Sixty years ago today, the nation of Nigeria took a bold step towards freedom from colonial rule. The entirety of the nation erupted in celebration as the day of commemoration was earmarked on October 1st, 1960.
Citizens marched on and rejoiced as they went in a procession towards Tafawa Balewa Square where the ceremony was held as leaders from a new Nigeria, Britain and other parts of the world sat.
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It was a long walk to freedom indeed. And it was not easy getting to where we are today as well.
Today, 60 years post-independence, Nigerians especially look back to how we got here. The people reflect on what the journey has been per nation-building. And even more, citizens ponder how many more years of the current national predicament that the people can endure before there is a breakthrough.
A lot of naysayers have repeatedly, over the years, predicted that the unity of the nation is at risk. There have also been a number of times that we have witnessed a near collapse of Nigeria’s sovereignty. Yet, by hook or crook, the nation and its people have survived as one against all odds.
Bar the naysayers, many citizens have also grown cynical of the fate of the nation. They have had grudges and disgruntlement about how the state of the nation has been managed since independence. They often quip that Nigeria can never prosper while they go about their personal businesses.
And this brings into question how Nigerians have come to view patriotism. It is a common saying by a lot of ordinary Nigerians that they cannot die for Nigeria their country. Such cynicism has been cued since they have witnessed decades of their nation failing them and dashing their hope.
Yet, the patriotic thing to do still is not to throw in the towel – especially when it comes to the fate of a nation. It is not enough, and it does not augur well if all Nigerians now agree that their nation has no future.
Optimism is often viewed as the antithesis of reality- but all hope of a better nation should not be cast to the waters.
Nationally, the commemoration of Nigeria’s Diamond jubilee has been dampened due to the aftermath of the Covid19 pandemic. The underwhelming socio-economic reality of the citizenry has also further contributed to the lack of verve of Nigerians marking this historic day. A lot of citizens feel that there is nothing to be joyous about.
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However, the good times witnessed by a nation should not only be the highlight of a national journey. Remembering the bad times too gives enough premise to reflect on and form into history as well.
It is for this reason that no matter what feelers from the public is, no matter the mood of the citizenry, no matter how much the people might have lost hope in the betterment of this nation; our 200 million-strong population must as a patriotic duty continue to beat that path to sovereign freedom.
We must continue to participate in governance. We as a people must critique the government concisely and adequately. We as a people must be zealous in exercising our suffrage – the right to choose our leaders. We as a people must continue to demand Good Governance at all levels of administration and national existence. We as a people must never surrender to the whims of selfish leaders who have grown to serve their own pockets and not the sovereign.
These are our God-given rights. Each and every one constitutes the nation and there would not be Nigeria without the people comprising it.
The revolution of our minds is the first stage in getting to the promised land which the likes of Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa and many other founding fathers of Nigeria fought for with their sweat and blood.
This is the only assurance that today’s marking of our 60th Independence Anniversary is one of those commemorative days amongst many better ones coming; for the sake of Nigeria.
Happy Independence Day, Nigeria!
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