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”
Nigerian Newspapers: 10 things you need to know this Sunday morning
1. The ongoing governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States kicked off on a bloody note.
Reports from both states have it that there were cases of violence, ballot-snatching, irregularities as well as fatalities.
2. Three persons have been confirmed dead while several others were left injured when suspected political parties thugs invaded Adankolo and Lokongoma primary schools in Lokoja on Saturday in the ongoing governorship election in Kogi State.
It was gathered that the thugs who were dressed in Police uniform shot at two voters in Adankolo and one in Lokongoma when they wanted to snatch the ballot box.
3. An official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was kidnapped in SUBEB polling unit in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
The abduction happened after gunmen shot sporadically into the air while voting was going on.
Voters scampered for safety before the gunmen went away with the official.
4. Yahaya Bello, Kogi State Governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the ongoing governorship election, has defeated his closest rivals, Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in his polling unit.
Results from Bello’s polling unit indicated that the governor had 716 votes to defeat his top challengers, Wada and Natasha Akpoti of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, who had no votes.
5. The Enugu Police Command said Saturday in Enugu that it has commenced a massive manhunt of abductors of a Catholic Priest, Rev.-Fr. Theophilus Ndulue.
According to the Command’s Public Relations Officer, SP Ebere Amaraizu, Ndulue was abducted by unidentified gunmen on his way home along Amansiodo Road in Ndiagu-Oghe in Ezeagu Local Government Area on Friday evening while returning from a pastoral council meeting.
6. The Governor of Bayelsa State, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, has accused the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, of compromising security in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Governor said that, even though Gen. Sarham has beentransfered to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, he refused to move and waited behind to supervise the use of the Army to perpetrate heinous electoral crimes and irregularities in the Bayelsa guber polls.
7. An Appeal Court sitting in Owerri on Saturday sacked Obinna Onwubuariri, the member representing Isiala Mbano/Onuimo/Okigwe Federal Constituency of Imo in the House of Representatives.
The Chairman of the Panel, Justice R.N Pemu, who read the judgment, said that the election that brought Onwubuariri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to power in Feb. 23 was not in tandem with the electoral act of 2010, as amended.
The court also nullified the election of Mrs Uju Onwudiwe of the Action Alliance (AA) representing Njaba State Constituency and ordered fresh elections in 12 polling units in Njaba state constituency within 90 days.
8. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, has described as baseless a recent statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the Department of State Services, DSS, Peter Afunanya, that the illegal detention of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and Omoyele Sowore was based on their choices.
IMN noted that following the attack on the Islamic Movement by the Muhammadu Buhari regime in December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna state, where over 1000 unarmed men, women and children members of the movement by what it said its members were extra judicially killed by the Nigerian Army, seeking for redress in the most civil manner, the Islamic Movement sued for the enforcement of the rights of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky (H) who was shot severally, abducted and detained by the DSS.
9. A fatal motor accident on Saturday claimed seven lives along Osogbo -Ikirun road, leaving only one survivor.
The accident , as sighted by our Correspondent, involved an articulated vehicle and a mini-bus with eight passengers.
The Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Peter Oke, who confirmed the accident, said five male and two females who were traveling in the mini-bus, lost their lives, while a female survived with injuries.
10. Nigeria are away to Lesotho, in the second fixture of their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series.
Kick off at the 20,000-capacity Setsoto Stadium in Maseru is 5pm West African time.
Nigerian Newspapers: 10 things you need to know this Thursday morning
1. Several persons were reported dead and many others injured in a clash that ensued between supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ogbolomabiri community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State during a governorship rally organised by the ruling party.
The attackers, it was also learnt, opened fire on the protocol bus of the Bayelsa State Government House along the junction between Bassambiri and Ogbolomabiri communities.
2. The Executive Council of the Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has ratified the suspension of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, from the party in the state.
The decision was reached at an enlarged meeting of the council and other party chieftains with the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, in Benin City, on Wednesday. At the meeting, the leaders said the suspension of Comrade Oshiomhole became necessary because the national chairman has been deploying divisive tactics to cause disharmony in the party in collaboration with the proscribed group, Edo Peoples Movement (EPM).
3. The Department of State Services (DSS) has explained why it is yet to release Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow Movement.
The Service in a statement by its spokesman, Peter Afunanya, reiterated its avowed readiness to release Sowore once the processes are concluded, adding that the appropriate persons have still not turned up to take delivery of Sowore.
4. The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar on Wednesday affirmed the victory of Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP in the March 9 gubernatorial elections in Akwa Ibom State. The Appeal was filed against the judgement of the tribunal delivered on September 5, 2019 at Uyo, which dismissed Mr Ekere’s petition for wanting in merit. Delivering judgement in the Appeal filed by Mr Nsima Ekere, the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the re-election of His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel in the March 9, 2019 Gubernatorial Elections, the five-man panel gave her judgement on all the issues set out by parties in the appeal.
5. The gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 9th 2019 gubernatorial election in Oyo State, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu, has declared that he is approaching the Supreme Court in order to validate his victory at the poll.
Adelabu in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday, alleged that some agents of darkness perfected the plan to steal his mandate, this according to him, necessitated his resolve to approach the judiciary to reclaim his mandate.
6. The Senate on Wednesday approved the refund of N10.069 billion to Kogi State government ahead of governorship election slated for Saturday.
The approval followed a report by the Senate Committee Chairman on Local debts and Foreign Loans, Senator Clifford Akhimienmona Ordia.
7. The Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi on Wednesday affirmed the election of the Speaker of Benue State Assembly, Titus Uba, representing Kyan state constituency.
Justice E. J. Ekanem, in his lead panel judgment held that the appeal brought against the speaker by the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s Gwaza Ujamatyu, lacked merit.
8. The House of Representatives has urged the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to extend the use of compulsory National Identification Number (NIN) in the conduct of examinations till 2021.
This followed a motion moved by Rep. Zainab Gimba (APC-Borno) under Matters of Urgent Public Importance at plenary presided over by the Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday. The House said the extension would allow more time to better sensitise prospective candidates to the NIN.
9. An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Wednesday sentenced to death, three men who kidnapped a Lagos monarch and killed his palace guard.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo sentenced Duba Fureso, Reuben Anthony and Yerin Fresh, who kidnapped the Oniba of Iba, Oba Oseni Goriola, murdered his 72-year-old palace guard, Mr Sunday Okanlawon, and attempted to murder the monarch’s wife, Bosede.
10. Nigeria began their quest to be at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, with a narrow 2-1 win over Benin Republic on Wednesday.
The Super Eagles had to fight from a goal down, as the Squirrels opened scoring at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.
Atiku To Lawmakers: Stop Being Foolish, Don’t Pass Hate Bill Into Law
Nigeria’s former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has cautioned the National Assembly against stifling freedom of speech with its proposed hate speech bill.
The legislative arm is in the process of passing the bill, sponsored by Sabi Abdullahi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), into law.
There have been reservations by various Nigerians on how the bill can potentially stifle freedom of expression in the country.
Atiku, a PDP candidate in the 2019 presidential election, said the contemplation of such a law is an abuse of the legislative process.
He said this in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe.
He said: “The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech.
“Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms. It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.
“Freedom of speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their creator. History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God-given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.
“We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences.
“Nigeria presently has too many pressing concerns. We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-schoolchildren. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest-growing. We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.
“It, therefore, begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious? Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians.”
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