On 1st October 2010, Nigeria celebrates its Golden Jubilee as an independent nation following the concession of the administration of the nation to Nigerians by the British colonial government in 1960. At fifty, there is the need to take stock and see if there is anything to party about.
The immediate challenges before an independent Nigeria in 1960 was how to sustain the economic growth, foster unity and sustain our leadership role in Africa. These issues thus serve as benchmarks for appraising the progress or otherwise of the Nigerian nation.
On the morning of our fiftieth anniversary, I listened to a BBC journalists asking Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former military leader, to list what he feels are the successes of the nation after fifty years of independence. The general was more emphatic on the unity of the nation. According to him, the ability of the leaders to ensure the continued unity of a country with a complex ethnic and religious diversity should be seen as the greatest success recorded and for which Nigerians should have something to cheer about. He talked about the civil war his administration fought to keep the nation as one between 1967 and 1970 as one demonstration of the ability of the government live up to expectation. Yes, it is true. The war succeeded in keeping the nation as one. The point of concern however, is that while the people were united, they did so with grudges. It is not that the Ibos or Biafrans never wanted to be part of Nigeria. They wanted it under circumstances that ensured their happiness. The leaders never gave Nigerians generally, this desire up till this point when we are celebrating fifty years of nationhood. Continue reading