Nigeria @ 59: Marching to greatness, a step at a time – By Moruff Adenekan
Nigeria, a country of many nations destined by God to be together. A country made up of two separate protectorates amalgamated by the colonialists in 1914. Nigeria @ 59, an arrangement agreed to by our foremost nationalists and being perfected by contemporary generation, who are the beneficiaries of this old resolve to co-exist as a united and indivisible country.
From the clamour for self-rule during the colonial era to the achievement of independence in 1960, Nigerians have seen the power of unity of purpose. We have also seen the cost of disunity in an unfortunate civil war, which has strengthened our resolve to peacefully co-exist.
Nigeria @ 59 is a country blessed with huge natural and agricultural resources, good climatic conditions and safe from so many natural disasters which most other countries of the world are battling to deal with from time to time. From crude oil to granite, coal, limestone, gemstones to uranium and a host of other minerals evenly scattered all over the country. The country in the past 59 years of independent has been making good progress in tapping these resources to develop our people and the country.
In agriculture, we are blessed with fertile land and good climatic conditions which we have exploited to, not only become self-sufficient in many food crops like palm oil, cassava, maize, millet, yam etc. but also become an exporter of many cash crops like groundnut, cocoa, cotton, rubber, wood etc.
On tourism, Nigeria is a collection of tourist destinations, boasting of hundreds of attractions, many of which are classified as by UNICEF as heritage sites. Some of these sites are Obudu Mountain Resort, Idanre Hills, Coconut Beach, Badagry, Kainji National Park, Erin Ijesha Water Fall, Ikogosi Warm Springs, Olumo Rock, Yankari National Park to mention a few. These attractions, which have the potential of making Nigeria a top tourist destination in Africa, are being developed to international standards by the various governments.
Of all the endowments of Nigeria, human resource is, unarguably, the greatest. We are a country richly endowed with a highly resourceful, peace-loving and resilient people. A population of about 180 million people, largely youthful, educated, skilled and talented. A people that places a lot of dignity in labour, from the nomadic Fulani herdsmen to the Igbo traders, to the Ijaw fishermen and the hustlers in Lagos and other commercial nerve centres of the country. Our successive governments have worked hard to ensure a conducive environment for all, irrespective of who they are or where they come from, to live and practice their legitimate trade.
On the white-collar fields, Nigerians are renowned in many fields of endeavour – medicine, academia, engineering, economics, manufacturing, science and technology, literature, arts and entertainment etc. We have eminent global laureates to attest to this fact. The country’s investment in education is paying off handsomely as many of our compatriots, trained in the country are making waves both locally and internationally in all walks of life. Our film industry, Nollywood, is ranked third in the world, coming after Hollywood and Bollywood. We lead the whole of Africa in music and stand-up comedy.
Nigeria, being a conglomeration of many nations with different cultural practices, has been able to harness this diversity in such a way that, instead of its being a source of conflict and acrimony, has brought colour to our existence as a country. It has become a norm for the whole country, irrespective of their faith, to rally round every religious group in celebration of their holy days.
This diversity is opening a new vista in cultural tourism as many of the nations are now packaging their cultural festivals into tourist attractions. The Osun – Osogbo Festival, Eyo Festival, Argungu Festival, New Yam Festival, Ofala Festival, Durbar Festival, Ojude Oba Festival and many other festivals are beginning to draw fans from far and near. Some states are developing their own festivals like the Calabar Carnival, Port Harcourt Carnival and Lagos Carnival, to help boost cohesion, create fun and expand their economy.
An appraisal of our 59 years of self-rule will show a country making giant strides in all fields of human endeavour. Yes, we may have had some setbacks but we have overcome them to come out much stronger than we were. This gives us hope that we are going to overcome our few present challenges –security and economic especially – and come out stronger as we have done in the past.
Our democratic journey is very promising. We have recorded twenty years of uninterrupted democracy and have even achieved a peaceful transition from a ruling party to an opposition party. This is by no means a small feat, especially in the African continent.
As we celebrate Nigeria @ 59, this year’s Independence anniversary, we need to thank God, who made all these achievements possible and celebrate our heroes-past for their sacrifices in achieving a united country. We must also resolve to de-emphasise our differences but to re-enact, at all times, all the things that unite us and work hard to build a nation where peace and justice reign.
Happy Independence, Nigeria!
Moruff Adenekan, a Marketing Communications and Public Relations Consultant with PR Redline writes from Lagos.