Viewpoints on Nigeria at 100: A time to celebrate?

 
An unidentified woman sells Nigerian national flags, during an event to mark Nigeria independence day, in Lagos, Nigeria. Tuesday 1 October 2013

Nigeria is marking a century of its existence following the amalgamation of the mainly Muslim north and Christian and animist south under British colonial rule in 1914.

A map of Nigeria showing how the country was once divided before 1914

The country has since been hit by religious and ethnic conflict, threatening the unity of the state, which gained its independence in 1960. Following a weekend of celebrations to mark the centenary, a cross-section of Nigerians share their views on the anniversary and the country's future.

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Adewale Maja-Pearce, writer based in Lagos
Adewale Maja-Pearce

Of all the different groups that make up Nigeria there is no group that actually buys into the idea of Nigeria, they all buy into the idea of kingdoms and fiefdoms. There's no commitment to the idea of Nigeria as Nigeria, it is just seen as a kind of hotchpotch that you try and grab what you can from because of the good luck of oil.

In 1966 in the lead up to the civil war the northerners were actually demanding that they leave the union until they were told that if they did they would lose access to the oil money and they would become like another Niger.

The southerners, who like the northerners are not a cohesive group, also don't understand why we should be yoked with another part of the country which is practising Islamic law, for instance.

We need a sovereign national conference in which all the elements that make up this union sit down and decide if they want to stay together and if so what kind of arrangement they want.

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Ibrahim Adamu Tudundoki, civil rights activist based in Sokoto
Ibrahim Adamu Tudundoki

I support Nigeria's existence as a corporate entity because both north and south comprise people of diverse ethnic nationalities and faiths.

So even if north or south becomes an independent nation it cannot be a homogenous society; then what [would be] the sense of seceding?

Another reason is that north and south are interdependent on each other.

We supply food to them and we benefit from the oil revenue which is found down south. Jobless unskilled youth from the north migrate to south in search of menial jobs while the southerners benefit from their cheap labour, which otherwise would not be not available.

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Faruk Umar, media consultant based in Sokoto
Faruk Umar

Honestly I don't support the continuation of Nigeria as one entity.

If you look at it since amalgamation [of Britain's northern and southern protectorates] until today, what did we achieve from being one Nigeria?

We only end up having not only political but also religious and tribal resentments and crises all over.

By the mere reading of newspapers and listening to the radio you can understand that there are serious problems existing between north and south.

For example, the recent sacking of the Central Bank of Nigeria's governor is seen as witch-hunting here in the north while almost everybody in the south sees it as right thing, in the right direction.

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Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, writer from Enugu based in Abuja
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

The festivities are probably some smart chap's idea to siphon public funds; nevertheless, Nigerians have a lot to celebrate. Variegated talents from the different ethnic groups that were amalgamated by the British have combined to give Nigeria its present cannot-be-ignored status in Africa and the world.

Some Nigerians continue to argue for the country's breakup. These advocates often find a way to link each latest tribulation to the purely selfish interests that motivated the colonial creation of Nigeria.

But I have witnessed the same knotty issues that play out regularly on the national stage plague the states and local government areas with equal vehemence. If Nigeria were to split, the same corruption, clannishness and miscellaneous chafes would accompany each division.

The centenary is a good time to finally stop pointing fingers. We may not be able to change yesterday, but we can take steps today that will alter what tomorrow will bring. The key is to look inward.

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Erabanabari Kobah, environmental campaigner based in Port Harcourt

I am not celebrating anything - the amalgamation coerced people into a relationship that they did not bargain for and within periods of this marriage the legal, social, environmental and political rights of ethnic minorities have been undermined.

The levels of division today go beyond religious lines - for example some Christians in the south and in the east are sometimes not satisfied with the way the Christians in the west handle situations. Nigeria only exists as one country today because those who are angry don't have the resources or level of political recognition that can make them stand up to say: "It is enough."

 A child looks towards an abandoned oil well head leaking crude oil, 11 April 2007, in Ogoni in the Niger Delta, Nigeria

The oil resources of the Niger Delta are taken to develop other parts, and yet we suffer 100% from environmental hazards that the government does not tackle.

I see the centenary as presenting a false picture that all is normal to impress the majority, yet I foresee more insecurity nationwide, more heated agitation for control of resources and a suffering economy.

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Solomon Selcap Dalung, barrister and lecturer based in Jos
Solomon Selcap Dalung

The celebration is a time of great mourning in view of loss of lives of innocent people and the massive corruption that is going on in the country. However, I'm against anything that can lead to the balkanisation of this country.

I believe that a united, great formidable and indivisible Nigeria is the best for us but our problem has been the absence of leadership that will exploit its great potential.

We have been brought together from diverse cultures, people and ethnic nationalities as a country but certainly we have not been able to manage the goodwill of those who conceived amalgamation. So 100 years on, we are still in the dark and without a direction.

If things continue the way they are today, the existence of Nigeria as a single entity is quite doubtful because the capacity of leadership to maintain unity… if it continues like this then it may not even last the next 10 or 15 years, you may say it will end as soon as 2015.

 

More on This Story

Nigeria - Troubled Giant

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 41.

    The truth is that Nigeria must be divided into it's component parts. the blood of 3.5million Biafrans will continue to haunt Nigeria until its dismembers.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 40.

    The bruised and battered Biafrans returned to the safety of their homeland to nurse their wounds. Abandoned by the federal government of the country to which they were supposed to belong. A national conference was held in Aburi, Ghana under the chairmanship of Gen. Ankra the Ghanaian head of state

  • rate this
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    Comment number 39.

    @34
    Probably the truest statement I've heard

  • rate this
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    Comment number 38.

    Chased away from all over Nigeria as hundredths of thousands of them were murdered in the northern Nigeria. In May-October 1966, Biafrans were hounded and massacred all over northern Nigeria by the Hausa-Fulani shouting ''ARABA ARABA''meaning SECESSION.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 37.

    In 1953, the northerners struck again. One small Biafrans were the victims. The Nigerian census of 1956 was rigged in favor of the northerners by their British friends who inflated the population figures for the north to the detriment of the south.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 36.

    About 30years into Lugard's experiment in 1945 to be exact. The first catastrophe struck. Biafrans were slaughtered in northern Nigeria by the Hausa-Fulani as the clear expression of their resentment of the amalgamation.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 35.

    Trying to read more comments but the website ain't working. Very frustrating!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 34.

    When a Nigerian, Ghananian or any African naturalized or even UK born British citizens are representing UK in sports or winning medals for UK at the Olympics, he or she is a Brit. But, when they are involved in a crime such as stabbing a British soldier or the Ghananian-British stock trader at Swiss UBS, the media & everyone emphasize thier ancestral origin.
    They become more African than Brits.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 33.

    It's really a case of 100 years and absolutely nothing to show for it. What are we celebrating? Our citizens being slaughtered in the north by terrorists on an almost daily basis? The $20 billion in oil funds that is 'missing'? The unstable water and electricity? Poor health, education and general infrastructural facilities? What exactly?! Nigeria is a disaster. It's really sad.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 32.

    31.Dozie - ".....One quiet afternoon early last year, two machete wielding Nigerian extremists attacked a British soldier ......"



    Am I mistaken then in believing that the extremists who committed that murder were British...???


    .

  • rate this
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    Comment number 31.

    What of the greatest ally of Nigeria during that war against Biafrans; Britain? One quiet afternoon early last year, two machete wielding Nigerian extremists attacked a British soldier and killed him in broad day light and bragged about it. That event was one of the worst greatest insults inflicted on a world power such as Britain. Right now,

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 30.

    Split the country into two new countries. One a socially backward Islamic north, where Boko Haram and its ilk can hold sway with 'sharia', and the other a Christian land, where they can try and go forward not backward.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 29.

    100 years is a ripe age, an age of wisdom, but does Nigeria really have anything to celebrate at 100? What have we achieved as a nation? What legacies have we left behind for future generations of Nigerians? I think this should rather be a time for sober reflections instead of wasting time, money and energy on meaningless celebrations.

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    Comment number 28.

    21.The Bloke - "...........increasingly, Britain too. Nigeria's today is our tomorrow. Welcome to the future, thanks for multiculty."


    A/. Britain was, right from the start of us being one country, MORE diverse culturally, than Nigeria is...

    B/. Nigeria is not where we are headed - we've ALWAYS been there...

    .

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 27.

    Nailing the north and south together probably wasn't a good idea...the north is all but an Islamic state with backward Sharia law. Maybe Nigeria will do itself a favour and grant the north independence this year!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 26.

    Lots of executive jets in Abuja airport but not many other planes, The elites soak up most of the oil revenue, a few officials try their best with the little revenue they have. Nigeria needs better politicians and and better Military and Police that can stand up to Boko who are mainly killing Muslims in the North East and get between the armed gangs in the Plateau region.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 24.

    @pops1980

    Ireland was never part of the British Empire, the Irish were a driving force in its creation and expansion.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 23.

    Nigeria like Ukraine, Britain, Sri Lanka, Iraq,Yugoslavia etc all have ethnic groups vying for power and control in one country. Most of these ethnic/religious geo political entities are not viable economically on their own, but used as spring boards of power for the corrupt and deluded, its has. Blaming the past is a defunct dead end, a politics of federalism & benign cooperation is needed.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 22.

    As someone of Nigerian descent brought up in the UK, I hear a lot about all the problems and difficulties in Nigeria, it's even worse when you think about the Nigerian diaspora being one of the most talented and successful around. But this diaspora wouldn't even think of returning because Nigeria is such a basket case as the recent removal of the CB governor shows.

 

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