Today marks Nigeria’s Independence Day, a day where we all believe to have gotten our freedom from our colonial Masters, a day where the true Nigerian journey commence, the start of our long walk to greatness, the day, for celebration and jubilation as a Nation but what are we celebrating for?
Just as many other countries of the African continent, Nigeria experienced many years of colonial regime of European countries. Due to the specific features of the African technical and cultural development, most tribes could not oppose Europeans with their guns, war ships and other weapons. This is why the locals were eventually subdued by white colonial powers quite easily. Colonization on the continent brought many cultural effects. Local religions, traditions and culture were oppressed and replaced by European ones. No wonder that one day local tribes started to think of freedom. Actually, the very first day of the colonization was the beginning of the rebellion. It grew for many years until there appeared strong spirits who were able to lead others and conduct the struggle for freedom. Somewhere between 1922 and 1959 Nigerians began to agitate for freedom after so many years of the British rule. Some famous and courageous men started struggling for the awakening of the Nigerian national spirit. It was an unexpected turn for the British colonists and they started to think about the ways of regaining control over the colonized lands.
For instance, they created several new constitutions that were supposed to calm down people’s rebellious moods. However, all these steps were not effective enough to make people forget about their life under the colonial rule and calm down their intention to have freedom. On October 27, 1958, the United Kingdom came to a conclusion that it would be better for Nigeria to become an independent state. At midnight on October 1960, Nigeria became independent and a new flag was created to replace the Union Jack. The national anthem was changed, too. “God Save the Queen” was no longer welcomed. It was replaced with “Nigeria We Hail Thee”.
THE NEW RULE AFTER INDEPENDENCE
The first Prime Minister after the Independence of Nigeria was Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. In 1963, when Nigeria was declared a republic, the new President was Nnamdi Azikiwe, previously a Governor General. Jaja Wachuku was the first African to be the speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives. Simultaneously, he received the Freedom Charter – the famous Nigerian Instrument of Independence.
INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION
The Independence Day is an official holiday for the entire country and all the existing 36 states of Nigeria celebrate it. As a rule, everything starts with the live broadcast of the President’s speech dedicated to all the citizens. The President’s speech, is usually followed by the armed forces parade. Everybody remembers those who dedicated their lives and efforts to Independence and honors the memory of the dead. Since there are many ethnic and cultural events during the celebrations, the holiday is also a perfect time to do some cultural exchange between the representatives of different ethnic groups. After all, it helps people feel that they are united, that they are the same strong, rich nation, which is on its way to further development.
BUT IS INDEPENDENCE DAY WORTH CELEBRATING?
The state of things in Nigeria has on a declining rate in the last five years as poverty, hunger and crime has been on a rise in the country. As at August 2019, Nigeria was declared by UN as the world’s poverty capital surpassing India, it was projected that in Nigeria, about 86.9 million people live in extreme poverty, which is about 50% of its entire population.
When it comes to Africa, Nigeria is said to be home to terrorists which are predominantly found in the North Eastern Part of the country; Boko Haram, a terrorist organization has severally been linked to Al queda. Since the current insurgency started in 2009, Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was at one time the world’s deadliest terror group according to the Global Terrorism Index. One should note that the Boko Haram group as of this day remained undefeated.
The Crime rate in Nigeria has been on the rise every year as there has been issues of kidnapping, Police Brutality, robbery, rape, etc. and this can be blamed on unemployment, lack of basic amenities and good education; with our thoughts diverted to education, the educational system in Nigeria has been depreciating over time as there has been countless issue of disagreement between the FG and ASUU leading to strike. One in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school. (Source: UNICEF)
The rate at which things keeps getting bad in Nigeria is alarming, are we moving Forward or Backward? What exactly are we celebrating? Which way Nigeria? These are the questions that we should reflect on as we celebrate independence today.
Today’s Independence Day celebration is a call for reflection and meditation amongst ourselves, a wake-up call and a time to start developing insight as to the way forward for us as Nigerians.
Nigeria can only be better if we all brace up to fix the problems found around us, if we all decide to be true agents of change and development, citizens that shun corruption and greed and other vices, until then that we can celebrate Independence Day.
Nigeria shall be great again!