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OLUSOLA FABIYI and BAYO AKINLOYE
Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday called for oneness and openness, stressing that the country would surmount its present challenges, and emerge stronger.
Jonathan stated this in a message released by his spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze.
He said, “I wish all Nigerians a happy 57th independence anniversary.
“As a nation, we are moving on. On October 1, 2010, we celebrated our golden jubilee as an independent nation. Again, in January 2014, we celebrated our centenary as a nation.
“You may say tough times are here, but I say to you that tough times do not last; tough people do. I call on all Nigerians to renew faith with Nigeria as we add another year to our age. We will get better, we will be greater, about that there can be no doubt.
“Let me also seize this opportunity to call for togetherness and oneness among all citizens. We must accept the fact that none of us is as great as all of us.”
Also, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, has said the Buhari administration must do its best to keep the country together.
While he admitted that keeping Nigeria united would not be easy, the former US envoy said the unity of the country must be preserved.
“Arese (his Nigerian wife) and I celebrate this 57th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. I see it as a challenge to hasten the day when the country, finally, lives up to its enormous potential. The Buhari government has done much to curb the cancer of corruption, which is probably the greatest inhibitor to moving the country forward.
“Slowly, the tide seems to be turning against Boko Haram. But so much remains to be done to maintain stability and enhance open and transparent government. While it’ s not an easy job to do it today either in Nigeria or in many other countries, including my own, we must never waiver in our efforts to preserve and extend the liberties which our founding fathers bequeathed to us.”
In an email he sent to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, Carrington, who stood up against the dictatorship of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, noted that the preservation of the unity of Nigeria was essential if Africa was to reclaim its role as a region to which the world must give greater weight in international deliberations.
Speaking further, he said, “I become dismayed as I watch the growing marginalisation of the homeland of my ancestors. Nigeria has gone too long without an ambassador in Washington.
“United States congratulated the Nigerian people on the 57th anniversary of their independence. Nigeria should be proud of its achievements and the vibrancy of its democracy over these years.
“The United States has been and will remain a strong and reliable partner as Nigeria faces the challenge of providing peace, security and prosperity to all of its citizens. The US is also firmly committed to Nigeria’s unity and encourages peaceful and respectful debate as the nation addresses legitimate political concerns.”
Meanwhile, one of the global ‘big three agencies’, Fitch Ratings told SUNDAY PUNCH that the country’s future economy looked bright.
Its spokesman, Peter Fitzpatrick, said, “We don’t have data on Nigeria’s progress since the 1960s. However, Fitch forecasts growth of 2.6 per cent in 2018, following Nigeria’s first contraction in 25 years in 2016.
“The foreign exchange market remains far from fully transparent; domestic liquidity has also become a constraint, and the growth forecast is subject to downside risks. Inflation remains high at 16.1 per cent in July 2017, but Fitch projects it to decline to 11 per cent in 2019.
“As oil production rises and the overall economy recovers, Fitch expects that higher revenues will drive a narrowing of the general government deficit to 3.4 per cent in 2018. Fitch expects exports to increase by about 30 per cent in 2017 and an additional 10 per cent in 2018, as oil production and prices increase.”
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