Chris Steven, Abuja
As Nigerians commemorate 2016 Democracy Day,former Commissioner for Health in Rivers State, Dr. Sampson Parker has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to consolidate the gains of his administration by handling the grievances of Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and Biafra agitators with diplomacy.
He gave the advise in a statement issued in Abuja,on Sunday in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day,where he condemned acts of vandalism and destruction of oil installations in the region by members of NDA.
According to Dr Parker,Nigeria’s 17 years of uninterrupted multi party democracy calls for celebrations, renewed optimism in our collective nationhood.
He said Buhari, having gotten the opportunity to lead Nigeria a second time,should consider himself a statesman who in his younger years took up arms to unify Nigeria,noting that the country has made giant strides in many areas of development but has also passed through harrowing experiences.
“Our experiences in the past 17 years have sometimes tested our collective resolve as one indivisible nation state but we have survived as a stronger people with a common destiny,”Parker said.
He pointed to the Boko Haram insurgency in the North, the restiveness of the Biafra agitators and the resurgence of violence in the Niger Delta as warning signs that more work needs to be done for the continued unity of Nigeria.
“While we have cause to celebrate these 17 years of democracy, there are signs that continued honest dialogue amongst the various nationalities that form the Nigerian nation is an essential requirement.
“We cannot rest on oars as the privileged elite who have been at the helm of affairs in all spheres of government should realise that a lot more work needs to be done.
“To many of our people in the rural areas the promise of a prosperous Nigeria remains a mirage. We should all be concerned,” he said
He sent felicitations to former President Goodluck Jonathan and his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari for the 2015 elections.
“At a time when the country edged too close to the precipice, it took the courage and magnanimity of President Goodluck Jonathan, a proud son of the South South region to pull us back on the path of reason and reconciliation.
“I salute Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and Mr. Muhammadu Buhari for their roles at our proudest episode in democracy. The successful transfer of power from a ruling party to an opposition is a milestone which many African countries will emulate.”He said
Alluding to the feared recession in the economy, Parker said, “the reality today is that our status as a very wealthy nation has been tested in the past one year because of the dwindling production of crude oil and low price in the international oil market.
However, this has also presented us with an opportunity to expand our revenue base and economy. It can no longer be business as usual as the economic challenges we face are enormous.”