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Nigeria At 50: Yes, We Should Celebrate

September 30, 2010

October 1st, 2010 marks 50 years of Nigeria’s independence from her former colonial overlords, the then British Empire. The attainment of independence took more than a hundred year struggle by the Nigerian people, sequel to the ceding of Lagos, by Oba Akintoye to the conquering British Government in 1860 and the subsequent subjugation of the rest of the people of the Niger area, mostly through violence.

October 1st, 2010 marks 50 years of Nigeria’s independence from her former colonial overlords, the then British Empire. The attainment of independence took more than a hundred year struggle by the Nigerian people, sequel to the ceding of Lagos, by Oba Akintoye to the conquering British Government in 1860 and the subsequent subjugation of the rest of the people of the Niger area, mostly through violence.

The independence we celebrate on October 1st every year did not come cheaply. From the days of early nationalists like King Jaja of Opobo to the days of the last bearers of the great torch of liberty and freedom, men like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo, Mokwugo Okoye, Herbert Macaulay, Ernest Ikoli, Alvan Ikoku and a galaxy of other patriotic men and women who through conflicts, agitations, organisations, protests, petitions and negotiations, fought and won us the right to self government that we take for granted today. May we never forget that many were killed, exiled or jailed in the cause of that great struggle to end the long years of captivity in our own land. To these great men and women, October 1st is not just their day, it is their well deserved crown and we should forever celebrate them.

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For the living heroes and legends of this great struggle, still among us, men like Igwe Osita Agwuna, the Ezenri of Nri kingdom (Anambra state)  who was convicted and jailed for treason by British government on account of his radical activism to actualise the rights of Nigerians to govern themselves, October 1st is a day we must pay homage.

Indeed, the nation that was forged after 1st October 1960 held a great promise not just for Nigerians but for every black man all over the world. It was a promise to restore the dignity of all men of every colour from the humiliations of oppression, want and ignorance. The founding fathers wasted no time in pursuing this vision, establishing schools and industries and sponsoring liberation movements all over the world. Although, these visions have suffered set back over the years, the great legacies of their foot prints still endures.  Legacies that tell the story of a nation that remain a great beacon of hope for the black man all over the world, from the deserts of Sahara to the waters of the Caribbean.

Looking back in the past 50 years, let there be no doubt that this nation has done a lot of good for mankind. Nigeria was at the forefront in the eradication of the colonialism and apartheid, which were the twin evils that hurt global conscience then, just as terrorism worries our generation, presently.

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This nation has stood up for Africa during her most trying time. Embracing the struggle of other African nations as our own struggle and leading the way to Africa’s political emancipation.

This is worthy of celebration.

Our nation has paid greatly in blood and treasure to end mindless bloodbath in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo and Sudan. Indeed in the past fifty years, Nigeria has emerged as sole guarantor of stability in the West African sub region.

On October 1st, let us celebrate the courage and bravery of our armed forces, particularly those who paid with their lives to keep the peace.

Let no one confuse the significance of this day with the current challenges facing the nation. October 1st is a sacred day, a day our founders longed and toiled for. Let no one, out of cynicism or frustration, belittle the achievements of men and women, none of us is worthy enough even to unlace their shoes.

Let us suspend our today’s worries and distractions and savour the great milestone.

 

Happy Independence Day