3rd February, 2014
By John Tosin Ajiboye
The name Nigeria coined from the word Niger Area was not a mistake but was predestined by God and given by Mrs. Flora Shaw the wife of the first Governor General Sir Fedrick Lord Lugard.
Nigeria is located in West Africa in the trigger of Africa Continent between latitude (4-14 degree) N and longitude (2-15degree) E. Sir Lord Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914 and since then almost 250 ethnic groups have been living together as one big family. According to current demographics, after Hausa-Fulani (29%), Yoruba (21%), Igbo (18%) and Ijaw (10%) comes Kanuri (4%) and then Ibibio (3.5%) and Tiv (2.5%).
In the same vein Nigeria, with a 2013 estimated population of 174,507,539 is the most populous Black nation and the 7th most populated nation in the entire world, trailing after—from least to most—Pakistan, Brazil, Indonesia, USA, India and China (1.3bn).
Some Important Months in the affairs of Nigeria are: January the Month of Amalgamation in 1914; October the Month of Independence in 1960 and May which is the Month of Democracy in 1999.
Calabar was the first Federal Capital in 1906 before it was moved to Lokoja and from Lokoja it was moved back to Calabar and further moved to Lagos and finally moved to Abuja on December 12, 1991 by the government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
In 1958 Nigeria’s National Flag was designed by Mr. Tiwo Akinkumi, who was a student studying in London and Queen Elizabeth gave Nigeria the National Flag which she sent through Princess Alexandra when Nigeria got her independence in 1960 and became 99th member of United Nations.
Life has not been a bed of roses for Nigeria as she has faced a lot of challenges, one of which was the civil war that started on July 6, 1967 and ended on January 15, 1970. The war nearly tore her apart but with unity being her motto, she is still remains united with the help of God till today.
Leadership is another great challenge that Nigeria has been facing for a very long time. Our elder statesmen such as Nnamdi Azikwe, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, Ahmadu Bello, etc. fought for independence and they all did their best as the first civilian leaders but the 29 years rule of military between 1966-1979 and 1983-1999 caused a lot of setback for this great nation.
Nigeria is a very religious country. Christianity and Islam are the two major religions and some of our clergy men are not doing badly. In fact Nigeria has 5 of the 10 richest pastors in the entire world, with net worth according to Forbes, from $10-$150 million. They are Bishop David Oyedepo, Pastor E. A. Adeboye, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Pastor Mathew Ashimolowo and Prophet T. B. Joshua.
Our economic mainstay in the 50s and 60s was agriculture. The governments in the four regions then placed a lot of emphasis on agriculture as cocoa, ground nuts, palm produce and others were the leading foreign exchange earners. But since the discovery of oil in the late 50s at Oloibiri, our attention has been diverted from agriculture and we have solely relied on oil as a source of revenue and that is why some people argue if the discovery of the oil has been a blessing or a curse.
Nigerians also have many reasons to thank God as a nation especially that we are still together as one country in spite of many challenges that have threatened to divide us.
Therefore as Nigeria clocks 100 years of existence the Federal Government of Nigeria has been advised never to change the name “Nigeria”, which had been in use for some 100 years ago, as it carries on with its centenary celebrations. The Chairman, Centenary Committee, Prof. Tekena Tamuno, made the recommendation that the name “Nigeria” be changed to “Commonwealth of Nigeria”. Though Prof. Tamuno knows his country, two clerics, Monsignor Gabriel Osu and Imam Shuaib Abdullahi who also know Nigeria like him (if not more than him) have disagreed with him.
Osu who is the Director of Communication, Catholic Diocese of Lagos said that the government should address the challenge in the country rather than attempting to spend money on a name change.
“Why should Nigeria’s name be changed? Is the change our problem? Our name is very good; the problem is human beings that are Nigerians,” Osu insists.
On his part, Abdullahi, Executive Director, Zakat and Fadaqat Foundation said “There is nothing wrong with the name Nigeria, but there is something wrong with the leaders of Nigeria. All we need is to improve on our dented image in terms of positive change in the style of leadership and total re-branding.”
Finally according to Nigeria national motto which is Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress, I urge Nigerians who also know Nigeria more than I do to be more united, and try to have little faith in the transformation agenda of Mr. President and allow peace to reign in every nook and cranny of Nigeria so that there can be meaningful development and progress in our country Nigeria.
God bless Nigeria!
•Ajiboye wrote from Lagos. •E-mail: [email protected]