Nigeria at 62: Working for a New Dawn.
Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.
"Happy birthday, Nigeria! The numerous challenges we face need no re-enumeration. I call on all Nigerians, let us re-focus our energies on charting the new dawn ahead of us," said Bishop Badejo in his independence message.
On the day Nigeria turns 62, Bishop Badejo also urged the Nigerian government to find ways of solving the country's myriad of challenges. Among the many pressing challenges in Nigeria, security and the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike are touchy issues in Africa's most populous country.
The ASUU strike
Staff in federal government-owned universities of Nigeria have been on a protracted seven-month strike that has paralysed academic life across the country. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has vowed not to return to classrooms until the Federal Government addresses their concerns over pay, welfare and dilapidated infrastructure.
In a nationwide broadcast on Independence Day, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari called on the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to return to the classroom. He said he was pained by the recurring disruption to the nation's tertiary education system.
In his independence message, Bishop Badejo observed that the campaign period had opened towards national elections due in February 2023. The Bishop is worried that the attention of Nigerian politicians is now on electioneering.
"Most Nigerians today are angry and frustrated by one thing or the other: The insecurity, crippling economy, bad roads, poor governance etc … Solving the ASUU strike is a priority. ASUU and government must shift grounds and avoid any arm-twisting techniques that only worsen the situation. The government must find a way to solve this because it is already tragic that the universities have stayed shut for so long. To allow this to continue in this campaign era is to invite trouble from restive and angry youths. I also urge our leaders, the executive, legislature and also INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) to get on the side of equity, truth and justice and rehabilitate this crumbling country," appealed the Nigerian prelate.
Some challenges cannot wait
Bishop Badejo wants the focus to stay on governance and not only on election campaigns.
The Bishop of Oyo continued, "Our leaders must not suspend governance because of the campaign season. Some challenges simply cannot wait for the next regime. Government must be multitasking and proffer solutions even as campaigns are ongoing. Politicians must commit to non-violence and learn to disagree without being disagreeable so as not to set fire to the tinder of public disaffection all around. They must sincerely embrace the rule of law and avoid doublespeak. Politicking must be mutually respectful and shun false and hate rhetoric which heats up the polity."
Insist on issue-based campaigns
Bishop Badejo further challenged the electorate to play their part by demanding issue-based campaigns and voting credible candidates into office.
"I exhort the electorate: This is your time, seize it and demand integrity, accountability, and commitment to fair, good governance from all contestants. Let all civil society organisations support the new energy for positive change enveloping our country, especially our youths. Our citizens must demand an issue-based campaign from aspiring leaders and exercise their civic rights. This includes voting at the elections and holding elected leaders accountable after elections. We must never stop believing in a better Nigeria! "said Bishop Badejo.