Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has called for concerted and united effort by all Nigerians to build a strong economy as a means of sustaining the nation's democracy.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, to commemorate the 2017 Democracy Day celebration, said the real challenge to the sustenance of the democracy which the country has experienced in the last 18 years was the need for a solid economy that will ensure that the citizens enjoy high standard of living and that there was even development across the country.
He therefore urged Nigerians to support the policies of government aimed at involving the private sector in key sectors of the economy, focussing on locally manufactured goods, encouraging small and medium scale entrepreneurs, developing alternative sources of foreign exchange other than oil, directing attention to commercial agriculture and mining of mineral resources, eliminating smuggling and other activities which can sabotage the economy.
Saraki stated that if the people could rally behind government policies to develop the economy and create a vibrant private sector by eschewing all activities which threaten the stability of the country, then "many of the problems which bedevil the nation's politics will be eliminated and our democracy will grow from strength to strength".
He also canvassed that Nigerians should consciously nurture the various institutions which make the country a democracy worth the name and said it is by building the institutions and respecting the values they represent that the nation can guarantee stability, development and consistency.
The Senate President however thanked Nigerians for their perseverance, patience, understanding and resilience in the face of the current economic challenges, even as he assured that better days are near.
He commended the policies and programmes of the present administration aimed at repositioning the country and called for more support for President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve his lofty economic plan.
Saraki said: "I want to congratulate all Nigerians for the successes we have recorded so far in our democratic journey. We cannot afford to remove our legs from the gas pedal. Government definitely is determined to make life more abundant for our people.
"All Nigerians deserve commendation. We have done well so far. We must strive more to make democracy a way of life. The successes recorded so far, demonstrate the unwavering commitment of Nigerians to sustain and grow our democracy.
"Let us celebrate with hope that the present economic challenges will soon give way to a prosperous country that we can all be proud of. Our democratic institutions need to be strengthened to perform their duties in the service of all Nigerians irrespective of the government in power," he said.
The Senate President said that the present administration is endowed with the necessary political will to initiate changes that would lead to the overall development of the country, with the support of all.