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Destroying Nigeria’s national symbols


Independence blues

Abdulraman Danbazau,

By Anthony Opara

A country must value its national symbols. For the fifth year running Nigeria has marked a very low key Independence Anniversary Celebrations. The President as has now become the norm recorded a speech which was later played to Nigerians at 7 am and later some leaders gathered at the seat of Power to witness a parade in the forecourt of Aso Rock after which the President cut a cake and released a white pigeon symbolic of peace. He later hosted some of these leaders to lunch and that was it. On hand to assist the President were the Vice President Professor Yemi Osibajo, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki. Some of the leaders present included the former President, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, former Vice President Dr Alex Ekwueme, Former Vice President Namadi Sambo, former Senate President Dr ken Nnamani amongst others. There were some ex Governors and Ministers former and current.

The excuse given had been security related. In one particular year it was to avoid an attack by Boko Haram and it was suggested that the event be held at Aso Rock and this has become the practice. The excuse now given is that the country is in recession and cannot afford the expenses associated with the celebration of the independence anniversary. What is being lost in all these lame excuses is that national essence is being lost. There are Nigerian children leaving primary school without observing the celebration of national independence once. It is pertinent to observe that the budget padding Speaker of the House of Representatives did not deem it important to attend the Independent celebrations at the seat of Power. The Speaker preferred to be somewhere else on the country’s most important date.

In Lagos state the Governor also did not attend the low key parade but rather sent the Deputy Governor to represent him but this is a Governor who is fond of being present at every small commissioning of any project even if it is a one kilometer road.

Independence anniversary celebrations is perhaps the most important day in the life of a nation. In other climes it is the day that major government policies are announced and more importantly it is a day usually used to show the military might of the nation. Tanks are rolled out and air shows are conducted to show the world that the nation can defend herself if push comes to shove. Over the years we have rather abandoned this national symbol on the excuse of security concerns which is the fear of Boko Haram and Niger Delta Avengers. If the security apparatchik of a nation cannot protect the nation from internal insurgency what happens if the country is faced with a war situation with another nation. The government appears very weak in the face of insurgency and this has now taken its toll on celebration of an important essence of nationhood.

Nigerians appear not to buy the argument that recession call for sober moments and as such the independence anniversary should be low key. Adedotun Adebusoye on Facebook opined that the state of the nation calls for sobriety and that the government was right in holding a quiet celebration in Aso Rock rather than rolling out the drums. He was of the view that any call for the usual celebration smacks of insensivity but a lawyer Chika Onuekwusi was of the very opposite. According to him, the nation should not lose the essence of nationhood which things like the celebrating independence emphasizes. Engineer Onukwugha also observed that fear of insurgents is unfortunate as It appears that the nation is cowering in the face of insurgency in the nation adding that in sane countries the chiefs of the armed forces would resign if they cannot guarantee security in their nation. Ann Osisiogu, Lagos based business woman said it is disgraceful that the nation cannot celebrate in the open her so called independence because of the activities of insurgents adding that the excuse of recession is sheer bunkum as there is nothing to show that the country is in recession as rapacious and frivolous spending is ongoing by several arms of government. She was of the view that if the government was serious, the Presidency would have sold off some of the planes in the Presidential fleet but rather than do that the President Buhari is bent on continuing the excesses of the Jonathan era. She said she was opposed of calls to sell of national assets as some of the assets were symbols such as the National Theater which reminds Nigerians of Festac 1977 and other such symbols. Whatever it takes the nation should not lose sight of the symbolism of nationhood which the independence anniversary emphasizes.



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