By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called for a development plan that would have the Nigerian youth at the centre.
Abubakar made the call in his message issued in Abuja to celebrate Nigeria at 60 independence day anniversary.
He said that for the country to work for the millions of its people and to be reckoned with as a global competitive force in the nearest future, it must come up with a development plan that would have youth at the centre of the plan.
Abubakar said that times of idle, lame promises were over.
He added that the country urgently needed to build a new Nigeria where every dream would be embraced and the potential of the youth could be unleashed without the usual fears that had dragged us.
“The youth of Nigeria represent the future wealth of the fatherland and the only way we can tap into them is through quality investments in education and skills acquisition.
“Through the creativity that they inject in their passion, the excellence of the Nigerian youth is a global signature in diverse fields notably in sports, as they can be found in medicine, education, business and finance, agriculture and our entertainment industry.
“Indeed they ‘berekete’ (abound) in every facet of our life from the rain forest of the south to the sudan and sahel Savannah of the north and the guinea Savannah of the midlands of the territories we call home.
“We may have failed to take advantage of the power of the Nigerian youth. But there is something much more significant that their triumphs teach us a people looking forward to a better future.
“When they win, they celebrate Nigeria. Our youth are ready and eager to conquer the world. What they lack is the leadership to take them through that process,” Abubakar said.
He also called on those taking up arms against Nigeria to have a rethink, saying whatever differences they might have with the rest of Nigeria, whether religious, ethnic or political, terror, violence and separatism were not the way.
He advised Nigerians to learn from history, noting that in Ireland, Israel, and the Balkans, such groups had seen the wisdom in giving up armed struggle for participation in the political process.
“There is much wisdom in the saying that to jaw jaw is better than to war war. We must accept the reality that we are all brothers and sisters sired by our fatherland.
“We cannot defeat separatist groups by force of arms alone; we can only defeat separatism by making all Nigerians feel like they belong.
“This is only possible when we live up to the words of our national motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.
“As a nation, we asserted our independence in our infancy by lending to other nations.”
Abubakar said that we must be careful not to lose the hard-won independence of “our heroes past”.
He said that by learning to live within the country’s means, Nigeria could put a stop to the needless borrowings that threaten its economic independence.
“Our nation is in dire need of healing. We must foster unity and douse the tense atmosphere which is breeding feelings of alienation.
“We must promote freedom of speech and freedom after the speech.
“As such, in the spirit of our 60th Independence Anniversary, I call on the Federal and state governments to release all political prisoners and detainees, and discontinue the prosecution of such individuals.
“If Nelson Mandela could reconcile with those who imprisoned him for 27 years, we can reconcile with those who have disagreed with us.”
Abubakar recalled that on Sept. 26, in far away U.S., Israel Adesanya, an illustrious Nigerian, who embodies the indefatigable Nigerian spirit made the nation proud by successfully defending his UFC middleweight title.
He said that the victory lifted Nigerians spirit, and gave citizens hope in a season of hopelessness when every index of life and human development in Nigeria was trending negative.
“Nigerians of all hues are united in the celebration of the victory of Adesanya. It is our victory. No one cares if he is from Abia or Zamfara, Rivers or Osun state.
“Indeed some are wont to adopt Ibrahim or Omesonma as his name. But what is important is that he is a Nigerian, and his victory our collective victory.
“Truth be told, there are many Adesanyas in every nook and cranny of our land. They give meaning to our aspirations. Sadly we have failed them.
“The structure on which we have hinged our political and economic emancipation has equally failed us.
“We do not hope to continue doing the same thing with jaded and unworkable system and expect to get a remarkable result.
Abubakar said that Nigeria might have missed countless opportunities to reset citizens mindset moving forward as prosperous people, but added that the 60th anniversary of the life of the nation offered introspection.(NAN)