The 51 Senators from the Southern part of Nigeria under the umbrella body of Southern Senators Forum, have reiterated that a united and indivisible Nigeria remains the best option that could profit all Nigerians, regardless of ethnicity, religious and political inclinations.

The Senators warned against divisive actions being demonstrated by some political and apolitical actors in the build up to the 2023 presidential poll, saying making uncouth and incendiary comments at this pulsating period would further widen the gulf and threaten the country’s survival instinct as a nation.

The political body also congratulated Ekiti, Ebonyi and Bayelsa States on the celebrations of their 25 years of creation by the late Gen. Sanni Abacha, lauding the giant strides the past and present leaders have made in the midst of pessimism that confronted them at inception.

These were contained in its congratulatory message to Nigerians on Thursday, signed by the Forum’s Chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele and Publicity Secretary, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, marking Nigeria’s 61st Independence anniversary.

Rather than uniting and making headways in view of enormous human and material resources that are abound in Nigeria, the Forum lamented that the country has faltered in so many ways, thereby creating colossal economic and political burdens that are bugging the nation down.

The Senators exuded optimism that the Nigerian nation still holds a bright future, if the ruling elite could share the same dream and shun proclivities for unwarranted cleavages in the polity, emphasising that this is the most propitious time to embrace unity of purpose.

The political leaders applauded the country’s founding fathers like Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Ahmadu Bello , for jettisoning ethnic and religious cards and putting the country’s collective interest above such narrow sentiments, culminating in Nigeria’s Independence on October 1,1960.

“Our sincere appreciation goes to this founding fathers for rising above pedestrianism and pettiness and gaving us a nation called Nigeria. Whether we like it or not, Nigeria is phenomenal in so many ways , being the largest and most populous country in Africa and also occupying a strategic position in the world economy, diplomacy and politics.

“We have made a lot of mistakes in our national life regarding the levity with which we handled and treated our democracy at inception, thereby giving unfettered latitude for military to make incursion, seize power and destroy every stride our founding fathers had made before the coming of the holocausts.

“As fallible as our founding fathers were, they led us with finesse, patriotism , commitment and ultimately with the fear of God. Material acquisition, ethnicity and political affiliations were not the prime target, but national interest and lives of the commoners.

“Disturbingly, the reverse is the trend today. The country is now being ripped off by ethnic, political and religious cards being used by the ruling elite to create a wedge that is affecting us adversely.

“Time has come for all of us to work harder, close ranks and mend all fences for us to be able to convert our huge human and material capital to economic gains to benefit our teeming populace.

“Looking at the trajectory of our economy and politics, they are turning so derisive at every dispensation that passes. We are retrogressing rather than progressing each day to the extent that one could conclude that our economic problems have defied every solution and theory. Now, we must rethink, for we have the options to either survive or sink deeply .

“As incurable optimists, we hold the unflagging view that Nigeria can still be great again. We are making some gaint strides which, if well complemented, would yield results that can lift us up. But this may be a mirage as long as the menace of insecurity and economic challenges abound and expand in leaps and bounds”, the forum warned.

The Senators congratulated Ekiti, Bayelsa and Ebonyi States for fighting hard to give their citizens new lease of life in spite of the challenges inherited at inception.

They counseled that the states have not really met the dreams of their founding fathers, but are gradually initiating programmes that actually make them forces to be reckoned with in the comity of States, by their contributions to the economic and political survival of the Nigerian nation.

“At inception, the military regime of the late Gen Sanni Abacha didn’t give take off grants to these States. They were created and allowed to grow based on the vision the people had.

“Though they are still faced with a lot of challenges, but they have not done badly. They are also pulling the string of survival and making gradual development .

“A lot still need to be done in the areas of Infrastructures, employment generation for the youth, general insecurity and improvement of the people’s standards of living and these are achievable when people stand united.

“We congratulate the Governors of the States: Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Senator Duoye Diri (Bayelsa) and Chief Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) on the 25th anniversary of their States’ creation and wish them well as they exhibit the glowing passion to make a positive mark in the lives of their people”, the Senators stated.

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