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Nigeria @60: The Journey So Far

By Yusuf Akinloye Akintunde

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Prior to her independence in 1960 , Nigeria was a legendary prisoner. She was lying prostrate in a tiny, dark, damp, dirty, dingy, stuffy and low room in a steel-walled fortress. Her wrists were handcuffed. Her feet were manacled. Her eyes were bandaged. Her mouth was gagged. Her ears were blocked. Her nose was stuffed. She was breathing heavily, sobbing intermittently ,groaning at intervals ,rolling deliriously and knocking her head against the steel wall.

Sometimes by a great feat of exertion, she would manage to stand erect for a while. Those were rare moments , few and far between. They were critical periods of national crisis like the transfer scare, the Bristol Episode and the Enugu incident, when she managed to stand up like a man . Then pained to the marrows and exhausted, she staggered and felt with a thud.

With no exaggeration, the foregoing is a truthful picture of Nigeria under British Bondage.There was intimidation and exploitation everywhere .There was economic , political ,social and even cultural domination. In Nigeria, Nigerians were not smiling. They were chained and treated like animals.The owner of the land suddenly became tanent farmers. There come a time when Nigerians could not bear it any longer. When silence was seen as a betrayer.That was exactly time some Nigerians who felt cheated in their country wore the spirit of nationalism .

They saw the need to send away colonial masters and take charge of their country. Anyway, that was after they had been exposed to western education and their eyes had become opened. Meanwhile, the independent of India in 1947 was another bullet that increased the tempo of Nationalism in Nigeria. By this time, every sleeping spirit had woke up to free their country from the colonial bondage.After lndia had gained her independence , the political activities in Nigeria focused primarily on ways to end British rule. The Eastern region was dominated by Azikiwe and the Western one by Chief Obafemi Awolowo , a Yoruba lawyer who in 1950 founded the Action Group.

Demanding immediate self-government, the Action Group was opposed by the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), which was composed largely of northerners and headed by several leaders, including Abubakar Tafawa Balewa . Aside from the aforementioned names, there were other Nigerian Nationalist heroes we cannot forget in a hurry. The likes Sir Ahmadu Bello ,Funmilayo Ransom Kuti , Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemesi, Margaret Ekpo, Herbert Macaulay, Samuel Ladodeke Akintola etc.In 1953, Enahoro became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence which was eventually granted in 1960 after several political setbacks and defeats in parliament. Enahoro has been regarded by academics and many Nigerians as the “Father of Nigeria State”.

However, his motion for Nigeria’s Independence suffered setbacks in parliament on several occasions with the northern members of parliament staging a walkout as a consequence of the motion. Notwithstanding the defeat in parliament, a popular movement was started on account of this motion and the pressure was now built up against colonialism and there was agitations for independence for Nigeria, or at least self governance. S.L. Akintola attempted to revisit the motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1957 and though his motion was passed by parliament it was not acquiesced to by the British colonial authorities and it therefore failed.

In August 1958, Remi Fani-Kayode revisited Enahoro’s motion and the motion was again passed by parliament but its date was not approved by the British. Fani-Kayode’s motion had called for independence to be granted to Nigeria on April 2, 1960. Nigeria was granted independence on October 1, 1960. In furtherance of the ever recurring Enahoro’s Motion, a further motion was proposed to Parliament by Sir Tafawa Balewa in 1959 and it was passed. As a consequence of the sustained pressure, the colonial governor announced the decision of the Queen of England to grant her independence in 1960.

Between 1960 and now, Nigeria has experienced different leaders with different style leadership. (1960 to 1966) ,Tafawa Balewa and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. (January 16 1966 to July 29,1966), MAJOR GENERAL JOHNSON THOMAS UMUNNAKWE AGUIYI IRONSI.(From 1966 to 1975), GENERAL YAKUBU GOWON. (1975 to 1976),GENERAL MURTALA RAMAT MOHAMMED.( From 1976 to 1979), General Obasanjo. (1979 to 1983 ), Shehu Sagari.(1983 to 1985), General Muhammadu Buhari. (1985 to 1993) General lbrahim Badamasi Babangida . (From August 26, 1993 to November 17, 1993), Ernest Shonekan. (1993 to 1998), General Sani Abacha. (1998 to 1999), General Abdulsalam Abubakar. (1999 to 2007) , General Obasanjo. (From 2007 to 2010) ,Umaru Musa Yar’dua. (2010 to 2015) , Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. (From 2015 to date ), Muhammadu Buhari.<br><br>Asimiyu Muhideen (Apostle) writes from Akinyele Local Government.<br><br>Email : asimiyu.muhideen75@gmail.com


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