Nigerians have described the ongoing year-long celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates as a misplaced priority.
By Temitayo Famutimi
According to the information on the centenary website, www.nigeriacentenary.com.ng, there are dozens of events, competitions and games which Nigerians are encouraged to participate in online as part of activities lined up for the celebration.
The events lined up for the celebration include college road shows, music competitions, comedy night shows, Miss Centenary Pageant, festivals and carnivals.
The organisers of the multi-faceted and multi-location celebration, which is expected to climax in January 2014, also asks citizens to upload “state heritage pictures,” promising them cash prizes and other goodies.
But most Nigerians following the ongoing centenary activities on the Internet say “celebrating history” is not enough to mark the nation’s journey from the amalgamation of 1914.
According to them, the feast amounts to a celebration of mediocrity. They say it is therefore unnecessary and a waste of resources. They argue that the project has no significance in the amelioration of the challenges of Nigeria’s nationhood.
Former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, frowns on what she sees as a jamboree, which she says, has taken shine off the careful introspection, such occasion should have provided the nation with.
According to her, there is nothing special to brag about on Nigeria’s 100 years of existence as the polity is currently “suffocating all.” She adds that decisive steps need to be taken to get the nation back on track.
“How can we be celebrating 100 years of being a country that has yet to become a ‘nation’ with fanfare? I wish the President and our political leadership could redirect it to a season of frank dialogue on the future of Nigeria,” Ezekwesili says in a Twitter post.
She insists that there is a need for the Presidency to cut short the amalgamation “fanfare” for a “frank talk,” warning that failure to do so may spell doom for the country.
She adds, “Our country is currently brittle and that is not a good place to be no matter what the President or his aides say. Nigeria’s centre is not holding because the parts that make up the whole – levels, sectors, persons, persuasions, are creaky.
“If you take a credible poll across our diverse divides as a people, you will find out that this old Nigeria is suffocating all; this old Nigeria hobbles us all to less than we are. There is so much more to us than what we currently are as a people.
“We may keep pretending that we do not need to talk, but God forbid we land in a spot where we are forced to talk.”
Another Nigerian on Twitter, Bode Omotoye, says the Federal Government’s hinging of the reason for the fanfare on the unity of the country is sheer insincerity.
He notes, “One major problem with Nigeria is that we are not honest with ourselves. Things are bad but our leaders are pretending.”
Aligning herself with the thoughts of Ezekwesili, one Ego Okoro, observes that the centenary celebration is out of place.
“Don’t know if our leaders are seeing the poverty and illiteracy level in this country. As far as I am concerned, we have very little to celebrate,” Okoro notes.