Fifty five years ago, our fathers rolled out their drums in great jubilation as the Union Jack was officially de-hoisted: “we are Independent,” they enthused. Theirs was a jubilation of success, courage, foresight and hope- a hope ingrained in the fact that a new prosperous nation was born. Indeed their hearts swelled with deepest sense of pride and accomplishment that posterity will enjoy the milk and honey flowing in the land they had sacrificed a lot to ensure its Independence.
Today, even at the drop-of-the-hat, some people argue that Nigeria is a country of enormous promises which seems reluctant in its paces, disinclined to take the most wanted leaps, slow in its move to assert its nationhood and sleeping in the stupor of colonial contrivance and administrative dyspepsia.
But Nigeria indeed has come a long way. Our chequered history solidifies our hope in the greatness and future of this country. Smarting from a Civil War of man and guns which claimed over two million lives immediately after Independence, we are today faced with the challenges of nation-building and globalisation.
And the challenges before us as a nation are indeed intimidating and vast but it behooves us to set Nigeria on the path to nationhood and greatness. Before our generation lies the historic task of laying a firm foundation for a united, strong, peaceful, progressive and prosperous Nigeria. And it is my considered view that we must not fail in this regard.
Of course we do not need to be in the corridors of power to effect a meaningful change this in country, it begins with you and I in our respective families, towns, states and the nation. Therefore, we must consciously discharge our duties for the good of Nigeria and mankind with the very best of our strength, treasure, determination, dedication and diligence. Let us diligently labour and entreat to be remembered as a generation which uprooted the embers of hatred and discord between and amongst our people by cultivating the seed of accord, love and peace under a free, just, fair and equal society.
Furthermore, we must be careful against creating new areas of disharmony in our already fragmented country by protecting the North against the South or Igbo against Yoruba/Arewa, etc; it is our duty to erase dichotomy in our national life as Nigeria marks 55.
Most importantly, we are a generation already on the threshold of passing the baton to our younger ones so we must be good examples to them and our children for their interpersonal and communal relationship; we should encourage them to grow aright and patriotically too for the future is indeed theirs. And they need all the examples we can give to make the future a reality whenever it comes.
The journey to the next 55 years of our nationhood has officially begun. As an editor writing editorial on Nigeria’s 110th Birthday, what would you like the caption to be? For me, “Nigeria at 110: The Beacon of Excellence” would be my headline. I urge you to choose a caption for yourself and make a wish for Nigeria also. And work ceaselessly towards its actualisation.
At this juncture, may I cease this opportunity to wish you a happy Independence Day celebration. Even as we agree that we may not have developed as we should, there is still every reason to be thankful to God Almighty for our nation-Nigeria. There is also every reason to be on high alert in political vigilance because a vigilant society is the best guide against tyranny and abuse of government and its institutions.
Let us also say a prayer today for Nigeria, the Lord who maketh everything right will make our country the cynosure and example to all nations in the years ahead.
Happy Birthday Nigeria.
Okafor C. Udoka