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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora