Atiku Abubakar, former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says all is not well with Nigeria.
In his 59th independence anniversary message on Monday, Atiku said the judiciary is under attack while activists and youths are being intimidated.
The former vice-president added that we all have to defend the constitution so that the ideals of Nigeria’s founding fathers have been would not be set aside on the altar of tyranny.
He said: “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, our judiciary being under attack, and our youths and activists, who should ordinarily be the future of Nigeria, would be facing the very real threat of arrest and intimidation should they speak out about the state of the nation.
“I could call for prayers, as others would indeed call for today … but I am mindful of the fact that the time for rhetoric has long since passed and now is the time for all lovers of Nigeria to take concrete steps to aid Nigeria’s progress, by not just praying and showing understanding, but also to take democratic action to ensure that the ideals of our founding fathers – Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress – are not set aside on the altar of tyranny.
“All is not well when judges are persecuted for enforcing the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens.
“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.”
Atiku, however, urged citizens 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.”
He said 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,” he added.