News / Africa

Nigeria Celebrates Fifty Years Of Independence

A prominent politician gives his country a mixed review

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
Ashenafi Abedje

Nigerians today celebrate the 50th anniversary of their independence from Britain.  The ceremonies in the capital, Abuja, included a military parade, fireworks and an address to the nation by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Police say at least seven people were killed in explosions near the country's Independence Day celebrations.  Nigeria's most prominent militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), warned of the explosions about an hour before they occurred.

The incident did not disrupt the festivities.

Reflections

So how do Nigerians reflect on their fifty years of independence?  Former Anambra state governor Chris Ngige says the record is a mixed bag.

“Joy because as a nation, we have attained fifty years of nationhood.  We fought a fratricidal war and we came back as one country.  We have sadness in that the expectations of the founding fathers have not been met.”

Militants from Nigeria's oil rich Niger Delta set off several small bombs in the capital during ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary. A Nigerian police officer walks past the burnt out shell of a car, after a car bomb exploded in Abuja, Nigeria.
Militants from Nigeria's oil rich Niger Delta set off several small bombs in the capital during ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary. A Nigerian police officer walks past the burnt out shell of a car, after a car bomb exploded in Abuja, Nigeria.

 

Ngige says today Nigerians are “wallowing in poverty” as seventy percent of the people live below the poverty line.  Today’s anniversary, he says, is an occasion for Nigerians to “soberly reflect and rededicate ourselves anew.”

Military rule

The former governor laments the role of the military in “stunting the development of democracy” in Nigeria.
“Military rule by its nature is undemocratic, an aberration.

All political structures are pulled down during military rule, ruling with fiats and decrees.  These have made democracy not to grow in Nigeria,” he says.

The veteran official says military decrees and laws, often made by a handful of people, have always been draconian and antithetical to the tents of democracy.

Corruption

Ngige says despite Nigeria’s status as the leading oil producer in Africa, Nigerians have benefitted very little from oil revenues.  He blames what he calls “rampant corruption” among the country’s officials.

Nigeria Celebrates Fifty Years Of Independence
Nigeria Celebrates Fifty Years Of Independence

 

“The oil is being stolen from source before export and while it’s being exported.  The money gotten from the sale of oil is cornered by few greedy elites.  And using massive fraudulent means, they have denied their fellow countrymen the benefits of the oil wealth,” he says.

Ngige places little faith in the anti-corruption campaigns of Nigeria’s last two governments.

Peacekeeping

The former governor says Nigeria deserves credit for helping create and maintain peace in the sub-region.

“It is a major achievement.  Nigeria is big and because everybody in the continent and sub-region look up to us as Big Brother, we have lived up to that responsibility of providing Big Brother outlook and protection,” he says.

Ngige says such peacekeeping efforts under both military and civilian governments are among the bright spots in his country’s fifty years of post-independence history.  

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More