Roundup: Nigeria’s 50th Anniversary

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from Britain. I’ve rounded up a number of viewpoints that address different aspects of life in Nigeria, past, present, and future.

  • BBC: Nigerians’ views on the anniversary. One quote from a young journalist in Lagos: “I refuse to be pessimistic about the future of Nigeria. I’ve been to some developing and developed countries of the world and they all have their issues. I do believe that corruption has affected the country over the years, but I think collectively we can overcome it. We all have to take responsibility – not just the leaders.”
  • Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (234 Next): “Obasanjo has blamed the nation’s underdevelopment on the regional politics played by such leaders of the first republic as Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello. He said if they had made proper efforts at nation building, the country would not have been where it is today.”
  • Cassava Republic: Eight Nigerian writers react to a photograph of the handover of power from James Robertson, the last British Governor-General of Nigeria to Tafawa Balewa, the first Prime Minister of Nigeria. A quote: “I hear that there is beauty in turning fifty and being able to look both backward and forward. If this is the case, then I think that today’s picture must be in colour with much less grey, fewer shadows, many more women, and just as much hope.”
  • Stella Eze And Taiwo Ogunmola on Nigerian education since 1960: “For the nation’s education sector, a system handed down since the colonial period, there are vivid areas of retrogression instead of progression. This sector left behind by the colonial masters has not grown to expectations, it is still grappling with a host of challenges like low enrolment, gender imbalance, decayed infrastructure, insufficient funding, high rate of illiteracy, low teacher quality. Others include limited access to university education, low standards, over enrolment, unmarketable university graduates among others.”
  • Sola Odunfa (BBC): “This victory [of surviving the civil war and other divisions] belongs to “the people” – Nigerians in the streets and villages who refuse to give up on their nation when the VIPs descended on it with the lethal weapon of extreme greed.”
  • Idang Alibi (Daily Trust) salutes former President Yakubu Gowon for his role during and after Nigeria’s civil war.
  • Adeniyi (Guardian): “The 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from Britain…offers Nigerian leaders (current and aspiring) a rare moment to accept responsibility for the past and seize the future. They must begin to fashion out the requisite strategies necessary to overcome the human and institutional barriers that for decades have held the country back, with a focus on accountability and good governance. They must also become more serious about putting in place social and physical infrastructure that will deepen and unleash the capacities of Nigeria’s next generation. All these will mean charting a new course and embracing a new form of politics.”

Please feel free to link relevant opinion/news piece on Nigeria’s independence in the comments section. And congratulations to Nigeria and its people – happy anniversary!

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