THE ESSENCE OF NIGERIA AT 50 CULTURAL NITE OF UNITY
When on January 1, 1914, the foot soldiers of Her Imperial Majesty, the Queen of England, under the leadership of Lord Lugard, fused the Northern and Southern protectorates into one geographical entity, with the Colony of Lagos as the seat of power, the resultant creature, Nigeria, was largely an innocent baby who had every opportunity in the world to eventually chart for herself a noble cause worthy of emulation.
Our colonial masters conceived the amalgamation idea to suit their administrative needs, not for their love for the numerous ethnic nationalities, many have argued, they lumped together, willy-nilly. Nor is there any historical evidence to show that lord Lugard and Co. did seek to put together the Nigerian edifice on a weak foundation for their individual or collective gain of England – with a view to bringing the country to ruin.
Therefore, the geo-political Nigeria thus established had ahead of her an uncertain destiny laid bare to both internal and external influences. The external influence was the creators of the infant creature called the Nigeria, whose mission in Nigeria stood, firmly, on a tripod-political dominion, economic exploitation and psychological conquest. The Nigerian enterprise was, for the colonialist, a struggle, ultimate goal of which was to improve the lot of the average Briton and considerably enhance the self-worth and national pride of the citizenry and the British nation, respectively.
Fortunately for Britain, factors ranging from the attendant crisis of identity among the constituents of Nigeria’s geographical space to predictable dominance of mutual suspicion, prejudices, bias and in extreme cases, bigotry among their subjects readily lent themselves to the Queen’s dream. Pervasive illiteracy and differing cultural beliefs and practices prevalent in the post-amalgamation Nigeria also worked in favour of the mercantilist imperial Authority.
The profit motive of British occupation of Nigeria notwithstanding, it should be noted the after the demise of slave trade, there was a growing consciousness among stronger nations that guaranteed weaker nations and societies improved psychological comfort, just as issues of fundamental human rights and the dignity of the human person were been forcefully pushed to the front burner of world affairs. So, much as the colonial masters sought to profit optimally from their Nigerian adventure, visible efforts were made to raise improved specie of Homo Sapiens from the strange marriage of administrative convenience called Nigeria. Which today has become, to the minds of the teeming populace – and for the right reasons, too, an act of God.
Fifty years down the road, we have every cause, our short-comings notwithstanding, to roll out the drums. On August 26, 2010, the government, the private sector, Afrocultour, the ordinary people of Nigeria as well as friends of the nation in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation and supported by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) proudly celebrated Nigeria’s greatness at 50 via the rich cultural heritage of the peoples of Nigeria, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the UNITY of our golden nation.
The event was formally flagged off with a keynote speech by Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and featured special performances by Katsina State cultural troupe, old school Live band rendition by Cyprian Ekwensi Centre for Arts and Culture, Abuja; a children mass choir rendition, Nike Arts and Resort cultural troupe performance, Kwali Area Council, Abuja cultural dances and a top-rate drama presentation by the best of Nollywood in Abuja.
Barr. Chuks Akamadu, Managing Director of Afrocultour (the intiators/project managers) who doubled as chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) welcomed the distinguished audience whilst Alhaji (Dr.) Maitama Sule CFR, president of Nigeria @ 50 Cultural Nite of Unity engaged the nation via a speech titled: WHY THE LABOUR OF OUR HEROES PAST SHALL NOT BE IN VAIN. Chief Host of the Nite and Honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed reiterated government’s resolve to reposition the culture and tourism sector by properly projecting the rich, unique cultural heritage and tourism strengths of Nigeria, especially on the auspicious occasion of the nation’s golden jubilee. Ambassador M.T Mbu CFR who was Distinguished Guest of Honour joined others to call on Nigerians to use the diverse cultures of the various ethnic groupings in Nigeria to strengthen the unity of Nigeria.
The event was attended by a broad spectrum of the Nigerian populace and members of the international community led by the ambassadors of Mozambique, Germany, Israel, India, Egypt and Korea.
For us at Nigeria At 50 Cultural Nite of Unity, the story of our dear nation these past five memorable decades is a brilliant portrait of triumph; it is also a foreseeable light at the end of the tunnel. Our journey to nationhood, our unique evolutionary process, our continuing quest for greatness, the character of our collective staying power, the resilience of the ordinary Nigerian and our insistence on the excellence of our nation are pointers to the inescapable greatness that awaits us as a nation.
We proudly did gather in the nation’s Centre of Unity to salute the courage of our founding fathers who literally sacrificed all to restore our collective dignity as a people. We saluted the eternal memory of our heroes past who gave us NIGERIA; which has in turn contributed immensely to the advancement of humanity in diverse ways, including but certainly not limited to: science; peace-keeping; sports; religion; art; culture; technology; diplomacy and conflict resolution.
NIGERIA AT 50 CULTURAL NITE OF UNITY is a unique as well as lavish celebration of Nigeria’s unity, as the most populous black nation in the world marks her 50 years of existence as an independent, sovereign state. It is also a historic opportunity for the nation – her citizens and institutions – as well as friends of the nation to reaffirm their faith in Project Nigeria by voting afresh for national unity. More than anything else, Nigeria At 50 Cultural Nite of Unity is a demonstration of the inherent capacity of the peoples of Nigeria to strengthen the nation’s unity by means of our rich cultural heritage and boundless tourism potentials.
Interestingly, this event is coming to push the current political debate on the desirability or otherwise of defining and sustaining the principle of zoning the presidency of Nigeria away from the centre stage. Nigeria AT 50 Cultural Nite of Unity is, essentially, a direct warning on all shades of opinion regarding this contentious issue to desist from acts, omissions and utterances that are capable of shaking or worse still rocking the very foundation of Nigeria’s unity. Put differently, this cultural festival has come to remind politicians and their parties that the unity of Nigeria is by far greater and more important to the nation than the differing and often times conflicting individual, group and/or sectional interests of those who seek elective or appointive political positions. The unity of the nation is, without doubt, a pre-condition to the realization of the political aspiration of any Nigerian politician. It suffices, therefore, to say that we all owe it a duty to ourselves and more to posterity to ensure that the unity of Nigeria is neither compromised nor made vulnerable – irrespective of our political convictions!
CHUKS AKAMADU Esq.
Chairman, Local Organizing Committee (LOC)