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Nigeria still work in progress – Obiano

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  • Being an Address presented by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano to mark the 59th Independent Anniversary of Nigeria on October 1, 2019, at Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka.

FELLOW citizens, 59 years ago, the British Union Jack came down from the mast for our Green–white-and-Green flag to rise. With that simple exchange, Nigeria came into existence. And as the green-white-green flag fluttered in the October wind that day, it danced with the hopes and dreams of a great, resilient people. It displayed the resolve of a young nation that had conquered colonialism and was determined to announce its presence in the world. Nigeria’s independence was a long drawn battle; fought with sweat and blood. Our founding fathers spared no efforts; risking detention and death to free us from the yoke of colonial rule.

Fellow citizens, 59 years after independence, Nigeria is still a work-in-progress. It is true that we have left Egypt. But the Promised Land is still a long destination in the horizon. We have wandered across several rivers and streams; across different mountains and valleys in search of a more perfect union. We have made numerous sacrifices in sweat and blood and even fought a civil war. Yet, we are still here together today. Through all these struggles, the greatest victory we have won is the preservation of this country…the continued existence of Nigeria as one entity!

Fellow citizens, it is tempting to dismiss this victory as unimportant; as a mere trivia. However, when we cast a glance around, we might see some of our neighbours that have travelled the same tortuous path as Nigeria. Countries like Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau and Chad. These are countries ravaged by war. Which country amongst them can be compared to Nigeria today?

Fellow Nigerians, all the great countries that we all admire today were not always the way they are now. They were not always great. It took the extraordinary sacrifice and passionate commitment of their citizens to turn place ordinary hemispheres into epicenters of civilization. It took the zeal and unwavering belief of the people to build every great civilization known to man. And if the citizens of these great countries did it, then, so can we!

Happily, Anambra State is leading the way in the search for Nigerian values. Nnewi based Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited has shown that greatness is not beyond our reach. With the recent exploits of Airpeace Airlines, our brother, Allen Onyema has demonstrated that no country can rise beyond mediocrity without the passionate commitment of its individual citizens. So has Dr Cosmas Maduka whose Ultramodern Rice Mill I shall have the honour of commissioning tomorrow. Indeed, these gentlemen have shown that like our fathers before us, the Anambra man is never found wanting in the search for a better Nigeria!

History reminds us that the Independence we celebrate today would not have come when it did if the Great Zik of Africa, Right Honourable Nnamdi Azikiwe had not rallied the other founding fathers to a common front against the colonial masters. Zik’s nationalist firepower and his readiness to make a great sacrifice for peace, paved the way for the attainment of Independence on this day, 59 years ago.

Fellow countrymen and women, it is in recognition of Nnamdi Azikiwe’s remarkable sacrifices for Nigeria that I call on the Federal Government to announce Zik’s birthday, November 16, as a National Holiday. I made this call for the first time last year at the commissioning of Zik’s Mausoleum in Onitsha. I observed that Zik’s contemporaries like Nkruma, Nyerere and Agustino Neto of Mozambique all have national days set aside for them. And today, on the day of Nigeria’s 59th Independent Anniversary, I still call on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Zik’s birthday a national holiday. I sincerely believe that this is one honour that the Great Zik of Africa richly deserves. I also believe that there is no better man to confer him this honour than President Buhari who worked very hard to complete and personally commission his mausoleum. This gesture will assuage some of the yearnings of our people.

Ndi Anambra, as we celebrate our Independence today, I want to assure you that my administration is committed to restoring the pride of our people to the fullest. That is why we shall raise the bar of crime detection and prevention in Anambra State on Friday, October 11 this year. We shall unveil new strategies that will lift our dear state to a new height in safety and security in Nigeria. We are also paying a close attention to the deplorable state of our roads caused by the heavy rainfall we have recorded this year. Sadly, due to the nature of our soil, no serious reconstruction and maintenance work can be effectively done on our roads at this time of the rainy season. But, I want to assure you that as soon as the rains subside, we shall move quickly to restore our position as the state with the best network of roads in Nigeria.

Ndi Anambra, we have every reason to be proud of this great state. We are the fourth largest economy in Nigeria. Our GDP has continued to grow at the rate of 5.73% from N3.8 trillion in 2016 to N4.0 trillion in 2017. We have refocused our attention on preparing our youths for the future by providing a globally competitive education at all levels. We are walking our talk in youth entrepreneurship and empowerment. That is why we have made adequate provision for that in the 2020 Budget that I presented to the House of Assembly last week.

Ndi Anambra, the future is bright for this great state. Our youths are making us proud with exceptional performances in global competitions. Our entrepreneurs and businessmen are becoming ambassadors of excellence on the national stage. This is a great time to be onyeAnambra.

So, as we celebrate Nigeria’s independence today, we also celebrate the Spirit of Anambra. Our drive for excellence and our capacity to change the human condition! I wish you a happy anniversary celebration!

God bless Anambra State!

God bless Nigeria!

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