By Godson Ikpontu

As notable and reputable Personalities from across the world extend accolades to the Giant of Africa at her 60th Independence Anniversary, Chief Ezekiel Afukonyo, a former Taraba State Governorship Candidate, current Board Chairman of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Chairman Open Palm Nigeria Limited and a dogged crusader of change has hailed the achievements of Nigeria since her Independence in 1960. He stated that the nation has attained notable strides, especially under the present Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Chief Afukonyo made the reaction during his 60th Independence anniversary message few hours ago. 

He further stated that Nigeria since Independence has made tremendous progress forward, and that, there are no comparisons with where we were and where we are today, especially in areas of infrastructural growth, human capital development, agriculture, industrialization, transportation, education, foreign policy, peace accords and international affairs. In his message, he elaborated his position on the levels of progress recorded so far in Nigeria. He noted that there has been commendable improvements in major sectors and industries across the country, with critical emphasis on human capital development, which was achieved through integrated investments in empowerment and education over the years.

In the agricultural sector, Chief Afukonyo commended governments and leadership, especially the current Administration for the role they had yet played to ease the intrinsic complacency birthed after the discovery of Oil in 1956, which led to the renouncement of agriculture and more concentrated efforts on oil. He therefore stated that the narratives have changed today, as the present government is doing creditably well in its efforts to revive the consciousness of Nigerians and integrate them into agriculture, especially through supportive loans, grants and incentives, which has currently contributed to the growth, empowerment and development of Nigeria.

Chief Afukonyo also emphasized on the amazing improvements which the transportation sector has recorded in recent times. He noted that both road transport infrastructures, railways and aviations have made significant progress, with regards to the construction of more road networks, airports and rail lines, linking communities to support trade, mobility, tourism and other necessities. He noted that electricity has also improved, with exceptional progresses made in areas of rural electrification, which is a core area of advancement in the power sector. Speaking as an indigene of Taraba state, Chief Afukonyo commended FG on the Mambilla hydropower project, which is a 3,050 Mega Watts hydroelectric facility, being developed on the Dongo River, near Baruf in Kakara Village of Taraba State. Chief Afukonyo noted that the epoch electrification project is expected to commence operation in 2030 and will be Nigeria’s biggest power plant.

Chief Afukonyo further spotlighted the successes attained in areas of industrialization. He uncovered that since 1990, the nation had more of foreign agencies and Institutions, but in the last few decades, many indigenous companies have sprang up and quite a number of small scale industries are also being established. Chief Afukonyo stated that such improvements in industrialization have made Nigeria the hub of Africa's emerging business destination, especially with the signing oft he protocol establishing African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA).

In areas of foreign policy development, Chief Afukonyo had this to say, "the country has done very well in terms of relations with other countries of the world, however, a country's national interest to a large extent determines her foreign policy, and even when a nation's requirements are constant, the dynamics, desirables and the variables may continue to mould her character at the international stage". Chief Afukonyo concluded by reflecting on the emphatic progress the nation has made in areas of fighting insecurity, maintaining unity and forestalling progress. He however called on Nigerians to work in collaboration with the government so as to attain greater heights of progress, stressing also that the unity of Nigeria cannot be negotiated and that the collaboration of Institutions and citizens will support tremendous progress at all levels.

Happy 60th Independence Anniversary and may God bless Nigeria.



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