Nigeria @ 58: Building on the labour of our past heroes

Ezinne Nneoma Charity Onuoha (right), Australian High Commissioner, Mr. Paul Lehmann and Rev. Fr. John Damian Adizie at the Int’l Youth Centre, Edo State.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria celebrates another day of independence, a day of freedom and self-realisation. It’s exactly 58 years since Nigeria gained Independence from the Colonial Masters. But if I may ask, how free and independent is Nigeria? Can Nigeria really survive without other nations? Is Nigeria financially viable? Can Nigeria survive without borrowing? If Nigerians are still finding it very difficult to rule themselves, what then are we celebrating every October 1st? Is there any reason to celebrate?

I really do not want to sound pessimistic, because I know with the level of hardship and insecurity in the land, so many people have enough of negative things to say about Nigeria. However, I would like to remind fellow Nigerians that we all have a role to play. Nigeria is our fatherland. It does not belong to the politicians. With love, strength and faith, we can build on the labour of our past heroes.

In his first Independence speech, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa humbly acknowledged: “This is an occasion when our hearts are filled with conflicting emotions: we are, indeed, proud to have achieved our independence, and proud that our efforts should have contributed to this happy event. But do not mistake our pride for arrogance. It is tempered by feelings of sincere gratitude to all who have shared in the task of developing Nigeria politically, socially and economically. We are grateful to the British officers whom we have known, first as masters, and then as leaders, and finally as partners, but always as friends.  And there have been countless missionaries who have laboured unceasingly in the cause of education and to whom we owe many of our medical services.” imagine, this man was able to appreciate colonial masters, yet Nigerian leaders are finding it difficult to appreciate their fellow leaders, because of their self-centred political parties and interests.

Instead of building on the labour of past heroes, our present-day leaders are embarking on blame game and military terrorism! They are not even ready to build on the good vision of their predecessors. That is why we have so many abandoned projects (like the second Niger bridge) with unnecessary hate speech. Our present leaders are not even ready to acknowledge the selfless services of missionaries. They forget that a tree can never make a forest.

We must give honour to whom honour is due. At least, the labour of past heroes will never be in vain! We need to celebrate their courage and determination. We must celebrate their vision to build one and undivided nation; a nation that is bound in freedom, peace and unity – the giant of Africa!

As I commend those who contributed to the Independence and development of this great nation, I also use this medium to pay tribute to all those who were born on October, 1960 1, the very day Nigeria gained her Independence.

Among them is Ezinne Nneoma Charity Onuoha, Mother of Faith, Matron of the Orphanage of the Holy Spirit; the founder of Youth Rehabilitation centre and Carmelites of the Holy Spirit. The birth of this great woman did not just bring freedom to Nigeria, but it has also brought hope to so many orphans and vulnerable youths. She is the Mother of the motherless and, indeed, the Mother Teresa of our time.

The ugly situations in our country notwithstanding, with prayer, hard work and selfless services, this nation will surely rise to become a great nation in the world. As we celebrate our country’s Independence, I wish fellow Nigerians – those at home and abroad, a very happy Independence celebration.

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