As Nigeria marks the 57th anniversary of her independence from the ex-colonial master, Great Britain, it is worthy to note that the years after; the country has been able to remain united, regardless of her cultural differences.
First Independence Day:
The late Anthony Enahoro in 1957, moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence. It, however, suffered a major setback following the resistance of some Northern lawmakers who greatly opposed the motion, stressing they were not ready for the nation’s independence. Nigeria finally got the nod for independence from Britain in 1960 with the nation formally receiving freedom from British stronghold.
The Independence Day witnessed lots of celebrations around the country, especially in the then capital, Lagos.
The celebrations were topped by a grand ceremony hosted by the prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. At the time, Queen Elizabeth II, who was still the country’s sovereign and she was represented by a member of the British royal family, Princess Alexandra.
Festac 1977 is also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture. It was a major international festival and memorable event in Nigeria’s history. It was held in Lagos, Nigeria, from 15 January 1977 to 12 February 1977, celebrating African culture and showcasing to the world African music, fine art, literature, drama, dance and religion. The event had about 16,000 participants, representing 56 African nations and countries of the African Diaspora.
The Civil War:
The civil war, also known as the Biafran War started on July 6, 1967. It was one of the major trying period of Nigeria as the country was confronted by the secession of Biafra from the Republic of Nigeria. It was part of the implication of the 1966 coup. The war lasted thirty months and ended in January 1970. In accepting Biafra’ unconditional ceasefire, Gowon declared that there would be no victor and no vanquished. Nigeria is still confronted by the agitations from this war till date.
Return To Civil Rule In 1979:
Nigeria enjoyed the beauty of democracy when on October 1st, 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari became Nigeria’s democratically elected president. General Olusegun Obasanjo on February 13, 1976, promised to hand over power to a democratically elected President. He kept to his promise when in 1979, he formally relinquished power to the then incumbent.
The election, however, portrayed the image of Nigeria positively in the limelight within the international community through the rare show of sportsmanship exhibited by the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Obasanjo’s rise to becoming the nation’s leader came after the death of the former Nigerian leader, General Murtala Muhammed, under whose regime he (Obasanjo) was the Second-in-Command.
World Stands Still For Nigerian Laureate:
The world of Literature stood still in 1986 for Professor Wole Soyinka who emerged the first African to win the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Soyinka was recognised for his wide cultural perspective and poetic overtones that fashions the drama of existence in his writings.
This singular feat of Soyinka, a Professor of Comparative Literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University from 1975 to 1999, was made possible owing to him being a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country’s many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies.
Nigeria At Olympics ’96:
Football, they say is a unifying sport that brings everyone together irrespective of the race, cultural or religious affiliations.
This perhaps explains why the Super Eagles of Nigeria wrote their name in a gold, as generations yet unborn would still remember their electrifying performance in the Olympics games hosted by the United States of America.
Although it has been over 20 years since then, the memories remain evergreen among lovers of sports, especially those that witnessed it then. Nigeria’s football team made Olympic history and the defining memories remain vivid in the heart of many Nigerians.
Miss Nigeria, Agbani Darego Cliches Miss World Crown:
In November 2001, Agbani Darego became took Nigeria’s name to the world stage at the Miss World Competition. She emerged the first native African to claim the Miss World title. Her victory, however, was widely welcomed at home, and her one-year tenure included goodwill trips and scheduled appearances on behalf of the pageant. In appreciation, the Federal Government under the Obasanjo presidency honoured her with a prestigious Member of the Federal Republic (MFR).
Nigeria’s $18bn Debt Is Erased:
On the 21st day of April, 2006, Nigeria’s debt was being pardoned by the Paris club. This action earned Nigeria respect within the African soil being the first country in the continent to successfully offset her debt. The initiative was made possible under the leadership of Dr, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who served as the Finance Minister during President Olusegun Obasanjo civilian tenure.