Nigeria @ 60, Chequered History, Demoralized Nation, But Determined People

Nigeria @ 60, Chequered History, Demoralized Nation, But Determined People

By Uche Nwosu

Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea which is the most thickly populated black nation is 60 tomorrow. Founded by the British colonialists in 1914 when the Northern and Southern Protectorate was amalgamated by Lord Fredericks Luggard got her Independence on October 1, 1960.

Indeed, it became Republic in 1963 under Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Belewa’s government and ceremonial President of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. However, three years after gaining Independence in October 1960, the military struck on January 15, 1966, ending six years of the civilian administration of Belewa’s administration of the new Republic. The coup d’état of young officers was lead by Major Kaduna Nzeogu.

But sadly, the Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Premier of Northern Nigeria and Saduana of Sokoto was killed in the coup, while Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the then was serving a life jail term for treasonable felony. The Premier of Eastern Nigeria, Dr Michael Okpara escaped the bullets of the military boys by whiskers from his Premier Lodge in Enugu, the tehn capital of Eastern Region.

Ironically, the coup failed, largely because it was poorly executed because some of the coupists sent to the Regions of the West, East and Mid West shied away from carrying out their assignment according to laid down plan. This prompted the most senior military officer at the time, Major Gen Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi to assume the headship of the country. He appointed Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to head the East, Lt Col Hassan Usman Katsina for Northern Region, Lt Col Adekunle Fajuyi for Western Region and Lt Col David Ejoor given the Mid Western Region.

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Administration’s government lasted only six months as he was overthrown in July 1966. The coup that brought in then Lt Col Yakubu Gowon was equally bloody and it was termed a retaliatory coup. And it led to series of massacring of Igbos in the North as some Hausa/Fulani elements accused them of killing their kinsmen.  

Conversely, on May 30, 1967 following the pogrom against the Igbos in the North and notion that Igbos were no longer wanted in Nigeria, Lt Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the then Military Administrator of Eastern Region declared the Federal Republic of Biafra. The resultant effect culminated a 30-month civil war. The war ended in1970 with Biafra’s surrender and Ojukwu fleeing the Biafran enclave to Cote d’Ivoire. Meanwhile, Gowon who had been promoted a Major General declared ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’ after the war.

However, Lt Col Yakubu Gowon, one the leaders of the July 1966 coup d’état became the Head of State and ruled the country from July 1966 to 1975 before he was overthrown in bloodless coup by Gen Murtala Mohammed.

Murtala Mohammed was assassinated on February 1976 by a group of young officers led by Lt Col Burka Suka Dimka in a failed coup d’état attempt. However, Dimka was arrested at Abakiliki in the present day Ebonyi State as he tried to escape and was tried by a military panel and executed after he was found guilty. Meanwhile, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo became the Head of State and handed over to a civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari who won 1979 election.

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Certainly, after about four years of administering the country, Shagari’s government was overthrown by officers led by Major Gen Muhammedu Buhari on December 30, 1983. On August 27, 1985 Gen Ibrahimm Babangida overthrown Buhari and ruled until he handed over to Chief Ernest Shonekan on August 27, 1993 who was named Interim Head of State by Babangida. Indeed, the June 12, 1993 election was annulled by him.

The controversial hand over to Shonekan followed the controversy that trailed the annulment of election of Alhaji Moshood Abiola, believed to have won the 1993 presidential election considered to be free and fair. Based on that, Gen Sani Abacha struck and took over power and ruled the country from November 1993 to June 1998 when he died suddenly in office.

Following his death, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar under his Provisional Ruling Council assumed the leadership of the country and handed over to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo’s eight-year tenure ended in May 2007 and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who won the presidential election was sworn in.

Yar’Adua died in office and his vice, Dr Goodluck Jonathan became the President. He was defeated in an election held in March 2015 as Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as President of the Federal Republic after he was declared winner of the presidential election held in March that year.

Two major religions are practiced in Nigeria: they are Christianity and Islam. Like earlier remarked, the Northern and Southern protectorates including Lagos were united in 1914. After the reign of Lord Luggard as Governor of newly created Nigeria, several other colonial leaders ruled the country until the position was elevated to Governor-General. However, on October 27, 1958, Britain agreed that Nigeria would become an Independent state on October 1, 1960. And in October 1, 1960, all hailed Nigeria as it became Independent politically.

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This development made the major parties then namely: the Nigeria Peoples Congress (NPC), largely made of Muslim Hausa/Fulani, National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), dominated by the Christian Igbo of the Eastern Region and Action Group (AG) dominated by the Yorubas of the Western Region to vie for various seats under the Parliamentary Government. Needless to say that the majority tribes dominated these parties, the minority ethnic nationalities were also part of them.

However, the Nigeria the leadership of Gen Sani Abacha in its wisdom carved Nigeria out administratively into six regions. Nevertheless, all the five regions have had a bite on the presidency except the Igbos who are now clamouring to be given a chance to rule the country in th 2023.

Certainly, as the nation gyrates in its 60th birthday, the counsel of the former governor of Enugu State and Senator representing Enugu East Senatorial District, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani becomes expedient. According to him, justice, equity and fairness should be the fulcrum for Nigeria governance. End  

Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000; He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.

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