Wednesday, Nigeria marked 48 years of independence from British colonial rule. President Umaru Yar'Adua is asking Nigerians to renew their faith and transform their country into a strong, stable, and democratic nation. He is calling on them to make Nigeria a major player on the global stage by 2020. President Yar'Adua pledged to promote a culture of prudence, diligence and accountability in governance.
But many Nigerians continue to express frustration over widespread hunger, unemployment and the pace of development.
Chief John Odey is Nigeria's minister of information and communications. He says despite some setbacks, the country has a lot to celebrate. "For us, it is a landmark; for us, it is an important event. It is an important event because it is an inspiration for all of us Nigerians. It has both economic and political significance for us. Our country has a blessed existence and we are celebrating it. We appreciate God for it and also, too, we are reflecting on our achievements so far and all our challenges and are looking back at our past heroes and what they have done for us and how we can consolidate upon it."
Chief Odey says the government is working very hard to improve and upgrade crumbling infrastructures countrywide. "This administration, we do not want to shy away from the problem or from the challenges. There are huge challenges for all the various sectors of the economy. We realize that is why we have the seven-point agenda that will deal with the critical sectors of the economy, particularly power and energy that can leverage the growth of the entire economy."Chief Odey says government has made progress in re-positioning the country's economy for investors. "Business environment is of course improving day by day and there are clear indications that the business environment is improving, the economy is doing well and we have been able to stabilize the economy as well."