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Nigeria at 59: The Significance of Independence Day

Nigeria is a nation of approximately 190 million people, 774 local governments, more than 500 languages, 250 ethnic groups, and 36 states. The formation of Nigeria, as we know it today, started in the 1800s, became Nigeria in 1914, and gained independence in 1960.

On the 1st October 1960, Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule. Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth, is a vastly wealthy nation with a plethora of natural resources and conspicuous human resources. For fifty nine years, Nigeria has piloted the vehicle of her destiny.

Nigeria is a cosmopolitan community fused to share one identity. This has been the struggle since its birth. She has since struggled to harness that which has been seen by others to be her strength; diversity. October 1st is therefore very important to the Nigerian fabric because it greets us every year with reminders.

Freedom

October 1st reminds Nigerians that we are a free people. Free from subjugation, that we have our destinies in our hands. However we want the bed to look like, the creativity is in our mind, the time is ours to moderate, the finance is ours to manage, the resources are available at our disposal, and the hands are present to work with. It is one thing to have these at the back of our minds but it is another thing to implement it. Eradication of mental neo imperialism and actualizing our freedom is key to national growth.

The People

Independence Day lays emphasis on the people. In the first place, the people were the sole reason for the fight for independence and also the attainment of independence. Thus, the people should be the centerpiece of politics. In actuality, no state or nation can exist without the people. Projects of state must be people oriented projects and not for self-aggrandisement.  October 1st puts the livelihood of the Nigerian people into perspective.

Coat of Arms

October 1st brings to fore things that ordinarily, on a daily basis we forget. I mean Symbols or ritualistic emblems that characterize our existence as Nigerians. The coat of arms is an important element of the Nigerian history. Generically, after elementary school, we all seem to forget about the coat of arms. However, the coat of arms possesses strong motivational and nationalistic images and meanings. Independence day helps exhume and present this emblem before our faces through various mediums. The coat of arms has seven nationally important features. The black shield symbolizes fertility of the Nigerian soil, the horses symbolizes dignity, the green and white bands on top of the soil symbolizes rich soil, the ‘Y’ like white line symbolizes the confluence of Nigeria’s main rivers (river Niger and river Benue), the coctus spectabilis, a reddish flower; Nigerians national flower on the greens of the coat of arms symbolizes the beauty of the nation. The coctus spectabilis is found all over Nigeria. The eagle symbolizes strength, and the yellowish band at the base of the coat of arms holds a very strong statement: unity and faith, peace and progress. The coat of arms is a constant reminder of who we are, where we are and what we have as a people.

National Anthem and National Pledge

This day affords us the opportunity to sing or hear the sermonic melodies of the Nigerian national anthem. The Nigerian national anthem was adopted in 1978. It was the creation of the Nigerian police and B. E. Odiasse directed it. The words of this anthem are an indictment to us all as a people and a prayer for Nigerian citizens at the same time.

Arise, O Compatriots,

Nigeria’s call obey

To serve our Fatherland

With love and strength and faith.

The labour of our heroes past

Shall never be in vain,

To serve with heart and might

One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

O God of creation,

Direct our noble cause;

Guide our Leaders right:

Help our Youth the truth to know,

In love and honesty to grow,

And living just and true,

Great lofty heights attain,

To build a nation where peace and justice reign.

On the other hand, the pledge is an oath of allegiance to the Nigerian course. Saying The Pledge is simply swearing an oath, which most people have not figured out.

I pledge to Nigeria my country To be faithful, loyal and honest To serve Nigeria with all my strength To defend her unity, and uphold her honour and glory So, help me God.

Where we are coming from, where we are and where we should be

It is a time for sober reflections. A time to look at what we fought for, what we gained after the fighting, what we have done with what we gained, how well or badly we have done with what we gained. Then, examine where we are as citizens; leaders and followers, how well or badly we do justice to the Nigerian course. What was left in our hands, is it still standing? How well is it standing? It is also a time to look to the future with one mind, one voice, one might.

Reaffirm Our Membership

Furthermore, this day is a time when we accept our identity as Nigerians. We sign again, with our hearts the contract that holds us together as one people. We reaffirm our membership as part of a great community that is condemned to succeed no matter what comes around. A time to re assert, make our claim as stakeholders, and translucently make known our unwavering commitment to our nation Nigeria.

We have to remember that our diversity should be our strength and then glow with dignity when our flag waves because that’s our national identity.

Sources:

BuzzNigeria

World Population Review

Facts NG

Wikipedia

Featured Image Source: Oasdom

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Chidozie Prince Ahaneku

I am a poet. I am a moderate thinker who abhors radicalism on every front and believes that most things are relative. I am a social and political critic. I love writing, reading and international politics.

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