At an independence celebration on Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan promised that Nigeria will overcome its many challenges. The speech was made during an interdenominational church service in Abuja to mark the nation’s 52nd year of independence. Jonathan spoke of corruption, the economy, stability, unity and called for all Nigerians to come together for the good of the country, saying, “All of us Nigerians must work together to rebuild our nation”.
A development agreement worth $340 million has been signed between Nigeria and the US through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The funds will support Nigeria’s infrastructural development, agriculture policies and healthcare programmes. Terence McCulley, US Ambassador to Nigeria, commented: “the US government intervened to assist Nigeria to tackle its inadequate infrastructure and improve other social amenities”.
Nigeria’s government is to distribute free mobile telephones to ten million smallholder farmers in 2013 as part of an initiative to fast-track access to farming support. The programme will commence in 2013 with five million female farmers benefiting from new handsets. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, also disclosed the government’s plan to develop markets for farmers through domestic processing of rice, cassava, sorghum, oil palm, cotton, cocoa and other products.
Germany has pledged to assist Nigeria develop its manufacturing and agro-allied sectors as well as encourage more German companies to enter the Nigerian business market. Volker Treier, Deputy CEO and Managing Director, International Economic Affairs, German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, said that Nigeria is seen as an investment opportunity and emerging business hub for many European countries.
JP Morgan Chase is set to add Nigerian bonds to its benchmark indexes from October 1 in a move some predict could attract $1.5 billion to the country. The plans were first disclosed in August after Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s decision to remove restrictions on foreign investors holding debt.
The recent aid and financial goodwill that Nigeria is enjoying is a sign of international trust in Nigeria’s development, although its sustainability remains under question. Nigeria is experiencing its longest period of electoral democracy and global confidence has increased with financial packages being offered to Nigeria by world powers such as Germany, China and the US. The government’s reforms have been commended by institutions such as the World Bank, and investment in Nigeria is growing.
But with the ongoing attacks from the Islamist militants Boko Haram, there are worries that the North could experience under-investment and under-development. While investment could bring many benefits to Nigeria therefore, it is crucial north-south disparities are addressed and the effects of investment on regional divides are sensitively examined.
Today marks the 52nd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from British rule. On October 1, 1960, after prolonged agitation, protest, struggle and diplomacy, Nigerians were finally allowed to rule over themselves. The dream of a new Nigeria engulfed the country and patriotic zeal crossed ethnic lines in a view of a single, united Nigeria. Debates on the future path for Nigeria spread to every beer parlour, lecture hall and open space. Yet an element of blind hope as well as miscalculations by various ethnic pressure groups inevitably led the Nigerian dream to falter.
How far has the country progressed in 52 years? What is there to show for the original zeal that conjured up the anthem “Arise o compatriots, Nigeria’s call awaits!”? The journey from independence to today has been one fraught with war, coups, and the moral decay of a great land. The long stretch of democracy Nigeria currently enjoys has breathed new life into the country and if sustained, could bring Nigeria closer to the dream envisaged by those who had hope for the united northern and southern protectorates. Hope is not to be lost, but to be cherished. Happy Independence Day!
‘If electricity becomes stable in Nigeria, what will you do?’ by Omotunde Kasali is a satirical piece about what he would do if the power sector reforms led to constant power supply in Nigeria. The writer sways from witty ideas, to ones which we all know are true, and the piece touches on the thoughts of many people creating an instant understanding between reader and writer.
‘Nigeria’s Independence: I Look On To That Day’ is a poem by Muhammad Ajah, which emotionally and patriotically hopes for a better Nigeria. The ethnic barriers which hold the country back are challenged alongside the ills and perils of modern day Nigeria.
The Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) is a platform for Nigerians to develop leadership skills. Established in January 2006, the NLI is an international non-profit organisation aiming to train Nigerians through Leadership Seminars, Symposia, Social Responsibility Projects, Essays and Business Plan Competitions. The advisory board includes Christopher Kolade, former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (2002-2007), and Olusegun Aganga, Nigeria’s Minister for Trade and Investment.
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