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Nigeria @61: Lawan urges unity, faith in Nigeria

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan urges Nigerians to unite for the progress of the country and continue to keep faith with their fatherland.

Lawan, in a message, felicitates all Nigerians on the
occasion of the 61st Independence Anniversary of the country.

"This is the first year of our seventh decade as a nation and also the second year of the third decade of the Fourth Republic.

"I find it remarkable that we are living in the longest era of democracy in our history as a nation.

"That may seem modest as an achievement but it is an additional cause for celebration in the light of our political experience.

"Every patriot will always remember with pride that historic moment on October 1, 1960 when the British Union Jack was lowered and our Green-White-Green flag hoisted in its place.

"That moment symbolizes our attainment of freedom from colonial rule. But it also marks the beginning of the onerous task of building a united, peaceful and prosperous nation that we set for ourselves.  

"Over six decades on, the journey has been eventful and the challenges enormous. But we can be proud of the progress that we have made, draw lessons from the missteps and rededicate ourselves to our historic mission of nation-building. We should never abandon that mission.

"Our founding fathers encountered difficulties from the diversity of our people and country. But they realized that the feature is not unique to us and so they wisely embraced it as a potential source of strength.

"That is why they resolutely bound us into an indissoluble union. They had a dream of a diverse, united and prosperous Nigeria as a beckon of hope to Africa and the entire Black World.

"We must keep the torch of that dream of our founding fathers burning and hand it over to the next generation of Nigerians.   

"The founding fathers got nothing on a silver platter. Their dream of a glorious future for Nigeria inspired them in confronting the challenges of their time.

"That great heritage is what we are celebrating today. We must preserve and pass it to the coming generations.

"If our founding fathers had succumbed to the challenges that they encountered in their pursuit of independence, we would not today have a great country to celebrate. They faced their challenges and prevailed.

"Our own challenges today are numerous but they are not insurmountable. If we face them like our founding fathers faced those of their time, the coming generations will also accord our memories their gratitude.

"Our political, religious and traditional leaders as well as influencers of opinions across the country need therefore to unite their purpose and energy for the good of our dear nation.

"As issues arise, let us use the right channels to address them in the true spirit of democracy. Nigeria belongs to all its citizens, not to some more than the others.

"It is in this regard that I will again encourage all Nigerians to take advantage of the ongoing process of constitutional review at the National Assembly.

"The National Assembly is determined to facilitate a meaningful review of the Constitution by the people, to ensure that the instrument continues to serve its purpose and to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

"A people-oriented Constitution will address the frictions that we are currently witnessing and this is why the National Assembly is taking very seriously this national assignment.

"We already have a consensus on democracy as the best form of government for us as a people. So, we should all get actively involved in its processes.

"The National Assembly will always provide the necessary legislative interventions to strengthen the processes and encourage popular participation.

"For instance, we are about to harmonize the positions of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the Electoral Reform Bill. We are confident that the Bill will enhance the improvement that we have continued to see in our electoral process.

"Let us keep faith with Nigeria and continue as one people to work for our collective security and prosperity. May God continue to bless Nigeria," Lawan says.


Ola Awoniyi
Special Adviser(Media)
to President of the Senate

Thursday, 30th September, 2021

Safe School Initiative program designed to fail - Senate President

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said on Thursday that the Safe School Initiative programme in Nigeria is designed to fail.

Lawan spoke at an investigative hearing by Senate joint committee on education (Basic &Secondary) and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on the utilisation of the funding proposed and budgeted for the Safe Schools Initiative, including monies, supports and donations received from foreign government and agencies.

The Senate President made the remarks in response to the submissions by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Arch. Sonny Echono that the his ministry played no role in the funding or application of funds meant for the programme.

Echono said the Federal Ministry of Finance had the control of the funding of the programme to the exclusion of the Education ministry.

The Senate President who declared open the investigative hearing said that arrangement which did not factor in the role of the Ministry of Education was not good enough.

Lawan said: "This programme, Safe School Initiative was designed to fail. What is the meaning of the Ministry of Finance handling this. It was unnecessarily controlled by the Ministry of Finance.

"Ordinarily, I would have thought that the National Council on Education where the Federal Ministry of Education and all the States Ministry of Education, would come up with a National Policy and Strategy for Safe School Initiative.

"Rather than Federal Ministry of Finance controlling it, Ministry of Finance is just to provide fund, appropriated or donated.

"So this programme was designed to fail....And this is why we are where we are today.

"I believe at the end of the day, we should look at the possibility of taking that programme from the Ministry of Finance and domicile it where it rightly belongs. That is the Ministry of Education."

The Senate President also felt disappointed that the beneficiaries of the programme did not turn up for the hearing.

"I was thinking that those schools that benefitted from this Initiative should have been here because they are supposed to give testimony to what their schools got. But they are not here.

"If someone comes from Finance ministry now and tells us this is what they did, if we cannot corroborate that from those beneficiaries, our work will still be half done.

"I believe the Federal Ministry of Education should lead this initiative. So, probably the joint committee should look into the implementation whether it should remain in the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Education should be in charge of that.

"I do believe that there should be a National Safe School Initiative committee that should bring together the Ministry of Education, relevant security agencies and so on.

"Until we have a national strategy and policy, driven by a committee that is given the responsibility, we cannot achieve anything," Lawan said.

The Senate President said the investigation was not to look for fault "because it is not only limited and restricted to whether someone is not applying all the funds but also to find out how the funds were applied."

Earlier, the Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam said the essence of the investigative hearing was to receive factual submissions, inputs and insights on the implementation of the initiative from invited stakeholders.

Gaidam recalled that the Safe School Initiative was launched in 2014 during the World Economic Forum on Africa(WEFA) by the Nigerian government in collaboration with the United Nations in order to rebuild, rehabilitate and restore normalcy in the education sector.

The initiative, he said, was to be implemented then in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, expanded to other northern states  and to cover the entire country as a National Initiative.


Ola Awoniyi
Special Adviser(Media)
to President of the Senate

Thursday, 30th September, 2021
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