On Oct. 1, Nigerians from all walks of life converged on the Eagle Square, Abuja to mark Nigeria’s 58th Independence Day with a scintillating parade.
The event was the first full-fledged Independence Day parade since the celebration was marred by an explosion which occurred near Eagle Square on Oct. 1, 2010.
The pomp and effervescence that greeted Nigeria’s 58th Independence Day, observers say, is a clear testimony of the irrepressible Nigerian spirit.
Conversely, military coups and counter-coups, civil war, political crisis, communal crisis, farmers-herders crisis among others have not been able to break the resolve of the Nigeria people to remain united.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a nationwide Independence Day broadcast, said he would continue to work tirelessly to promote, protect and preserve a united, peaceful, prosperous and secure Nigeria, where all, irrespective of background, could aspire to succeed.
Buhari enjoined all citizens to continue to promote the values, virtues and common aspirations that unite Nigerians rather than engaging in divisive tendencies.
“As we celebrate the 58th Anniversary of our independence, we know we are on the right path. Although we have our differences, they count for far less than the values, virtues and common aspirations that unite us as a nation.
“We have so much for which we should be grateful, and in which we should rightly take pride.
“Our journey is not finished but we have come a long way.’’
Buhari also pledged that his administration would continue to support initiatives aimed at addressing “the challenges of our times.’’
He said such challenges included global and regional crises and conflicts, terrorism, trans-border crime, climate change, human rights, gender equality, development, poverty and inequality within and between nations.
“In this context, we are working hard to achieve both the AU 2063 Agenda for socio-economic transformation of our continent; and the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, which together aim at addressing these challenges,’’ he added.
Buhari later took the salute at the Eagle Square, Abuja, as military and para-military organisations held a colourful parade.
Shortly after arrival at the square, the president, who was the Special Guest of Honour, mounted the parade car and inspected the Guards.
Ceremonially dressed men drawn from, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police, Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Prisons Service and Nigerian Immigration Service filed out.
Also in the parade were men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Fire Service, National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) and the Nigerian Legion.
After the inspection of Guards, Buhari took the presidential salute, which was followed by the match past.
Shortly afterwards, there was a display of equipment by the Army, Navy, Police and Air Force, which was followed by firing of volleys and 21-Gun Salute.
The President then received the three hearty cheers and granted permission to the parade commander to march off the parade.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, service chiefs, former Heads of State, Chief Justice of the Federation, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, members of the Federal Executive Council and captains of industry graced the event.
At a dinner/ gala night held to wind up the celebration, Osinbajo expounded on the enormous human and material endowment of Nigeria, adding Nigeria would soon become the envy of the world.
According to him, Nigerians in the US are the most educated ethnic group as 60 per cent of Nigerians in the US have college degrees.
“This is above the American average of 30 per cent; Nigerians in US are one of the highest income earners in the US, and I choose America as one example; Nigerians earn 25 per cent more than the median US income.
“The world’s fastest supercomputer was designed by a world-renowned inventor, Philip Emeagwali, a full-blown Nigerian.
“This means Nigeria has the patent for the world’s fastest computer; the wealthiest black African, a Nigerian. Isn’t that a good thing?
“We are also told that the wealthiest black woman in the world is also a Nigerian; who knows who the next wealthiest African would be here or the next wealthiest African?’’
He said a Nigerian family, the Imafidons, who lived in the UK, had been officially declared the smartest family in the UK, a family of about six children who had excelled in their academics in incredible ways.
More so, he said that the designer of that famous car, Chevrolet Volt, was a Nigerian called Jelani Aliyu-a super talented Nigerian from Sokoto, who had been employed by the Nigerian government.
Osinbajo said that aside, technology and business, Anthony Joshua, a Nigerian, was the world’s best heavyweight boxer.
“Everybody is dancing to Nigerian music, and our traditional attires, especially our women attires and headgears have conquered Africa.
“Even our male attire, there’s just something about the Nigerian swag. Whether they like it or not, we Nigerians are just exceptional, we are just different.
“Anywhere you go, you know a Nigerian; if you see anyone reading a book on how to become self-confident, know that he is not a Nigerian, we are born self-confident.
“The reason why we are so optimistic is because we know that we are the best, we know we are going to excel.
“It may seem like it’s taking a while, and there are many problems, but every one of the over 1,000 days that I have been Vice President for, I grow stronger in my complete confidence that we are going to be the envy of the whole world in a few short years.
“Well, you might say that that is optimistic, why not, I am a Nigerian,’’ he said.
On his part, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), called on citizens to live in peace in spite of their religious and ethnic differences.
“I want all Nigerians to be united; we should be grateful to God that we have been able to celebrate in the manner that we did today.
“We lined up activities for one week telling Nigerians that prosperity and peace are returning to this country and the President has been able to demonstrate that.
“Virtually all the armaments displayed today were acquired in the last three and half years.
“I can assure you that with the current leadership we will get to the root of this insurgency and secure this nation.
“Also people can pursue their different enterprises and there will be calm in the country,’’ Mustapha said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, commended Nigerians for their efforts in living peacefully amongst themselves.
She stated that in the 58 years of the country’s existence Nigerians had done very well in promoting unity considering the many ethnic and interest groups the country was made up of.
She noted that the nations usually compared to Nigeria had enjoyed over 100 years of nationhood and expressed the belief that the country would still achieve greater milestones.
“The celebration is wonderful; this is the best independence anniversary we have had for years and it really shows the depth of hard work and commitment that Mr President is giving to this nation.
“I believe that with what we have seen today we Nigerians especially the civil servants have to really sit up and prove that what Mr President has invested in this nation is not in vain.
“What we have seen today is really heartening and it gives me a lot of joy and I am proud to be a Nigerian.
“Nigeria is just 58 and there is still a lot for us going forward; so I want us to be patriotic and work hard for the greatness of Nigeria,’’ Oyo-Ita said.
Osinbajo, had at an Interdenominational Independence Day Church Service held at the National Christian Centre, prayed for Nigeria and called down God’s blessings for the nation and its citizens.
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The vice president, who is also a pastor, said that God deserved praises for preserving Nigerians to witness another anniversary of their great nation.
“This anniversary is an opportunity to bless our nation; it is an opportunity to declare some blessings upon our nation and upon the people of our nation, of all gathered here and everyone.
“Nigeria, this 58 years of your independence will mark a great new beginning of peace, of prosperity, of abundance,’’ Osinbajo prayed.
Perceptive analysts are of the view that the desired magnificent, prosperous, developed and economically viable Nigeria is achievable if only the citizens eschew nepotism, ethnic nationalism, bitterness and other divisive tendencies.
They say that Nigeria is, indeed, on the threshold on being the envy of the world.