News / Africa

Explosions During Nigerian Independence Celebrations Kill 8

A Nigerian police officer walks past the burnt out shell of a car, after a car bomb exploded in Abuja, Nigeria, 1 Oct 2010
A Nigerian police officer walks past the burnt out shell of a car, after a car bomb exploded in Abuja, Nigeria, 1 Oct 2010

Multimedia

Audio

Militants from Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta set off several small bombs in the capital during ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of independence. Police in Nigeria say at least eight people have been killed and several others injured.

Two car bombs went off in Abuja and there was also a smaller explosion nearer the parade grounds -- all claimed by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta which issued a statement saying there is nothing worth celebrating after 50 years of failure.

The explosions did not disrupt the independence ceremonies where President Goodluck Jonathan said that on this day in 1960 the new citizens of a new country were full of hopes.

"Nigerians were filled with expectations as the Union Jack was lowered and the green-white-green flag was raised in its place," said President Jonathan.  "A new country was born. A new journey had started on a route never taken before. The future was pregnant with promise."

In a written statement, the president's office said the bombings are a "low, dirty and wicked act of desperation by criminals and murderers." It said the president grieves with families who have lost loved ones and wants those behind the attacks to know that they will be found and "will pay dearly for this heinous crime."

Over the last 50 years, that promise has not always been delivered on as Nigeria suffered through a civil war and long years of military rule. Today, President Jonathan says many Nigerians believe the dreams and expectations of independence have not been fulfilled.

"Not only do people despair over the slow pace of progress, some have in fact given up on the country," added Jonathan.  "Some believe that if the colonial masters had stayed longer, Nigeria may have been better for it. Our troubles and our failures are well-cataloged."

President Jonathan says despite serious challenges, Nigerians have cause to celebrate their nationhood and look forward to a brighter future.

Mr. Jonathan wants to be a part of that future by running for president next year. But his campaign illustrates one of Nigeria's greatest weaknesses - regional rivalries. An informal political agreement says the next Nigerian president should be from the north to finish out what would have been the second term of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua instead of continuing on with Mr. Jonathan, who is from the south.

Mistrust between the mainly-Muslim north and predominantly-Christian south was exploited by British colonial rulers who entrenched separate regional councils in the 1947 constitution, a divide-and-rule tactic denounced at the time by the man who would become Nigeria's first president, Nnamdi Azikiwe.   

"As delegates of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, chosen by our people in order to demand for a more democratic constitution, to modify foreign laws affecting our land, minerals, and chiefs," explained Azikiwe.  "And to request the British government to grant us more political responsibility to enable us to take an active part in the management of our affairs within the framework of the British Empire."

Yusuff Maitama Sule was a minister in that first government.

"One would have thought that the crisis of uniting this country should have started when they were here," added Sule.  "But perhaps because of the policy which they had been identified with of divide-and-rule, they kept the different parts of the country separate for quite some time. And left the country like this. This made it very difficult for the Nigerians leaders after independent to bring about national unity."

Fifty years later, newspaper editor John Ege says the golden jubilee is worth celebrating, if only because Nigeria has survived so much.

"Nigeria at 50, that is an achievement. It is worth celebrating that we lived up to 50 years. It is not easy," noted Ege.  "There have been significant improvements in the life of Nigeria. We have the Internet. We have so many things in Nigeria apart from the power failure and the infrastructural decay. But there is hope."

But computer saleswoman Helen Arerota is not so sure.

"Our country Nigeria at 50, we are still struggling," said Areota.  "Even crawling is an understatement. It is a child that is still sitting. Military or non-military, the leaders in their state of mind they are corrupt."

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka says Nigeria as a nation is still a work in progress.

"You can unveil the flag as much as you want, you can recite the national pledge as long as you want you can sing that banal, tawdry national anthem as loudly as you like, that project is still in the making," said Soyinka.

Soyinka says next year's vote is a chance to regain ground lost when the military annulled Nigeria's 1993 election.

"If Nigerians still go to this election hammer and tongs with that mentality of the most ruthless killer take all - not just winner take all, but killer take all - then of course this election is going to be a disaster," noted Soyinka.  "It's possible; a free and fair election can only come about if Nigerians recover that sense of self worth that made them act in a disciplined and truthful manner towards one another in the election of 1993."

Then-military-ruler Ibrahim Babangida annulled that 1993 vote, which is widely seen as Nigeria's fairest ever. The retired general is now a candidate in next year's election.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs