In a statement he personally signed to mark Nigeria at 59, the former Vice President also lamented over reports of Nigeria being the headquarters of poverty in the world.
According to Atiku: “On October 1, 1960, our nation’s founding fathers could never have fathomed that 59 years after birthing the largest black nation on earth, we would be facing a situation where we do not have a free press.
“All is not well when Nigeria is now officially the world headquarters for extreme poverty and out of school children, yet the cost of maintaining those in government continues to grow, while the needs of the governed are not being met.
“And certainly, all is not well when the media cannot freely express itself without the fear that those who wield the big stick would use it on them for saying things as they are.
“So, rather than just call for prayers today, I am calling on all Nigerians to believe in Nigeria’s betterment, to work for Nigeria’s betterment, and to insist that no one in Nigeria, no matter how highly placed, shall be bigger than the laws of our land.
“It is not all gloom and doom, however. There is still hope. Much hope. I took time to listen to a recent remark made by the Emir of Kano, HRM Muhammed Sanusi II about why we need to pay more attention to the issue of girl-child education.
“It is an age-long truism that women are the teachers of a nation. I make bold to say that the greatness of our country, Nigeria has much to do with how well we educate how children, especially the girl-child.
“My commendation goes to Governor @Bellomatawalle1 of Zamfara State for leading the way by massively investing in public education.Atiku Abubakar
“I also specifically want to cite the example of Chief Allen Onyeama and his public spiritedness which saw him offer relief to Nigerian citizens who were victims of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.Atiku Abubakar
“By repatriating hundreds of Nigerians back home, at his cost, Mr. Onyeama and @flyairpeace, have revived hope in the Nigeria of our founding fathers’ dream.
“I would like to quote Mr. Onyeama. When the first plane of repatriated Nigerian citizens landed at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Mr. Onyeama said: “When I stepped inside the aircraft to welcome them, they mobbed me and started singing the Nigerian national anthem, there was nobody there singing about separation, they felt proud to be Nigerian, they rose in unison, that drew tears from me.”
“You see, when we put Nigeria first, we not only revive the Nigerian Dream, we also revive Unity & Faith, Peace & Progress, which were the ideals our founding fathers had in mind when they came together to put forward this new & independent nation 59 years ago on October 1, 1960.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us and we all have a role to play in making our nation great. Nigeria should be the beacon of hope, democracy and freedom, to not only the African continent but to the black diaspora the world over.
“And to ensure that this becomes the case, we all have a duty to support and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And this we must do, so help us God.
“And it is on this note that I wish all Nigerians a happy Independence Day. May God bless all of us and may God bless Nigeria. -AA”