Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Prelate of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr Ekpenyong Akpanika, has said that Nigeria is not yet a nation despite gaining political independence 62 years ago.
Dr Akpanika who made the remark in his Independence Day goodwill message called for “national re-birth” and a change of the Nigeria story.
The Prelate in the goodwill message released by the Director of Information and Public Affairs, Rev. Dr Nnoke Ibe, however, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had exhibited uncommon strength to make positive impacts despite the daunting challenges of leadership in the country.
He said: “But the grace of God has been upon him (Buhari) as he has exhibited uncommon strength of purpose and determination to make positive impact as the leader of a country like Nigeria with diverse problems and expectations.
“Nigerians have noted his concerted efforts in trying to improve the social infrastructure of the country, fight insurgence and banditry and improve the economy. It is our ardent prayer that these efforts will begin to yield the desired results in the nearest future.”
He called for more concerted efforts to re-start and reposition the country.
“On deep reflection, we are forced to conclude that Nigeria at 62 is not yet the nation of our dream.
“Unfortunately, we are still grappling with some primary and elementary issues bordering on corruption, poor infrastructure, insecurity, tribalism, religious crisis, ethnic divisions, industrial actions, underdevelopment, banditry, poor social services etc.
“At this time of celebration, many of us are forced to wonder if there is any need for it or if there is hope for Nigeria’s future.”
The Prelate urged Nigerians not to lose hope, expressing faith that the 2023 elections will give birth to a new Nigeria.
“If we lose hope, we lose all. With this I encourage Nigerians to continue to hold on to the hope that one day, soon, we shall get it right as a nation. Soon our dear country will experience a rebirth.
“The coming general election in 2023 is an opportunity for the government and citizens of Nigeria to join hands with determination to ensure the election of credible people who are committed to building a new and better Nigeria.
“The past 23 years of our democratic experience have not given us the best; we have the chance of changing that narrative.”
He tasked President Buhari on credible polls in 2023, saying that the outcome of the 2023 polls will determine how Buhari will be remembered.
“Our dear President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, I want to remind you that you are on the threshold of history. You have an excellent and one chance in a lifetime opportunity to inscribe your name in the annals of history among the greatest statesmen and women that ever walked the corridors of power. The shape the coming election assumes will surely decide how history will remember you.
“We all remember that your predecessor superintended over one of the few elections that were adjudged to be free and fair and handed over power to you under a peaceful and cordial atmosphere. It is now your turn to replicate that gesture and possibly improve on the electoral processes of Nigeria.”
The Prelate urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure
a level playground for all parties and candidates in the forthcoming elections.
He also urged the electorate not to allow themselves to be used as agents of disruption.
The Prelate further charged Buhari to settle the lingering face-off with university lecturers before leaving office.
“Also, the activities of terrorists in the cloak of bandits and kidnappers who seem to be operating without any check must be brought under control,” he added.
“At the state level, I encourage all Governors to ensure that all outstanding salaries and pensions be paid and that no project started by them is left uncompleted.”