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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid