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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid