Vice President Kashim Shettima said Thursday that Nigeria’s strength lies in the unity of its citizens and the resolve to sustain democracy in the country.
The Vice President said this in Abuja at the 63rd independence anniversary lecture and symposium.
He expressed optimism that the nation would surmount its challenges, stressing that a bright future lies ahead for the country.
“Our history has shown that Nigerians are too ambitious to be broken by temporary setbacks. We are going to emerge from this space of our reforms stronger; each of us with renewed hope as we honour the labour of our heroes past.
“As we reflect on the values and principles that have brought us this far; as we strive to excel in all that we do and as we work together towards a future where opportunities know no bounds. Let’s remember that our most potent weapon is the overriding resolve of the majority to choose unity over chaos as well as democracy over anarchy,” he said.
The Vice President said Nigeria’s strength has deferred the predictions of those who did not mean well for the country and would continue to grow from strength to strength.
“Today we gather to honour Nigeria’s journey to redefine its destiny. Today we stand on the precipices of history to reflect upon a nation that has defied the predictions of doom-sayers; a nation that has become the metaphor of resilience.
“Over the past 63 years, we have not only survived but pride because of our collective resolve,, our commitment to progress and the endearing spirit of unity that binds us together form Aba to Ogbomosho, Zaria, Birnin-Kebbi despite the conspiracies of minor vested interests,” he said.
He said all hands must be on deck to make the country work in the interest of the black race, in line with President Bola Tinubu’s resolve to rebuild the country.
“While this anniversary offers us another opportunity to acknowledge the cross regional bonds that kept us standing as Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, we are here to remind ourselves that the future we promised Nigerians, you can’t renew the hope of the nation unless you are prepared to pursue bold reforms.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has undertaken to build a country where the economic independence of each citizen is guaranteed, where none of us has to depend on unspecified handouts to earn a living.
“Our history, like that of every nation, isn’t just a record of surviving attacks on our sovereign integrity and social welfare. Our history underscores the commonality of our shared humanity.
“The most recent memory; the COVID-19 pandemic for instance, reminded us that viruses do not discriminate based on ethnicity or religion and that our strength as a nation is driven by our collective faith in the ideals that define us and the moral character of our leaders.
“I love Nigeria and I believe in the Nigeria project, not because of my vested interest or because of my family. I believe in Nigeria because if Nigeria works, the black man works,” he said.
Also speaking, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr George Akume said the theme for the anniversary lecture was carefully chosen in tandem with the President’s desire to collaborate with other nations of the world to make life better for citizens.
“The theme for today’s symposium; ‘Actualizing the Vision of Renewed Hope for Socio- Economic Development Through Effective Leadership’ is intended to shed more light on critical areas of Nigeria’s socio-economic potentials that could be explored and developed through policies and programs enunciated by this administration.
“This process is critical because of the dynamic nature of our socio-economic environment and the global systems. It is also significant because President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had, during his recent address at the United Nations General Assembly, beckoned on the world leaders to partner with Nigeria for business and development,” he said.
He said if properly harnessed, the economic potentials of Nigeria can place the nation among the 20 largest economies in the world in the next seven years.
“It is our expectation, therefore, that eminent Nigerians participating in this program would address these economic potentials as well as government’s policies and programs that could turn them into vehicles for achieving our aspiration of becoming one of the 20 Largest Economies of the World by 2030,” he said.
In his remarks, the Guest Speaker, Dr Adegoke Adegoroye, called for effective coordination of activities among the Secretary to Government of the Federation, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and the Chief of Staff to the President to achieve the smooth execution of programmes and policies of government.
He called for a renewed recruitment process to ensure qualitative hands are engaged in the public service.
He also dismissed suggestions in some quarters for increase in the retirement age of civil servants from 60 to 65 years.
He also urged labour unions in the country to focus more on the future of workers and the needs of other Nigerians as well as other needs of workers like promotion, and not only minimum wage.