and serve their fatherland conscientiously in any position they may find themselves. Makinde made the call on Sunday during a thanksgiving service at St. Peters Anglican Cathedral, Aremo, Ibadan. Speaking through the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun, the governor noted that if Nigeria would move from poverty to prosperity, all hands must be on deck. In his sermon titled, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation,” The Very Reverend Andrew Adebiyi of the Cathedral of St. Peter, Aremo, Ibadan, maintained that Nigeria could only be prosperous with righteous leaders and followers. Read more . Abiodun seeks prayer for Buhari Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, in his message called on Nigerians to support the Federal Government with prayers and work with President Muhammadu Buhari to end insurgency and other insecurity challenges . The governor, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said Nigeria had all it would takes to be a great nation.