by Ifelunwa Amajioyi
October 1st has come and gone with the atmosphere bustling during preparations for the celebration of this historic day and the joy lingering days after. However, Nigeria stands as a sovereign and independent state today due to the numerous sacrifices of the founding fathers of the various provinces that made up the colony that became the present day Nigeria.
The history of Nigeria started in 1914 when the Northern and Southern protectorates were amalgamated by Sir Frederick Lugard for easy administration and direct rule. Nigeria thus became a British colony untill the fierce resistance of some Nigerian elites such as Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Funmilayo Ransom Kuti, Anthony Enahoro, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, among others paid off with the British granting Nigeria her independence.
The excitement about the independence day celebration of Nigeria from this period onwards has been borne out of loyalty and patriotism for the Nigerian story. One feels happy to recall that as kids dressed up quite neatly in school uniforms, children partake in match pass activities in parade grounds and national stadia following series of dedicated practices in solidarity and patriotism for the great nation.
Back in the 1990s in my secondary school days, we were thought in our History lesson how the vision, wisdom, courage and dedication of Nigerian political leaders came to fruition, and their prowess adopted by models and young imitators is still practicable in solving some of our nation’s challenges in the present time.
One of the most glaring activities embarked upon by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to mark this ever endearing day was a photo exhibition of Nigerian past and present leaders and the major national events of Nigerian Presidents developing from the time of independence. The event took place at the African Hall of the International Conference Centre in Area 11, Garki Abuja from Tuesday September 25 – Thursday September 27, 2018.
While listening to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed deliver his welcome address during the 2018 Independence day Photo Exhibition organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, he commended citizens’ patriotism and commitment to nation building. He said that 1st October is a day for celebration and thanksgiving because it occupies a very important place of pride in the political history of Nigeria and it also serves as a poignant reminder and appreciation for the labours of Nigerian heroes past.
The integrity of the Nigerian independence day cannot be over emphasized, the various phases that Nigeria as a country has to go through, the political crisis, the coups and counter coups to the civil war, the military rule, the birth of democracy in the late 90’s. One can easily see that the spirit of patriotism in the citizenry, the hopes for the future and vision of the political leaders is so strong that the day is still celebrated as if the independence is just granted anew.
I agree with the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo when he said during the just concluded photo exhibition conducted by the Information Ministry that at every turn we clearly see strength of the Nigerian resolve to build a nation and the valiant attempts of the leadership at state building. He indicated that though we might not have always excelled or have not always done as well as we should, but that is not the story, the story he said is that we have never lacked the courage and will to keep trying, and to do so with greater resolve and greater commitment.
In all, one can perceive with much acumen that the independence day is a national day of celebration regardless of tribe, religion or political affiliation. I therefore think it should be tagged as a day of national freedom and sharing, a day when we should reminisce on the Nigerian story and journey so far, a period when teachers at school and parents at home should appreciate the beauty of civilization and freedom as well as teach the little children the history of Nigeria and encourage them to understand and appreciate the Nigerian story.
Looking at the years gone by and the status so far attained, it is undeniable that Nigeria has come a long way and has achieved a lot in terms of human capacity development. In line with the assumed courage and exploits of Nigerian past leaders, the upcoming generations are modelling the future and braising up seriously to take the country to greater heights. A seeming instance is the recent technological breakthrough where some Nigerian secondary school girls from the Regina Pacis College in Anambra State represented Nigeria in America and developed an App, winning all other competitors around the world, among other recent and past achievements.
The former Minister of Information, Prof Dora Akunyili of blessed memory can’t be too correct or wrong when she rightly adopted the slogan for the country with the assertion: “good people great nation.”
It can be observed that the strong-will and faith of the Nigerian people portrayed in their attitudes and activities keep paying off when Nigeria was listed as one of the most happy country in the world. Nigerians have also been attested to be very hard working and focused as they are engaged in every field of study beneficial to humankind.